Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Wargames Shows Discussion - Demo v Participation Games.

We have had this debate in our gaming group now and then. And the recent Derby show, prompted another bout of on it.

Why do people run "Demonstration" games?
When I am wandering around a gaming show, like the one at Derby last weekend. I do like to look and watch some of the games going on. But I am completely baffled when I see a "Demonstration" game, being run by a club/organisation. Where four or five people sit/stand and play a game, usually on a big table layout, which has been nicely done, with some lovely miniatures and no public interaction.
Personally I think games like this should be discouraged from shows. I had it put to me, when I raised this point in general discussion, with one such table (not at Derby) that they were demonstrating the rules and figure range, and they did not wish the public to handle the figures.

I just couldn't understand their attitude at all. As I see it, and feel free to disagree. Demonstrating figure ranges, is for the trade stands, and how does a group of gamers, playing a game, demonstrate a game? When the public cannot get involved.

If I am not involved, in rolling dice, commanding forces or moving figures, then yes I might stand for a moment and watch, but that's about it. I will move on. There is nothing engaging about watching others at a show play games. So why do the show organisers allow these people to just fill up space? What are they contributing to the show?

I far prefer Participation games. Ones where you are firstly made to feel welcome in taking part. Where those running it take the time to explain things and are interested in showing how it works etc. The one thing I do wish is, more participation games, would have better clear and concise information on the game, the scenario, the rules being used and the figure and table. Some do this really well, but some sadly don't. Nice clear information boards with big font sizes are always handy. And a map.
There are big chunks of history I have only a rudimentary knowledge of. I blame that on dire history teachers, who could have bored the skin of an orange!  But I digress. So when I see an interesting table, say ancients, I won't know which sides are which (unless they are Romans and Celt's) and if I cannot see/find the info, I tend to just move on to see what other tables there are. And I am sure I am not alone in doing so.


Crazy Joe said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I think it's because wargamers are pretty precious about their figures and don't like them handled by the hoi poloi. To me,the best games are those put on by gamers who are also good at marketing and have decent interpersonal skills. Unfortunately many gamers haven't a clue about marketing and often don't even bother with personal hygiene, so forget about interpersonal skills!

On a couple of occasions I've taken my son in law to shows and it's not uncommon that I've had to give him an explanation of who's who and what's what, assuming that I have a clue. The so called demonstration games (and even some of the alleged participation games) have been mysteries, so who knows how the sponsoring companies or organisations went on.

The best demo game I've seen over the past few years was a Society of Ancients game a few years ago (at Phalanx I think) which was so good and so well supported by people in the know that I even re-joined. The chap I was speaking to couldn't stand DBM and, like me, preferred Armati. Fair enough.

Goose on the loose said...

I unfortunately wholey agree with you. A good demo game can get one hooked and interested in seconds, if done right.

Or it can have the complete opposite effect! Leaving your bored and dissinterested in it, probabyl from then on for good.