Monday, July 18, 2011

My Changing Preferences in Gaming

I'm going to muse a bit about how my hobby time has changed over the past few years. I'm not sure how interesting this is going to be to anyone else, but it was interesting to me, so here it is.

A while ago I discussed why I'm not playing many miniatures games anymore, and mentioned that my current "preference hierarchy" when it comes to games has changed. It used to be that miniatures games were near the top of my hierarchy, but they're now below board games and RPGs. I thought I'd go over some of the reasons why that's the case.

One reason is prep time. Miniatures games suck up time outside of actually playing the game. Assembling and painting models take me forever. RPGs also take a certain amount of prep time, especially when running them, which is one reason they're behind board games which take minimal prep time, but it's minimal when compared to miniatures games, at least for me.

Prep time wasn't really a factor when I was single. In fact, it was a bit of a bonus as if I didn't have anything to do I could work on miniatures. At this point in my life there's rarely a time where I "don't have anything to do," even though I technically have more "free time" right now then at many points earlier in my life.

Another reason is community. There's a couple factors involved here, and I want to start off by saying I don't mean to offend anyone in the local gaming community. They're mostly a great bunch of people, and I know at least a couple of them read the blog. The thing is that they're not the community I'm used to.

I first got talked into playing Warhammer Fantasy and 40K by a couple of my best friends from college. We had played RPGs and Battletech back then, and when years later I moved out to California they roped me into playing Fantasy and later I roped them into playing 40K. Our games were infrequent, but when we had them I was always playing with at least one guy I'd known for years. The games had their share of trash talk, but overall it was an extremely casual environment.

After the Warhammer group ceased being able to get together, I got into Flames of War mainly just to try painting the models. It was only later that I got the chance to play it. The guys I played it with weren't guys I'd known for years, but they were still very casual in their play.

When I say casual, I mean that we had no interest in tournaments. We played to win, but we didn't spend hours trying to put together the ultimate list. We played with armies we thought would be fun to play with. Although they were largely strangers when we first started playing, I count some of those guys among my best friends now.

The community here is different. Even though some complain about the lack of turnout at tournaments, it's actually incredibly tournament focused. The vast majority of the players around here play in tournaments. A higher percentage than I've seen anywhere else I've played (which admittedly hasn't been that many places).

I've never been interested in tournaments, and even if I was I couldn't do them because of my schedule. That leaves me with a community that I don't really fit into all that well.

Without an active community, there's a lot less incentive to keep up the level of work it takes to stay involved with a miniatures game.

The final reason is money. This isn't a huge reason for me. I still spend a lot of money on hobbies, just not on miniatures. Still, it is a factor. When I was single, if I wanted to spend a little extra on miniatures I could choose to not go out to eat for a while. For some reason my wife doesn't seem pleased when I tell her we're not going out to eat tonight because I bought some miniatures earlier in the week...

So, that's why miniatures have fallen back behind RPGs and board games. They have less prep time, I have a small but active community that plays them, and they cost less money (for the most part).

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