RustNeverSleeps
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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:11 pm

[/quote]
Nope, your individual case fells nothing. There's a difference between collective encouragement and individual encouragement.

Your *average* 16 year old white male has more opportunity for encouragement and mentorship than a similar person of a different background. On a case-by-case basis, yes, there are plenty of disadvantaged young white males. But your average young straight white male has more opportunity available than your average non-white, female, or LGBTQ person.

The Zenobia Awards provide a modicum of support/mentorship to a small number of individuals. But, from an institutional perspective it provides a landmark that suggests mentorship and opportunity is available to those who seek it. Which is information that, while you and I know is true, someone of a different background may not assume is available. By reaching out to an under-represented class, we make that class aware of opportunities that they may not know exists.

Their final products will still be judged in the marketplace of ideas just like everyone else's. $2000 and some publishers listening to your pitch is not going to make anyone rich and famous without a banger of an idea to begin with. But it does point out the existence of a door that certainly groups of people may have never noticed before. And that's a good thing.

[/quote]

Festival of errors!!!! To say that the *average* "16 year old white male has more opportunity" is a fallacy in 2021 in the United States and the British Commonwealth. Yes, there are some individuals (of any given race) that have it tougher than another individual (of any given race), however to punish and exclude someone based on the circumstance of someone else is the height of oppression and dangerous. It's 19th century (and before) thinking on different groups and the worth they have in society. I will have no part in it. If you choose to discriminate based on unearned criteria, then that is your choice. I prefer to be open and welcoming regardless of unearned circumstance. Quotas and set asides have no part in a free market and meritocracy.

We should not judge on the collective, but rather the individual. Unless you want people collectively judging the groups that commit the largest proportion of crimes and use that as a profiling mechanism. Or we could collectively profile Group A from Group B (on an unearned basis) and hire/fire based on the collective. Would that be OK? Ditto with housing since I am sure there is data on delinquency rates and some groups have higher delinquency rates that others and so if a bank or loan institution decided not to loan to a particular group, you'd be fine with that. How's that? The possibilities are endless in the world of discriminating on the basis of unearned criteria, isn't it?

The simple fact is the group discriminates based on unearned criteria. The socially awkward SWM was left out because he is S, W, and M. Three things he cannot change about himself (unless you are saying S is a choice which I don't think you would say). He lost that opportunity to earn something through no fault of his own.

Wolf359
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:55 pm

Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:24 pm

RustNeverSleeps, your argument would be reasonable if the world were a level playing field. Unfortunately, at this time it is not.

RustNeverSleeps
Posts: 8
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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:32 pm

RustNeverSleeps, your argument would be reasonable if the world were a level playing field. Unfortunately, at this time it is not.
It never will be. Life isn't fair. "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." - M. Friedman

Wolf359
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:55 pm

Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:55 pm

It never will be. Life isn't fair. "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." - M. Friedman
That quote, while it sounds good, is neither proof of effort nor evidence of truth. "Freedom before equality" doesn't mean to ignore equality for freedom in all accounts. My argument is not about forcing equality, it's about enabling a disenfranchised group. There is a big difference. You may not believe that some groups are disenfranchised by virtue of their ethnicity, gender, or persuasion, but I have seen it happen. And establishing an effort that seeks to counter that active disenfranchisement is something that I respect and condone.

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hmgs1@hotmail.com
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Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:00 am

Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Fri Jan 01, 2021 10:59 pm

For the record, this is the author of the follow-on article and I do agree with certain aspects with this article as well, though not with others. I think the author and myself make a distinction between hex and counter wargames and other traditional formats, as opposed to the growing, more recent crop of games (such as the COIN series) that cater to the newer generation of gamers who seems to prefer more abstract, casual, decision making games, most of which are not exclusively military conflict oriented.

So, while one response touts growth and gives numbers, here is the bottom line for me:

NATO by Victory Games - 75,000 copies sold

Panzerblitz - 320,000 copies sold.

Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader - 1,000,000 copies sold.

Looking at GMT's P500 list I just don't see the kind of digits that will eventually evolve into the numbers listed above for hex/counter or traditional wargames. Older gamers who prefer such are passing on, the new generation of gamers prefer a different format and design philosophy, while many that do hold an interest are moving to the computer to play what are essentially hex and counter games on a screen, but a hell of a lot less expensive.

Here I think the author was correct.

Ciao, Colonel Bill
Last edited by hmgs1@hotmail.com on Fri Jan 01, 2021 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

RustNeverSleeps
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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Fri Jan 01, 2021 11:39 pm

For the record, this is the author of the follow-on article and I do agree with certain aspects with this article as well, though not with others. I think the author and myself make a distinction between hex and counter wargames and other traditional formats, as opposed to the growing, more recent crop of games (such as the COIN series) that cater to the newer generation of gamers who seems to prefer more abstract, casual, decision making games, most of which are not exclusively military conflict oriented.

So, while one response touts growth and gives numbers, here is the bottom line for me:

NATO by Victory Games - 75,000 copies sold

Panzerblitz - 320,000 copies sold.

Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader - 1,000,000 copies sold.

Looking at GMT's P500 list I just don't see the kind of digits that will eventually evolve into the numbers listed above for hex/counter or traditional wargames. Older gamers who prefer such are passing on, the new generation of gamers prefer a different format and design philosophy, while many that do hold an interest are moving to the computer to play what are essentially hex and counter games on a screen, but a hell of a lot less expensive.

Here I think the author was correct.

Ciao, Colonel Bill

I don't have access to the numbers you tout ... SL and ASL show a combined 12,000 owners on BGG. It could be that older gamers don't log their games in/don't use BGG and that the actual number of owners is artificially diminished. Not out of the realm of possibility so I will not dispute your numbers (most assuredly, Monopoly has more than 40,000 owners). I use BGG to represent the "broad and active board game community in at least Western society" which would seem to be the venture target audience for this endeavor.

I think we can all agree that the DIVERSITY of historical wargames and historical wargame mechanics is at an all time high. I make the "leap of faith" that this is driven by market behavior (ie: demand for the games .... translated into purchases). I think the "leap of faith" is well-founded. Furthermore, if we are to believe that BGG is a diverse group then those newer games with large ownership likely mirrors the population +/- . Some skewing certainly, but close +/-.

I do agree, anecdotally, that traditional hex and counter gaming is not as popular as it once was. I don't see that as good or bad, but attribute to the natural evolution of game mechanics and playing formats. Happens with everything in a free market where innovation and participation are allowed to flow freely without the hinderance of a group artificially choosing who can participate or the "winners and losers" chosen via unmerited rationing or judgement. We will always have the older games and there still new H&C games coming on the market. I embrace the diversity of new designs, mechanics, and stories.

Not sure the follow-on article you are referring to.... my comments are to the article tagged with these comments.

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hmgs1@hotmail.com
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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sat Jan 02, 2021 1:36 am

The numbers I quoted came from as follows (and why BGG is always a problematic as a source):

SL/ASL - Coleman, Terry (June 1997). "Silicon Leader". Computer Gaming World (155): 191–193. BTW, I knew the author and in a conversation before he passed, he confirmed this via his royalties

Panzerblitz - Wargames Handbook: How to Play and Design Commercial and Professional Wargames, by James F. Dunnigan, iUniverse; 3d edition (January 3, 2000), p.198.

NATO - Compass Games description of Designer Signature reprint, "First published in 1983, this game was Victory Games best-selling title, purchased by over 75,000 gamers worldwide. " https://www.compassgames.com/nato-the-n ... ition.html

The article I was referring to is my THE YEAR IN (TABLETOP) WARGAMES 2020 - PANDEMIC EDITION, published this site 31 Dec 20.

For this article on diversity, the key text for me was "Part of that may well mean moving away from some of the hardware fetishization that has become so deeply ingrained in wargaming. There will always be room for hexes and counters, but it is increasingly necessary to embrace titles that might be on the margin of the wargaming space. " He is correct, it will happen regardless, and I think 2020 will be remembered as the year where the hex and counter or otherwise traditional wargames were surpassed by games more asymmetrical in terms of design and subject matter.

Which brings us to the very sensitive subject that nobody wants to discuss - are games like Gandhi, Versailles 1919 and 1862 Railroad Mania really wargames at all. If not, the article could be somewhat irrelevant with a much different prognosis for the future. For me personally, it's tough to classify them as such.

Ciao, Colonel Bill

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EICJoe
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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:50 pm

Ok - Rust, Molo and Wolf, I think it's clear that this highly spirited debate is going nowhere. I have rolled it back by deleting comments to before the point I feel it started to spiral. DO NOT try and continue this discussion here. You've all made your views known and there are other places you can go to have this chat.

In an ideal world I'd lock this thread down now, but a quirk of the site design means I can't. What I CAN do though, is moderate this thread very closely, as I've been doing the past few days.
"Determining the appropriate level of influence in somebody else's war is never a simple matter."
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ArrigoVel
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Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:03 pm

Well, I agree with Timsmith the article was a tad incoherent, and also that some of the issues of 'shrinking' and graying are not so easy to quantify.

On the other hand I neither agree with the lack of diversity in wargaming production nor in the 'hardware fetishization' and the usual 'decline of hex and counter' tale.

On the first issue, there are some problems in either looking at BGG or at production runs. First Panzerblitz was a record seller, no doubt on that, hard numbers tell us this. But it is important to highlight also the context. Long print runs, more availability in storefronts, and less competition. Let's face the truth when Panzerblitz appeared it was revolutionary, and the other tactical games available were basically more or less its prototypes. It was the king of the field for years despite its mechanical problems (concentrating stuff against artillery fire?).

One of the issues in raw number comparison is that in the past there was a smaller offering than today. Sometimes you were buying games you felt they were so-so just because there was no alternative. Right now how many platoon level tactical game system are out? Simply comparing raw numbers outside context is disingenuous.

The sad truth is that we basically have no real idea, only anecdotal evidence on expansion-contraction of the player base.

As for the fetishization and hex and counters... well, Hex and Counters is by themselves limiting. Areas, point to point, and even squares are perfectly acceptable way to 'grid' maps... counters, well, even some of the COIN games uses counters... they are also better at displaying information than plastic stuff or cubes... I do not see traditional wargaming in decline. Even Bill's claim that 'non traditional wargames' outnumber traditional ones in 2020 seems, to me, only based on a cursory look at few publishers. I would even, is a side snipe, say that Colonel Bill's article are always a bit negative in this sense, he appears clearly happier with minis and screens... but it is just my feel ;) no criticism. If you look also at European publishers and also Chinese ones the numbers are probably opposite to the ones Bill's article suggest.

One thing that could be said is that gaming is diversifying. In the past there was a simple dichotomy (at least superficially) between 'hardcore' Wargames, and 'abstract' Euros. Now you have a new category of games emerging, let's call them Historical Games. They are poaching on both sides both as mechanics and players. Some are good, some are crap. Case study, IMHO, is the COIN series. I think it started quite well with Andean Abyss (see the review on my Blog , but then it devolved in crap and crappier. I found Fire in the Lake quite bad. I would not comment on Twilight Struggle, I think it is crap, but in the past one of my students did an excellent presentation on it. But certainly you have games that sits between different categories. Doing that they attract different kind of players. As anecdotal evidence, if you look on BGG a lot of comments on Fire in the Lake does not really address the game as a simulation but just 'game' aspects. I got the impressions that plenty (as in large but undefined numbers) of players does not care what these blocks represents on the map... Certainly these games appeal to gamer who are not too keen on the history behind, but keener on the game itself. Certainly some of their approaches are quite intriguing as game mechanics. Said that...

...Having taught, researched on COIN I feel these games are largely a simulation failure...

I also see a sort of bandwagon effect... they are popular and people cashiers on the idea, like after For the People and Paths of Glory launched a CDG mania... now CDG is a mechanic as others, and it has now been supplanted by the COIN as the new fashion trend. We will see if COIN is still fashion in 5-10 years time... Certainly I do not see it as inherently better at portraying counterinsurgency.

I also see a problem in the idea of symmetrical vs asymmetrical conflict. It is an empty dichotomy massively misunderstood and misused. All wars are asymmetrical. And we had wargames tackling different kind of wars from the start, some good, some average, some crap. Once I used both Fire in the Lake and Ici C'est la France in class. It is worth to note that some students said that at these levels counterinsurgency did not appears that different from other 'symmetrical' wars and would have liked to try more low level COIN gaming, like raids and ambushes. Of course raids and ambushes are something that had been done also in 'conventional' warfare... But it is worth to note that a group of non gamers, quite diverse in background were actually asking to see how hardware, doctrine, tactics, and training performed in actual combat.

I often say in class, wars are fought by people, with weapons, to achieve political goals. Ignore any one of them at your peril... both in war and research. Certainly one trend I do not like is the idea that focusing on military operations in a game is something inherently wrong (that was one of the lowest point on quite incoherent and rambling original article) , sadly this is something that some self appointed 'professional wargamers' seems to advocate.

Seeing serious, well designed and researched games covering not just wars but other historical events? Yes.
Marginalizing or eviscerating wargaming because a bunch of people do not like it and want something different? No.

Personally I do not see a decline in Hex and Counters (whatever this means). There are still plenty of good games, and they cater to a market and a need. What I see and think is positive, is rather an expansion and a creation of new fields. Games are powerful tool, and can be used also for exploring political events. But they are not wargames... and certainly are neither better or worse than wargames.

Personally will I play another COIN game? No, right now they have fallen into crappiness. Will I be on the lookout for other interesting subjects? Yes.

TimSmith56
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Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:49 pm

Re: <t>Is 2020 the year the tide turned in the struggle for diversity in wargames?</t>

Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:42 pm

The Zenobia awards have the virtue of voluntarism vice being coercive; they dangle 'carrots' rather than swinging 'sticks'. But they're inherently and quite unabashedly exclusionary, racist and sexist. They don't merely welcome female/LGBT/anybody-who's-not-white participation but instead exclude those whom the award's promoters resent: men/boys, straights, whites. Youth is not a criterion, nor is socio-economic status. By way of illustration, the child of, say, Ted Cruz or Kamela Harris could take time off from their all-expenses-paid Ivy-League educations to apply and could win based on ethnicity (Senator Cruz is 'white', of course, but his child could sign as 'Hispanic' and check the not-too-white-to-qualify box). In fact, they could have gotten into their Ivy League university in the first place based in good part on a form of ethnic privilege known as 'affirmative action' -- especially if female or LGBTQ, which would make them 'twofers': doubly qualified by non-meritocratic criteria.

But the straight son of Earl the cable guy in Wheeling or Patty the now-unemployed waitress in Newark would not qualify, no matter how promising their design nor how challenging their socio-economic origins, because, regardless of merit, they do not meet the ascriptive criteria. And of course, by their very nature, ascriptive attributes cannot be changed by desire or effort.

The Zenobia Award further empowers the already empowered. Anyone who has contemporary experience in any educational, governmental, military or large-corporate institution knows that women, non-whites and LGBTs raft on a sea of privilege while men swim as best they can. It would all seem oh-so-modern if it didn't look so much like the final sinking scene in the movie 'Titanic'.

    

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