Home Forums General General Has your reason for gaming changed?

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    Avatar photoMike

    Do you still game for the same reasons as when you started?

    I used to game as I liked making armies, painting, getting together and making a big deal of it.
    Fighting a battle, losing out to the other person’s XX type troops, finding out how to beat them, and then buying the required troops if necessary.
    Then testing out the new troops.
    Wash, rinse, repeat..

    Even keeping a tally on my storage box of wins vs losses and against what player.
    Much more about winning back then, but still about the look.

    Now, it is more about the world building and the making rather than the playing.

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    Have the reasons I started gaming changed?


    Yes. Many times.
    I suppose you want examples now? 😀

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoMike

    I suppose you want examples now?

    I demand nothing, only civility.
    Oh, but biscuits would be nice.

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    There is a very nice piece by Phil Barker on p.21 of the May 2016 issue of The Nugget (no. 290) called “Writing Wargames Rules”. This is already available Harry Freeman’s at the WD web page http://www.wargamedevelopments.org/nugget.htm and is worth a read in its own right. What matters for this discussion is the first paragraph, which struck me as an excellent conspectus of the several motivations for wargaming:

    “A set of wargames rules should not only provide an exciting game in which players can demonstrate their skills and show off their painted figures, but also a game which realities to the real historical world.”

    Unpacking this gives us, it seems to me, four more or less distinct motivations:

    1. Playing a game for its own sake
    2. Demonstrating skill in (presumably competitive) play
    3. Showcasing gorgeously-painted military minatures
    4. Simulation of historical reality

    When I started wargaming, 2 and 3 mattered to me a good deal more than they do now, 1 and, especially, 4 now mattering most. I expect that most wargamers are driven by some mixture of all four motivations, but I suspect there are some who can manage entirely, or almost entirely, without one or more of them.

    Paddy Griffith was in the UK the leader of the revolution against “toy soldiers” that WD grew out of, but the (primarily American) world of board wargames had been managing happily without them for a couple of decades beforehand. Certainly there is some pleasure to be had being praised for designing attractive and useable game components such as maps, counters and charts, but I think it is fair to say that this is never going to occupy such a central place in any wargamer’s heart as the decoration of minature figures does in many.

    I have never really seen the appeal of league or tournament style competition in wargames, but I doubt that even the most uncompetitive wargamer’s enjoyment of a game is not sharpened by playing to win. There are colaborative or “multi-player solitaire” games (a format I over-use) where the players are not competing (directly) against each other, but they are still trying to win against Nature/The Plot/The Gamesmaster. We recently had a very interesting discussion about non-random games, motivated, as I saw it, by a desire to emphasise the skill element of wargame play. I think most wargamers would protest mightily if presented with a game that they had no chance of winning (with the honourable and hilarious exception of Greg Costikyan’s “Paranoia”).

    Simulation of historical reality one might think is irrelevant to SF, sci-fi and fantasy games, but it is not necessarily so. Games based on established imaginative stories (Lord of the Rings, Dune, Starship Trropers, why have I never seen a Narnia game?) might be characterised as “literary simulation” — they still try to represent aspects of their chosen world more or less faithfully, it’s just that this world happens to be an imaginary one rather than the historical one.

    The game for its own sake is the only motivation I cannot imagine doing without. Some wargamers seem quite adamant that it is the only permissible motivation of the lot, and will start yelling “It’s supposed to be FUN!” at anyone foolish enough to attempt a serious discussion about any of the other aspects, as if this might be something that had somehow not occurred to them.

    Does that cover the lot? I woudl suggest there might be a couple more.

    Storytelling has been mentioned, and I am thinking here if the sustained narrative effort required to invent your own imaginary world, or create a deep and convincing setting for a wargame campaign. This aspect has a long and venerable thread in wargaming; even before Tony Bath’s Hyborian Campaign, there was H G Wells’ “Floor Games”, the precursor to “Little Wars”.

    Finally, for the excessively po-faced and grown up, there is the design of wargames as educational tools. This is something I have done a little of, and there are sufficient people doing it professionally in the US and the UK to justify the annual “Connections” and “Connections UK” conferences. And, of course, there’s Prof Phil Sabin, who runs the course on wargame design for the Department of War Studies at King’s London.

    If anyone else can come up with any other motivations for wargaming, I’d be interested to know what I’ve missed.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoRod Robertson

    When I began a very primitive style of homegrown wargaming with my buddies in the late 1960’s, I did it because it channeled and focused my imagination, allowing me to immerse myself briefly in a faux-reality and thus provided me a thrill. I still get that same thrill today and my imagination is still immersed and shunted to the realm of ‘what-if’, these many years later. So the Ur-motivation for gaming never changed for me, even though the toys multiplied in number and sophistication and the set-ups became more elaborate. Wargaming allows for the temporary annihilation of self and the suspension of the drudgery of a mundane existence in my case and always has. Pure escapism for a 56 year old little boy!

    Now it’s off to paint some toys!

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson!

    Avatar photoVictoria Dickson

    I think the core reason I do this remains the same, it’s an escape from reality. When I’m working on figures, playing a game or just planning game related things out in my head all my real life cares and worries disappear for the duration. 🙂

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    That’s a great question actually.

    I guess it hasn’t too much but I can better explain it nowadays.

    For me, it was always the image of amazing things happening: Heroics, terror, explosions, scenes out of movies or comic books.
    And that’s still kind of the case, but with more appreciation for history nowadays of course.

    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    I don’t think my motivations for gaming have changed since I got the “bug” aged 7.  I have chosen different practical means over the years but I don’t think the reasons have altered.

    If anyone else can come up with any other motivations for wargaming, I’d be interested to know what I’ve missed.

    In “Class Wargames” https://www.amazon.co.uk/Class-Wargames-Subversion-Spectacular-Capitalism/dp/157027293X ,  Richard Barbrook(currently in the news as the “IRA-supporting communist spearheading Jeremy Corbyn’s digital campaign) suggests that Guy Debord partly designed his wargame to teach the “craft skills” of generalship.  I suppose that is partly covered by your “educational tool” idea, but it goes to show that the education may have a couple of very different aims; is the idea to use the game to learn about history or to learn about generalship?

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    On a grand scale, it hasn’t changed. Though I might not have been able to identify it and put it in words that well when I started, it’s always ultimately been about the escapism of storytelling and world-building to me**, along with the joy I derive from world-building as an actual physical craft where I make the landscapes and populate them with characters, so as to make the story and/or world become something visual that I can delight in and share. Stop me if I’m starting to sound like Ford from Westworld 

    Some of the lower-order motivations have changed, I suppose. When I started out as a Warhammer player, much of the enjoyment I derived from the hobby was from the metagaming, army-building aspect. I spent countless hours studying GW army books and codexes, crafting army lists that struck a pleasing balance between competitiveness and narrative-based “thematicness”. That part is gone from the hobby for me, now. Occasionally I still miss the satisfaction of building things on paper out of points costs and stats, but I try to remind myself of the downsides of metagaming.


    ** Or simulating a different reality, if you prefer to put it that way. This even goes for historical gaming; the main appeal of historicals to me is indulging in “the fantasy of history”.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    Passion then ….. Passion now.

    Can’t even tell you why it is a passion, just something pushed the right buttons.

    Avatar photoRuarigh

    My original impetus to game was an extended form of hanging out with my mates. I think it still is. There’s an element of escapism, but really it’s still just about rolling dice, having a laugh, and talking shite with my mates.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


    Avatar photokyoteblue

    Push toys around the table, roll dice and die in a most gloriously stupid way…it still makes me happy.

    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    1. Playing a game for its own sake
    2. Demonstrating skill in (presumably competitive) play
    3. Showcasing gorgeously-painted military minatures
    4. Simulation of historical reality

    Blimey, when I first started it probably arose out of a desire to use the Airfix tanks we had assembled and the miniatures we had collected. Often fought on the lawn and driveway and sometimes in doors, it was just a great way to have fun with friends and great imaginative play. Winning or losing didn’t matter as we never really finished a game. So really point 1 was my starting point.

    I’ve never been into competitive competition style games, so point 2 holds no interest or history with me. Point 3 certainly played a part with Mordheim as I used to have more time to paint and few options for gaming in those days.

    Nowadays it is very much point 1 & 4 that matter the most, with some nicely painted miniatures that look ok at arms length. A lot of the time when we meet up for games we spend half the time putting the wargaming world to rights etc. Really just a good opportunity for friends to meet up and have a good chat.

    Avatar photoJerboa

    For me the essence in miniatures wargaming has been the miniatures for nearly 4 decades. To have the miniatures I loved in action was the main drive force and I designed rules mainly to see my little gems interacting.
    The miniatures are still the centre of the hobby, if you see how the real industry strives (or fails).

    When I began (teens and early 20s) the ‘simulation’ part was key, after the minis. I saw the rules as an attempt to capture a sizeable part of the real events.  For example we developed formulae to calculate a likely steel plate penetration at 0, 30 and 60 degree slope, when hit by a precise ammunition type at a certain angle.

    But then I grew up. Influenced by great designers and my own experience I started to see that having rules with a top down perspective would allow for a more satisfying gaming experience, because the whole picture can be better portrayed and be closer to the source information on battles. For example in a technical approach of WW2 the Germans have a large edge, that it is just denied by reality, where  factors of much higher importance, i.e. strategical level, prevail over the low tactical tank-vs-tank interaction details,  with only a few of those being covered by rules. And we could fight games to an end.

    So in the intermediate period I started to look and evaluate games based on outcomes, where the tactical details constitute at most  flavour enhancements, not essencial core game engine elements.
    But even in these periods I never saw any wargame as a true simulation, because the difference between the reality and rolling dice is just too large. Hard arguments about game ‘realism’ are just pretentious and not really worth discussing at a serious level. Plus experience dictates that realism is systematically attributed to the last mainstream hype, often contradicting former still fresh arguments.

    Finally the importance of the game part grew larger. As time became more and more scarce, and awareness of the game dynamics increased, having a satisfying intellectual experience while playing became essential, otherwise gaming felt just like wasted precious time.
    In this respect I tend to think that that the quality of the game is now the most important factor. Yet miniatures are still very important, otherwise I would be designing boardgames: I could even become successful then!
    But no, the miniatures part might still rule, because I’m just writing in here.

    In form of a conclusion, I have to admit that miniature wargames is still mainly about THE MINIATURES.
    Have fun.




    Avatar photoDon Glewwe

    It has been, and most likely will always be, model building.

    You can model the attributes of something -be it person, place, or thing- but you (may) eventually branch out and begin to explore modeling the interactions of those things – that’s where gaming comes in: Not just ‘This looks cool’, but ‘What happens is cool'”.


    Avatar photowillz

    From the first Airfix figure up until the latest Crann Tara miniature, its love of the hobby, pleasure and fun it gives me.

    Quote from my Granddaughter – “Granddad  you can’t sing or dance but you paint lovely toy soldiers”, to me that says it all.

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    Speaking of “love of the hobby”, I think my motivations and ideals have changed a bit in that respect, too.

    I started out as a GW fanboy. I genuinely used to speak of “the GW hobby” as the GW publications had indoctrinated me to (this was around WHFB 5th ed and 40K 3rd ed, so GW had already turned quite corporate and hardsell-oriented by that point). Seriously, it got so bad that I outright scorned non-GW miniatures and publications for a while. “Community participation” for me consisted of reading White Dwarf (“the Lawgiver!”), only frequenting forums that were almost completely focused on WHFB or 40K, and trying to proselytise any other hobbyist I came across that happened to like non-GW games. Yes, I was obnoxious.

    These days, a big part of what I love about the hobby is following the “indie” miniatures gaming scene. I don’t only love to actively participate in the hobby by gaming and painting/modelling, I also love to just stand in the current and take in the steady, pleasant flow of developments. Every new product, company or trend is something fun to consume and absorb in my mind. The hubbub of the online community is a pleasure as well. It pains me that I live in a part of the world where there are no shows or conventions. Someday in the future, when I have more poise and confidence, I’d like to contribute to one or several of the magazines or webzines, or even run a modest little webzine of my own.

    Avatar photoirishserb

    My reason for gaming hasn’t changed, but my methods relating to pursuit of the game have changed, and the scope of what I gain from it has grown.

    Avatar photoShaun Travers

    When I started out at 15, it was the fun of playing with toy soldiers, sometimes based on some semblance of history.  Now, 36 years later, it is the fun of playing with toy soldiers, with the historical ones based in a a little bit more semblance of history (well, my view of history formed over that 36  years).

    I expanded what I do in gaming , such as writing rules, but that is still so I can have fun playing with toy soldiers with a bit more semblance of history.  I have drastically reduced painting (I never really enjoyed it that much anyway) so I can have more time to have fun playing with toy soldiers.

    Avatar photoKaptain Kobold

    why have I never seen a Narnia game?

    Maybe not a dedicated game in its own right, but I know of at least three games (including myself) who have Narnian armies for rules including, but not limited to, ‘Hordes of the Things’ and ‘Dragon Rampant’. My blog even includes a set of HOTT lists covering all seven books.

    To stay on-topic, I think I still game for the same reasons I did back when I started; the fun of the game, with the hope that it will give me an insight into the setting I’m gaming (historical or otherwise). I mostly find painting and producing miniatures a chore, but sometimes enjoy it, and do like showing off what I manage to produce, and whilst I only play HOTT competitively (and only then once a year), I like pitting my mighty brain against the equally mighty brains of other people.


    Avatar photoMartinR

    In the broadest sense I suppose it hasn’t changed – ‘Bringing history to life’ as AHGC so memorably suggested. But I rather think the details have changed a fair bit in the last 45 years. I mainly game as a social activity, and I’ve discovered I still really, really like putting plastic kits together, so the recent gamut of plastic models has been a blessing and a curse – as I seem to be busily replacing all my metal vehicles with plastic ones….

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoian pillay

    The reason I game hasn’t changed, I am still a young boy at heart who loves toy soldiers. It’s been the one thing that I haven’t given up on and still brings great pleasure.

    Don’t get much time these days with work. So I am looking to create small (<12mm) mass effect armies and smaller skirmish type games in 15 -25mm  that I can take with me on my business trips.

    I am blessed that my youngest son (5) loves miniatures, just trying to get him using dice at the moment 🙂


    Tally-Ho! Check out my blog at…..

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    I am blessed that my youngest son (5) loves miniatures, just trying to get him using dice at the moment 🙂

    I would have thought a young child would be a superior randomiser than dice 

    Avatar photoAnother Wargamer

    Interest in history is what brought me into this hobby.  Unfortunately, the very first gaming group that I was exposed to was and still is one of the worse.  I endured gaming in that group for almost a year since I was new to the hobby and didn’t know anyone else.  The group ruined my Napoleonic gaming experience with their constant complaints, bickering, rule lawyering… waste of precious gaming time.  The group age range was 40+ years old.  Finally, I gave up one day and moved on to some solo gaming and made the effort to meet new gamers.  These days I game in medieval, dark ages, wild west, darkest Africa and a little bit of fantasy.  Due to the poor introduction to historical gaming, I have not been able to get back to Napoleonic period.

    Avatar photoWilliam Jones

    My reasons for gaming have not changed at all over the many years.  They are very simple and low brow.  I want a few brief hours where I am some other place, some other when, in some dire adventure or other – where I’m reasonably confident of not getting badly hurt.

    It was the same reason I sat on the floor playing with army men, cavalry and Indians, and spacemen.  Wargames – and for a while video games – fulfill the role of space and time machine.  Cheap Tardis simulators to spice too much sameness and uneventfulness.

    At times in my life where other, actual adventure lay just outside the door, my wargaming tapered off to virtually nothing.  Maybe the purchase of a few minis or rules.  I don’t see that in the cards soon, video games/MMORPGs have palled, and gaming is looming larger in my life again.  It is my second bite at the apple too, so my interests are more focused and more satisfying, although purchasing is therefore at a slower rate.

    If I could start over again with a whole fresh measure of time, I would simply dive into 20mm Great War Western Front on a grand scale.  I don’t have the time.

    Discreet, measured, targeted periods henceforth – all aimed to take me on adventures.

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I’m not sure I had a reason when I started, at least, not a conscious one. So I am not sure if it has changed. I’m older (a lot) now and at a superficial glance you would expect the reason you do things to change over time. Not sure I know, though.

    I certainly wanted to enjoy it, and the initial sparks were encouraging – Airfix figures and models, and then Callan (TV series) and Charge! But those were vehicles towards something rather than a reason for doing it. I stopped enjoying it pretty quickly, and after several Tercio based horrors at Stockport Wargames (sorry chaps, it wasn’t you, it was me) I was about to give it all up (so close!). Then I met Andy Callan who made it all work so easily and Paddy Griffith who took it to another level in terms of what you could get out of it in relation to the real world (I know I lost a few people there).

    But the reason?

    No, sorry ,still no idea.


    (PS I have an extremely good explanation for why I wargame but it involves mental states and controlled environments vs the real world – but I’m not sure that’s a reason).

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