I've just been watching the latest Episode of Tabletop Minions on Youtube and the subject has touched a nerve with me. The presenter described an email he received from a newbie to the hobby who took his (or maybe her?) newly painted army to a local shop for a game. They were approached by another gamer who basically 'rubbished' their paint job and although it wasn't phrased like this it sounded a lot like they were being mocked for the poor quality of their painted miniatures. At this point steam starts coming out of my ears! Watch the video then read on...
Atom is absolutely correct - and very diplomatic - in the way he carefully describes this anonymous critic as a bully. Personally I'd go a little further but I'll refrain from foul language. Unfortunately its something I suspect that many of us can recognise either because we have been the victim of unwanted criticism or because we have witnessed it in person or read it online.
Many years ago - back in the mists of time, aka the 80's - when I first got into gaming and painting miniatures I was on the receiving end of similar mockery. I'd only painted a couple of miniatures and was very much a beginner. Looking back now my painting skills were basic to say the least, but I was eager to learn and more importantly I was my own sternest critic, trying to improve with each model I painted. This was long before blogging and sharing pictures online became the norm and my circle of gaming buddies back then was pretty small. We all helped each other and there was a gentle rivalry between us that improved all our efforts with the brush. Then I took some models to a game at a local shop and encountered my first unwanted and frankly cruel criticism from an older more experienced gamer (sound familiar?). I never went back to that shop again as a player, and I think I can honestly say my personal disinterest in competitive or tournament gaming largely stems from that one negative experience. It was only the camaraderie of my regular group of friends that kept me in the hobby.
I have also witnessed (thankfully only once) a very similar scenario played out at a wargames show. I once overheard a rather pompous wargamer criticising the models being used in a club demo game. He was basically tearing strips of the quality of the painted minis on display and the kids running the game (they were all aged about 10-12) looked utterly crestfallen by the unasked for 'advice' of this older gamer. After the idiot left I spent about ten minutes talking to the lads running the game. They were a good bunch of kids and were, up to that point, having a great day at their first proper show. I took loads of photo's of their game, complemented them on their armies and did my best to encourage them but for all I know that may have been their first and last ever show after the previous idiots self indulgent tirade. Looking back a decade my main regret is that I didn't have a word with the guy and make him aware of his thoughtlessness. I would like to think that the older and slightly more confident BigLee of today would have taken the guy to task.
Today we are in the golden age of the Online Troll and it seems to me that anonymous, unwanted and often hurtful criticism has become more prevalent than ever. I've written about not feeding the trolls before (here and here) and its still a subject I feel very strongly about. This is all the more important in our hobby because, lets face it, we're an ageing bunch of old grognards and if new gamer's aren't encouraged into the hobby it will die out with the current generation. Now if we post pictures online some degree of 'discussion' is expected, that is part of the reason idiots like me write blogs like this. But I would never, EVER, leave negative feedback in comments, no matter how awful the paint job. My attitude is that no matter how bad the miniature at least the painter has made an effort at what is, lets face it, a fairly challenging craft. We all started somewhere and we have all painted figures we would be embarrassed to show off. But for many of us 'oldies' ours is a story of perseverance, we learned and improved our skills and hopefully we had more experienced painters to help and encourage us.
I guess what I have been trying to say is that this story has reminded me that we all have a role to play in encouraging the continued good health of our hobby. All of us need to be just a little more civil towards or fellow gamer's but especially towards newbies entering the hobby for the first time. We also need to be a little more ready to encourage rather than criticise. And if we have the chance to fan the fires of enthusiasm in a new gamer (of any age) we should be ready to stand up and be counted. Its a fantastic hobby, lets keep it thriving.
Great post Lee. I know my first efforts at painting 6mm figures were pretty poor but I've endeavoured to improve by looking at what others do and copying better techniques to a point where I'm happy with the end result. They will not rival the best I've seen but they are good enough for me. I've seen bad paint jobs but would never be rude or crass enough to criticise others work to their face. We are not all talented and painting is a tough skill to master. I agree that having a pop at other people's work is the lowest of the low. I endorse your comments.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the support. I'm hoping this is a subject most 'gamers of a certain age' will empathize with.Delete
That is a good find! I am in complete agreement with both the video and you.ReplyDelete
Thank you. I regularly watch Tabletop Minions and it's always interesting. Well worth subscribing to!Delete
Trying again, this time on the 'puter, not the iPad... Well said, Big Lee. I hope that we would all have a word with a person being nastily critical of someone's painting of how someone else enjoys the hobby more generally. Especially if the comments are directed at newcomers or young 'uns. No place for it.ReplyDelete
I'd be more inclined to speak out nowadays. I don't like confrontation, but I like bullying less.Delete
+1 and that goes for unpainted figures and the look of the games table as well. If people are gaming then good, if they find so much pleasure in it that they want to share it, then good. Those who cannot nurture need to do a bit of self reflection. Hobby wise, I can't think of much worse than being destructive in opinion to the extent that you spoil somebody's hobby.ReplyDelete
I've played quite a few games against unpainted opponents...we still had a good game (although being soundly beaten by an unpainted army does rankle!). There's certainly no excuse for hurtful criticism of newbie's (of any age) playing a game.Delete
The only time I dont like to see unpainted figures is when they are put on a table at shows where we are in theory attempting to attract new wargamers. Everyone has to start somewhere and if one wants this wonderful hobby to survive we need to give all the encouragement we can, in every sense of the word. Painting is purely a personal thing, to some basic is all they want, then so be it. Not everyone can paint to a showcase standard.As for trolls, well I unfortunately discovered the 'joys' of Facebook. It was like opening Pandoras Box, bile is an everyday occurrence now especially if you have an opposing opinion. Clearly Facebook members only expect agreement and 'likes' anything else is a target for hate.ReplyDelete
I think a certain degree of extra effort is needed when putting on a demonstration game but the amount of effort needed to run a game is worthy of respect just on its own. Have to agree about Facebook...a real bucket of worms most of the time!Delete
Well said! I've become quite allergic to those people who think that their own idiosyncratic taste should become a 'standard' for wargaming. Figures and terrain are, in the end, just means to spark the imagination for a group of friends to have a fun game!ReplyDelete
As the presenter in the video says, "the only person who gets to say your painting isn't any good, is you". Everyone has their own standard and their own aesthetic. Its one of the things I love about this hobby. Its great to see different style on demo tables and as far as I'm concerned there is no 'right' way to paint a figure.Delete
Great post and much needed! I have to admit my one pet peeve is well-painted figures on unpainted bases. They don't have to be terrained, but at least painted. My first Napoleonic games were with plastic Airfix figures which were not even Napoleonic, they were ACW + other stuff. We used the Union as Brits, the Confederates at French with white, red or green dots on their heads to represent line, grenadiers or lights respectively. Some mtd Indians were Hussars! There was more but they were all mounted on Green card!!ReplyDelete
Airfix figures...that takes me back. Lining up two armies and firing elastic bands at each others soldiers. The ultimate in simple wargaming rules!!Delete
Thanks for the post. I agree with all that you have said and would hope that your comments hit home with those that are making such comments - as I have seen before 'If you have nothing good to say - say nothing'.
Thanks. Kudos to Tabletop Minions for bringing the subject up. I was just echoing his sentiments, but yes I have to agree about keeping bad (ie unhelpful) opinions to oneself!Delete
It can take a long time to develop the techniques of this 3D colouring in that we do. Anyone starting does not need negativity as we are typically our own worst critic in any case. Only positivity needed .....no negativity required. cheersReplyDelete
I've been painting miniatures for nearly 40 years and I'm still learning new techniques.Delete
Well, it must be years since I last swung by your blog, BigLee, but what a pertinent time to re-visit!
Bloomin' well said, sir! Yes, it is deeply unpleasant that it exists - it's bad enough that gaming shops are so often sniffily (and self-destructively) unfriendly, but criticising newbies? Boo! Hiss!
For my part, I'm pleased to say I've never witnessed it, but I hope if ever I do I shall have the courage to speak up (I'm a secondary school teacher, so it's kind of par for the course with me anyway). On the flip side, when I do encounter those new to the hobby, I always try to be as quietly welcoming and complimentary as I can. I'm please to say, at least, that I've seen a lot more of THIS kind of behaviour!
Thanks for the comment. Yes for the most part wargamers are a very welcoming and inclusive bunch. You only have to visit a show like SELWG this weekend to see this. But unfortunately there will always be exceptions and sometimes I wonder if they realise how damaging they can be.Delete