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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)

Since remote gaming has now become a significant part of how we play board games, we have added a short cut to this forum in the menu on the left.

Osprey Games Announces Undaunted: North Africa

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20 Dec 2019 13:32 #305362 by Sagrilarus

marcnelsonjr wrote: @Gary Sax "boomer white men... fantasizing about being Nazis" is OK, but responding to it is trolling?


I have to agree that Barnes was the first to step over the line, made worse by being dead wrong. He's repeated it in his most recent article. Mr. Barnes should be held to, at a minimum, as high a standard as everyone else.
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20 Dec 2019 13:56 - 20 Dec 2019 14:02 #305365 by Frohike

southernman wrote:

Frohike wrote: …
On the topic of "unhealthy fixation," I'll broach an uncomfortable statement here: there does indeed seem to be a fixation, in games specifically, on tactical, technological, and combat prowess when it comes to Nazism, seemingly at the expense of everything else that surrounded that phenomenon. .


What is so strange about gamers, especially guys, being attached to the technology of weapons of war over the reasons behind the war and why should WW2 be an exception to any other period for a wargame ?

If people have a moral issue or think maybe they have some guilt for whatever reason then they absolutely have the right to follow their own path (without needing permission or acknowledgments from others) but where does presenting it in a manner to suggest others are doing something wrong come from, that's the type of passive-aggressive shit I'm used to seeing on other websites ?


@southernman, thanks for engaging and actually coming back with some questions that made me think more deeply about this. First of all, I should state that I didn't intend to upset or personally attack anyone who happens to enjoy a specific setting in a specific subgenre. This would indeed be hypocritical in defending someone's personal decision to avoid certain points of player identification in games to turn around and condemn someone else's chosen field of enthusiasm. I also think that this gesture just over-simplifies the complexities of how genre, gaming, and player identification work and risks mapping that simplification onto equally blunt and unfair moral judgements, and I apologize if my ramblings came across in this way. But I also want to state that this wasn't really the direction I was going.

@MadVillain's statements took me down a more interesting path and made me wonder at the reasons for a gaming medium to only approach a specific setting through the strictures of sub-genre. It would be like living in an alternate reality where all films in science fiction settings only used the George Lucas space opera approach to writing and direction. That's not the case because writers and directors see a setting as a platform for a variety of genres and ways of achieving resonance with contemporary audiences. And in the case of our historical engagement with fascism & Nazism, I think that resonance has so many other ways of hitting us than through battle re-enactments. I consider it a real loss that this hobby in general seems to confine our processing of these concepts to a specific sub-genre. I don't mean to offend those who enjoy this sub-genre in stating this. I also don't mean to imply that the board game design market is some zero sum game that's being "polluted" by wargamer-catering or something (so my "at the expense" phrase above was a poor choice of words, and I'm sorry if that came across as a barb against wargamers).

I think part of the reason for the absence of other approaches is good old fashioned risk aversion, which links into uncomfortable questions for designers and publishers: "Would {audience XYZ} consider this fun? Should this be fun?", which hooks into another question "Why is a wargame easier to swallow and more... fun than this other framing of Nazism?" And rather than digging in, I think the production dynamics of the hobby just go down the path of least resistance and fall back into simplified tropes. Any impulse beyond that simplification gets placed into granular battle simulations (which again isn't "doing something wrong" but it's... just been done; a lot). I see hints here & there that the willingness to explore other genres exists: This War of Mine and Freedom: The Underground Railroad are good indications of this. But I also understand if someone sees yet another tropey framing of WW2 and decides that they've personally had enough with this particular mode that the hobby continues to revisit when it comes to this setting.
Last edit: 20 Dec 2019 14:02 by Frohike.
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20 Dec 2019 14:54 - 20 Dec 2019 15:20 #305374 by Gary Sax

marcnelsonjr wrote: @Gary Sax "boomer white men... fantasizing about being Nazis" is OK, but responding to it is trolling?


My moderator voice here is telling you to engage the post (is it an unfair characterization? Why? Is this post telling other people what to do?) if it's bothering you and that issue. That's what southerman did above you. All fair game.

Bringing in some shit no one said about taking your WWII games away from you via an online mob is just trying to get this forum into the same asinine political correctness argument currently occuring on every forum on the internet.

Generally I don't post about my moderation and stick to PM, but I've moderated a trolling Michael Barnes post above.
Last edit: 20 Dec 2019 15:20 by Gary Sax.
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20 Dec 2019 15:21 #305376 by Michael Barnes
But my Logan’s Run joke...
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21 Dec 2019 13:25 - 21 Dec 2019 13:25 #305409 by southernman

Sagrilarus wrote:

marcnelsonjr wrote: @Gary Sax "boomer white men... fantasizing about being Nazis" is OK, but responding to it is trolling?


I have to agree that Barnes was the first to step over the line, made worse by being dead wrong. He's repeated it in his most recent article. Mr. Barnes should be held to, at a minimum, as high a standard as everyone else.


I have to agree and, because it's his second reference to it, say What the fuck !!
I'm not old enough to be a boomer but played with WW2 kitset models and soldiers (Germans and Allied, and Japanese) as a kid and have continued to play board and video games based on that conflict and never had once ounce of an issue playing on the German side when required - it appears that I am not a good person for not feeling guilt about the atrocities the people who I was representing committed.
Really ?!!!

And I won't go down the road of (most of) us playing conflict games with our kids that revolve 100% around killing the other side because they are different to you ….


PS Michael, I did like your Top 10 article (again) but do come down on Frank's side of the fence that Nemesis is a better game than Lifeform
Last edit: 21 Dec 2019 13:25 by southernman.

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21 Dec 2019 15:07 - 21 Dec 2019 18:21 #305413 by ubarose

southernman wrote: I have to agree and, because it's his second reference to it, say What the fuck !!
I'm not old enough to be a boomer but played with WW2 kitset models and soldiers (Germans and Allied, and Japanese) as a kid and have continued to play board and video games based on that conflict and never had once ounce of an issue playing on the German side when required - it appears that I am not a good person for not feeling guilt about the atrocities the people who I was representing committed.
Really ?!!!


I don't think that is what was said at all.

What Michael said was (emphasis added by me so no one's eye misses it. ):

"I’m not into role playing as the Wehrmacht"

"I don’t judge anyone politically for choosing to play WWII games"


Also, I find it strange that whenever someone points out some of the unsavory subcultures and sketchy pockets of the board game hobby, some people here immediately jump up and feel the need to defend themselves. Do people really identify with these groups? When Michael points out that there are Nazi fetishist in the hobby board game community, do you really identify with this subculture? It's like when someone points out that pedophiles use Disney World as a hunting ground so don't assume your kids are safe there, and someone feels the need to jump up and say "Hey. I'm an adult and I love Disney. SO that makes me a pedophile?!!”

If you go to a big enough board gaming/wargaming convention in the US, you will run into all kinds of creepy people and subcultures - including the dudes who only play WWII games, and always play the Nazis, and who will offer to show you the "authentic" WWII Nazi paraphernalia they are carrying in their pocket (NO THANKS!). I'm guessing you are not one of those dudes, and hoping no one else who hangs here is either.

There is a huge difference between those dudes, and someone who is able to approach a WWII game unemotionally and play the Germans when required. I personally have a visceral reaction to any war game fought within living memory. I also can't play the Underground Railroad game, and had to take a break when playing Space Hulk when Sarg got killed (note: don't name name your dudes when playing Space Hulk). This doesn't mean I am a more morally evolved person than people who do enjoy playing these games. Especially since I have no problem playing Struggle of Empires which is all about war, slavery, and the oppression, exploitation and genocide of native peoples. Go figure?

I think that this is an interesting discussion, and worth having in its broader sense.

BTW: There are also US Civil War Confederate fetishist as well. Recently one of these people decided it was okay to interrupt my conversation with essentially the only black dude in the room to lecture us on the importance of Statues of Confederate generals and leaders. I do not assume that everyone who plays Civil War games is as clueless as this guy. And if, in the future, I should complain about this type of behavior, I am NOT talking about all people who like Civil War games.
Last edit: 21 Dec 2019 18:21 by ubarose. Reason: Spelling
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21 Dec 2019 17:49 - 21 Dec 2019 17:50 #305416 by Josh Look
Fuck, I might know that guy. Pretty early into my time in the hobby, back when I entertained the idea of playing wargames, I was invited over to this dudes house via friend of a friend to learn Successors. This guy’s game room was nothing but Nazi and Confederate paraphernalia. It was a transformative experience. I don’t care if he’s a good, normal dude or not, I’m staying way the fuck away from that shit. But yeah, he’s in our area and he goes to almost every local event. And he ALWAYS likes to butt in with his bullshit. White guy, boomer, for those keeping track at home.

I get that there are people that are comfortable with playing as Nazis in WWII games, I know people who are and I know they are not Nazis. In fact, one is one of the most left leaning dudes I know. But they ARE out there. I’m not going to get on the imaginary “LETS CANCEL WARGAMES” bandwagon, but I agree with Michael that there is no argument that I will buy to change my mind, and besides, it’s my fucking choice formed by real world experience and what I personally want to entertained by in my escapism, so kindly fuck off if you have a problem with that.
Last edit: 21 Dec 2019 17:50 by Josh Look.
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21 Dec 2019 20:51 - 21 Dec 2019 20:55 #305419 by Sagrilarus
Respectfully, that is not what Mr. Barnes said. Were it what he said I would not have taken offense to it.

He's entitled to his opinion, and he's a bomb-thrower by nature. I'll leave it at that.
Last edit: 21 Dec 2019 20:55 by Sagrilarus.
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22 Dec 2019 12:01 - 22 Dec 2019 13:47 #305429 by ubarose
I do not believe this to be true:

Michael Barnes wrote: The lingering popularity of WWII as a game subject has more to do with boomer white men gaming and fantasizing about being Nazis


I believe that the subculture of Nazi fetishists is too small to account for the popularity and the large number of WWII games. I believe rather that, in addition to the many and diverse battle situations that it offers to wargamers, that the continued popularity is in part fueled by players romanticizing being heroes, not fantasizing being Nazis. Any cognitive dissonance caused by having to play the "bad guys" is resolved by humanizing the soldiers (as Sag described in his earlier post) and/or by the knowledge that in the end the "good guys" won.
Last edit: 22 Dec 2019 13:47 by ubarose. Reason: spelling
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23 Dec 2019 09:34 - 23 Dec 2019 10:00 #305445 by Sagrilarus

ubarose wrote: the continued popularity is in part fueled by players romanticizing being heroes


Alright, so, I think there's a fundamental disconnect in understanding between you all and me. I'm at best a casual wargamer and I prefer pre-gunpowder, so I'm not an expert. But when I look at a game on the table I think, "I'm the gray pieces this time". That's the level of emotional immersion I put into the part I'm playing, and I don't appear to be an outlier.

That is, this conversation is about something that doesn't actually exist.

I'm not looking to be a hero, or a Nazi, or anything else. This isn't role-playing, in fact it's almost its antithesis in the overall hobby. It's just a ruleset with some basis in historical fact to give it footing. Wargaming is wide-open gaming, sandbox in nature, often with more move permutations than Go. You can put your own stamp on your play-style. There's a level of freedom in the play that you don't get in many other game genres. Some people like that kind of gaming.

Yeah, there's the historic aspect that's approached from 30,000 feet and academic discussions regarding who did what well. That's a major part of the hobby too. But I don't recall ever seeing one of the players approach this from a "MY guys did this better than YOUR guys" perspective. Y'all are putting things into the mix that I've never seen actually be there, and I've been to some pretty long-haired wargame conventions. There aren't any Neo-Nazis at the ASL convention down the road from my house each year. God help the first one that speaks his mind on it.

As for romanticizing what's going on on the table . . . jeeze . . . you guys must be emotional wrecks playing Downfall of Pompeii. Gruesome painful deaths. Historic too. Are you all balling your eyes out as the wooden pieces are incinerated in the scorching hot gases? My guess is no, because it's a just a game.

So to me you look like the noob girl at the baseball game asking if someone just scored a touchdown. This entire line of thinking is a non-sequitur, which is why I mentioned earlier that Mr. Barnes had not merely been offensive, he had been dead wrong. You could as easily make the same argument with Warhammer 40k which nestles up against Nazi iconography to look bad-ass. You could, but it would be a grievous error and offensive. The overwhelming majority of 40k players play 40k because they just like painting guys and shooting at each other. As best I can tell nobody thinks it's a proxy for the Nazis. It's just a game.

If it doesn't appeal to you don't play. No one will mind if you sit this one out. But don't go throwing my friends (including the brother of one of the people in this thread that played the Germans against me in Storm Over Stalingrad) into the people "who fantasize about being Nazis" category. Very artistic turning of the phrase, but you denigrate yourself (and this web site) when you say things like that.

Sorry for the brevity.
Last edit: 23 Dec 2019 10:00 by Sagrilarus.
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23 Dec 2019 09:55 - 23 Dec 2019 09:58 #305446 by Gary Sax
I think there's a factual/perceptual disconnect between, using an example Sag and uba, about the prevalence of distasteful far right/neonazi elements in the WWII wargame community that's causing some of the friction here. You say it's not part of the scene based on your engagement with the hobby, they say it is a non-isolated incident part of the scene.

I don't think we have any systematic evidence to back anything up. fwiw, CSW felt to me like it had minority far right and neo confederate elements, esp in its blog areas. But again, that's not systematic data at all.

It would be interesting to get Mark Pitcavige's (sp?) take on this, maybe he has a blog up on it somewhere. I find his CSW posting style annoying but he has an interesting dual identity as hardest of the hardest core ASL guy and a researcher at the anti-defamation league for many years, if memory serves.

edit: Sag also brings up the issue of causal direction, which is certainly an important policy element of this conversation but wouldn't necessarily sway individual decisions to engage this part of the hobby.
Last edit: 23 Dec 2019 09:58 by Gary Sax.
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23 Dec 2019 15:08 #305456 by southernman
I must severely disagree with what you have posted Shellie, and additionally am disappointed with some of it.

ubarose wrote:

southernman wrote: I have to agree and, because it's his second reference to it, say What the fuck !!
I'm not old enough to be a boomer but played with WW2 kitset models and soldiers (Germans and Allied, and Japanese) as a kid and have continued to play board and video games based on that conflict and never had once ounce of an issue playing on the German side when required - it appears that I am not a good person for not feeling guilt about the atrocities the people who I was representing committed.
Really ?!!!


I don't think that is what was said at all.

What Michael said was (emphasis added by me so no one's eye misses it. ):

"I’m not into role playing as the Wehrmacht"

"I don’t judge anyone politically for choosing to play WWII games"


That really is pulling two fragments out of a smash and reconstructing a completely different original !
This is what Michael posted -

First

it’s a personal decision and I don’t judge anyone politically for choosing to play WWII games, but maybe with the current rise of nationalism and extreme right politics it’s time to rethink the value of playing as the Wehrmacht.
Thing is, there is absolutely zero historical or educational value in playing most games where you can be the Nazis and historical verisimilitude I could give a fuck about. The lingering popularity of WWII as a game subject has more to do with boomer white men gaming and fantasizing about being Nazis and trainspotting Panzers in the 1970s and 1980s than it does any actual attempt at analyzing or evaluating the more interesting and culturally relevant aspects of WWII.



He chooses to follow his 'I don't judge' line with something that could easily be paraphrased as 'are you an alt-right supporter because you chose to play as the Nazis' - that's even worse than the passive-aggressive stuff that floats around elsewhere, he is throwing his politics-on-his-sleeve rock into a gaming forum and not really worrying where/who it hits.
And we all know the other bit he said.

Then

I hate Nazis, and I hate playing games where I have to roleplay as a Wehrmacht commander. Even in a fictive game space, I do not care for my in-game ego to be a racist scumbag. Further, I do not give a shit how the Nazis fought, what tanks they had, who was commander at which battle, and how cool it is that a game accurately models the tactical advantage of Stukas or whatever. I used to hand-wave this kind of stuff and think it’s just a game, etc., but the reality of it is that there is no historical or educational reason to pretend to be a Nazi commander. Nor is there recourse in softening the subject by only referring to them as “Germans”. This puts Undaunted in an odd space for me. It is good enough to be Barnes’ Best – it is an amazing piece of design, an innovative light wargame driven by a simple deckbuilding system – that plays quickly and efficiently with a fun mix of board play, cards, and dice resolution. But one player has to be the Nazis, and that sucks. I’m sick of boomer WWII fetishization, but I’m in the minority there.


Basically he just repeats how he doesn't care at all about any aspects of why others may play a wargame that features the German army of WW2, which is fair enough for him even though he has just glossed over many/most of the reasons why people play wargames, but has to finish it off again with his false "boomer WWII fetishization" accusation and then his ambiguous (or was it) last six words.

So that was my disagreement, but it has nothing over my disappointment and, to be honest, astonishment with what you then followed it with:

ubarose wrote: Also, I find it strange that whenever someone points out some of the unsavory subcultures and sketchy pockets of the board game hobby, some people here immediately jump up and feel the need to defend themselves. Do people really identify with these groups? When Michael points out that there are Nazi fetishist in the hobby board game community, do you really identify with this subculture? It's like when someone points out that pedophiles use Disney World as a hunting ground so don't assume your kids are safe there, and someone feels the need to jump up and say "Hey. I'm an adult and I love Disney. SO that makes me a pedophile?!!”


Is this for absolutely real, did you wait five minutes and re-read your text before hitting post :( ?

Do you think it is anyway acceptable to defend Michael by making a 'no smoke without fire'-type post, asking why would you try and defend this, And the answer is if people don't step in and challenge comments like Michael's it can be a short distance from suspect behaviour suggestions to vilifying a completely innocent group.
I absolutely abhor that approach - sorry if I have upset anyone reading but those are the lines I have.

ubarose wrote: If you go to a big enough board gaming/wargaming convention in the US, you will run into all kinds of creepy people and subcultures - including the dudes who only play WWII games, and always play the Nazis, and who will offer to show you the "authentic" WWII Nazi paraphernalia they are carrying in their pocket (NO THANKS!). I'm guessing you are not one of those dudes, and hoping no one else who hangs here is either.


Again, sorry, but too little too late.
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24 Dec 2019 06:28 - 24 Dec 2019 06:35 #305467 by Erik Twice
Like I've mentioned before, I am myself tired of Nazism as a subject in games. I think it's played out, uncritically covered and overexposed to all hell. But I don't think the comments are fair.

I don't think WWII is a popular subject because of "boomer fetishes" or because gamers secretly want to be Nazis. Yeah, they are some unsavoury subjects in gaming but they are as much of a minority as one may expect. Yeah, perhaps American Civil War games are more popular because of the US denialism thing or whatever, but I don't think it's significantly different from games where you murder a lot of people. Because, let's be honest, one could make similar arguments about the Death Penalty and wanton murder in boardgames.

I mean, the same exact arguments have been made about Hammer films and the like. Aren't there lots of people who watch these films because they enjoy violence? Because they like seeing people being torn to bits? You guys all know the drill, it's simply about a different subject now.

And, really, the reason we don't see non-wargame treatments of the subject is that boardgaming is heavily conservative and afraid to tackle controversial, taboo or commercially questionable subjects. Wargames are niche and supported directly by consumers through preorders and purcharses from boutique stores so they can cover the topic. Asmodee is not going to print a political game about Nazis. We barely got Die Macher.

ubarose wrote: Also, I find it strange that whenever someone points out some of the unsavory subcultures and sketchy pockets of the board game hobby, some people here immediately jump up and feel the need to defend themselves.

Because it's dishonestly used as a "motte and bailey" argument. Barnes comments were not about "sketchy pockets".

Really, it's a rethorical trick and I don't think you are doing it on purporse but it's there.

Frohike wrote: This War of Mine went into that experiential territory & opened up a space for more exploration of this approach. But that war was fictional, resonant at a remove.

This War of Mine is not finctional. The game represents the Bosnian war, specially the Siege of Sarajevo. The entire aesthethic is lifted from famous photographs of that conflict. I wrote about the subject (it is in fact, my most well-read article) and my take on it is that it's a zombie game with a different dressing. I wrote about it here if you want to hear my thoughts.
Last edit: 24 Dec 2019 06:35 by Erik Twice.
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24 Dec 2019 11:43 #305469 by Frohike

Erik Twice wrote:

Frohike wrote: This War of Mine went into that experiential territory & opened up a space for more exploration of this approach. But that war was fictional, resonant at a remove.

This War of Mine is not finctional. The game represents the Bosnian war, specially the Siege of Sarajevo. The entire aesthethic is lifted from famous photographs of that conflict. I wrote about the subject (it is in fact, my most well-read article) and my take on it is that it's a zombie game with a different dressing. I wrote about it here if you want to hear my thoughts.


I understand that it's representative of that conflict and that siege but this is done by ambience, not by explicit reference, otherwise it would have been set in Sarajevo. Instead, they chose set it in "the fictional city of Pogoren, Graznavia" which I think gives them the remove to produce the zombie game with the topical resonance that they wanted, for better or worse.

I'd lost the URL to your piece, by the way, so thanks for posting it here! Such a great read.
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