Friday, 28 July 2017
The End of the Dinosaurs. [ Discuss]
I visited my grandchildren last weekend and after recovering from their full on, non stop demand for entertainment from Grandad. [What happened to telling them to bugger off into the nearest wood to play?]
I got to thinking about the toys and education that children have nowadays and the impact this will have on wargaming.
Before everyone [one?] clicks and moves on. Take the time to think about the social experiment that has been happening in this country for the last forty or so years.
I can remember Featherstone railing against the Scandinavian ban on 'War toys' and how West Germany viewed such toys as 'problematical', whilst we young wargamers shook ours heads in pity and carried on researching and collecting our armies. It could never happen in the United Kingdom, could it?
Well like those poor dinosaurs in the image who probably thought their idyll would go on forever I think wargamers from 5 to 80 years should wake up and give some thought about the progression that is taking place in the home of Wargaming [ ie Great Britain]
I was of a generation whose parents had lived and fought through the Second World War. Fictional programmes, books, Comics for children and films were readily accepted as entertainment of that terrible event.I ate them all up.
I could easily buy toy soldiers at my local shop, and buy every type of toy gun known to man. Ah yes, the Johnny Seven, the ultimate Jap killer [ one could use that term back in the 1970's. There were no Japanese children in my village then. Funnily there are still none even now, but I cant say such a derogatory term apparently]
Now move forward to this 'enlightened' age. Yes you can still buy toy soldiers, albeit it is becoming increasingly difficult, but certainly parents [ I am generalising here] seem to be avoiding the buying of such things and instead buying Super Heroes, Fantasy figures space men etc, basically anything that doesnt appear to glorify [ in their eyes ] historical warfare as such.
I mean its very wrong to encourage such violence isnt it?
Move onto education and we are into something that is in my eyes a little more sinister. Our history has been carefully sanitised over many years and now bears very little resemblance to the country that Great Britain evolved into.
A couple of examples;
Even the Second World War is now a struggle between the democratic nations and the 'Nazis.' Not the German Nation, but some new creature, that has carefully shifted those terrible events onto the shoulders of a mythological evil race. The Nazis.
I watched a BBC 4 history programme the other night about the Vikings.
I was looking forward to it, expecting a well researched programme, until the presenter, A History Professor, likened the Viking invasion of Lindisfarne to the policies of Mrs Thatcher? Proof of the BBC left wing credentials? Probably. But also it showed for me the thinking of the educational establishment as regards how they present our history to young people.
One has to look no further than the regular demands to ban white historical figures of our history from the walls of our Halls of Learning. The latest one being the demand that a psychiatry course in Oxford should contain only sources from non white psychiatrists because well, its 'wrong and exclusionary'. Never mind that these white people were the founders of that science.
In the 'Land of the Free' the trends are even worse, and lets be correct this country inevitably follows the USA. Statues of General Lee and other rebel Generals are disappearing from public vistas, and of course the Confederate flag is now effectively banned. A bit like the Swastika was [ is ] in Germany, because banning something is the answer?
I really am waiting for the first instant of complaint from some distraught person who goes to a wargames show and sees an ACW game in progress. God the upset.
Most history fed to children and young adults focuses upon more social events and struggles, which is fine to a certain extent. I suppose to learn about Mandela's struggle can be enlightening but hardly relevant to a young person looking to understand their own country, and certainly not a good way to fire the imagination of any would be wargamer of the future.
So what am I attempting to say in such a badly formed way?
At the present time the trends in wargaming are towards smaller table games involving a few figures. It can be attributed to many things from cost to simply not being arsed enough to paint up an army.
In the main these games concern some other worldly race, or zombies, or of course the latest trend, pirates. Everyone loves pirates, look at Johnny Depp, he's a pirate, so it must be okay to buy some for the kids. Its non violent, isnt it?
If one reads any of the current wargaming press, or follows the internet, most wargamng companies who are struggling to make some cash have followed the trend to supply non human, or non historical figures in the hope of cashing in on the changes.But what happens if their new 'race' doesnt catch on?
So where does that leave future generations of historical wargamers?
Well I expect the most common response will be, 'I dont care, I'll be dead by then, so crack on.'
Other responses will give examples of how clubs are attracting younger people into the hobby, except of course they will be using, non historical zombies, fantasy pirates or whatever is currently popular. The hope, and it is a hope is that some of these younger players just might make the step over into historical wargaming.
The problem will be that these acolytes will have very little knowledge about the tactics, units and probably the reason for the war. So in point of fact they might as well go back to shoving Space Marines around a table. At least they have read their latest Codex and know the background story as to why they are fighting.
I wish I could offer a solution to what appears inevitable, but historical wargaming as we Dinosaurs know it will have disappeared like our namesakes in probably one or two generations.
So whilst I will continue to push around my lovely armies and read history books until I'm nailed in a box, I would suggest that all wargaming fathers of young children consider just what they can do to sustain this wonderful and harmless hobby and take action now.
And on a happier note, my best ever Christmas present; Mighty Joe.