Gaming snobbery. I’m a gaming snob: I admit it. Well, to a certain extent. I’m sure that a lot of people would claim they’re not.
I don’t play LARPs (Live Action Role Play). I occasionally play video games (both PC and console). I play wargames or boardgames sporadically. I don’t play collectible card games at all. I play RPGs largely and don’t have much interest in the others. To all intents and purposes that makes me a party to gaming snobbery. When you get down to it, Batman (who’s 75 recently) gets it right:
It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me – Batman Begins
I don’t like LARPs for the simple reasons that I cannot suspend my disbelief enough. Plus I’m not entirely convinced this is something I should be doing at my age and don’t consider dressing up fun. It’s why I don’t cosplay either – not even for Halloween! I know people put a lot of work into their costumes and the like but LARPs just don’t float my boat. Plus, I’m not totally comfortable with how some of the local LARPers come across “out of game”. Don’t get me wrong – many LARPERs are friends. There’s something a bit creepy about a 40-year old man (to my mind anyway – that’s my age!) hanging out with teens and 20-somethings in costumes. Gaming snobbery? Perhaps.
In the case of PC and console games, the main obstacle to me is the time involved. I already have to ration my time during the week and at weekends. I can’t really spend more than a couple of hours playing, if that. I also find some sequences of repetitive button mashing to be extremely frustrating, especially if you have to respawn and spend 15 minutes doing the same thing again. Multi-player games are hard-going for me – Half Life 2: Deathmatch and Aliens vs. Predator are the ones I’ll go back to play. Subscription games or others (like World of Warcraft) that rely on hours of quests are a waste of money for me – again, time! Gaming snobbery? No.
When it comes to wargames, it’s more the logistics involved. I’m all too aware that moving a number of miniatures across town is somewhat tricky if you don’t have a car! I used to play wargames – wh40k and Warhammer Fantasy Battle, plus a homebrew Airfix soldiers game(!) and have Deadzone and Battletech. However, to a certain degree there’s a part where I have to rein in my nature. I’m not competitive usually but I don’t like losing, especially if my opponent(s) denigrate me for it. I tend to resent losing, and although I try to be a good loser, it’s difficult. Conan gets it right – and it pretty much sums up my wargaming mentality.
Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.
This is why I don’t play them very often. It brings out the worst part of my nature, a nasty competitive streak. I’ll literally focus on destroying the enemy. There’s also a certain amount of respect needed – if I’ve painted my army (or not), I don’t want to hear an opinion unless I’ve asked for it. Gaming snobbery: No.
Boardgames are tricky, because there’s some convergence with wargames. I’ve less of an issue with boardgames are they’re usually fun to play, but I still have to consistently try to resist the urge to be a sore loser. I don’t have many, but I do love some Attack Wing, DungeonQuest or Talisman. The biggest obstacle is the set-up time and time needed to play. Also finding an opponent can be a bit tricky at any given time. Boardgames are always a go-to option if I can’t do an RPG. I always feel they’re a kind of second-rate option as a result. Plus if its my boardgame you’re playing, respect the pieces. Don’t chuck ’em down. If you’re interested in the game, ask first before pawing through it. Gaming snobbery: Yes, to a minor degree.
Card games. Oh boy, have I been wrestling with this subject. I love Munchkin and simple games like Top Trumps! Like boardgames above, I believe it’s fine when you’ve a closed set as it were (Munchkin), but it’s CCGs (Collectible Card Games) like Magic: The Gathering that usually arouse my ire. Ironically, it’s not the game itself – although any game that encourages the buying of extra pieces of card to enable you to beat an opponent smacks of an Evil Empire to me. Ironically, it’s the not the games themselves – it’s some of the players. Before I go any further, this is a small minority that ruins it for anyone else. My prejudice against them comes from a small minority of idiots here in Edinburgh. Not all card gamers in Edinburgh are idiots but these are “poisoning the well”. This small minority has alienated gamer-friendly venues (bringing food and drink to pubs that sell food), are noisy and disruptive; assume they’ve a right to take over any (or every table) in a venue. Also many of this minority have a casual approach to personal hygiene: they stink, or look like they’ve not washed in months. It’s a small minority, but I saw the same thing at Q-CON too, so it’s not just Edinburgh. Gaming snob: Yes, sorry – a toxic few have alienated me from this part of the gaming fraternity.
And finally, there are RPGs themselves. There’s a huge amount of snobbery within the RPG community itself. I’ve heard it said that if you play D&D, you’re not a proper roleplayer. Nonsense. Totally and utter nonsense. Or that Vampire players want to be their characters (isn’t that the whole POINT of RPGs?). FATE or GURPS is the only system that works. Or that World of Synnibarr is a good system for newbies (SNARK ALERT!) – well, in the case of that one, take it with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Ultimately, take any RPGers opinion: they’ll be convinced that the current system that they’ve been playing for X number of years is the best EVAH! There’s those who claim D&D4e is a wargame/boardgame and denigrate the GM because of it – personally, I’ve run 4e as a GM. It works if your players ARE ENJOYING IT. Anyone willing to GM has put a significant amount of time and effort into the game, so it’s worth remembering that. Criticise the system by all means, but not the GM – or players – unless they’ve asked for it.
So ultimately: I’m only guilty of gaming snobbery when it comes to CCGs, and even then, that’s not down to the hobby. I do admit to a certain elitism when it comes to RPGs though.