Friday, 20 May 2011

Fifty Ways To Leave Your Gaming Company

Okay, not fifty, but I'm sure Paul and I can manage a few.
Imagine, for a moment, that you're a gamer.  Shouldn't be too hard; you're reading this.  Now imagine that you buy most of your gaming gear from one company, and that that company isn't necessarily offering the value for money you'd expect.  Hopefully, you don't want to indicate support for their decisions by continuing to spend money on their products (we've already discussed how that works) but you still want to play their games.  I have a few suggestions in that line.
  1. Know what you want.  What's your actual problem with the company?  Can you continue to play their games in good conscience, or is your seething righteous fury at the injustice they perpetrate too much?  What is it about their games that makes you want to keep playing them?  Is it story, scale, mechanics, funky miniatures, funky gamers, gamer funk or simple habit and ignorance of the alternatives?  You need to know why you're doing or not doing things before you can make an informed decision about whether or not to keep doing them.  If you like sword and sorcery skirmish games, do you really need that huge army of flying space tanks?
  2. Stop and take stock.  What do you own?  What is built and ready to go; what has been sitting in a box since New Hot Sexy Release Day and never looked at since; what can work with what at a pinch and what's mutually exclusive?  Work out what you've got, what you can do with it, and how much work and expense it would take to do something with it if you need to make an investment.  I tend to find the people with the biggest dead lead piles and collections of mouldering, dusty sourcebooks are the people who only buy from one company but have lots of projects going on within that - who buy Company X's complete new release every time but never really get very far with it before picking up the next one.  The downside here is that all those projects require ongoing investment, and if you're suddenly unable or unwilling to continue making that investment, you have a pewter mountain on your hands that, in many cases, would embarrass the European Union.
  3. Diversify.  Once you know what you're most likely to continue using, sell the rest.  Go on.  Get rid of it.  Use those resources to explore new games and new environments, to boldly go where no nerd has gone before... or at least where you've not gone before.  You're not going to dissassociate yourself from the company if you have no idea what the competition has to offer.
  4. Use the secondary market, Luke.  Unless your name's not Luke (metaphorically speaking, that means 'unless you have some pressing need for as-new material', like a wargamer who likes to kitbash and thus won't be as keen on assembled and painted kits), the secondary market is your friend; it enables you to complete and extend projects without directly supporting the company with your own money.  This is, of course, psychological double-talk to an extent - that eBay bargain has, at some point, been purchased from the company who made it, and the money you spend on it will like as not find its way back to them, so this isn't one for the ideologues who've decided that the company is run by Satan and all his little wizards.  If your problem is simply "man, I can't afford the new Cyber-Knights, they are too spendy at umpty-seven pounds for two, but I still really like Star Pogrom and what it's about", you'll probably be more comfortable with this.
  5. Avoid prescriptive environments.  Many companies have officially designated spaces in which they control what can and cannot be used there, whether it's "Dungeon Bash 8.4 is the only edition that's on sale at the event, therefore the only edition that can be used here, and official dice, character sheets, measuring implements, status tokens, floorplans and pencil shavings are a requirement" or "you must use branded Nerd Emporium paints, brushes, glues, pins, chewing gum and wishful thinking to build your Cyber-Knights in the Nerd Emporium".  Fie on this nonsense, says I.  Fie on it!  Such policies are nearly always designed to burden the consumer with expensive and unwanted purchases - get out of the environments that force those on you and find or create an environment where you're allowed to do things your own way, substituting in cheaper equivalent miniatures, homebrewed rather than supplemental rules, and materials that don't cost the Earth.
  6. Disengage from what you've left.  Try not to get excited about Sexy Hot New Release Day for a game you don't play any more.  Don't let yourself be seduced back in.  Remind yourself why you quit - it doesn't matter how pretty that new book/miniature/dice block/paint-pot/staff member is if it doesn't fix what drove you away in the first place.  Likewise, fight the urge to get into Internet arguments (or, goddess forbid, actual arguments) about how rubbish Dungeon Bash is compared to Castle Brawl, or how Nerd Emporium is secretly controlled by the New World Order.  You're still thinking about something you were supposed to be getting away from, and that's the sort of behaviour that will see you sucked right back in.
Yes, she's lovely, but that doesn't mean she isn't trying to sell you devil droppings in a blister pack.
 For those of you who are still reading and haven't slavishly followed the above link, it might be worth you pointing your browser toward this week's Gaming on a Budget, which has some excellent advice on avoiding hobby burnout and, possibly, avoiding the kind of conditions that lead to you needing this sort of advice in the first place.


grumhelden said...

Awesome post Von, well worded, well guarded, and a joy to read. Fie on "that company" indeed!

The Angry Lurker said...

No.6 is a killer.

Frugal Dave said...

Von, an awesome article! I can't think which games company you may be referring to...

dwez said...

Love it. Ebay will be the true winner in all this broo-ha-ha. I gstil get satisfaction from 'winning' something on ebay and even more so when I can get it cheaper than new. I've had a Carnifex and a Hive Tyrant for less than half price and recently got 4 'Cyber Knights' on bikes for less than the price of one new biker!

It's at times like these I'm glad I put together FREE building templates for the good of the 'community'.

Von said...

I feel like I should sprinkle some more references to Magicians Of The Shore or maybe Piratical Publications in there, just to really underscore that I'm not just having a go at Nerd Emporium. Whoever they are. Seriously, I'm better than that. Most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Terrific post - it provides a lot more insight than some of the generic "How to leave your game company? Buy different stuffs!" posts.

Treating a shift in gaming companies as akin to dealing with withdrawal or avoiding getting sucked into a bad relationship was pretty impressive, as well!

Trey said...

Very sensible guidelines.