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swarmofseals

What can and can't ruin Age of Sigmar

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This post is in part prompted by this thread, but I wanted to broaden the discussion substantially beyond the topic of that thread and thought it might be better to start a new one.

If you've read my previous thread on the topic of game balance and community, you probably already know that I've been a competitive gamer for quite a while. I've been a part of quite a lot of different gaming communities, watching them rise, fall, and rise again over time. One pattern that I see over and over again is a focus on what is wrong with a given game or hobby, how things are getting worse, etc. These often focus on a particular aspect of the game or changes to the game that a portion (and sometimes a substantial portion) of the playerbase dislikes, and they are often justified at least in part.

 

That said, in my experience the only thing that can actually ruin a game (aside from the company that makes the game), is widespread negativity.

I think one of the absolute best examples of this type of pattern can be seen in the online community of basically any Massively Multiplayer Online RPG ever made. I've played these types of games off and on for basically the entire span of their existence, and have noticed a clear pattern with essentially every game that has released since World of Warcraft. WoW is noteworthy because it massively broadened the playerbase for MMORPGs. Previously they were a fairly niche game, but WoW brought it into the mainstream. As WoW developed over the first few years of its existence, it became clear that many different types of gamer were attracted to the game. While most people break the playerbase down into subsets of "hardcore" and "casual", there are really many more subdivisions within those groups. I wont get into the details, as they aren't really important to this discussion. Over time, as developers make design and development decisions about their game, change mechanics, and release new content, portions of the community gradually complain more and more about changes and new content that does not cater to their specific playstyle. "Hardcore" raiders complain when the new patch focuses entirely on solo content for "casuals". "Casuals" complain when the new gearset is only realistically obtainable by elite players. Players get more and more dissatisfied, the community becomes increasingly toxic and the playerbase plummets. That's one of the two ways a game dies (the other being a massively stupid decision on the part of the developers like the NGE in the original Star Wars MMO).

 

So what does this have to do with Age of Sigmar? Well, I think AoS is a pretty brilliant basic design in that the system is enormously flexible and the developers actively encourage increased flexibility through empowering players to make their own house rules and decide how they want to play the game. It's also a very niche hobby with a relatively small playerbase. AoS needs to grow to survive, and the community that we create will play a significant part in whether the game grows or not. In general I have been very impressed by the online AoS community, but I have noticed a troubling pattern across most if not all of the AoS community platforms that I follow. There seems to be quite a lot of fretting done by players who are bothered by other people playing the game different from their own preferred style. Although competitiveness is a major focus of many of these discussions, it also touches on things like play environments, painting standards, etc. 

I think that these discussions are extremely productive to have on the local level and extremely unproductive to have online. Questions about playstyle are primarily relevant within a player's own community (whether that community be the local club or something broader like the GT circuit). If you are a less competitive gamer who doesn't have a ton of time for painting and your local community is very competitive and has very high painting standards, then you have a problem and you either need to find a different community or address the problem within your existing context. On the other hand, if a gaming group in Azerbaijan is playing nothing but shootouts between unpainted Kurnoth Hunters and unpainted Skyfires, it really doesn't affect you (assuming you aren't in Azerbaijan...). Furthermore, online communities are almost certainly not representative of the hobby as a whole. Neither is any specific event or tournament. For example, if you only looked at the stuff people post in galleries on sites like this one and Dakka and/or on r/minipainting, you'd get an extremely skewed view of painting standards. Similarly, if you look online and note that a significant percentage of the discussion is geared towards win-at-all-costs tournament listbuilding, you might get a very skewed perception of how competitive the hobby is as a whole. 

If you have some bad experiences in your local community OR notice a lot of people online playing the game differently from you, and then you turn the online discussion to some version of "is AOS too competitive?/are painting standards too high?/are painting standards too low?/why does nobody play narrative?/etc" then you're compounding the problem a bit. I want to be absolutely clear that I don't intend to call out @BloodTithe specifically for his thread -- his approach to the question was very thoughtful and clearly well intentioned. There were a lot of good comments in the thread, too. That said, it DOES still add to the potential echo-chamber effect and will likely increase the overall impression that the game is getting exclusionary against non-competitive players. This is particularly problematic for a newer player. A new player may not have any idea what their local scene is like, but if they look for information online and start to run into a lot of people fretting about some aspect of the hobby, they are very likely to infer that this is a global problem and may be turned off. Every potential new hobbyist is extremely valuable to the community but also extremely fragile (particularly for a hobby that requires as much investment as miniature wargaming). I'm still quite convinced that AoS continues to suffer tremendously from all the bad press that came in the first few years.

If you are having local struggles, then it would be MUCH more productive to frame the question locally. Instead of a broad discussion of the "state of the hobby," instead try focusing on talking to your local community directly. Make sure your local group knows how you feel, and look for local resources that might be helpful. If you are struggling with discussing your struggles with your local community, then ask online for help about how to approach the issue. There is a great deal of wisdom out there, but you are only going to find it if you ask the right question.

 

A bit of a tangent

 

I'm a mental health professional. When writing this post, it occurred to me that there is a strong parallel between Depression and the phenomenon that I am describing above. Psychologists talk about something called the "internal, global, stable attributional style" in reference to Depression. Basically, what this describes is certain patterns in depressive thinking. Internal attributions are those that tend to be about the self (as opposed to about others), for example "I failed because I'm stupid" (internal) vs. "I failed because the test was hard" (external). Global attributions are those that tend to be broad rather than specific, for example, "I didn't study enough because I'm a lazy person" (global) vs. "I didn't study enough because I was really distracted over the weekend" (situational). Stable attributions are those that are persistent across time rather than unstable and changing, for example "I'm always lazy" (stable) vs. "I was feeling lazy this weekend" (unstable). 

Why is this relevant? I think because we can identify a community wide phenomenon that functions a lot like Depression. In the MMO example, players would plod along happily exploring a new game and then gradually become more and more involved in the online community. Repeated internal, global, stable attributions about the game (eg: "this game has no endgame" or "this game is too casual/hardcore") eventually create a depressive environment, and the player starts to feel very negatively about the game regardless of whether they are engaging in the content that other players are complaining about or not. This negative/depressive atmosphere gradually erodes the playerbase while simultaneously reducing new player acquisition. 

The same problem can very well exist in AoS. It takes a lot of motivation to get going in this hobby. If you are sitting at home in front of a bunch of grey plastic and thinking about how competitiveness (or casualness) is ruining the game (regardless of the reality of your local play group) or how you'll never be as good at painting as those people posting on TGA, then you are going to have that much more trouble mustering the motivation to paint. If you get into a depressive state of mind about the game, then you are likely to quit. Worse yet, if you are very vocal about your attributions then you are likely to demoralize others as well, and turn people off from entering the hobby. 

While I think that more of the discussion now has centered around the idea of the game being too competitive, it wasn't long ago that the discussion was the exact opposite. There was a ton of complaining that the game wasn't competitive enough, what with no points and "silly" rules on some warscrolls etc. And yet there were some very robust community pointing systems and few games were really being decided by using Wulfrik's ability to call your opponent a filthy ****** gobbler. Communities existed on every point of the spectrum from ultra casual to ultra competitive, and yet LOADS of people quit or never started with the hobby because of the negativity in the community. We really should be careful not to allow this to happen again. 

 

Conclusions/summary/TL;DR

 

  • The two things that are mostly likely to ruin our hobby are Games Workshop and negativity. We can't really control the former, but we can influence the latter.
  • Discussing negative game experiences in internal, global, stable terms is not likely to be very productive and contributes substantially to the negativity.
  • Instead, address problems at the local level or frame your questions online in a way that is more productive. For example, if you are concerned that your local community is too competitive/too casual, then talk to local players about it. If you need help doing this, then post online but frame your question in a productive way, ie: "how can I convince some of my local opponents to tone it down a bit and run some fluffier lists?" instead of "casual gaming in Age of Sigmar is dead."

 

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Absolutely!  When I realized that the local Warmahordes players were MOSTLY a bunch of WAAC cheese players, I quit playing them, and make sure that my complaints are aimed at them.  By the same token, some of the local 40K players are SUPER competitive, WAAC players that play each other on a regular basis, and go to the big national tournaments around the year, and they make the game a chore.

I now take on a much more zen-like philosophy when it comes to figuring out my hobby time.  Though I haven't had time to paint models in 4 months due to family and relatives taking up my time, I have been able to get in some games, and I am very thankful that the local Age of Sigmar players in my area are all on the same page as me.

Yes, negativity can contribute to the downfall of a game.  I mean, have you read anything on DakkaDakka and the vitriol coming from some of the posters about 40K 8th edition changes?  It seems that for every positive, happy comment, there are 2 comments complaining about the same change, 1 person arguing with that exact post, 3 posts trying to argue with the post by not realizing they are agreeing, and 10 posts of discussions of rules and statistics and whether or not people can understand dice probability.  This is not healthy for 40K, and it is not healthy for wargaming in any system.

I am excited and eager for both 8th Edition 40K, and lots more to come for Age of Sigmar.  I can recognize when my problems come from the game or the players (or my relatives on occasion), and I will do my best to help dissuade negativity in the online wargaming communities.

33 minutes ago, swarmofseals said:

...

@BloodTitheThat's one of the two ways a game dies (the other being a massively stupid decision on the part of the developers like the NGE in the original Star Wars MMO).

...

Oh yeah, that did happen, didn't it?  I never played the original Star Wars MMO (Galaxies?), but I remember hearing about how they changed the game massively and it killed a chunk of the player base.

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People are quite the double-edged sword when it comes to wargaming as a hobby. [emoji16]

But I do have to disagree on one point -
GW can't ruin the hobby; they can only fail to meet projected expectations.

...or they meet awful expectations.

(Seriously, the 40k rumour thread over on Dakka is like a weird episode of Black Mirror right now - an awful parody of an unhappy marriage except one has no idea they're even married, and the other keeps going on and on and on about how long they've been together and how awful it's been and how it's only getting worse.
But they're still together.)



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40 minutes ago, BaldoBeardo said:


GW can't ruin the hobby; they can only fail to meet projected expectations.

...or they meet awful expectations.
 

Well, GW can stop producing the game entirely. While people could clearly still play the game with their existing models and rules, few would likely hold on to a game that was no longer being supported. I'm sure a small community would remain in some places, but the game would be effectively dead. 

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Incredibly well-put. Twisting ourselves in knots online about what it "feels" like is happening is a terrible way to spend our time and energy and a great way to start feeling ****** about the hobby. You have to work to make the hobby what you want it to be, in your local community. Say what you want, find like-minded players, collaborate, communicate when something is bothering you or not fun, etc, etc.

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Great post!

As someone whose been parts of these communities for years, I've wondered why there seems to be such a prevalence of these types of behaviors. I wonder if it's demographic bias, the structure of the interactions, the structure of the consumer identity, some other thing I'm not thinking of, some combination of all these, etc.

The thing I try to remember is that the play's the thing!

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2 hours ago, mdkinker said:

Great post!

As someone whose been parts of these communities for years, I've wondered why there seems to be such a prevalence of these types of behaviors. I wonder if it's demographic bias, the structure of the interactions, the structure of the consumer identity, some other thing I'm not thinking of, some combination of all these, etc.

The thing I try to remember is that the play's the thing!

Thanks! I've also wondered this and can offer little more than speculation. Many people enjoy complaining. Most people who play games like AoS are strategy gamers, and I'd wager that we tend to be a little more analytical than your average person. Picking things apart is in our nature. Some people really like to challenge the status quo regardless of what it is. Still others are uncomfortable with the idea of difference. This can manifest with a belief that their way is the only "right" way, or it might be much more subtle. People also have a tendency to generalize their own experiences. I'm sure at least some of these are pieces of the puzzle, but I'm also confident that there is much more to it!

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I actually found it incredibly valuable after leaving both Warmachine/Hordes and X-Wing because of the dominance of competitive approaches in my local area, to find more open and narrative minded people in the online AoS community.  I am also discovering that the local people who left WM/H, X-Wing (and 40k to a degree) for the same reasons as myself have also landed on AoS as their game of choice.  If not for the people here taking the time to show me that AoS is not only about tournament play and that people really do play the game in a variety of ways, i would have given it a pass and stuck with my historical projects.  Tournaments are awesome for the people who enjoy them, of course.

I think the recent discussions have been good in that the seem to eventually end up with the conclusion that there's only a real problem when you have a mismatch of expectations among real players in real world locations.  This forum definitely has a feature in that people are actually discussing things rather than trying to see just how insulting they can be without getting the attention of the moderators.

 

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One of the things I've really been heartened to see is the number of people elsewhere on forums who are saying they'll probably just run with power levels in the new 40k.
(For the uninitiated, 40k has two points systems - standard pay-for-every-last-guy-and-his-kit, and power levels which are AoS equivalent - X power level gets you a unit of Y guys, take whatever upgrades you fancy).
I still think that while 1 of GW's ways to play will always be dominant, it's good to see that people are open to the concept of being more open to the others.

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Absolutely!  When I realized that the local Warmahordes players were MOSTLY a bunch of WAAC cheese players, I quit playing them, and make sure that my complaints are aimed at them.  By the same token, some of the local 40K players are SUPER competitive, WAAC players that play each other on a regular basis, and go to the big national tournaments around the year, and they make the game a chore.
I now take on a much more zen-like philosophy when it comes to figuring out my hobby time.  Though I haven't had time to paint models in 4 months due to family and relatives taking up my time, I have been able to get in some games, and I am very thankful that the local Age of Sigmar players in my area are all on the same page as me.
Yes, negativity can contribute to the downfall of a game.  I mean, have you read anything on DakkaDakka and the vitriol coming from some of the posters about 40K 8th edition changes?  It seems that for every positive, happy comment, there are 2 comments complaining about the same change, 1 person arguing with that exact post, 3 posts trying to argue with the post by not realizing they are agreeing, and 10 posts of discussions of rules and statistics and whether or not people can understand dice probability.  This is not healthy for 40K, and it is not healthy for wargaming in any system.
I am excited and eager for both 8th Edition 40K, and lots more to come for Age of Sigmar.  I can recognize when my problems come from the game or the players (or my relatives on occasion), and I will do my best to help dissuade negativity in the online wargaming communities.
Oh yeah, that did happen, didn't it?  I never played the original Star Wars MMO (Galaxies?), but I remember hearing about how they changed the game massively and it killed a chunk of the player base.

Oh boy, could I tell you about that...
On second thought, maybe not. It still saddens me...

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I wholeheartedly agree on your write up. But I would like to offer two personal views and i'm curious to hear what you guys, and @swarmofseals specifically, think about it.

1. Yes, talking negatively about a subject has a direct impact on your vision of that subject. So seeking out other people that run into the same problem and just complaining tends to enhance a negative spiral. BUT for a lot of people a complaint online is also a way to find people that agree with them. If I would be annoyed by my experiences of playing against unpainted armies and in my local scene I can't find anyone who agrees with me... Finding a community online that does agree... well it means i'm just unlucky and not crazy for having a different opinion. And that can be valuable. Even if there is no practical advice forthcoming just knowing that your not alone can help you persevere. 

 2. I also think Instagram bias plays a part here. (full disclosure I'm not a psychologist but I work in Marketing Communication and it's a phenomenon we run into often.) Instagram bias tries to explain the wave of kids feeling underwhelmed by their lives with all the possible consequences related. What happens is of course not only related to Instagram but is something more widespread. When impressionable kids follow a lot of people that showcase the highlights of their lives (holidays, parties, luxury items) they can lose sight of reality and assume that's the standard of life. However as they only follow the bright and talented (who regularly don't show the lows only the peaks) they can't achieve that distorted view of reality. 

I recognise a similar thing within most hobbies including this one. We all see those amazing models and read or view battle reports on beautiful terrain with great narratives between people having fun and playing the game how you assume it should be. But as they are also making content it's not the whole story it's the peaks. I think I see a lot of the same frustration in some threads and comments (this is of course my interpretation not fact). People being frustrated that they don't get the same experience they see online while that is in no way the average. You are seeing the peaks and that is a tough thing the compare your experiences with. 

So i'm interested in your views. Do you recognize some of these things or is it just my own specialist/field bias?

Edited by Kramer
remembered my second point
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Excessive competitiveness and an internet driven idea that painting standards were too high and I'd couldn't possibly meet them were things that turned me off in my first foray into the tabletop wargaming hobby. I started off with Warmachine and while I still like the basic idea and rules for the game and I love the fantasy steampunk theme(it took the Kharadron overlords to get me to finally jump into AoS and I'm still hoping for a mechanical golem or something in the future), but it seems that even the most casual meta I could find, most people were still pretty into tournaments and pick up games were basically tournament prep nearly every time. As some one who doesn't have any interest in tournaments, except maybe a big once a year event or so(and that's more for the experience and getting to see and play against new people rather than competition) , that was kind of a turn off. Between the overly competitiveness and my painting "failure" I stuck with Star Trek Attack Wing and picked up Star Wars Armada and stuck with those and board games for a bit.

Eventually I pulled some Mantic Dwarfs out of the closest that I had picked up a few years back around the time I was starting Warmachine to use as budget friendly WHFB army. This was around the time that AoS had come out the Warhammer fantasy community has a bit of a "the sky is falling mentality" and a lot of local people started Kings of War, so my thought was to to give the hobby a second shot and try my hand at KoW or maybe use the Dwarfs for AoS which ever people were playing by the time I got through. Not being an experience hobbyist and still not super into it, it took me about a year just to get all the Dwarfs assembled(over 2500 points in KoW). And then the painting dread hit me again and they stayed on the shelf for a bit. What actually fixed that for me, was playing a little pickup game of mk3 of War machine about six months after it came out just to see how things worked now. I had my poorly painted army on the table against the other guys better painted army(neither were complete, but his painted pieces were much better), but I realized that table height, mine didn't look much different in quality from his once the game was rolling and I had the (in hindsight obvious) epiphany that I don't have to be able to paint everything up a showpiece, just make sure they look fine from the table.

By that time rumors of Steamhead Duardin had started, so I decided to do my Mantic Dwarfs as KoW only and wait for AoS. That had the advantage of being able to multibase and hide some of my poorer models in the middle of a static block of troops. Once I got over the hump, I painted them faster than I though I could have previously painted and was cranking them out fast enough not to get discouraged. I got enough painted for up to 2500 points of KoW and as soon as the Kharadron Overlords dropped, I scooped them up as they came out for 1000 point force. Got them all assembled and and already got a couple of units fully painted and based and the rest should be done in a couple weeks(about half a dozen full evenings of painting). So far the local KoW and AoS players seem friendly and not overly competitive so my wargaming future looks bright. I think I've even found some more laid back Warmachine players, so I might even get my Khador army completely painted and built more appropriately for mk3.

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Interesting post. I have been away from this forum for a little while, still gaming and buying hobby. I was a little surprised and very disheartened to see all the negativity on the board when I popped in to be honest. I thought that is what this site had been created to avoid to be honest. TWF was pretty toxic.

There are just a few comments that I would like to make, please note that these comments are not aimed at any one in particular, they are just a general observation which I think ties into the topic at hand. 

I am very much a hobby gamer if I am lucky I get to play a small game a week with some friends, but, I do love seeing the competitive stuff and listening to podcasts or watching Warhammer TV matched play. I think it is great that that type of gaming exists. As well as the other two types. As Rob on Warhammer TV said, in tournaments you should be able to bring your A game. Or you go to a narrative event if that is not your cup of tea. 

I also love seeing the high-level of hobby displayed it is really inspirational, although my own painting style has reverted to very basic techniques that still, amazingly, produce good results (Thank you Agrax Earthshade and Duncan). It is not discouraging at all to see what others with more time can do. 

As to games workshop, can anyone really say they are not hitting it out of the park at the moment?

Look at the models, Warhammer TV, live twitch from big events, community engagement, White Dwarf is now better than any one was dreaming it could be before the relaunch and it is only getting better. If any one had told you we would be here just 2 and a bit years ago you would've laughed in their face.

Really there are opportunities to play this game in any way that at the moment with some really amazing models.

The thing that will ruin this hobby is people complaining on the internet :-). Infact not it won't ruin the hobby it will just mean that people can't be bothered to chat on a forum like this 'cos what's the point?

As to 40K, well I am looking forward to the new edition. The last edition got unplayable for me after seeing how smooth AoS is.

So really why complain? If you want to complain about something go and comment on a news article that mentions a certain president of a certain country, whichever way you swing there is more than enough to rant at there. In hobby just enjoy hobby.

 

 

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First of all, I'd like to commend people for some really thoughtful posts here.

Now I'd like to voice my wish for something that, for some, may be a bit controversial, but I would like the moderation of TGA to be turned up a notch.

Both to ensure that threads and posts actually go to the right sections of the forum, so there is less clutter. But also, and this pertains to this thread, to put a deliberate dampener on the creeping negativity that seems to be getting ever so slightly more visible as time goes by. Perhaps it is simply a cause of the population of the TGA community growing, but I think it is important to try as best we can, to keep TGA as nice and positive as it was in the very beginnings. TGA was/is really different to many other mini-wargaming forums, in this regard, and I would very much to keep it that way for as long as possible.

I come here to share my enjoyment of AoS with other likeminded hobbists, and the enthusiasm of the community at large is contagious which is really great. When I encounter an increasing negative "feel" in the community, it makes me less enthusiastic about coming back for more.

It is not to say that there isn't valid things to complain about, because GW is no saint, but complaining about it on a forum instead of to GW just makes for a worse and worse experience in using the forum, in my mind at least.

 

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Overall good post @swarmofseals, especially on the points of discussing it locally rather than online.

I also completely agree with @Motley & @Spiky Norman. Rather than post negativity, people should use that energy constructively in the Narrative & Open Play subforums, or even stick in this subforum with positive topics such as "How can we promote the game and whatever aspect that we love about it".

@Kramer Your second point is interesting - I personally don't think it's as distorted as what you see on Instagram and the media presence of AoS actually motivates people more than it discourages.

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9 hours ago, Kramer said:

I wholeheartedly agree on your write up. But I would like to offer two personal views and i'm curious to hear what you guys, and @swarmofseals specifically, think about it.

Re 1: Right, but there is a big difference between complaining and looking for constructive solutions. Framing is incredibly important here, both in terms of asking the right questions (eg. "I'm looking for other narrative gamers who can advise on getting some narrative play started up in my community") and in terms of framing the problem (eg. using "my local club is getting really competitive and it bothers me" vs. "this hobby is getting too competitive/this hobby is being ruined by competitiveness"). Framing the problem in a narrow way both reduces negativity and increases the likelihood of having a productive discussion instead of a pity party.

Re 2: I hadn't run into the term Instagram Effect before, but it's a good one! There's definitely something to this, although I have no idea how much it affects hobbyists. I do know that I have mixed reactions to the amazing work I see people posting. It's often inspirational (wow, that model is awesome! that conversion is so creative! it gives me an idea...) but also slightly depressing (I'll never be that good), but on balance for me personally it's a positive (except insofar as it distracts me for getting more painting done!)

30 minutes ago, Motley said:

So really why complain? If you want to complain about something go and comment on a news article that mentions a certain president of a certain country, whichever way you swing there is more than enough to rant at there. In hobby just enjoy hobby.

People complain because it feels good to vent, and it feels good to get sympathy from others. You get the most sympathy when your situation seems hopeless, so if that's what you are after then you have a psychological incentive to globalize and catastrophize your situation. In fact, there is a really fantastic interpersonal dynamic that I'd wager nearly everyone on this forum has participated in on a frequent basis. It was first described in the groundbreaking book Games People Play, a foundational work in transactional analysis, as the game of "Why Don't You, Yes But".

In this "game" one person describes a problem. Then the other "players" take turns suggesting solutions, which the poser of the problem shoots down one by one. That player then "wins" when eventually there is a pause, a sigh, and the other players give up making suggestions. On the surface, the dynamic appears to be an overt search for solutions to the problem. The real goal, however, is to get sympathy and for others to acknowledge that the situation is hopeless (which is how the poser of the problem feels). As an aside, if you find yourself stuck in this game with someone else the best thing to do is to be as empathic as you can manage and focus on how the person feels rather than trying to problem solve. This is one reason why therapists stereotypically ask so many questions like "how does that make you feel?" and comments like "that sounds like it was really difficult for you" etc. If you start problem solving before establishing a feeling of being understood, then you're often going to just spin your wheels. If you lay a groundwork of empathy first, however, then you are much more likely to get somewhere with problem solving later. 

13 minutes ago, Spiky Norman said:

Now I'd like to voice my wish for something that, for some, may be a bit controversial, but I would like the moderation of TGA to be turned up a notch.

I hear where you are coming from, and clearly this isn't even remotely my decision to make, but I'm a little wary of aggressive moderation as the solution except in fairly extreme cases. I think there are legitimate problems that people have, and if they are framed in a constructive way (even if the problem itself is negative) then it will ultimately help the hobby. Personally I'd like to see TGA as a place where people can voice their concerns but are encouraged to do so in a constructive way. I get a great feeling when I see someone post a specific problem they are having and get a bunch of helpful replies - it shows that the community is quite supportive.

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1 hour ago, swarmofseals said:

 

People complain because it feels good to vent, and it feels good to get sympathy from others. You get the most sympathy when your situation seems hopeless, so if that's what you are after then you have a psychological incentive to globalize and catastrophize your situation. In fact, there is a really fantastic interpersonal dynamic that I'd wager nearly everyone on this forum has participated in on a frequent basis. It was first described in the groundbreaking book Games People Play, a foundational work in transactional analysis, as the game of "Why Don't You, Yes But".

In this "game" one person describes a problem. Then the other "players" take turns suggesting solutions, which the poser of the problem shoots down one by one. That player then "wins" when eventually there is a pause, a sigh, and the other players give up making suggestions. On the surface, the dynamic appears to be an overt search for solutions to the problem. The real goal, however, is to get sympathy and for others to acknowledge that the situation is hopeless (which is how the poser of the problem feels). As an aside, if you find yourself stuck in this game with someone else the best thing to do is to be as empathic as you can manage and focus on how the person feels rather than trying to problem solve. This is one reason why therapists stereotypically ask so many questions like "how does that make you feel?" and comments like "that sounds like it was really difficult for you" etc. If you start problem solving before establishing a feeling of being understood, then you're often going to just spin your wheels. If you lay a groundwork of empathy first, however, then you are much more likely to get somewhere with problem solving later. 

I've seen that game before! Probably played on both sides too. It is interesting to see it has a name. I had realized that many times people don't want solutions. I had put it down to when you are on the inside of a problem it feels very different to the outside.

I do agree with out about finding different ways to express concerns, that is a very good point. But I was also thinking 'yes' to the idea of slightly more stringent moderation. I heave been around forums for a long time now and when people are being *really* negative the free speech argument wears a little thin. Although having too heavy a moderation is another problem entirely. It is hard, almost impossible to find a balance sometimes.

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Of course, everyone could also take the advice that I learned from my parents many years ago:

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

That's not to say we shouldn't be critical of problems within our gaming circles or game systems, but we need to make sure we are clear in our complaints - are we venting to release steam and get something off of our chest?  Or are we hoping to incite a change and discussion about the current state of the game/hobby?

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2 hours ago, BunkhouseBuster said:

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

That's not to say we shouldn't be critical of problems within our gaming circles or game systems, but we need to make sure we are clear in our complaints - are we venting to release steam and get something off of our chest?  Or are we hoping to incite a change and discussion about the current state of the game/hobby?

Seconding on that.

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I have noticed that some of the sub-forums have different tones and that negativity is more prevalent in some. The Painting and Modelling section for example is extremely encouraging, with well thought out and constructive posts or words of encouragement dished out fairly regularly. The more competitive focused topics (and they do tend to be topics rather than entire sub-forums) are slightly less welcoming and can descend into pages of arguments quite quickly. I would not lay the blame for this at competitive play, but I would say that it is a feature of a competitive personality and one that a person has to actively choose to modify. 

I'm a very competitive person, I actually got hugely embarrassed just this evening, because I lost a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. My opponent chose paper a beat early (after three not on three!), while I was still holding a fist and was assumed to have picked rock. The game was to see who left work 30 minutes early, so not a bad prize, but also not really worth me making a scene about in the middle of the office and in front of spectators. I didn't arrive at that conclusion immediately though, but have taught myself to not respond in the heat of the moment and so avoided further embarrassment (Pretty sure I blushed a deep shade of crimson at having been caught out in a competitive environment) semi-graciously accepting the loss. 

As ridiculous as the above is in hindsight (particularly describing the loss of a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors as the heat of the moment...) and how much more ridiculous it could have been, it is a part of my personality and part of what makes me good at other things in a different environment. Those of us with this in our nature do need to temper our responses to a perceived competitive situation and perhaps take a beat before responding, taking account of our where we are. This does not mean that I lay the blame for negativity at the feet of competitive players or personalities, I merely use it as an example of modifying my own reactions based on my environment. Within the Painting and Modelling sub-forum everyone seems to know and abide by some unspoken rules that are universal across the community, but they do not seem to extend much beyond it (with a few notable exceptions).

In a community that is capable of being extremely tactful and constructive, is there something about the environment of some of the sub-forums that allows negativity to flourish and, perhaps more importantly, can anything be done about it?

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I'd just like to comment re: negativity in the online community scene versus the local gaming scene. Despite how derogatory many of the guys at my FLGS were- and still are- about Age of Sigmar, the enthusiasm of the AoS facebook pages eventually won me over, allowing me to choke down the bitter pill that is the destruction of the Old World.

Although I understand it's relatively common for online discussion to be negative while the local group is positive, for me, it was quite the other way around, yet had the same result: I was drawn to the positive community, and got involved in the game.

- Alex

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2 hours ago, Tzaangor Management said:

a great story

If only Seinfeld were still on, this would make a fantastic basis for an episode.

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14 hours ago, BunkhouseBuster said:

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Completely agree!  My Granddad always used to go "take your words out before you say them, look at them and throw them away if they're not right".  On a keyboard it's actually much easier to do this.

I've seen it across numerous hobby forums, where people don't realise that what's been written doesn't come across very well.  It's why I'll dot my posts with smiley faces, because I'm very aware that something I write lightheartedly could come across as sarcastic or downright offensive and a well placed yellow grin can help enforce the mood of my post.

I think that one of the things that's happened on TGA is that we started out with a group of people who were pretty much all very enthused about AoS.  We had no points system so the whole game was about having an enjoyable game with an opponent and collecting awesome models.  Our posts reflected this really positive attitude.

When Pitched Battle profiles dropped it was the brought in of a lot of new AoS players - many returning from WFB and many new.  With them came a new way of looking at the game - from a competitive/balanced angle.  This new angle means that you change the fundamental way of looking at an army - that unit isn't worth the points, that combination isn't as good as that one, etc.  It inherently encourages a critical slant on the game.  Sadly a lot of people struggle to handle criticism - either giving and/or receiving - and ultimately results in disagreements or arguments (which the mods are pretty good at keeping on top of).  It has however meant that some people avoid parts of TGA because they simply don't want to deal with any potential negativity - equally some people love a bit of confrontation/debate and enjoy adding their opinion (or at times fuel to the fire).  It's one of the reasons I only poke the questions forum occasionally - I can't be bothered with any potential grief if my interpretation of a rule is different to someone else.

And I've just realised that this post is a good case in point - I've outlined an opinion and my own cursory read through is pretty negative - time for a smiley face :D

Overall, I still feel TGA is more positive than negative.  I think providing people remember that we're all entitled to express our own opinion and not be ridiculed or outright told we're wrong, we'll continue to be a good community.

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3 hours ago, RuneBrush said:

We had no points system so the whole game was about having an enjoyable game with an opponent and collecting awesome models.  Our posts reflected this really positive attitude.

This. 

3 hours ago, RuneBrush said:

When Pitched Battle profiles dropped it was the brought in of a lot of new AoS players - many returning from WFB and many new.  With them came a new way of looking at the game - from a competitive/balanced angle.  This new angle means that you change the fundamental way of looking at an army - that unit isn't worth the points, that combination isn't as good as that one, etc.  It inherently encourages a critical slant on the game.

And this. What's really saddening is that for most such players miniatures are just plastic scrap, pieces on the board and not what they actually are. The hobby is about these miniatures but such attitude kills it like a savage beast devours its prey.

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