Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Real Housewives of 40K.

I'm not sure if you are all unfortunately familiar with it, but one of the many scourges of piece of garbage television culture here in the US, is a series of programs on the Bravo channel called "the real housewives" of "blank (insert city here). The program concerns itself with a bunch of whining, spoiled, vapid, fake, almost universally moronic and always cruel women, who with their emasculated husbands (or boyfriends) parade around fighting with each other having pissing contests over things like who has the better boob job or who can spend the most money in an afternoon. Its the worst kind of mind rotting trash imaginable, akin to nothing but watching people argue for a hour. Unfortunately, women love it. I know some very Intelligent women who shockingly love it. They say its like watching a trainwreck, they see parts of many of their friends in these shameless shrews, and the weekly trainwreck provides them with endless entertainment. Until today I thought I had grossly overestimated the intelligence of some women I know, but then today I read this article on Bell of Lost Souls.

I've railed against Ard Boyz's before and what worthless pile of dung it is, an antithesis to the wargaming hobby, and something no one I would spend 5 mins talking to would ever play in more than once. (Hey- we all make mistakes right?) This article is about a recent Ard Boyz event, taking place in only what I can assume is Texas, and pretty much says it all,- zero hobby, cheating, physical intimidation, all over toy soldiers. This is what much of the 40k tournament scene has become stereotyped as, a bunch of "real housewives" a bunch of knuckleheads, who ought just go throw dice against the wall for money than bother with the wargaming hobby. While I know not "all" 40K events and players are like this, it is a real subsection of hobby that puts an embarrassing stain over the the rest of it just like steroids in Baseball. My greater point here isnt "how bad Ard Boyz sucks" but how places like Bell of Lost Souls perpetuate this behavior, and are these aggregator type blogs, even good for the hobby?

Let me say now that as much as this looks like one, it is not a shot at the guys who started BoLS, who did so surely with the best intentions, while I know neither personally more than in passing at Adepticon or a few emails. I do know they are passionate hobbyists with love of their game and their gaming community. As we all know sometimes the best intentions go astray, outside themselves and with the exception of a few smarter guys that have moved on, the writers are bloody awful, the articles, overall terrible and immature. Most of the "breaking news" is usually days old, recycled from other blogs. Other games are mentioned in passing, but we all know its primarily a 40k blog and The 40k articles generally promote, ultra competitive, Ard Boyz style play and hence its behavior. The kids are clearly minding the store and the whole thing at least to me looks like one big episode of "Real Housewives", not just the regular Episode but one of the special reunion ones, where people sit across from each and argue and scream at the top of their lungs for two hours.

The problem I have is two fold, One- like the trainwreck of said show, I can't help myself from reading it and now I understand where these women I know that watch this garbage are coming from. Two- on a more personal level is a matter of public perception. I see BoLS lack of self policing really just damaging to the overall perception of hobby because it indirectly hurts noble efforts like Heroes of Armageddon ( in which hobbyist built and donated 4 awesome armies for doctors without borders, raising over $30,000.00) While I am not sure there is even any cross pollination between the HoA team and the BoLS community the association is there, because of the blog and the HoA logo plastered all over it. So when you read some of these insane articles about the 40K hobby like I've mentioned. That is just frankly bad for business. Thankfully HoA has come and gone, but the greater point remains. Whether you like it or not Bell of Lost Souls has become somewhat of gatekeeper to the hobby, and when the gatekeeper, looks like the "crypt keeper", your going to scare away just as many people as you bring in.

I would not presume to tell the guys at BoLS what to do, or how to clean up their act. That simply isnt my place, I am one guy with a blog and an opinion, and these days they need to change the old adage from " opinions are like a-holes" to "blogs and opinions are like a-holes". This is just whats on my mind today. I'm not afraid of self analysis, I know I have easily become one of those old grognards who will inevitably will fit in better at Historicon than Adepticon I am sure sooner than later and thats ok, I am also aware its possible, maybe I just dont get it?.

My only bit of wisdom would be to point out that blogs are different than forums, and the shenanigans that go on at certain forums have there place where the public face of a news aggregator doesn't. Just like certain blogs with a narrower focus, are far less offensive, despite objectionable content, because they are not "gatekeepers" or don't try to put everything in one bucket or be anything more than what they are.

So unlike the "Real Housewives" trainwreck the women in my life just cant stop watching, I can't just drop Bravo from my cable channel, but I certainly can disassociate myself from the BoLS alliance and its place in my blog roll so I dont have to watch the trainwreck. In fact I am retooling the overall coverage of the blog anyway to be non-GW, removing the majority of the GW only and 40K blogs, with exception of "hobby only" powerhouses, like Dave Taylors blog, From the Warp and Santa Cruz Warhammer., because despite the traffic I did get from BolS, I have pretty good idea of who reads this blog and who doesn't.


Chicago Terrain Factory said...

I don't know what's worse - that you're watching Real Housewives or that you're not naturally filtering out the drivel on BoLS :)

John@Plastic Legions said...

You know its funny, literally the only thing my wife and I ever fight about is her watching that crap, as for BoLS..like I said its like slowly down for a carwreck, which is why I am removing it...ignorance is bliss!!

King's Standard Bearer said...

well that was an entertaining read! I dont usually bother with reading BOLS long blogs, I just like to look in there if theyve posted some mean pics of an army... but, I read that article when you linked it, and then finished reading yours.
I have to agree that those guys can put people off gaming. I dont currently play, I just like to paint and model, but their blogs do put me off gaming because they just take it too seriously for me.

Lord Azaghul said...

Yeah, gotta agree with you on this.

The BOLS guys have come to believe that 40k revolves are them - and only the. Personally I think they are detrimental for the hobby in the long run

eriochrome said...

I hardly ever read a whole BOLS article. I mainly use the site as a quick check of their blog roll which I check along with paincakes, painting table, and From the warp.

I read the article in question when it was originally posted on the Spikey Bitz blog. Hard Boyz has never been an event that supports the hobby, it is purely an attempt by GW trade to generate meta optimized short term sales. I would really love to see plots of year over year attendence at same locations and how many players come back each time.

Scott said...

Good post, made me chuckle. I suppose if you have prizes up for grabs, and teenage twerps playing the game, you are going to get this sort of thing going on... I agree, if GW are going to endorse this kind of thing then you'd think they should at least have a staffer on duty as umpire....The best 'tournies' I've been involved in were friendlies with mature players and no prizes other than 'bragging rights'....As for trash TV, yeah I have to put up with with what my SWMBO puts on, usually some model competition thing or her recent fave has been some dinner party cook off thing. Total bollox in my opinion. Of course when I try and put on what I want to watch (SKY History) I get cries of "Oh No, not the death channel again. I dont know why you watch this, you know the germans lost!" I guess she has point...

Tim Kulinski said...

Wow, I am too amazed that you know and are watching Real Housewives John, man I thought I knew you buddy!

BoLS as many have said was once good, had pretty good articles and from time to time had some nice stuff to offer. But now..well this latest article shows where it has gone.

I think that any time you have a serious tournament, this sort of thing happens. Hell I had two players that attend GitD from out of state, do this last year at another LotR event and I am sure they did this sort of thing at GitD.

Bottom line is that the organizers of the events have to step up and act when they see this sort of stuff.

Anonymous said...

What a great analogy, comparing Bell of lost Souls to bad reality tv shows! Very astute..makes me ashamed I never made the connection before reading your post--it feels pretty obvious once pointed out.

Sadly, I still swing by BoLS often enough: I've been running WFB & 40k tournaments fairly regularly over the last couple years; and, because all the tourney players read that site a lot (even up here in Canada....sigh) that website is a pretty good way for me to keep my finger on the pulse of what tournament players are thinking.

That said, BoLS has been instrumental in motivating me towards making "anti-tournament-player" tournaments...which have surprisingly gone over quite well.

I was burnt once by 'Ard Boyz--running one, not competing in one: a bunch of the guys who signed up didn't bother showing because they heard the town 1 hour away likely had less competitive people signed up, so they drove down there in hopes of easier victories. I think GW's 'Ard Boyz tournaments are a lazy way for the company to pave over the myriad ways people can/could have fun with social events inside the Warhammer hobby, and I've always felt that 'Ard Boyz players get what 'Ard Boyz players deserve.

I too am starting to think it's only a matter of time until I feel more at home attending historic-minis events than I do attending anything GW related. (I guess I must be growing up.)

John@Plastic Legions said...

LOL!, guys...I dont watch Housewives..my wife does. when Housewives is on, thats my cue to disappear into the basement. I did however read BoLS...until I just couldnt take it anymore prompting this post.

Doug said...

My wife watches that stuff too and it is as awful as you say.

BOLS collects a lot of unreads in my RSS reader until I get tired and mark them all as read. I used to be very competitive and took a lot of validation from blogs like BOLS which made me feel very justified in being so competitive.

Now I feel like that approach to the hobby is very wrong-headed, so this article really appealed to me.

ZeroTwentythree said...

I played in the first year's WFB 'Ard Boyz, experienced something similar in the semi-finals. I think I wrote about it. My second opponent kept cheating, I got tired of spending half the game calling him out on it instead of actually playing the game. It was right after the VC book came out, so when I would ask how things worked (spells, his units stats) he just made up a bunch of super-powerful stuff.

Then in the third game, similar to the story at that link, he faced a friend who had come to the store with him, but had no chance of progressing to the finals. So ten minutes after round three starts, VC guy and his friend hand in a battle report for a massacre.

I haven't played 'Ard Boyz since.

In fact, at this point I have more or less given up on WFB. Tournaments that used to be "fun" are now either so competitive that I don't enjoy them, or they are so structured to avoid the image of being competitive, that it's like there is a secondary meta-game of working the tournament rules. Previously, I just went to those events for a chance to play against some new opponents, see other people's armies, and relax. Local gaming has become little more than "practice games" for the tournaments, so they've also lost their appeal.

If I wanted the sort of atmosphere that seems to dominate GW games anymore, I would play poker.

Or get a boob job and go on Bravo. ;)


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