Welcome to Librarium Online!
So, I am going to be talking about the topic of fun gaming, competitive gaming and the risk of burn out. Its for my next episode on my podcast (link in sig) And I was wondering what the general thought was. I love playing for fun, but I also like winning, of course. Our gaming group has had a lot of experience in the matter, we played very competitively for about 2 years straight and now everyone has burned out, seeking other games to recharge their gaming batteries or just plain not playing at all.
What do you do as an individual when you are frustrated at the game, or how is it that you never get frustrated... good gaming group? Playing philosophy?
I personally like playing anything all the time, even if I get stomped. I have geared my lists more to my personal liking and then succeed with them through good generalship, this prevents burnout and keeps it fresh. Also playing against people who have the same level of experience and are from different areas works.
How about you?
I guess that I could give you my thoughts on the matter - at least as it has pertained to me.
A believe that the idea of "fun" and "competitive" gaming are not mutually exclusive, and that it is only when people try to differentiate them, that they stop enjoying the game or begin to dislike the other side. While this hobby is not centered exclusively around gaming (you could collect and paint, or enjoy the fiction, etc) any time you put your models onto the table and begin rolling dice, you are engaging in a game, a pass-time of sorts, which should certainly be fun for you. However you want to enjoy the wargaming hobby - you are choosing how you would like to have fun. However, games are also competitive. There will be a clearly defined winner, and loser, as set by the rules of the game. It is human nature to want to win, at least some of the time. Considering that this hobby is dominated by male gamers, that urge to come out on top is pretty overwhelming. If you are playing a "fluffy" army, or just writing a list "for fun", it should be understood that - at least in terms of the game rules - you are not setting yourself up to win, and should be prepared to suffer defeats more often.
In my group, we started out as "fun" gamers, but became embroiled in an arms race. Initially we had players representing almost ever race available in the game. However, as it became clear that certain books seemed "stronger" than the others, people flocked to those armies. Then, from there, people began to tweak their lists a little bit at a time, creating a sort of "cold war" feeling where each player was writing a stronger and stronger list so that they could "win" those fun games. Finally we started going to tournaments, and now, even for fun "beer and pretzels games" we bring our most competitive, cutthroat lists.
I've hit burnout a few times. I find that it's best to keep your finger on the pulse of the game during a burnout. Read forums, listen to podcasts, keep an eye out for new events and releases, even if you yourself are not playing. Eventually something will come along that will make you want to get back into the hobby. If not, then maybe it's time to shelve your models and retire. I say "shelve" specifically because you never know- you may return some day. I have never sold an army for any reason other than to buy a newer one. I've seen too many people sell off their collections and then try to return to the game years later, and be put off by the price of starting fresh.
What keeps me from burning out? What causes it? Usually I burn out if I play the same army too many times and feel that every game is becoming just like the one before. Those "point-click-destroy" style lists, like Gunlines, Magichammers, and Cheesewads, usually result in burnout much faster than a balanced list. When I feel myself starting to flag with a particular army, I switch to another - often even challenging myself to perfect an 'inferior' army. Take my Wood Elves for example. When I get sick of my Warriors, High Elves, Grey Knights, or whatever, I switch to my Wood Elves. I lose a few games, have a few awesomely hard-fought victories, make some headway in deciphering the list, and then when I get tired of wracking my brains, I'm usually ready to switch back to an "auto win" style army.
I also stop by LO and try to participate in a wider area of the hobby. Helping newbies, writing tacticas, giving suggestions or hints on army lists, hosting or competing in writing events, the likes. Wargaming has become an integral part of my life, and the community of players who share my love of the game have become an impromptu family. I may grow weary of the game, but I can still joke around or even go horribly off topic and just chat with my fellow gamers. And that's why I love this hobby.
I have a regular opponent that I play against most often, garage style (though I play other people too on a regular basis). Me and him have sort of an arms race as well, and we like to help each other to make our armies deadlier and deadlier and play extremely competitive games against each other - preparing to take on the rest of the world. And we have great fun doing it.
The only time a competitive game is not fun is when I play against a di - a not very gracious opponent, I mean.
Warhammer Fantasy: Warriors of Chaos, High Elves
Warhammer 40k: Eldar, Space Marines, Orks
In my younger days, I was a competitive player. I would only bring the strongest list I could, and I could not see any alternative than showing up and wanting to win. I could not fathom that anybody would want to play a game in direct competition to someone else and not want to grind them down beneath their heel. The concept of "playing for fun" was something that I could not wrap my head around. Because I played for the challenge, and that challenge is what I enjoyed. I got a thrill out of the struggle, and a high out of the win that followed. Not just in the game itself, but also in the list optimization and the crunch that follows with that. There was only one most efficient list, and I enjoyed the problem solving aspect in finding it. I was into it for the competition, and the competition is what I found fun. When I would face burnout, it's because I wasn't learning anything new, and I wasn't being challenged. Points where I was burned out, I was simply "going through the motions", and this caused me to lose interest.
Then my life changed, and I have an abundance of responsibilities and challenges that I face. That need to be challenged, I no longer look to my hobbies to fill. I'm not into the game these days to be challenged, but to relax. And so I'm much more casual in my play. I don't take the game seriously, because I have more than enough seriousness in my life. I look to my hobbies for the antithesis of seriousness. People may talk that any time you put two armies on opposite sides of the table, you're participating in a competition, and by definition you're playing to win (and even with a "fluffy" or "weak" army a player is still playing to win), but with that I disagree. I look to my gaming time to hang out with friends, and the game gives us an excuse to get away from work and families and responsibilities for a couple hours and have a good time. I don't look to win anything in my wargaming any more than I would want to win while playing catch with a baseball.
I will never change too much, though. I still, even in my casual play, need something that gets me thinking a little bit, because that's the only way I can really enjoy myself. I couldn't imagine going catatonic in front of the tv now. But I no longer play to win. These days, it's the "going through the motions" that I actually enjoy, not the win itself. Were I to think of an analogy, I would say that my tabletop gaming is like me playing someone in a one-on-one basketball game, where nobody kept score. The game itself is fun to me, not the outcome.
Thank you very much for the comments. The podcast episode is up, I talk about burn out and what we do to avoid/prevent it. Check it out, link in sig. As always the cast is clean of language, and the timeline is set so that you can skip to whatever you want to listen to.