So a few weeks ago LittleWarsTV put out a video, asking Is Historical Wargaming Dying? Since then it seems to have generated quite a bit of feedback and discussion. Far be it for me to avoid the thorny issues of the day, so here's The Quarantined Wargamer response video.
As I say in the video I'm not an industry insider, so this is entirely my own opinion based on the evidence of my eyes (back when trade shows were still happening!) and from conversations, I have read or been part of over the last few weeks.
As always please join the conversation here, or on my YouTube Channel, I'd love to know what you think.
I am in two minds. I was at Warfare when you went. The show is always busy on the Saturday, but dead on the Sunday. Warfare seems busy but the stands are pretty well packed in, hence it’s move to Ascot Race Course from Rivermead in Reading. My club runs Colours in Newbury, footfall has been slowly falling. At Vanquish last year a gamer had a table to sell his stuff off, he was giving up on the hobby after many years. I do not see many young
people either at clubs or shows now. Because of the plague I have a certain ennui regarding a hobby I used to love.
I cannot say I have bought that much in past months, a few figures here and there. I have sold much more than I have purchased.
That was the first time I'd been to Warfare so I'm not in a position to compare to previous years, but compared to other shows I went to it seemed well attended. That may be because Warfare had a larger competition scene than shows I normally go to, so it was catering to two audiences, not just one.Delete
Actually that sort of links into something I was listening to on the Too Fat Lardies Oddcast. They discussed the idea that we seem to subdivide ourselves into smaller and smaller niche communities rather than realising that Fanatsy, Sci-Fi and Historical wargaming are all part of the same great hobby. And as someone who started out playing fantasy and sci-fi wargames but who moved to Historicals, I can see that maybe the thing we need more than anything else is to break down the barriers we sometimes create within the Wargaming community. So rather than obsessing about historical wargaming 'greying', we should be ensuring that the barriers to entry to Historical wargaming are lowered and we get more movement of players from genre to genre.
I have given this question some thought and if I go back to before I was born wargaming was a very small number of people whose wargames convention fitted into the front room of a semi detached or terrace house. The range of figures was very restricted as were the brands. The period was mainly C18th as reflected in the books of the time. Even my first wargaming book was relatively limited, Terence Wises intro. Due to the limited ranges. Where is my rambling going, well over time wargaming 'periods' have changed, expanded and retracted. At the moment sci fi and fantasy are very popular, the younger generation who may be sensitive to history rather than learning from it prefer the idea of avoiding it hence the popularity of the said genres. It does not mean that with age and the access to a vast array of historical games and figures that these do not creep in. There are a number of younger people st my club who have moved into bolt action and are now thinking of Hail Caesar and Napoleonics. There is also a number who stick to the Games Workshop staple diet. All are wargamers. Ramble over.Delete
I can't comment with any certainty whether the historical wargaming is either dying or greying. But one must not take the WSS survey as proof of anything. A useful tool but not definitive. Many wargamers don't buy any magazines, preferring online forums where like minded, or not, players congregate. And it is likely the older players who feel the need to fill out surveys. Who can be bothered? (I do, but I'm over 60!)ReplyDelete
As you say, manufacturers are making and selling in seemingly larger amounts so it says something of the resilience of the hobby.
I think there is a definite difference is perspective depending on which side of the pond you live. Some US companies have struggled and/or gone under in recent times which could make it feel like Historicals are struggling. Here in the UK I think we have grown more accustomed to new companies popping up and then disappearing so we have stopped paying attention to it as an indicator of the hobbies health.Delete
I agree the Survey can only ever be taken as a useful tool, not a definitive census of the hobby...all the more reason to get more respondents in the 2021 survey!
I've talked to quite a few gamers at my local club, my own take is that historical gaming is changing people don't want to commit to painting large quantities of figures any more and houses become smaller then playing areas have to. Blood and Valour has gone down really well at the club with small forces required and a fairly small table with gaming time a couple of hours. I
If you want a real view of youngsters and historical gaming look up Tom the Wargamer on YouTube - he's 12, articulate and loves historical gaming and he talks about what he's trying to do so he can play. His videos are good to watch and refreshing
I've seen some of the Tom the Wargamer videos and its really good to see someone so young, so inspired by history and wargaming.Delete
I think a lot of the conversation about Historical wargaming and its future gets framed by the image of big battle wargames. Its possible that we are seeing a decline in this sort of gaming. Its expensive, very time consuming and takes up a lot of space so its not surprising this would be the domain of older gamer, with bigger homes and more disposable income. Its also brilliant, inspiring and something I hope we don't see die out...but smaller skirmish level games are the way forward for cash strapped and space limited newbies. I'd hate for our love of big battle games to turn us into 'gatekeepers' of the hobby, becoming a barrier to new players who lack our resources.
I would be contentious, and answer "why would I care?" My personal hobby will continue whether the hobby as a whole dies off, or not. I have had the hobby during the days that Lee mentions when most things were made by the gamer, or scratch built, and I have had the hobby in this golden age where the most esoteric of troops and terrain are available in all scales. Neither was worse than the other - they were both wonderful in different ways... I am not a competition gamer, I'm not very sociable, if the hobby as a whole falls into a deep dark void tomorrow there is more than enough in my lead pile to take me through to the inevitable shuffle of this mortal coil...ReplyDelete