Saturday, January 29, 2011

Best Of YTTH: Why We Need Hobby to Be Competitive

Editors Note: I am going to be reposting a few of my favorite articles I wrote at YTTH. I am starting with this one, because to me this is where I first crystalized my "philosophy" of being a competitive hobbyist.

I hope this article is new to at least some of you. It was originally posted here on October 22, 2010.

Why So Much Hobby, Purgatus?

Yeah, why have I been discussing hobby shit so much? I thought I was supposed to be the designated mathlete? (I’m not really qualified for that role, but I do muddle through).

Well, I’ve come to realize that we need hobby to be competitive.

Yes, that’s right, hobby allows for competitive play. Competition ALSO allows for the hobby, but to a lesser extent.


Good. My work here is done.

Alright, alright. Let me explain.

If someone created the most wickedly badass, super clean, slick and fun game system, like, IN THE WORLD, would you play it? I’m talking about dynamic interactions, tactical and strategic depth, sandbox style army creation, smooth mechanics, perfectly balanced for competitive play kind of good.

You would?

Not so fast.

What if that game had no backstory, and all of the units were represented by cardboard squares on a paper map?

Well, granted, some of us would still play that game. (oh Starfire, how I miss your overly complicated but decimal referenced rulebooks…)

But certainly not enough to be able to easily find games. Certainly not enough to form A THRIVING COMMUNITY.


Now let’s move on to the second point. If I go down to my local community college. And go into one particular classroom, and from the population of that classroom I hold a sprinting competition, how competitive will it be?

Probably not very.

Now if I expand my population to the entire country, or the entire world, and let them compete until the very best remain, how competitive will it be?

Very competitive?


What am I getting at here is this: the visual and story appeal of the game attracts many players to our world. The more players we have, the more vibrant our community, the greater the pool to draw from in order to establish competitive gaming events. Let’s face it, we aren’t going to get onto TV any time soon.

But it is certainly reasonable to hope that we can continue to grow and expand.

Why does Competition not support Hobby as much?

Well it certainly DOES support Hobby, since competition also grows our community and I think KEEPS many players who might otherwise become bored and drift off.

And the more players we have the more people there are to appreciate the Hobby side of things. But let’s face it, you can paint models in your basement, you don’t really NEED anyone else to participate.

You NEED lots of other people if you are going to be competitive at this game.

Ok, in summary, I think it is a mistake for competitive gamers to neglect Hobby. I think most of us competitive gamers do in fact love the art, fluff and background of these games (even if we tend to be less strict about how that fluff is translated into our army lists), but there is a wide conception that competitive gamers are out to “kill” the hobby.

I think to counter this we need to actively and openly make it clear that yes, we like the hobby, we love the hobby, we NEED the hobby. We just ALSO want to be competitive and have a balanced rule set. Capiche?

So if you are a “hobbyist” please don’t think we’re out to get you. Maybe try and up your game a bit to become more competitive. But if you are a competitive, hard as nails tournament player (or wannabe tournament player) then please don’t be “that guy” who spouts YTTH dogma while pushing around your grey army of DOOM.

DO keep on writing those competitive lists.

DO continue to up your game.

But ALSO, paint your shit, learn to convert, read some fluff, and promote these aspects publicly (as I know MOST competitive gamers ALREADY paint, convert and read fluff, I’m mostly talking about the promotion aspect, but for those of you who don’t, start!).

Make it clear that it is not a binary choice of “hobby OR competitive.” Hobby is a great recruiting tool and the more players we have, the better off ALL of us will be.