Analogue and digital: opposing skill sets?
or fleeting perception?
Far from original, my closing remarks last time
echo truisms familiar from many online discussions of, eg. how to get more younger people to play wargames (a common enough theme on the BGG Wargames subforum
). Once this notion rears its head in any thread it won’t be long before someone observes that the ‘plug-and-play’ nature of computer games’ has ‘spoiled’ younger people when it comes to reading rules for a game, especially those more-or-less complex ones you’ll find in ‘heavy duty’ wargames. And these are games like, eg. the 32 pages of detailed case point of Unhappy king Charles
or the similar 28 pages of Twilight Struggle —
ie. average complexity medium-sized wargames with clear and concise rules —
not ASL’s legendary monumental tome or some such monstrosity.
The basic disconnect
These displays of condescension leave me feeling a point is being missed, somewhere. I mean to say, as wargamers we seek relaxation in a hobby predicated upon higher-grade English comprehension overlaid with standard grade mental arithmetic. If you don’t enjoy exercising these skills then you’re hardly likely to enjoy games which put a high priority on them. This surely goes some way to explain why Eurogames are far more popular than wargames: their rules are simpler and they don’t emphasise the traditionally ‘studious’ skills to the same extent as wargames. Consequentially, Euros are social and cooperative in their conflict- eg. Settlers
; if not indirect in their actual competition- eg. Alhambra
. In this respect analogue wargames remain the niche of a niche dominated by educated aging geezers which Jim Dunnigan outlines in his Wargames Handbook