Official U.S. PlayStation Mag | Xbox Nation | Electronic Gaming Monthly | GameNOW | Computer Gaming World Play Games

Search:   Sign up now to review your own games and more! Join Gamers | Log In

Origins:  The Next Generation of Bearded Men

By Justin Hall

Judging from the visual composition of the wargamers present at Origins, a wargaming convention, the average wargamer is a middle aged white male, pushing some pudge. Kids today, they're reknown for their short attention spans and addiction to video games. I noticed a few kids arranging miniature tanks and troops on tables with measuring tapes and dice. How does the kid of today get into miniatures wargaming?

Nudge Nudge - Morgan is sixteen years old and he lives near Houston Texas. He first started playing unplugged games when he saw some folks playing Magic: The Gathering. Since then, his stepfather exposed him to Star Fleet Battles, a board game based in the Star Trek Universe where playing. "You know Starfleet Command for the PC? That's from Star Fleet Battles."

He was attending Origins with his friend Karl. Karl is wearing an orange hat. They heard about Origins for years but never had the chance to come until a overbooked flight afforded a travel voucher. Morgan says, "I'm like a kid in a candy store." Near them, hobby shops sell only booster packs for Magic and Pokemon, but not miniatures games or specific valuable magic cards. They've heard that two hours a way there's an awesome hobby shop, and when they've got their driving chops they'll be regular visitors. Having never been to a decent hobby shop, a dealer's room at a gaming convention could put the zap on their brains.

Accordingly, when they came to Origins, mostly for Magic cards, they discovered these miniatures games that they'd never seen before. So they spent the conference playing different miniatures games, experimenting with different games. By the time I'd reached them, they were just about ready to spend their saved up money on a miniatures game to take back with them to Texas. They were trying to decide between two fantasy titles, Mordheim (which I played at DragonCon) or Death in the Dark.

Warriors, Come out to play - The tide of the battle turns as Stephen moves his dark pennies in on Sean's elite battalion of paint jars. Stephen and Sean were playing through a Warhammer game, each with an army cobbled together from unpainted miniatures, painted pennies, and jars of paint. The terrain for the battle consisted of a pile of books for a plateau, and a single paperback for a hill. Compared to the incredible environmental detail and unit decoration of their adjacent elders, these kids seemed positively punk rock.

While we were talking, I heard the 14 year old Sean ask "if you move a six inch [diameter] circle four inches, is the original center of the circle still touched by the circle in its new location?" It didn't take long to figure out the answer, but it seemed like an important thing to mention in my article since the game was affording these kids a practical opportunity to apply geometry. I asked Stepehen what he thought he learned by playing the game, "Math" was the first thing to come out of his mouth, between his tossing out massive handfuls of dice. Didn't they think they were learning tactics too? Their answer was surprisingly subtle - "you only learn tactics if you play against good people. If you're playing against bad players, you're learning bad tactics."

Fancy that - Alive is a true story about how a group of people who survived an airplane crash in the Andes had to resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive.Brian sat watching them, I got a chance to talk to him without totally distracting the other two from their game. They all hail from near Cincinatti Ohio. Brian picked up Warhammer when his cousin signed up for the National Guard, the cousin ditched his miniatures with Brian. Brian was wearing a t-shirt for ACME Games, a hobby shop near them. They unilaterally raved about the place, and the store would come up frequently in conversation as a place where they had been exposed to games, and where they'd done much of their gaming.

So though this second group of guys was younger than the two from Texas, they were further along in their miniatures gaming. This seems almost entirely due to the nearby hobby store that afforded them a convenient cool place to get into these kinds of games. If the boys from Texas were able to have access to a supply of miniatures, and a place to watch experienced players using them, they would have been deep wargamers already. They were on their way, but they were struggling out in the styx.

I was thinking maybe the internet could liberate these kids, they could just order miniatures online from online miniatures vendors. They could have access to anything they needed! But they don't have credit cards!

I ran into Morgan again on the last day of the convention. He was carrying a fresh copy of Mordheim he's just bought. I asked him one last question - why play unplugged games when you have a computer and a nintendo? His first answer surprised me - "strategy," the unplugged games were deeper, and more satisfying. Plus, they're more social, you can play with four or five friends. What about games like Goldeneye, a Nintendo bestseller that allows for four simultaineous players? "That gets boring."



The Latest Origins News:

Origins + More

Table of Contents
A View from the News Bunker
Unplugging Games
The Next Generation of Bearded Men
The Species of Origins
History of Origins
History of Miniatures


contact | about | advertise | help | privacy  
Official U.S. PlayStation Mag | Xbox Nation | Electronic Gaming Monthly | GameNOW | Computer Gaming World Play Games
Copyright (c) 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. and GX Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Media is strictly prohibited