Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Social Conscience

What is frugal gaming? I reached a point last year when I looked in my cupboard and found whole shelves of unpainted miniatures, half finished projects and unplayed boardgames. How much time and money and effort had I spent on these products and projects? I made the decision to stop this trend and ensure that not only did I cut down on what I spent, but also to ensure that I got the most out of what I already had. My Year of Frugal Gaming was born.

Some of us have been hit hard by the economy, losing jobs or struggling to make repayments, those of us lucky enough not to be directly affected still feel the looming recession hanging over us. People everywhere are examining what they spend their money on and cutting any unnecessary expenditure. None of us is considering giving up our hobby and I’m not suggesting that we never buy another miniature, another pot of paint or a new boardgame. What I do think is that we need to look at our spending habits and make some choices.

This all seems very well and good and we can pat ourselves on the back for a wise decision, but what will the effect be on the hobby in general? One of the things that keeps people gaming is the sense of community in the hobby. We have lots of small companies (and a few large ones) speaking directly with their customers over the internet and meeting them face to face at shows. If we reduce what we spend, then these companies are going to suffer. We all want to spend more wisely, but don’t want to lose the fantastic range of companies out there.

So do we have a social responsibility to help these companies through these difficult times? Yes, I strongly believe we do. This may not seem to agree with the approach of this blog (‘Spend less, game more’), so what do we do?

One of the problems we all have is the large amounts of unpainted miniatures, unfinished projects and unplayed games in our cupboards. We all are overloaded with quantity of miniatures and games, do we really need many more? Probably not. So here’s my idea.
If you want to buy more games or miniatures and you want to support the companies, buy wisely and buy quality. Instead of buying 20 figures that are unlikely to get painted. Buy 5 high quality figures that will get painted and will look fantastic on the table. Instead of buying three boardgames that you probably won’t play, go for the dream purchase that you’ve always wanted. The cost will be about the same (same cash into the hobby), exactly the same number of figures will be on the table and games will be played, and the quality will be much improved, so we all win.

In short then, carry on spending and supporting the hobby, but spend wisely, and improve the quality of your gaming.

I look forward to your thoughts.


Witteridderludo said...

If you really cut down on your miniatures/boardgames there will be a drop in income for the producers. No way around that...
OTOH, I have been cutting down, my gaming buddy, you, a couple of other guys on blogger... The other gamers around me don't seem to be touched by the frugal gaming idea and keep buying. I think the frugal approach to gaming is only a minority and won't hurt the business too much

Ruarigh said...

Interesting comments, Dave. There are companies out there that I want to support because I like their product. On the other hand, I don't feel that I have a duty to spend money with them. The key to being thrifty or frugal is obviously in how you spend your money. So, if the company that you like does the figures you need for a particular project, buy from them in preference to buying from another company, whose figures may be a fraction cheaper. You can still support them while spending your money wisely, if you think about it, but as Ludo writes, you cannot get around the fact that their income will be reduced if the recession bites hard. I would certainly be upset if certain companies went to the wall, so I shall choose to spend my money with them if and when I need to buy figures, but I shall not make gratuitous purchases just to support them because my means do not extend that far and may well be much reduced in the near future.

Dave said...

Nobody's immune and we're all feeling the pinch, some more than others. We don't owe the industry a living, but I think we may regret losing lots of the smaller companies out there (Hasslefree, Heresy, etc).

I agree totally that we don't need to make gratuitous purchases just to support the companies. However, It's what we've been doing in the past; buying things we'll never use.

The tempation when times are hard is to buy cheaper and I don't think this is a very good idea at present.

I'm going to buy more expensive miniatures and games, but a lot less of them. I want to ensure that the money I do spend ends up as a few good looking miniatures on the table, not a big bag of ugly unpainted minis in the back of my cupboard!

Spending reduced (slightly), quantity on table unchanged, quality increased (hugely)!

BigLee said...

I've been applying the 'frugal' technique for quite a few years now. Like many gamers I had boxes and boxes of models gathering dust. I have limited space and even more limited time so when I looked at my lead mountain I knew something had to give.

I still spend a reasonable sum of money on my hobby each year but now it’s more focused. I buy from those manufacturers whose work I enjoy most. I support my local game store and attend conventions and trade shows. But during the last four years my lead mountain has steadily decreased.

As in real life Quality beats Quantity hands down.

Dave said...

Well said.

You are now officially my hero!

Ben said...

What a great post!

I run a small company (ok, micro company) in the gaming industry, and I have been following your blog for a while now with interest.

This post struck a chord with me, because I've always thought that *all* businesses should be run on the assumption that customers are buying quality, not just quantity (that will then sit on a shelf, unused).

Keep up the great writing!

Brendan Mayhugh said...

I've definitely taken this to heart in my gaming. Personally, I just bought a fistful of figures for super cheap and when they got here, I was a bit disappointed with them. Of course, the price comes out to about one dollar per figure (25mm), but I don't think they will ever look 'good' on the table. Definitely less is sometimes more!

Brendan Mayhugh said...

By the way, is that the new doctor from Doctor Who? It sure looks like him! In any case, where did you get that figure?

Dave said...

Hi Brendan,

The figures are from Heresy Miniatures (, a UK company and one of my personal favourites.

I agree the figures do look like The Doctor and The Master from the recent series, though that would be an infringement of copyright. It must be a remarkable coincidence...

Cough cough.

Michael said...

I run a hobby business and I have a regular job to pay the bills.
I expect business from people because they like my product and the service I give.

I would suspect that of all the companies out there I am one of the smallest and I think that without the internet and sites where businesses can advertise for free then I would not have survived into my 3rd year.

Another thing that keeps us companies going is the support from other companies.
The hobby is diverse enough that companies can support each other without losing a slice of the action.

One thing that can kill a company dead is ignorance/laziness.
I have been accused of selling pirated miniatures in the past and a thread appeared on here to that affect.
People even contacted the miniature manufacturer to ask if they knew of me.
They did, they were supplying me direct!
No-one thought to ask me first…..

As hobbies go this is a pretty good one.
Lets give everyone an equal chance and not make assumptions about anyone, if we do that I think this hobby will do just fine.