Friday, 27 June 2014

The Politics of Oldhammer.

This is one of those, fraught, protracted wordwalls of a very Oldhammer-specific nature that will interest only a very small group of people. Please consider yourself warned!

I recall seeing an episode of Borgen, a Danish political drama telling the story of Birgitte Nyborg who, against the odds, becomes her country's first female Prime Minister. It reminded me of Oldhammer, well, this particular episode anyway. You see, a brand new political party had been founded from scratch. As a result though it was new, exciting and full of energy it lacked identity. People from across the political spectrum clamoured to be a part of this new 'movement', whether from the left, centre or right, whether disenfranchised, optimistic, ambitious or exhausted by the status quo, the prospect of something new reinvigorated the jaded and excited everyone with it's freshness. Like I said, the new party lacked identity as a result. This particular episode Has Birgitte call everyone's attention to the ideas board in the party HQ and she goes through it with them. Everywhere there are different and often contradictory or mutually exclusive ideas for a party manifesto. Clearly, the attempt to blend political ideals from all quarters isn't working and quite a bit of nonsense from the extreme left and right doesn't have any chance of implementation in a month of Sundays. Birgitte concludes by saying that crunch time has arrived and sends everybody home. Not all of them will be invited back.

So, what does this have to do with Oldhammer beyond one or two vague parallels?

Oldhammer doesn't have an identity. Not once in it's first years of growing publicity or in the wilderness years before that has anyone been able to define what Oldhammer means to other people, to themselves, but not to others. Oldhammerers appear to lack empathy.

"No identity or empathy?!" I hear you cry, "surely it's not all bad?!"

No of course not, but things aren't all great if we're honest either. I'm not implying that Oldhammer is the wargaming equivalent of a political party, though once I foolishly wished it could be capable of changing make-believe wargaming for the better, but I am suggesting it is the chaotic HQ that was heaving with competing ideas and boundless enthusiasm before Birgitte took charge and cleared the room. Our problem is that so many of us seem to harbour the desire to categorise Oldhammer, pigeonhole an inherently anarchic concept, bringing order and discipline to a chaos-fuelled riot. When we do this, we change Oldhammer back into what we already had, what we were so bored with that we rebelled. Whereas Birgitte's party needed her leadership at that moment, we don't, we should all hope to preserve the bubbling primordial pool of creativity that has been revealed to us. That much is clear, but we have to accept that as a consequence friction between members or (dare I say it) factions within Oldhammer will give rise to negativity and conflict. This negativity needs to be dealt with in an adult way, even if this is the internet and not a medium conducive to grown-up behaviour.

Having reached this conclusion, I find myself with a few things I need to get off my chest so that I can be seen to practise what I preach. (We all know you love it when I preach).

First, the forum community really annoyed me a while back. When things needed to get done and things needed to be said the vast majority just put their head down and kept quiet. Anything for a peaceful life, just here for the minis thanks. Well, someone has to do all the technical work (for free) and others have to offer themselves to that person and do their dirty work, perhaps even acting as a lightning rod, so in future perhaps you should do a bit more to contribute or at least slow down and try to understand those who do. Worse, a small minority were outspoken in pushing their own agenda (on both sides) and often spoke rashly from a position of ignorance.

That said, I apologise for the mistakes that were made and my part in them and forgive all things.

Second, wargaming can be very crass sometimes. Whether it's the insidiousness of Pony Wars (which as a rational human being and wargamer is a game I choose to despise) on the Oldhammer forum, the preponderance of WW2 German armies weighed down with SS Tigers at my club or the grotesque glee I witnessed recently as a miniature woman clutching a baby was killed in a game of Warhammer I GM'd, the hobby can stray into areas that offend to some degree. Perhaps be aware of this just a little bit, it may be your God-given right to be ignorant and uncultured but if that's so then it's mine to point it out. That said, if ever I do take offence you may be sure I will forgive and forget very swiftly, moving on to deal with the world as it is, not as I would wish it to be.

Third, my involvement in the online gaming community has been one of the most positive boons to my life, outdone only by my marriage and the birth of my son. However, I have also met some rather awkward fellows who have tried my patience to it's breaking point. I have tried being nice to all of them, most blank me now but one in particular contents himself with being snide and provocative at every opportunity. I will continue to recognise my failings and apologise for any offence I have caused, I will not vent my frustration publicly any more so as to avoid hypocrisy and I happily forgive them utterly. You sir, have a clean slate. Yours to do with as you wish.

All of this means what exactly? Beyond a catharsis for yours truly? Initially it will merely herald my return to the Oldhammer forum to finish my commitments regarding the Trolltooth Wars. Long term, hopefully it will be the first, small step on the long road to a contented Oldhammer community and a reunion of the developed cliques which have sprung up. Please don't mock me for trying! I just want to be one of those wiser, cooler heads instead of part of the problem. There is a long way to go before any understanding is reached within the community regarding what is 'allowed' and what is 'forbidden' but I think that I want to be one of those who expresses a lot of positives and no negativity, hence my own personal exorcism which is the permission I grant myself to be a better Oldhammerer.

Borgen actually translates as 'castle' or 'citadel' funnily enough.

Thanks for stopping by!

41 comments:

  1. Good post. I share your views to some degree. One thing I will note, in terms of this "reunion" you're talking about, is that there is not all that much family resemblance between the different strands of the "oldhammer" movement. The facebook group and the forum seem to come from rather different perspectives - with the facebook group far more mini focussed. And I would say that the sense of creativity that I've seen in the various meetups doesn't come through properly in either online forum.

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    1. Thanks mate, and I totally agree.Speaking from a purely technical standpoint, the forum can do many things Facebook can't and vice versa so everyone will benefit from using both. Following on from that, it comes down to respecting each others spaces and boundaries within the Oldhammer territory. Should be simpler than it is, therefore, effort required. If people are happy playing a game but then grumpy while typing at home, well darn it, I can cope with that.

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  2. I have always held a hope that the community that is 'Oldhammer' would be able to avoid squabbling and infighting like so many others. It's this kind of level headed thinking that is needed to ensure that. We're grown ups at the end of the day. I'm far more interested in hearing other peoples view of their own hobby (which differs for every individual) and meeting other people to game with. Such a disparate group of people are never going agree on everything but it's important that we all learn to accept this and embrace it as part of the price for connecting so many great people from all over the world and chatting and sharing about toy soldiers.

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    1. It's not an overwhelming tidal of of hate or anything but it's not been plain sailing either. After a bit of moaning and backbiting on the FB page, a place previously immune to such nonsense, I decided to take care of my end a bit. Thanks, glad you liked the article.

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    2. You nailed it Colin, let's just agree we'll disagree on some points to just agree on the important things that are fun, creativity and enjoying that freedom which is the essence of this community.
      Paul, we french say that only idiots don't change their minds, I am really glad to know that we will enjoy your fine words and spirit on the forum and I can only applause any move to stop splitting this community in 2.

      Let me quote a text which made a marking impression on me :
      "the time for excuses is past, it is time to have incredible fun!"

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  3. Good post and even though I am not an Oldhammer player I found it interesting as it mirrors any other hobby forrum out there.

    Having met you a couple of times I know your passionate about the hobby and a good egg. I had a greater view of your part of the hobby after seeing you guys at Blog Con one than before. Blog Con two simply reinforced that view

    Ian

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    1. Hi Ian, thanks, I'm pleased you found an interest in the article from your own perspective. I would always hope to show the best side of my hobby at meetings and of myself. Philosophy-wise both games at BG2 had an awful lot in common. It is odd that we rub along so much better than those under the Oldhammer umbrella seem to sometimes! Looking forward to seeing you and the guys again. (Reprinted as a reply, Blogger was having a 'moment' for a while there.)

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  4. Hi Ian, thanks, I'm pleased you found an interest in the article from your own perspective. I would always hope to show the best side of my hobby at meetings and of myself. Philosophy-wise both games at BG2 had an awful lot in common. It is odd that we rub along so much better than those under the Oldhammer umbrella seem to sometimes! Looking forward to seeing you and the guys again.

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  5. Must admit that I've tended to use only the Facebook group not the forum. I generally view forums as some place to go for help and advice or to look up information. For whatever reason I don't usually like viewing lots of photos on a forum. The polarity between forum and Facebook may also be due to access device. In my free time, I generally use my iPad. Again, I find it more 'fun' to browse the Oldhammer group using the Facebook app. That said I do frequent the SAGA forum - no Facebook group for SAGA though. I'll try to give the forum more attention.

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    1. A genuinely kind offer on your part Lee.

      When somebody's work or contribution is worth referencing and keeping it is best served by the forum as that offers a permanent home and a simple cataloguing system. Facebook is much more disposable, but has a fun and easy to use quality that works well on more devices as you say. Both have a lot to offer, in different ways, but the main draw to explore both should be to make contact with the maximum number of like-minded individuals I would think. I hope more follow your example!

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  6. Yay Blogger is finally allowing to too reply to your blog post Mr Warlord Sir (touch wood). I use both the forum and the FB group as you well know and have always found it odd that the crossover between the two isn't higher. That said I'm glad you are coming back to the forum and can put the who Mod/Pony War/Sex addition to Chico behind you.

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    1. I wouldn't say my sex addiction is cured, but I'm learning to live with it. Crossover should be higher, I'm hoping that'll develop. Blogger wasn't even letting me post on my own blog earlier, it's one bug after another at the mo.

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  7. What ho!

    Excellent post there sir! I must admit I am only a sporadic peruser of the forum so may have missed the stress you mentioned but was myself put off for a bit after posting some 15mm stuff and being told to F*** off. Unsure whether it was a genuine piece of antisocialness or just someones attempt at wit, I simply decided to step away for a bit and concentrate on my own blog which has its pros and cons but does mean that if folks look at it, they tend to want to and the comments are more positive.

    Sadly there is always an element of grumpiness and wroth amongst the wargaming community but I had thought that Oldhammerers were above such things but I suppose the main problem is as you mentioned, that everyone seems to have a different view of just what oldhammer is (for me its using whatever you want to create interesting warbands for scenario driven games with fun being at the core) I am happy to use modern and classic miniatures and even, dare I say it, plastic!

    The way I look at it is that its my hobby and that it should all be about relaxing and enjoying myself. If someone doesn't like it, well thats just too bad!

    Keep blogging and share your enjoyment and enthusiasm with your readers!

    All the best!

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    1. That's a horrible story. Your perspective on it is very sound though, shrug and move on I guess. I applaud your vision of Oldhammer and follow your blogging exploits avidly.

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    2. I feel like I need to apologise on behalf of Oldhammer to be honest. I hope that folk learn to appreciate a wider interpretation of Oldhammer.

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    3. Hi!

      I must admit it was a bit of a let down initially but I've got over it and just crack on with painting whatever I want now and even have the heretical notion of painting up enough 15mm Slann and opponents to start playing some games!

      Don't worry about it!

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    4. Pleased to hear it, tap me on the shoulder if you're around for a BOYL or another event, I would love a game in 15mm.

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    5. I was wondering why you had stopped posting, personally I loved your 15mm stuff and hope to see more of it on the Oldhammer Forum. Ignore the idiots and those of us who appreciate your stuff will try to be more vocal. As with Paul I would like to apologise on behalf of the forum.

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    6. What ho!

      Alas I'm stuck at work all through BOYL!

      Folks don't need to apologise for the nonsense of others. I must admit that while the tomfoolery was a bit of a put off, I'm content to just keep puttering around with my blog!

      All the best!

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    7. Sounds like wisdom to me. Forums can be boiler rooms at times. It's a shame you'll miss BOYL, hope we meet at another event or BOYL '15.

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  8. Don't mention the War!! ; )

    Does this mean I have to start thinking about making Rhinomen again...

    15mm is looking quite tempting I must admit!

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    1. Yes, and in 28mm too! Get the green stuff out! And finish that bloody temple while you're at it!

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  9. Sorry to hear of the trouble. I have stayed away from the forum because I feel, in general, forums tend to be an even bigger time sink for me than either facebook or blogging. I think it's too bad that it had to come to infighting. What appealed to me about Oldhammer was the idea of an ethos that rekindled that enthusiasm of our youth. What that means to each of us is different but the common thread is fun. Perhaps I'll pull my finger out and head over there but it doesn't sound like my thing from what you describe.

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    1. 99% of what goes on with us is fantastic, inspiring stuff. There has been some nonsense here and there though, see SCS's comment above for example. Blogging is a great platform because we maintain ownership and control, diving into a forum environment means stepping out of your comfort zone. Where I am right now, I would say it is worth it because of what's on offer and advise you to take a look.

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  10. Great post. I'm one who uses the oldhammer FB page rather than the forum. Forums become very time consuming for me. I'll spend too long labouring over a post and reading, reading, reading. FB is more spontaneous and participatory for me and actually fits in with my time management. Immediacy is the word. Though I hadn't thought of the forum as being a more permanent repository (kinda obvious, now I think on it.)

    Nothing would turn me off a forum/messageboard/group quicker than watching it degenerate into one-true-wayism. Sod that. We should be able to talk through this kind of thing as adults. There's enough common ground out there for fun to be built off.

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    1. You explain the attraction of FB perfectly, I feel the same way. The forum is handy as described, it has a search button (underused I suspect) and some other functions which help you streamline the forum experience.

      Totally behind your common ground sentiments!

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  11. If Oldhammer is nostalgia, which is a view I am beginning to agree with, then all the infighting is just the equivalent to our boyish 'my dad can beat up your dad' kind of stuff we all did back in the day. I too am sorry to hear sad stories of people being treated badly on the forum but I am not surprised. Its not what we are about, well its not what I am about anyway and is unforgivable.

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    1. Oldhammer definitely seems to be focused backwards rather than forwards, which is something that took me a while to get my head around. You're right about conflict being kid's stuff.

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  12. Was it Carl Jung or Dick Van Patten who said "if you label me, you negate me"?

    An interesting and well thought out post Paul.

    As someone who has only really used the forum, any unpleasantness is regrettable.
    I have a rule where I will not argue over tin soldiers and the games that go with them, it's worth keeping in mind that the oldhammer forum is rather a shining bastion of light in a sea of negativity as far as online warhammer forums go (in my experience,anyway).

    Being in Australia, I'm envious of you that are able to make a daytrip to Foundry HQ for example and I think you're all rather spoilt in regards to location and abundance of wargamers!

    Having only come into miniatures and wargaming in the early 90's, I realise I'm only what some may describe as a beardling but to my knowledge nobody has openly looked down their nose at me for not knowing my early stuff- in fact I've eagerly learned and discovered so much since discovering orlygg's blog and then the oldhammer forum and community.

    Therefore I'm hesitant to say I know the definition of oldhammer or lay any type of ownership to it, not out of apathy but rather because it seems to be something that is different for each individual.
    I am happy to gather behind the banner though.
    I wasn't paying attention to the Pony wars and the resulting turmoil, but the resignation en masse of the mods was a real shame.

    In the words of the late Rodney King, "People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"



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    1. Thanks Bruno, glad you enjoyed the post. Despite any problems that have arisen the Oldhammer community is still leagues ahead of any modern-centric Warhammer forum!

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  13. Good to have you back Paul, look forward to chatting again. Oh and the offer of the goblins for Trolltooth still stands (only if I can find remember what the offer was though)

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    1. Lol, I will get the project moving and up to date soon with fresh updates. Thanks for the kind offer and words of welcome John.

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  14. Hi Paul, just a quick message to welcome you back and wish you luck with the inevitable ;) I yhink you're a great asset to the community and I always enjoy reading your point of view of things.

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  15. Well put, and aa mature response, so again niceley put and all. If you need any help with general day to day online suff, give me a yell have time to help.

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  16. Hi WP,

    I've never really gone on the forum, I think I may of signed up to it but I'm too lazy to make use of it. FB page? Never touched it (maybe I'm too far back in the gaming closet).

    I don't know but stories of "One Way-ism" makes me happy to stick to my blog and chat in person to people at BOYL.

    For me Oldhammer is simply about doing what you enjoyed back in the day. Does it matter if you use specific mini's for it? NO!

    If you enjoy it then do it.

    If Oldhammerers are so far up their #rse as to not allow people to use new mini's or to not play certain games then I'd rather not be a part of that. Luckily the majority of people I have conversed with on the subject are top notch.

    I can certainly say that the encouragement I receive from yourself and Whiskey Priest means a lot and it's people like yourselves that I respect and think are the lifeblood of the community. Ignore the Forum crazies carry on what you're doing.

    I play 3rd edition but to be honest my heart belongs to 4th and I'm still toying with the idea of getting the Maugthrond Pass stuff done for BOYL 2015 and offering up to run the scenario for any that would be up for it but I may avoid the idea if it'd be sneered upon. Maybe I'll need start a splinter group called "FreeHammer"..................

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    1. Yes, nobody wants to be sneered at. I don't by any means think it's endemic but it seems it is not unheard of either.

      To be honest the forum is not a bad place, just a place where one or two people have had bad experiences. Part of the desire to write this post and move on was because I saw a few comments that really discouraged me on the Facebook page which had previously been much less doctrinal than the forum had become.

      I totally agree with your philosophy and hope to share the hobby with you for years to come. Count me in for any games you want to run. I happily played 4th too, I didn't stop enjoying it until 7th came out to be honest.

      Lots of positive work has been done by others behind the scenes to help solve these minor issues though, so with their continued support I will do all I can to have fun and meet like minded people under he umbrella of Oldhammer.

      Blogging's still my favourite though!

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    2. Hear hear!

      OK, this BOYL I'll canvas the desire to do a spot of 4th at next year's event.

      Maybe just run it on the morning (or as long as it takes) on the Sunday morning as a litght way to finish the heavy weekends gaming (and to nurse sore heads to).

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    3. Excellent, I will look forward to our chat (and beers) mate.

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