I finally got around to reading the latest Miniature Wargames magazine [which didnt take very long] and paid particular attention to Barry Hilton's article Staying Alive. Andy of Old Glory fame had posted earlier last week about the article, and kindly mentioned that I had been posting about most of what Barry was writing about. Its a bit disconcerting that every time I think Ive had an original thought I find at least ten other people think the same. I suppose that's because I am the typical average man in the street in most respects.
Hell who is going to get my collections when I shift this mortal coil? There are many problems regarding the lack of youngblood coming into what is essentially a niche hobby.
Firstly its a hobby, so its not cool for a lot of young people.
Secondly there is the question of education and I mean at school. I dont know what is taught in British schools anymore. I get the impression that our wonderful history and achievements are underplayed, probably as being too imperialistic. I know there seems to be a fixation with the damned Tudors, and the Second World War, where we fought the Nazis [ notice its no longer the Germans] Hardly a good grounding for a wargamer. If there is one king who should have been shot at birth it is Henry Viii, what a disgusting individual he was, and what a mess he left our country.
Our comics were awash with violence and heroism, and boy did I love reading the magazines. Its never going to happen nowadays, I can see Mumsnet now [ and of course that twat Vine] .
Fourthly is the fear of being classed as [strange or worse] by actually engaging with young people, and encouraging them to attend clubs to wargame. This is clearly a problem now that such clubs need character checks etc. God help any genuine Scout Master.
I know a lot of clubs have introduced age limits to get around the need for the CRB checks.
So discounting the negatives, what are the positives. Well I think children are still interested in all things military and if given the chance history.
Also there is still Games Workshop. I know a lot of kids pass through the Games Workshop phase, which can lead to greater things.Although as that company tears itself apart in the pursuit of profits, I think their influence is going to be less and less.
Through the internet, there is greater access to blogs, etc which if they are interesting enough would perhaps capture some would be junior wargamer as they trawl the net looking for porn.
In this age of rules and more rules I am set against this idea. Bearing in mind I have enforced the law for well over 30 years, I know that more laws do not necessarily make for a safer society, similarly a central committee with rules does not guarantee a healthier wargames hobby.
A marginalised, forgotten group.
There was the World Federation? and other well intentioned attempts to create one voice. It was never going to happen in Britain. I know the USA have attempted this feat, but there seems to always be a lot of discord if one reads the letters pages of various magazines of old. The beauty of wargaming is that most people have a different idea of what they want, how they achieve it and basically a different view on the history they enact.
I can see why Barry would want a central organisation and logically it makes some sense, but being a Scot I thought he would have held the opposite view, of less control. But what do I know. Perhaps its time for a conference of wargamers,to sit down and debate the future and the need for an organisation. A pound to a penny however that it would end in tears if not real violence.
We are a pretty diverse group, and actually I'm proud of that.
Who else would play with toy soldiers,and risk ridicule and sometimes even disgust for daring to do so.
Lets just celebrate our differences and instead talk more to each other, invite other groups,clubs and wargamers to play a game, interact at more shows and generally put ourselves about a bit more. Insularity is the one thing that will kill this hobby dead.