Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Beer and Pretzels is bad? Who says??
I just happened across a post regarding the lack of sportsmanship in 40K these days and one of the posters opened up with the whole bashing "beer and pretzels" gamers and that to me is the epitome of what is wrong with gaming today. Lately I've been encountering the term "beer and pretzels" being used in a pejorative way more and more frequently and it is disturbing to me in the extreme.
To me I've always used the term to just mean casual fun. Its more of a good thing than a bad thing by far. But lately I see elitists tossing the term around like somehow they are not beer and pretzel gamers and I guess by virtue, superior.
HUH??? What??? Seriously??
My first reaction to this is, wow, we have alot of people living in some very fantastical mental places if they are thinking like that. Unless your a professional, and I mean just a handful of people ... maybe a few hundred globally (as far as tabletop goes, I'm not talking about video game designers, but even then that would expand this figure into the low thousands probably) of professional game designers ... you are beer and pretzels. I suppose store owners could be considered non-beer and pretzel gamers ... lol. You might be a tool, store troll, but guess what ... YOU ARE STILL ... beer and pretzels. Your not a professional. Oh you've won a trophy?? Even perhaps won a GT or something and been in white dwarf?? So?? Who gives two shits, seriously get a grip on reality already.
Gaming is, has been and hopefully always will be ... about ... fun. Simply idling away some leisure time with some sort of diverting passtime. Sports, despite the advent of "professional leagues" is in this same camp. Certainly you might have "pros" who fully earn a living doing something. There are some guys playing collectible card games, some video game players, who purportedly earn their entire living, again apparently a few of them even into the deep six figure range. Those guys could well make the argument that they are not casual gamers.
Anyone else though is by definition an amateur, and to me amateur = beer and pretzels. Calling ones self "elite," proclaiming superiority to all other gamers is well and good, being serious about gaming to the point of having a stick up ones arse ... ok ... but that doesn't make one better or non-amateur and those people are still beer and pretzel gamers. They might unfortunately lack the happy fun attitude about gaming, but they aren't non-amateur ... they are still casual gamers, even if they are obsessive about it they don't derive their livings from gaming.
Again tabletop gaming is under a huge assault right now, the barbarians are at the gates, ready to sack the capital. Video games are killing the tabletop star and have been for 15+ years. Tabletop gaming will never die so long as passionate people who enjoy spending their disposable incomes and portions of their leisure time pursuing it, but there is no need to hasten the decline by being tools and trolls.
The lifeblood of tabletop gaming for anyone who wants new games/products and new fun, interesting people to play the games with is the casual "beer and pretzels" player. Yet that player is all of us, the magic of gaming that pulled us in initially whether it was via D&D or Warhammer 40K or Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, whatever ... that magic and wonder is still there. As a father I'm seeing it again in the eyes of my children. I'm transported back to those wonderful days in the summer of 1984 when I was trading bubblegum baseball cards, fishing down in the river and idling away the hours with Red Box D&D. The wonder and excitement that gaming can provide for young people is still there. The wonder and excitement it can provide for us adults is there as well. But when people take games too seriously, when they become too competitive, they begin to kill that off. They change the equation. To me if one wants that kind of experience, playing golf, playing poker for cash stakes, video gaming also presents a far superior option for those who want competitive gaming. Hell just being a sports fan provides a far better white knuckle competitive kinda rush than can tabletop gaming, even at the "competitive" level.
Tabletop games to me really have little value for that. Ya ya ... I know about the competitive side .. back in the day I attended several GTs and big RTTs for 40K. I've played in a few CCG tournaments, board game tournaments, etc. and they were a little interesting and I don't begrudge people who enjoy that, who enjoy some competition mixed in with tabletop gaming. I actually applaud it. But it needs to know its place.
People who partake in it need to understand that their individual preference will never define tabletop gaming, it will never be mostly about competition. It can't be. The companies producing the minis, even collectible cards, have to be more mindful of what the "beer and pretzels" folks are doing than what the tourney folks are doing. Otherwise the bulk of their customers simply lose interest and go elsewhere ... because ... most people are just casual gamers looking for a diverting activity to engage in occasionally with friends and family. That is how its always been and how it always will be with tabletop gaming.
I am beer and pretzels, I'm proud of it and when I stop being beer and pretzels game guy its time for me to find another hobby ... anyone who thinks casual fun is bad for tabletop gaming needs to be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail ... LITERALLY.