Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

Expert Opinion?

One of the greatest things about game design and publishing is meeting some new people with fresh ideas. Every game I’ve ever published has introduced me to someone new that has added some fun and fresh ideas to my wargaming. I first met Jim Getz after publishing La Guerre in the early 70s. That has been a life-long friendship with as many laughs as good ideas. Each following set brought new people with good ideas into my life. Piquet was especially fruitful, in that regard, with Brent Oman, Greg Pruitt, Jeff Valent, Eric Burgess, Jeff Grein and Freddy Avner-and especially the famed opera librettists, Peter Anderson and Adolfo Laurenti -and many more-Chris, Rob, Jimmy, and the Ilkey Lads; The, yet unmet in person, Sam Mustafa-and many, many more. All are great company and have made my life more interesting.

That’s what makes the writing and the work of publication all worth it.

But there is a darker side to the hobby, too, and no published designer can escape it-the lonely people seeking some sort of approval who offer exaggerated complaints, demands for attention, and almost stalker-like behavior on the boards. Sam offered a perfect parody of this character-that rings all too true to all game publisher/designers- in the first week of the Repiquerules forum. It’s a funny read, check it out! But it was also predictive, as at least a couple of people did a pretty good imitation of Sam’s “reviewer” on the TMP boards this week. It comes with the territory-which is why some designers just don’t go to conventions-or at least keep a very low profile. It isn’t the good people that they wish to avoid, but the few that just can’t seem to sense that their inner Emily Latella is running amok.

The most hilarious examples are often found blissfully unaware of their faux pas de deux with some authors, as one character on the “Repique publishes Zoauave” thread, who took it upon himself to offer advice on advertising, PR, game publication, customer relations, expert playtesting skills and interpersonal relations, which is fine-until you ask the question-who are you to be offering advice???? Ever written a set of published rules? Nope, never heard of him! Ever run a rule or history publishing business? Nope, not any that I’ve seen advertised. Background in advertising or PR? Not that I know of. Interpersonal skills? Well, if obsessing about other people’s character and approaches to the wargame biz( such as it is) is an interpersonal skill, rather than what some people might call it, I guess you might give him that.

There are critics and people genuinely seeking information about a design who perform an important role in the hobby, and then there are the people that just want attention, and the opportunity to play the expert. One can humor them, if one can spare the time, but most people that are actually doing something, whether successfully or not, are too busy creating something to tell other people how to run their business.

Ultimately, that’s how it all sorts out in life. Doers and talkers. Talkers are the ones that want respect, Doers are the ones that earn respect. The important thing is that they have to actually do something-not talk about how they’re fixin’ to do something. Or have we come to a point in the age of the internet where people are not only entitled to their own facts, but to have their untested opinions called expertise?