Let’s maybe, just maybe, be a little kinder to our fellow gamers

Well, the new edition of 40k is upon us, following the Gathering Storm series of books, which are a close echo of the End Times books from Fantasy Battles.   Some people are excited, some are tentative, and some are worried … and those groups keep shifting as we get more nuggets of information about the new game coming out.

This isn’t a discussion about the new game.  Its a discussion about the levels of vitriol I’ve seen directed at each other by those who are supposed to share a love of the game.  Its really not good!

There are a lot of people who are genuinely upset by the prospect of a major change to the game they love.  Since 3rd edition, the game has gently evolved, rather than radical changes to the game engine.  That’s a long period of stability, and while most people would agree the current rules are overly complex, with so many varied sources for the rules including the main rules, codexes, codex supplements, data sheets, downloads, and errata, it doesn’t mean people are comfortable with change.

Some of the changes being talked about remove core rules that have been in play since the days of Rogue Trader.  Thats 30 years of experience with those rules in my case.  Its not easy to see some of those changes …. even if they bring improvements.  Its something I have to overcome every day when running projects – fear of change.  This article gives a good idea what people are going through.

In addition, lots of people have significant amounts of money tied up in the game.  Its not an investment in any real sense, but there’s certainly a cost associated to walking away from 40K if the new rules don’t appeal.  Trying a new game?  You’ll need to reinvest in new rules, models, time to learn it, and trust that the new game won’t be changed like 40K was.  The more you have “invested”, both financially and psychologically, in a game, the harder it is to see it change.

There’s always an argument when these changes happen that you won’t lose anything.  You don’t have to play the new version.  You and your group of friends can carry on playing the old version.  Except that’s rarely true for most of us.  If you want to play a pickup game at a club or store, you’ll need to play the current version.  If you want to take part in any tournaments, you’ll need to play the current version.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a small group of friends who will happily play the older version … and even those who are are likely to be a bit torn between people who want to move on and people who want to stay with the older version.

I’m not advocating that the game should remain fixed and unchanging.  We need to recognise that our fellow players are human, and many will have issues with any major change.  And that assumes that those changes are good – a game played for fun is highly subjective.  A change you find speeds the game up and makes it easier and more accessible may feel like dumbing down for kids and losing a lot of the individual feel of the troops on the board to someone else.  And the killer?  Both people can be right for them.

I’ve been around the edition wars of 40K, Fantasy Battle and D&D for some time, and major changes don’t work for everyone.  But they certainly won’t work for everyone if we don’t try to support our fellow gamers.  Rejoicing that people are talking about quitting the game because of the change?  That shouldn’t be a celebration, its a tragedy.  And if the people who leave are the ones being driven out by intolerant behaviour, that doesn’t say much for the community that’s left.

Make the game fun for others when it’s released.  Look at alternatives like the mad range of board games reintroduced by GW and keep people in the hobby. Get people excited for troops that have been obsolete for years and will make a comeback as we find out more about the rules (like space marine devastator Elder Dark Reaper and Chaos Marine havoc squads!)  A large part of people overcoming change is down to the community encouraging them to give the system a chance, to try the new system in a welcoming way, and yeah, walk away if they don’t enjoy it and still play blood bowl with them with a smile later.

Just remember that the person on the other end of the screen screaming about the change may be a kid who has just dropped 3 years savings on a FW model and feels that he might have wasted all that money.  It might be someone who has loved 40k for 30 years and is worried the game he loved is going forever.  Or yeah, it might just be a bit of an arse.  But you?  You’re better than that!  Please?

Every time I see someone laughing about the “tears of the haters”, or good riddance to all those whiners, it makes me want to play games that still welcome players, not drive them away.  And that’s got nothing to do with rules.

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