Playing games

Hi folks,

So this post is a bit of a change from the norm, and is about why I play Malifaux, and why a recent podcast (or rather, response to that podcast) really made me rather angry/upset (those of you who know me personally will know I’m not someone who easily gets enraged, so strap yourselves in).

To kick off, let’s ask why I (personally) play games. The answer to this comes from basic Google entries under “define: play”, and “define: games”.

Play – “Engage in activity for enjoyment or recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”

Game – “a form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules” AND “An activity that one engages in for amusement”

So those pretty much sum it up. In real life I (like most people) get stressed/tired and have to deal with situations which are serious, and often not particularly “fun” (though I enjoy what I do for a living, it’s not “fun” per se). Malifaux is something which I can use to de-stress, have a laugh, and meet/chat with some great friends about something which is fundamentally inconsequential. If I play some Malifaux tonight and get stomped 10-0, that is going to have no impact whatsoever on anything from the moment the VPs are counted up, to the end of time. No company, friend, or relative is going to fire/abandon me because Seamus red jokered Marcus in turn 1.

I play games to have fun. This (I hope) is why you, dear reader, play Malifaux. If not then I’d argue that you aren’t “playing” Malifaux at all. You’re “doing” Malifaux… like you “do” homework at school.

Of course “playing” can take different forms. Last week watching Craig and Ant (two very skilled players in the UK) play an extremely intense game, they weren’t laughing and joking around (like those of us lower down the tables), but they were clearly having fun, pitching their wits against each other and trying to outplay each other. Of course at that kind of competitive level, emotions can run high. It’s just part of the human condition. Biologically speaking, the body doesn’t know if the competitive feelings it has at that time are due to models and cards being in a certain configuration, or if they’re due to a rival stealing the food which you need to make it through the winter. However, after the game, when it’s clear that you still have enough berries to make through to April, all is well.

Even for me, I wouldn’t call myself a “competitive” Malifaux player (a fine example being my game with Adrian in the previous post, where we both laughed solidly for the full duration of the game about every bad thing that happened to anyone’s models), however I do get a lot of enjoyment from pitching my wit against a skilled opponent, and trying to out smart them (a fine example being my game with Jimmy from the previous post). Occasionally, if my deck isn’t playing ball, or my opponent is using dirty tactics, I can get irritated, but as long as I enjoyed the game, I really don’t care if I get crushed. For instance my game against James was extremely fun, we were both very chatty, he stomped me into the ground, and I didn’t care because it was an enjoyable experience. Of course I tried to win (see the first definition of a “game”), but in the end, he outplayed me, and that was that.

So in summary, in the heat of the moment, emotions might run high, but at the end of the day (I don’t like that phrase) it’s a game, so as long as everyone has a good time, who gives a monkey’s?

Sorry folks, but here ends happy chirpy Dave.

Enter: angry Dave.

The podcast episode I mentioned earlier is/was the “Josh has a revelation” episode of “Through The Breach”, in which Josh (one of the hosts) essentially said that he felt many models were more one dimensional in second edition Malifaux than in first edition. Towards the end of the episode he pointed out that he would like to be proven wrong (a pleasant request, rather than a sarcastic challenge), as he enjoys Malifaux etc, but would like to have the flexibility that he used to have in Malifaux 1.5.

I listened to it when it was new out, and sort of saw what he meant, though didn’t necessarily agree. One of his illustrations was Kaeris, who used to have various board control methods and whatnot, as well as burning stuff, and now generally just burns stuff.

Now whether I agree with that or not is irrelevant. Indeed whether anyone agrees with that or not is irrelevant. Josh is a person, he made an observation about a game that he plays (glance back at the definitions of “play” and “games”), and he stated that observation. All is fine there. He asked people (very politely) to show him that he was wrong. All is fine there. However, rather than taking the approach of “I disagree with your opinion because of these examples…”, it would seem that a lot of the emails/tweets which he (and/or Through The Breach podcast) recieved took the approach of “You’re a flippin’ moron because…” (I haven’t seen much of the correspondence, except a few tweets, so that may be slightly exaggerated).

This is something I just can’t abide. Now I should add that I’m not purely talking about this incident. With the changes from first to second edition, and assorted beta stuff, there’s a fair bit of this around (particularly on the forum, but a bit on twitter too). Switching from “I disagree because…” to “You’re wrong because…” is MASSIVE. I mean monumental.

As I said earlier, in the heat of a high level competitive match I can understand (to an extent) heated arguments over things which may heavily influence the game. However, when someone has given an opinion, based on their experiences and observations, and then said “I don’t want to be correct, please show my why I am not correct”, I do not expect the response to be insults.

I’m proud to be part of the Malifaux community. It’s one of the most friendly and welcoming communities I’ve had the privelage of being in. So let’s just calm down, think about what we want to say, remember that every username is a real person with real feelings who’s playing Malifaux for exactly the same reason as we are: to have fun. That’s all. No, seriously. THAT. IS. ALL. However we want to move our little toy soldiers around, it’s no reason for other people to insult us.

As a final little request, if you’re one of the folks who reacted to what Josh said in an “immediate” way, I’d like to ask that you send him another little email/tweet to apologise for your “passionate” response. It’s a much bigger thing to admit you were wrong than to hurl insults half way around the world through little wires.

And with that, I shall end this post (and stop sounding like your mother). Next time normal service will be resumed with more inane chatter.

Until next time



3 responses to “Playing games

  1. You’re wrong!

    Only kidding, that’s a good post. It’s a shame that things like that have stayed in the Malifaux community since the transition to m2e, maybe the old tolerant community spirit is gone for good?

    • I don’t think so, but I also don’t think the transition is over yet. We are still in the middle of wave 2, people are still getting their hands on the books for the first time and getting to grips with a new system and generally finding their way around it. And for some it’s going to feel like a ‘prominent’ member of the community tells them its wrong to like the new stuff. Not that that’s really what’s happening but clearly some people interprets it that way.
      And because hobbies are something we do for personal enjoyment and frequently have more control over than many other aspects of life (like work) people can get really worked up over being told they are enjoying themselves ‘wrongly’. So the reaction is somewhat understandable(or at least partially expected) even if its still the wrong reaction.
      However, I’m pretty sure that once the initial new and shiny syndrome is out of the way most people will relax and just get on with enjoying themselves. There might always be the one or two individuals who get it wrong, but that’s going to happen in any population.

      It does make me wonder though why some people, who were bound to know they would be aggregated by the discussion even chose to listen to it?

  2. I will say I think this is still a pretty tolerant gaming community. I’ve only been playing for about six months now, but have been very active on the forums and testing for the M2E wave 1 and 2 betas. Even when I disagree with someone the conversation usually ends up pretty constructive. Overall I think malifaux gets players excited, they start to geek out pretty hard over their crews and startegies, ans that’s what I love about the game!
    First time reading your blog, very entertaining, bookmarking this page.

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