Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

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Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby Primarch on Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:38 am

Yesterday Yellowstreak and I were talking about how easy/difficult it is for new people to get involved in our hobby and for people to jump into new games. As with most hobbies, there are barriers to entry that limit the involvement of people who would like to participate. Some of these are a universal thing while others may be more unique to Japan. I'm not really sure what can be done about them or even if we need to care all that much. I just want to share some thoughts and see what comes out of it.

The first barrier I can think of is visibility. Unlike western Europe or north America, Japan really doesn't have many street-front hobby stores with big windows displaying beautifully painted minis to the world. Well, Joshin has a few Gundam in the window, but they never had gaming stuff there, even when they were fairly well stocked. For all the good and bad points of GW over the years, their shops did do a lot to get people into the hobby. Most people I have spoken to in Japan are completely oblivious to wargaming.

The next barrier is language. 99% (give or take 1%) of all games are written in English. Some get translated into Spanish, French and German, but it is very rare to see rules appearing in Japanese without some hard work by the fans. GW have certainly made an effort to provide their games in Japanese, the same goes for Frostgrave. Sadly though the limited market and high costs for translation mean that most smaller firms won't even consider it.

Cost is another significant barrier, even if people want to get into gaming. I'd hate to consider how much I have spent over the years on just one or two of the main systems I play/played. Some games can be started at reasonably low costs, but only if you know where to shop and you know what you want to buy. Yellowstreak pointed out to me the fairly reasonable prices of GW's current starter kits (a dozen figures and a bit of terrain), which seemed aimed at lowering this barrier. However a full army for 40K will still probably set you back more than 40K. And that's before you add in costs for tools, glue, paints, etc. Compared to a lot of hobbies, ours isn't that expensive, but it isn't a cheap one either.

The final barrier I'd like to mention is the one most easily ignored or overcome. Once you have your models, painting them can be a big challenge. Now, there is no reason beyond aesthetics that you have to paint your models. You can (and I know I have in the past), play with unpainted figures. They may not look all that nice, but you can still play the game. I've seen various arguments elsewhere on the interwebs between those who refuse to play with unpainted figures and those who consider that view elitist and exclusionist. Obviously painting can take a long time, so if someone was to play and their army slowly got more painted over time, I think that is ok. Just constant grey plastic/bare metal with no intention to paint is, to me, not fully embracing the hobby. But maybe I'm just becoming more of an elitist as I get older.

So what do you think? What barriers to this hobby of ours can you see? Can they be overcome? Or do we need them to keep out the riff-raff?
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Finished Minis in 2016 (as of Nov 30): 369 + 2 Tables of Terrain
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Re: Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby The Other Dave on Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:00 am

I mean, I don't know - wargaming is a niche enough hobby in countries with a strong "history" of it (for lack of a better word), here it's a niche of a niche, exacerbated by the fact that Japanese living arrangements don't generally lend themselves to picking up a space-intensive hobby like this one, and that's probably just the way it is. All things considered, I think we have a pretty dang healthy hobby community in the greater Tokai area. I don't know that I'd use the word "riff-raff," but playing for a couple years at a busy hobby store in the States during grad school made me very glad for the "adultness" of the gaming scene here. :lol:

I do think that starting to aim at plastic model people is a smart move on GW's part, as that's probably the logical "in" here (the blind-buy space marine characters series are a good start, especially when you realize that they're not really "for" us gamers), again as there's no real history of wargaming-as-a-hobby. Very recently, there seems to be more of a (read: any at all) hobby store presence of GW stuff too - I'm heading up to a GW evening in a shop in Ichinomiya later this month, for example, and they've even had a couple "What even is wargaming?" intro videos in their YouTube channel.

I do have to say, though, GW in particular has made big strides over the 15+ years I've been gaming here.

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In my day, we didn't have no Japanese-language rulebooks! If Japanese guys wanted to play they had to translate everything themselves! Both ways in the snow!
Miniatures painted in 2017:
Fleet: 2 cruisers
15mm: 1 tank, 2 buildings
28mm: 186 infantry, 4 vehicles, 5 buildings
Currently focusing on: 40K, Malifaux
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Re: Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby Konrad on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:59 am

I was paging through this month's "Hobby Japan" magazine, and saw they had a "Let's Space Marine" article, complete with a pretty girl making happy faces and step by step painting instructions. Foundation/Layer/Drybrush/Shade/Techincal/Edge....did I get them all? I think that as the quality of GW kits (and most other companies kits for that matter) is far and above superior to what it was 10 years ago, they now can compete for attention with some of those Gundam models/anime figures.
For me, the biggest barrier is just space. Having the guys over at my place is impossible and when I paint/sculpt/kitbash, everything has to go back in the box and get stuck back up on the shelf when I'm done for the day. Makes it hard to get a good work rhythm.
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Re: Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby Primarch on Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:36 am

Konrad wrote:I was paging through this month's "Hobby Japan" magazine, and saw they had a "Let's Space Marine" article, complete with a pretty girl making happy faces and step by step painting instructions. Foundation/Layer/Drybrush/Shade/Techincal/Edge.

That's actually a very smart move on GW's part.

Konrad wrote:For me, the biggest barrier is just space. Having the guys over at my place is impossible and when I paint/sculpt/kitbash, everything has to go back in the box and get stuck back up on the shelf when I'm done for the day. Makes it hard to get a good work rhythm.

I guess that is certainly more of an issue here than it is elsewhere. Small apartments and high prices aren't good when it comes to storing stuff. I know a few of us have dedicated hobby rooms, but that's the exception, not the rule really.

Space limitations could also apply to places to play too. The lack of a regular venue is an inconvenience and those occasions when the day a venue is available doesn't match up with the stated target of the 3rd Sunday can result in people not gaming for over a month. I really envy those players in America/Europe who have dedicated gaming venues and the option for gaming several days a week.

Thinking of that, I guess time would also be a barrier a lot of people have. Familys, jobs and other commitments all mean that most of us cannot game as often as we would like. I certainly played a lot more games when I wasn't married. (Living out of town doesn't help either). I figure I'm still at the positive end of the scale for hobby time and space, yet I could always use more of both.
Prims Painty Points > +924.5
Finished Minis in 2014: 510.....Finished Minis in 2015: 300
Finished Minis in 2016 (as of Nov 30): 369 + 2 Tables of Terrain
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Re: Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby The Other Dave on Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:28 pm

Primarch wrote:
Konrad wrote:I was paging through this month's "Hobby Japan" magazine, and saw they had a "Let's Space Marine" article, complete with a pretty girl making happy faces and step by step painting instructions. Foundation/Layer/Drybrush/Shade/Techincal/Edge.

That's actually a very smart move on GW's part.

Legit. Like I said, if outreach to plastic modelers doesn't work here in Japan, nothing will. I'm glad they're trying it out.

Seriously, people should check out the videos I linked to above if they haven't, the second in particular - it's interesting to see a cold newbie-oriented video for the Japanese market. Like, they make a lot of hay of the fundamentally collaborative nature of tabletop (as compared to, say, board games), because the fuzziness of how the rules often interact with the reality on the table requires you to negotiate (I'm using the word in the best possible light here) with your opponent about what's going on, how rules apply and so forth. It's a neat take. (And they do acknowledge that a 5-minute intro video is very much just scratching the surface of the hobby.)
Miniatures painted in 2017:
Fleet: 2 cruisers
15mm: 1 tank, 2 buildings
28mm: 186 infantry, 4 vehicles, 5 buildings
Currently focusing on: 40K, Malifaux
I started a blog! https://chubugamer.wordpress.com/
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Re: Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby Primarch on Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:27 pm

My fundamental lack of Japanese comprehension notwithstanding, those videos do seem to be the right way to go. Hopefully they can get a lot of followers on their channel and spread the hobby-love around a bit.
Prims Painty Points > +924.5
Finished Minis in 2014: 510.....Finished Minis in 2015: 300
Finished Minis in 2016 (as of Nov 30): 369 + 2 Tables of Terrain
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Re: Barrier-free Gaming (or another rambling post by Prim).

Postby YellowStreak on Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:23 am

In terms of growing the NH group, while it's a little oldschool, what about something like flyers at shops like Marchen Toys. Some way for prospective players to join either this page or the facebook group to get in touch with other players?

On the bigger topic of barrier-free gaming, I'm a little torn. I grew up playing WFB,K/ Rogue Trader, Blood Bowl, Epic, Necromunda, etc. with a bunch of friends. There were no 'gaming stores' (stores with space to play) when I was young and no GW in Sydney until much later. That led to us just assuming that stuff had to be painted to play with it -- just like it was in the rulebooks. It wasn't discussed, just assumed that you'd paint your stuff before using it, or at the very least, be progressing through painting it between games.

As such, that's largely sill my attitude. You could play the game on a bare table with soda cans for terrain and rocks for miniatures and the game would largely function the same but; for me at least; it wouldn't be as enjoyable. To me the hobby is a visual spectacle. When I dropped by the big black powder game you had - I don't have an army for that game and I don't know the rules - but I wanted to see the spectacle of it all laid out on the giant table.

None of that answers the question of lowering a barrier to entry, but there has to be an acknowledgement that it is a hobby that takes not just money, but time and space. If you don't have those things it may not be the hobby for you, no matter how interesting or appealing it seems.
Minis painted 2016: 330
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