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A future without minis?

Posted February 19th, 2013 at 10:44 AM by Sylvano the Wasabus
My son just had his sixth birthday. He had a party with friends and schoolmates and received so much stuff it looked like Christmas. Everything moves, everything takes batteries, most of it squawks and speaks.

For the family birthday his mother was there and she gave him a DS3 and fistful of games to play on it. If you donít know (I didnít) a DS3 is a handheld gaming system in full colour and 3D. It certainly exceeds any arcade game I played as a young person. My present for him was more subdued. It was a couple of miniatures and an adventure I had written about them as a bed time story. My son tossed the story aside, looked at the minis for a few seconds and then played the DS3 all night.

I know itís the future and the future is the present but I feel like my interests- the noble mini and tabletop gaming are quickly become fossils. I admit that computer games and play stations and such are amazing and I play too but for me they can never take the place of the mini and the Scape battlefield.

Is it because, I wonder, those things were my first meaningful playing experience? Certainly I had blocks and cars but the first time playing really became amazing was with miniatures and battlefields I had constructed with my blocks and bricks. When Scape came along it was really just what I had already been doing, but with a wider variety of specials and cooler terrain.

But what if a kids first play experience is just a computer? Where does that lead them?

You may have heard of Marshall McLuhan and the popularization of some of his ideas such as theďmedium is the messageĒ and the ďmedium is the massage.Ē Simply he suggested that media is an extension of the senses and that developing forms of media will change how society functions. (i.e. one might speculate that a wired kid might have difficulty dealing with people in person, thus resulting in increasing computerization of all activities, sky rocketing divorce rates and a reliance on sperm banks for human reproduction.)

What happens when the power goes out? What happens when they are so removed from society that they cannot fathom the severity of shooting other people?

What happens when young people do not know how to play unless they are led by a computer program?

I live in a flat place well known for having a lot of golf courses. My family were poor mice and we never golfed or hockeyed because they were too expensive. I guess golf had a social stigma too and it seemed too far above my familyís station. My grandfather was illiterate; he worked odd jobs and raised chickens and vegetables and got by the best he could. My father was the first person in the family to own a car. I guess weíre slow- one foot dragging in the past.

Anyway, I have heard that all the golf courses here are in trouble because there are very few young players. Golf had been a way to make connections and associations on so many levels but younger people today are totally wired- they tweet, Facebook, email, cell phone and who knows whatís coming next. They donít have to actually go anywhere to make connections and associations. And so the golf courses are going out of business.

Thatís all fine and predictable but where does it leave the future of minis and Scape? It is already nigh impossible to find other players in this area. There is really only one LGS in this area- which has little selection. The other two stores bit the dust two years ago.

My father played with minis as a kid. He melted lead on the kitchen stove and poured them into moulds to make the figures. He still has the burn scars. I have recently found the equipment to do the same but life is busy and I havenít had the time to give it a try. Maybe over the coming holidays I will find time to burn myself in the pursuit of Hottentots.

There are computer games that have figures that move and interact on endless battlefields now too, but I just canít see them as a natural extension of my sacred games. It does not engage me. I like to see them in real life and move them. There is an emotional element that is missing in computer simulations. It just feels like television, whereas Scape is practically real. (sounds silly to say that about a game where orcs ride dinos and fight Romans and Soulbergs)

Perhaps Hasbro and WotC were not executioners. They were just trying to keep their feet in an avalanche, as time and changes rush forward so very quickly. Theyíre trying to surf, which is one approach, but it is probably the one that makes the most money quickly. Sustainability is another issue.

Although it feels hopeless to me, of course it isnít. The development and release of new waves here and the online tournament and even this site itself demonstrate that minis can have a place in the future. A small place, but still, a home of sorts. But is it enough to keep this game and others like it alive as time wiggles forward?
Total Comments 7


Arch-vile's Avatar
I usually find that while electronic games wear off with time, your imagination lasts forever and will bring you much more play-time.

As soon as my sisters get a new iPod game they won't even notice if I wave my hand in front of their face, but after a couple hours it's "hey let's play pirates outside or play squinkies!" (squinkies are little rubbery miniature toys shaped like people and cute little animals.)

Technology has advanced so far since I've grown up. I grew up with a game boy color and dial-up internet. Now everyone has cell phones and if a webpage takes longer than 10 seconds to load people freak out. I can't imagine what it must feel like for my parents' or grandparents' generation.
Posted February 19th, 2013 at 03:59 PM by Arch-vile Arch-vile is online now
I still remember the rush I got watching and then playing Pong. Remember cell phones used to be called walkie talkies! Okay maybe not.

Occasionally I get caught up in a storied computer game but I just don't have the skills to use computers that well so I can't do what my kids do on them (building a universe on something called minecraft - basically building blocks on a screen).

But it only takes a day for the older one to realize he has not spoken to me (being immersed in a game) although the younger one could go for a few days. All electronic games stop for the weekends in which they make time for me. It makes that time that much more special.

But I feel your pain StW. They are losing visual imaginations although they are gaining better thumb-eye co-ordination. I guess for every loss their is a gain.
Posted February 20th, 2013 at 09:23 AM by AMIS AMIS is offline
Updated February 20th, 2013 at 09:24 AM by AMIS (Heroscape is our chosen weekend event - when we can.)
elvenwizard9's Avatar
I am in my younger years- perhaps one of the youngest members of the site. I'm in my teens, and I am honestly terrified about where our society is headed- mainly because I will live to see it.

I do enjoy many electronic games, some on the computer I am typing from right this moment, and some on the Xbox platform. I will admit I play them more often than tabletop games, but only because I rarely have somebody to actually play a tabletop game with me, such as HeroScape or Battleship: Galaxies. It is honestly quite frustrating- I wish my family shared my interest. The world is moving too quickly. I feel as if I have been born too late sometimes.

This makes me think of a novel I recently read that has quickly become one of my favorites- Fahrenheit 451. I recommend this to everybody.
Posted February 20th, 2013 at 08:24 PM by elvenwizard9 elvenwizard9 is offline
kolakoski's Avatar

Electronics Addiction

Well met!

Posted February 20th, 2013 at 10:30 PM by kolakoski kolakoski is offline
chas's Avatar
My grandparents lived about 1890-1960. It used to be an axiom to say that their generation saw more technological change than had occurred in the entire recorded history of the human race! Good luck to us all.
Posted February 21st, 2013 at 06:58 PM by chas chas is offline
Anitar's Avatar
For the record, it's called a 3DS, not a DS3. Look, it even has "3D" in the name.
Posted February 24th, 2013 at 09:13 PM by Anitar Anitar is offline
Killer Lawnmower's Avatar
Amen to that elvenwizard. I just read Fahrenheit as well and I have to agree and what you've said.
Posted March 8th, 2013 at 10:02 PM by Killer Lawnmower Killer Lawnmower is offline
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