5.20.2010

Types of Gamers, and Conflict on the Internet

We all know there are three types of 40K player:

We've got the casual, fluffy player.  Here's a dude that probably won't play without a painted army; if it isn't, it will be!  He's got big plans and lovingly created conversions.  He loves narrative campaigns and wild scenarios.  He probably has a core gaming group that meets weekly at a mate's house.

Then we've got the tournament player - and here's a dude that may not get to play in a tournament all year, but he's thinking about it.  If his army is painted, it's because the event requires it.  It's a sure bet he's spent more time thinking about the in-game advantage of a unit than what it looks like in comparison to the rest of his army.  He plays at the local store and tries to get in as many games as possible with as many different people as possible, because he's convinced he needs the practice.  Here's a guy that plays at one points level - that is, the value of the next tournament he hopes to attend - with one army, and with one goal in mind.  Winning!

But he not a WAAC-douche - that's a third category of guys that would club baby seals and hasn't seen a chick naked in a long, long time.  If he has, they're dating and she's a bipolar control freak.  He's a miserable piece of shit that get's his jollies cheating so he can lord it over 12-year old kids.

Most of us are a mix of all three - and yes, I mean category shithead as well.  We've all of us had moments we weren't proud of.  We're human.

That guy in solitary at your nearest prison staring in his toilet bowl trying to decide which piece of poop to smear himself with is human too - so remember that the next time you're feeling full of yourself.

I've been giving this topic some thought this week, given the maudlin kind of mood I've been in since graduation.  Sorry: I've got no answers for you, just thoughts.  There is no wrong way to play... except the WAAC douchebag, of course, but remember when you slip into this mode - and you will, if you play long enough - that there's nothing that's not made worse by failing to see where you went wrong and apologizing to your peers.

Now, a detour.

I'm a happily married man.  Now.  I used to be married to the Bipolar Control Freak from example three, who I happily refer to as my ex-whore, but I digress.  Still, most of my gaming group is made up of happily married, otherwise normal guys.  Sometimes you can spot a geek coming from a mile away (if you can smell him first, he's a card-gamer) but more often than not, the successful geek is a Stealth Geek.

A Stealth-Geek is an otherwise normal guy who can't shake off childhood and just has to play with toys.

With me so far?  So my mates are Stealth-Geeks, by and large the best kind of geek to be.  I've theorized the Stealth-Geek learned his trade in high school, to avoid getting his ass kicked.  That's how I developed, I think.  I was actually fairly popular, being lucky enough to attend a school in England where being weird and having a strange sense of humor was actually appreciated.  Except by the football team - I know!  How cliched!  They'd regularly gather in packs to beat the crap out of me due to my inability to keep my mouth shut.

Yea, you'd think muscular dudes could take a joke at their expense.  Not so, I'm here to say.

Since I've detoured to this place, I'll finish the story.  I came up with the best joke of all, and tried out for the football team.  Turns out running from jocks is a good way to develop speed, because during tryouts, to the utter chagrin of all concerned, it turned out I was the fastest sprinter in school.

True story.  I made the Varsity team my sophomore year.  The beatings didn't stop though, just went underground.  You see, there's a type of jock called the Stealth-Beater...

Not interested?  Okay, he's probably serving you Happy Meals now.  (Probably not.  There is no karmic justice; the Stealth-Beater is probably on Wall Street, having gone through higher education to learn the maths necessary to convince women 4-inches is 6.)

Categories aren't limited to war gamers.  Despite the card gamer joke, most of us have multiple failings.  Chances are you like role-playing and video games.  No?  Then you've stumbled here by mistake.

You see, I learned something about role-players that I'd like to share, briefly, since this is turning into the Great-Wall-of-Text.  There are two types:

Roll-Players and Role-Players.

Roll Players are those who, like the Master Manipulator (every store needs one), treat these games like an extension of wargaming.  They use miniatures and know every rule in the book.  Their enjoyment comes from building the toughest party possible to defeat the GM's toughest NPC's into the dirt.  There is a very adversarial, us vs him thing going - but they like it that way.  Each gaming session is punctuated by a fight scene that can take hours.  They love it.  Numbers matter.  Gear matters.  These groups can be quite large.

Role-Players enjoy telling a story.  To them, the game is like a favorite book, and there are times the rules become an annoyance that gets in the way.  These players work with the GM and don't mind if games go by without conflict, as they believe the conflict is more meaningful for the buildup.  The death of a favorite enemy can be a kick in the guts, but often the enemy manages to escape right before capture.  The players don't feel cheated.  Numbers don't matter.  Gear doesn't matter.  These groups are usually quite small.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm in the last group.

There is no right or wrong way to do it.  The MM(esno) and I have talked about these topics before, and both of us are aware we wouldn't enjoy playing in the others group.  We each have a group we fit in and expectations for how the game is going to play out.

So why doesn't it work this way with wargamers?  If you take the categories of 40K player I outlined above, why doesn't it fit so neatly?  I think many times folks have an expectation for 40K based on how they'd prefer to see it played, but there is a disappointment when it doesn't pan out that way.

MVB already tackled this topic far better than I could.  Check it out.

I leave you with this.

My gaming group is currently playing the new edition of Star Wars.  In yesterday's game, four Stormtroopers walked into a bar - and if that's not the start of a joke, someone ought to invent it!  Anyway, when our meeting in a dive bar on Tatooine was interrupted by a sweep of Stormtroopers, the bar when quiet and folks were scared.

Stormtroopers shouldn't be a joke; these dudes are soldiers in an occupied territory.  Imagine a group of them putting the boot to some sapient behind a bar, right beneath promotional posters of the Empire.  Or a checkpoint that's deadly serious business, because the Hutts are using Jawas as suicide bombers.  C'mon!  You don't think the Hutts aren't running an inter-species sex trade?

Add a touch of realism to Star Wars and it's a scary place to be.  That's why I think my way is better than the MM(esno)'s, because if the stats in a book aren't what they should be, I'll change them.

That's said, I'd never dream of doing that to 40K...

So can you see why there's conflict on the internet?

EDIT: I've now got the material I need to finish this article.  Here is a comment from the other camp.  The Master Manipulator (every store needs one) said:

You contradicted your self in saying that there is no right way to play, but then go on to say you way is better.

As a side, I don't particularly mind the style you prefer. The problem is those who I game with and those who GM tend to make it that way and so it is what it is.

To me it is sort of an extension of war gaming. Mainly because that is how the groups I am in normally play. We tend to view the game rules as laws of physics. Only to be changed by God or the GM(if you believe in such things). Its a framework of unalterable guidelines that every player is bound by.

The gear and skills are great but not a necessity. I get as much enjoyment out of the tactical challenges laid before me as I do the interaction of the characters. I enjoy the interaction, but most of my groups do not place enough thought into their characters to really see things the way you describe the Star Wars example above. As well the GM never tends to emphasize those traits when we are presented with such adversaries.

Mainly it takes a certain type of player, who is placed in the correct type of situation. For me and those I game with most frequent it is the tactical side and the accomplishment of goals inside the limitations of the rules that we have come to enjoy.

It does not make what I do better or worse than what you prefer, it simply makes it different. I do not think you can even begin to decide on whole what is better or worse except in your own view, and that is the only thing that really matters. It is what I/you enjoy, so it is what I/you do. Or its possible that is what you were saying and this reply is wasted text arguing to agree...
 
Maybe! - Brent

17 comments:

Schnitzel said...

I'd just like to point out that I have devoured you're wall of text... That aside, I have no real comment. Good read though.

Chumbalaya said...

Lots there, still digesting.

{^}

Master Manipulator (every store needs one) said...

Great article Brent. Except you contradicted your self in saying that there is no right way to play, but then go on to say you way is better.

As a side, I don't particularly mind the style you prefer. The problem is those who I game with and those who GM tend to make it that way and so it is what it is.

To me it is sort of an extension of war gaming. Mainly because that is how the groups I am in normally play. We tend to view the game rules as laws of physics. Only to be changed by God or the GM(if you believe in such things). Its a framework of unalterable guidelines that every player is bound by.

The gear and skills are great but not a necessity. I get as much enjoyment out of the tactical challenges laid before me as I do the interaction of the characters. I enjoy the interaction, but most of my groups do not place enough thought into their characters to really see things the way you describe the Star Wars example above. As well the GM never tends to emphasize those traits when we are presented with such adversaries.

Mainly it takes a certain type of player, who is placed in the correct type of situation. For me and those I game with most frequent it is the tactical side and the accomplishment of goals inside the limitations of the rules that we have come to enjoy.

It does not make what I do better or worse than what you prefer, it simply makes it different. I do not think you can even begin to decide on whole what is better or worse except in your own view, and that is the only thing that really matters. It is what I/you enjoy, so it is what I/you do. Or its possible that is what you were saying and this reply is wasted text arguing to agree...

Brent said...

Dear Master Manipulator (every store needs one),

I completely agree. I wanted a response from you and knew you'd give it if I dropped some bait.

Thus the line. I did recognize the contradiction!

Your response was worth it; I'm glad I got it.

Now I can finish my article...

Gauthic said...

You devious scalawag!

--Oh and suicide bombers Jawas?!?!?!?!

"Tee hee!"
"Ikeena mee koosa ha speeda"
"Ookwass dok pundwa keena"

Anonymous said...

Something finally got me out of my lurker state. Was the Master Manipulator (every store needs one)manipulated here into giving a comment?
We may have an apprentice MM(esno).

Farseer Tim

Mercer said...

Number 2 for me! Oh, I'm going to steal this post and link it back, that ok? :P

Master Manipulator (every store needs one) said...

Ahh....even though I may have the MM(esno) title, that does not mean I myself am immune to manipulation. Knowing how someone will respond makes it easier. That is why Little Barerra gets stuck eating lemons some times.

The thing that amazes me is that most of the time I can see that stuff coming. For some reason I never seem to catch the manipulation from Brent though. Maybe it's because I do not think of him as the manipulating type. Well, did not think of him as the manipulating type.

Gauthic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gauthic said...

"Manipulate me once, shame on you.
Manipulate me twice, shame on me."

hehe

Carlos said...

So would that make you "The Manipulators Manipulator" or "Mini-Manipulator" or "The Average Manipulator: not too much, not too little just enough".

Zheilt said...

Thanks Gauthic, but I prefer to manipulate myself....

Brent said...

lol - no shame in that...

The_King_Elessar said...

Interesting. I posted some thought on the Heresy News Network blog - but since it didn't get much attention perhaps I will repeat them on Mind War.

Herr Fernseher said...

Tiff would definitely be interested in what you're calling ROLE playing. Here's my entry for your stoorm trooper joke contest:

Four Storm Troopers walk up to a bar. Knock-knock.
“Who’s there?”
“Open up!”
“Open up who?” CRASH! “IIIIIIiiiieeee!!!” Bzzt! Zzapp! Zztt! Chow!

Herr Fernseher said...

BTW, thanks for link to the Social Contract in Wargaming. Leads me to ask a question (that also might make an interest post for you): How do you assess our local group? I probably only have a slight claim to being a "stealth geek" (with "stealth" being the questionable part of that equation), as you put it, so I am always iterested when an opportunity to quantify social dynamics comes along. (I just heard of a software program that gives you a realtime read out on your voice's volume, tone, content, etc., giving warning signals when you venture outside of socially acceptable parameters. I am both frightened and intriqued by this technology...)

Anyway, off the top of my head I came up with the following, and I'm curious whether you can add to or use this:

Five continuums

List composition: fluffy< >competitive

Tolerance of others’ behaviors: very comfortable with variation< >clones (look/talk/act the same)

Proxy: Poorhammar 40 ₵ (paper doll cut outs)< >No proxy, WYSIWYG

Importance of rules: disposable< >inviolable

Paint: assembled only< >finely painted (competing with peers)

Probably the easiest one to break down into a numbered rating system is the painting (it has been done for tournaments).

Adapating what I vaguely remember from one of these tournaments, I get something like this:

1) Assembled
2) The above plus flashing removed
3) The above plus primed
4) The above plus a color
5) The above painted to a 3 color minimum
6) The above with the bases treated, flocked, etc.
7) The above done well
8) The above done using advanced techniques
9) The above done for every piece put on the table, including peripherals (cups, dice, templates, etc)
10) The above done for all pieces, armies, at all times, because of a high degree of pride or competiveness—anything less is an embarrassment, both personally and for the group as a whole.

If you assingn a number value for all 5 categories and total them, you would have an overall score. A group with a lower score could be considered "laid-back, accepting, story-oriented," or, depending upon your point of view, "lazy, having no taste/standards, soft." On the other end, a group with a high score could be considered "competitive, talented, or aggressive," or conversely as "mean, cliquish, close-minded."

Personally, I enjoy the entire spectrum, but marrying into a family who plays games only for social reasons, I’ve learned to add the following objective to every game I play: “Discover the gaming expectations of your opponent ASAP.” Which is why I'd like to hear your two cents on this one--to figure out what the local expectations might be. Thanks!

Brent said...

Fernseher... You've given me a lot to think about, and you're right, no doubt I'll turn it in to a post! I'll get back to you on this one.

TKE: your thoughts are always welcome. I wasn't aware you'd done a post on the topic - I'll go check out Heresy Online and look for it.

Brent

(A new favorite!) Anon: I haven’t even bothered playing a game of 6th yet, cause I have read the rules, and actually understand how they interact with units. I know my armies no longer function how they should, and so I need to change them.

Strictly Average: 'cause 6-inches is all you get.

Stalking Jawaballs since 2009.

Jawaballs: "My butt just tightened up."

Brent, preferred 2-to-1 over Not Brent in a recent, scientific poll.

Brent: emptied the Kool Aid and DRINKING YOUR MILKSHAKE with an extra-long straw.

Unicorns don't exist.

Home of the Stormbuster, the Dyson Pattern Storm Raven.

I'm a comment whore and this whore is getting no play.

Not Brent hurts Brent's feelings.

I think, therefore I blog.

"You should stop writing for everyone else and worry about your crappy blog." - Anon.

Not Brent has been spotted lurking around with a green marker.

He's not like a bad guy from a cartoon, all devious but never quite evil, Not Brent is bad beans, man, bad beans.

Dethtron: "Again I feel obliged to remind you that trying to sound smart only works if you are."

MVB: "I am not one to join the unwashed masses of self-titled 40k experts out there distributing advice from their blogs about exactly how your list should be built..."

Shiner Bock on tap: that's how I choose hotels.

Strictly Average: The Home of Hugs and Gropings.

Don't feed the trolls!

MoD: "Welcome to Brent's head."

Competitive is Consistent.

Dethtron: "...you could use that extra time to figure out a way to get your panties unbunched and perform a sandectomy on your vagina."

Dethtron: “When calling someone an idiot, it's generally best to avoid making grammatical mistakes.”

Warboss Stalin: "You know, if it actually WAS funny, maybe I wouldn't mind."

Mike Brandt: "It's not a successful bachelor party if you don't misplace someone".

"The Master Manipulator (every store needs one): "...now, enough stroking."

Kirby: "I don't know about gropings. Seriously, Brent, keep it in the pants, please."

Loquacious: "No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get Hugs & Gropings or Stalks Jawaballs into Brent's little tribute."

Captain Kellen: "I rate this article a Brent on the Faith Hill to Nancy Pelosi scale!"

Drathmere: "Come for the balls, stay for the Brent? Kind of disturbing, man."

Go no further, lest thee see something thine eyes would fain look past!

Isabelle: "So, thank you for supporting your local and not so local unicorns. A noble gesture like that can show some scared kids out there that they don't have to hide from everyone and it's ok to be who they really are."

There is nothing more interesting than We The People... in all our beautiful, ugly glory!

On Internet Advice: You see, I have an almost religious belief that's it's a huge, colossal waste of time.

...I think I'll call it the Gun Shy Pattern Stormbuster, because after the Internet destroyed my first humble effort, I find I'm a bit worried about the reaction to this one.

Lauby: "Is it left over from that time you thought that you could just complete step one 12 times to meet the mandates of that court order?"

Not Brent: "I guess we'll have to read on and find out. Signed, Not Brent. Especially today."

Cynthia Davis: "I think the scrolling text is from Glen Beck's new book."

Grimaldi: "Spamming certain units creates interesting possibilities but also fatal weaknesses."

Purgatus: "Math can inform decisions. It cannot make decisions."

Thoughts? Comments? Hugs and gropings?

You'd be that much quicker to figure out what I mean when I refer to a Unicorn if I covered it in a rainbow flag.

SinSynn: (To Brent) "Curse you and your insidious influence on the internets..."

Dave G (N++): "You know you're an internet celebrity when your following is more akin to tabloids."

I prefer the term Internet Personality (or IP) myself, seeing as how I coined it.

Lauby: "Your attempt to humanize him as failed. I feel nothing but scorn for his beard - it's like a warcrime or something."

BBF: "I've always thought you are a good player but I finally figured out that you are a great player. It's hard to see sometimes because your personality is engaging, sincere and quite charming - to me that is kind of a rare combination."

'Clearly cheating?' I didn't misspeak: you jumped to conclusions. If you'd like to apologize I'll be happy to send you an autographed picture of my ass.

Ass.

I thought I was doing alright before I realized I was losing.

Age and treachery beats youth and vigor every time.

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