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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sat Jan 02, 2021 3:49 pm

The Zenobia Award further empowers the already empowered. Anyone who has contemporary experience in any educational, governmental, military or large-corporate institution knows that women, non-whites and LGBTs raft on a sea of privilege while men swim as best they can. It would all seem oh-so-modern if it didn't look so much like the final sinking scene in the movie 'Titanic'.
Ok, EICJoe can delete or ban me if he wants, but I can't let this post stand without comment. I know I won't convince anyone of anything but I need to levy an objection to this statement.

Comparing the child of a successful representative of a minority population to an average or below-average example of the majority population is a fallacy, pure and simple. The majority is not struggling to swim while every minority is given life boats. This is not the Titanic.

Instead, to try to tag along with your strained analogy, the majority is struggling to swim, but they at least were given swimming lessons. The minority never had swimming lessons and are literally drowning. Can some swim? Sure. They were the lucky ones with maybe some parents who happened to be successful. And you know what? Those are the ones that you see because they aren't sinking to the bottom. They might even be swimming right on by you because their parents were more successful than your parents. But if, instead, you're standing on a coast guard vessel with life preserves to distribute, who do you throw them to? The population struggling to swim, but for the most part keeping themselves afloat, or the population that is rapidly floundering? If you're doing your job right, I'd argue that you save the people sure to die before propping up the population likely to live.

Just because you individually may have been disenfranchised in the past doesn't mean that the population as a whole hasn't seen broad benefits from a host of other places you probably have never seen.

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Sat Jan 02, 2021 6:16 pm


Progress absolutely is not always a good thing. I mean...we play historical wargames here. How can you honestly say that progress is ALWAYS a good thing when we have example after example of how that's absolutely not the case. When the Weimar Republic progressed into the Third Reich, was that a good thing? That was progress, whether you want to admit it or not. Maybe when the Romanovs were overthrown in the October Revolution, launching a campaign of terror where millions of people would die just over the next few years alone thanks to the Reds campaign of political terror? Was that progress good? Maybe when the Roman Empire collapsed and was replaced by warring barbarian tribes/"kingdoms", causing hundreds of years of political instability, constant warfare, a degressing of technology, education, political organization, medical knowledge, civic engineering, etc? Was that progress good?

I'd love to know some examples of where this kind of "progress" hasn't fractured a community or completely remade it into a mockery of it's former self. Like I said, if there is a natural diversity within the community, or even an interest in people who aren't currently within the community, then it will flourish on its own. Having articles written like this, bashing the vast majority of the community for the benefit of a few, is most definitely NOT the way to make that diversity flourish. I mean...has nobody learned the lessons of the last few years? Things like this are why gaming journalism is a dying/dead creature. Has nobody learned the lessons of Gawker? How about Game Informer? Or any of the numerous other outlets that have shuttered their doors because they insulted and shoved away the majority of their audience in anticipation of this new, diverse audience that never showed up? We have, you know, HISTORY to show us that this kind of "progress" kills communities. But hey, if wargamer.com wants to push away the majority of their audience for that new, diverse, inclusive audience that literally doesn't even have the numbers to make up for the people they're pushing away, let alone actually show up, then by all means, enjoy your "progress".

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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:02 am


We will have to agree to disagree, I stand by my numbers (which are copies SOLD and NOT printed) and if Panzerblitz was an exception, what in the world would selling a million copies of SL/ASL be? Looking back at the early 80s, I see that SPI advertised 200+ games in stock for sale and then add to this count XTR (Cross the Rubicon, how many knew that?), Avalon Hill, Victory Games, GDW, 3M and more, plus S&T coming in at 30,000 subscribers (much less today with over 50% of the copies absent the game). I don't think there was a lack of games to buy, and from the few hard numbers I have been able find, 5 - 10,000 units a title was relatively normal. And these aren't companies like COA that publish one or two games a year, maybe. I am disappointed you think I'm disingenuous, and I do understand some of the environmental factors you note, so if you have better numbers and other non-anecdotal information, I'd certainly be interested in seeing it.

What I see is more a lack of gamers wanting such games (Panzerblitz, Paths of Glory) because of nothing more than normal generational demographics, perhaps garnished with some cost issues when compared to similar computer fare. One generation passes on, another generation with different tastes and desires takes its place. Thus, there seems to be no reason to diversify because the hobby is already diversifying on its on as part of the normal course of events. I see no sinister attempt to block this diversification as in most cases the market will dictate what the hobby industry will produce, and if its Versailles 1919 as opposed to Stalingrad 42, well that's life, get over it. Hell, this happens even in mini land where solid historical wargaming miniature firms like Blue Moon Enterprizes are releasing the Armies of Oz (yes, that Oz, with the Wizard and Glenda)

Just my two shekels worth, based on a lot of research (my master's thesis for the DIA Joint Military Intelligence College was adopting commercial wargames for intel training, so thank you taxpayer for footing that bill), but who knows, I've been wrong before, likely will be again.

Finally, I really can't discuss comfort levels for screens as my research background and knowledge base of data is not where I want it, but I can for miniatures, although I have written for and assisted in game design with SPI, GMT and Richard Berg in particular. I have been on the Board of Directors of HMGS (Historical Miniatures Gaming Society), am now a member of its Legion of Honor, so this gives me both formal and private access to a lot of information and the people behind it. You know the late John Hill for Squad Leader, I know him for Johnny Reb and colleague in the Legion of Honor, same for Frank Chadwick of GDW.

So yes, I think I got a really good pulse on things there and things are good.

PS: The comparison of traditional vs "asymmetrical" games was for GMT best sellers in 2020 only.

Ciao, Colonel Bill

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Sun Jan 03, 2021 9:52 am

IMO, this is a well done article which highlights any of the new innovations in wargaming. I cannot understand all the backlash above, it's not as if people want to throw out the old hex and counter wargame, we just want to see new takes on conflict simulation.

As to the Zenobia awards, we already have awards for the traditional wargame designers out there (e.g. Charles S. Roberts), but these inevitably focus on the more popular "mainstream" wargames. If we have film festivals to shed light on independent film makers, why not have an award to highlight some lesser known designers? You might discover something cool.

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Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:23 pm

I think there are a few unsubstantiated claims in this article.

1) That the comunity isn't a welcoming place

This needs to be shown using hard data, not some cherry-picked anecdotes.

2) That the community isn't diverse

I think the article is perhaps too pessimistic. There may well be underrepresented groups in the community . I am concerned that a box-ticking mentality is being adopted here, that sees people in terms of a few narrow characteristics.

The article concludes that "We must make our gaming spaces feel like safe spaces for marginalized groups. "

That is just one possible conclusion based on one possible world view (i.e. ideology). One that appears to be fashionable at the moment, but it isn't necessarily correct, or morally right. An ideology which appears to primarily view people as victims or oppressors, depending on their group membership, and which doesn't appear to tolerate any notion of nuance. Rather narrow-minded and divisive, if you ask me. Just be excellent to each other.

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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:41 pm

Colonel Bill,

I was not suggesting that you were disingenuous in your claim, I was just advancing the idea that rely on raw numbers could be misleading. While you are right that by the early 80s the market was well served, Panzerblitz had been out in 1970, in different situation (Dunningan was still working with AH if I recall correctly). But I also qualified numbers for other more modern games. Also Panzerblitz was in print quite long, ASL is still technically ongoing. And looking at demands for reprint to MMP still popular.

I am not commenting on ASL (not a fan), but I have and have played Panzerblitz. Yes I can understand what it did right compared to its predecessor, but nowadays I think Panzergrenadier is a much better choice at the same scale as the War Storm Series. I am looking forward to the reprint of Tank Leader too. Said that I am very partial to the Frank's The Sands of War, I think it was a truly excellent system and package.

But my base line is that it is very difficult to judge player base. We can get glimpse from chats, forums, conventions, but just glimpses. It is funny because even if we are chatting here probably you will not have guessed that I own quite a lot of miniatures (just primed some before typing!) and their assorted rules, I appear as playtester in some, I wrote a couple of articles for TFL magazine... actually despite my wallet cries, I do all three forms... PC, board, miniatures... back when I was living in London I was always at Salute and other shows. Evil Phil Sabin even posted a picture of me on BGG playing lost battles and eating a sandwich made by his wife...

Speaking of which... one day at Salute I literally bumped (we were in line at the KR stand, and I is quite tall, me quite short) in one of my KCL colleagues of the time. We know each other by years, we taught in the same modules, and had offices closed by... and while he knew I was a wargamer (due to my work with Phil Sabin) I did not. Another 'silly' anecdotes. In my second year of PhD I met a Chinese MA Student in my same field (War Studies). We even attended a miniature convention together... and he did not told me until few years later (he had started a PhD I finished mine and was teaching...) he was a wargamer... and only because he saw a review on my blog of a game he owns! Thinking we could have played games together when we were living in the same house...

So we just get glimpses. I do not think that we can really do anything else than an anecdotal approach for the problem, at least for board wargaming. It is by its nature less 'centralized' than miniature wargaming from what I have seen. Clubs are not as important as in the latter, and even shows are by now less central to it. Said that I also know of miniature gamers who never attended a show or played in a club for their entire life... but these are far less common than similar individuals that just focus on board wargames.

This is more true because the market is more reliant on direct sales than on shops. When board wargames (and in Italy even miniatures) seemed on the verge of collapse in the 90s it was visible by the dearth of them in hobby shops, and also the fall of many of these shops plus the demise of AH. But the fact other companies survived, meant there were still sufficient players around. Nowadays it is very difficult to assess the situation. Is also important to note that now the hobby is more globalized. Internet had indeed allowed more contacts. Back in the 80s I would not have been able to playtest a game from AH. Now I do for several companies. When I started playing wargames I was playing with basically like minded classmates because a 16-17 years old was basically stuck in his town. Now I have two ongoing vassal games with a USN officer based in Germany and a ROK friend, and a game with Bruce Maxwell starting on Tuesday. More to the point I played games both online and face to face with a wide selection of world populace... I am also publishing games with US based publisher... something I would have just dreamed when I bought my first wargame!

I think that your positive feelings to the 'miniatures' situation' could be shared also over maps. But these are just my own feelings.

As the diversification... I am all for it. I do not think I have ever said burn TS or Root! What I am not so happy with is the opposite, the lack of diversification that some appears to advocate (hex and counters= hardware fetishization; kinetic conflict=obsolete; or the association of specific games with some kind of restrictive mentalities). And sadly the original article was on that line (and in response to another poster, it was bad, incoherent and not even well researched...). Diversification is not exclusion. If I see a 'sinister' attempt is some people in the professional fields (that I have been involved with) that are trying to basically monopolize it for their own personal gain... as, sadly, often happens in plenty of professional (and even hobby) fields.

As for asymmetrical games, my own Okinawa! (self advertising) from Tiny Battle is covering a quite asymmetrical battle and also an area denial campaign, but with traditional hex and counters!

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Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:52 am

It seems that the author is misinterpreting the survey results. That majority (98%) of the survey responders were "middle-aged men" does not mean this is a "problem". Nor that the supposition that "95% of players are men". There is a reason why this hobby appeals to mostly men and mostly middle-age and older: wargaming is not cheap and time consuming: the younger people can hardly afford the time or money into it. Another way of looking at this is that it is a hobby one must "discover" and invest a lot of time and effort into it - it hardly appeals to teenagers and young people starting families etc.

There is no problem with "diversity", either: women have always been welcome to play but women like different games than men. There must exist all-women groups who play together non-war games on weekends. Is that a problem? Would these groups of all women friends have a "diversity" problem that needs to be "corrected"?

What ratio of men:women is the goal here? At what point will we declare that diversity has been achieved? Is the goal of 50/50 ratio? Why? What would be the point? What would it mean? Why would it matter?

Show me the clubs or groups where women are told: "You can't play with us because you're a girl!" This is some kind of a fantasy, a parallel world that the wokest of you invented to corrupt this wargamer.com outlet with the lie of diversity.

Years ago "Rock Paper Shotgun" was a great website with well written articles that were funny, clever and informative. Over the last 3-4 years RPS fully embraced "wokeness" and diversity and it is now utterly uninteresting, irrelevant and boring: Tim Stone was the last interesting writer there and he is gone.

Wargamer.com - you will end up like RPS if you don't cut out this "diversity" nonsense. You will destroy yourselves with this.

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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:35 pm

I dunno dude, have you seen the WH40K armies some of these teenagers bring to the table? And GW products may be many things, but cheap isn't one of them, extortion maybe, but not inexpensive. Hell, I'd have to take out a second mortgage just to have a third of what these kids own :lol: !

Otherwise, I'd take the 95% number, though useful, with a grain of salt. It really addresses only the historical miniature wargaming genre, and the numbers represent only those who took the time to respond. It was not a scientific survey. I have some more reliable numbers and - because of one of three unique attributes that minis have and other genres do not - there is actually quite a bit more female participation in this wing of the hobby than in computer or cardboard.

BUT NOT AS PLAYERS!!! Because miniature gaming can also be considered an artistic endeavor, not to mention one requiring more formal organization, our Shield Maidens show up most often as administrators and painters - painting instructors. The HMGS Hobby University has trended this way for years.

Ciao, Colonel Bill

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Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:35 pm

Moderator: You know, I was going to let this comment stand but I'm past the point where I'm going to tolerate rudeness and name-calling. If you want to object to the article or the concepts around it, fine, but you will be civil, or you will get off this website.

Fair enough. I own a board too and I know how hard it is to keep a lid on things.

I expected a bad word filter would edit what I wrote in my second post.

What I see now is rather than remove a single word you have deleted one post and removed everything I have written from another. Your board, your rules, but I'll call you out for censoring a contrary opinion. Not at all what I would have done over at my place. I would have done this:

<Admin edit>
< uncivil word removed>

<Opinions need to be civil at all times or membership on this board may be terminated>

With no other editing.

My point is this: If you treat your members with respect, as above, they will return it many times over. OTOH when you treat people as you have here -- censoring their opinions -- you earn no respect at all.


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