Technology and the Hobby

Regular followers on Twitter will know that Santa got me a Samsung Galaxy Tab for Christmas. ‘What a lucky boy!’ I hear you shout, and you’d be right too. Granted the wife did fry my laptop on Christmas Eve by spilling two full drinks over it so one could argue I broke even.

But anyway, my reason for wanting to get a tablet was to read books as there’s no shortage of books I want to read but a very distinct shortage of space in my house with which to store them. This gets more complicated when one starts to add in all the rule sets I review, many of which are in PDF format. Plus the faff of having to print them out.

So all this got me thinking about technology and the hobby and whether or not it’s a good thing. I suppose the first thing to realise is that technology has been with the hobby for a quite a while without us overtly seeing it. Computer sculpting is becoming the norm and bringing about some of the finest and most detailed models ever. Rulebooks are obviously written and set using computes but the accessibility of software like Photoshop and InDesign means that even the little guy has a shot at producing a professional set of rules to take to market.

The birth of social media means that wargamers have never been more connected. Twitte has introduced me to around 90 wargamers all of whom ar awesome and form a very real community and support network for my hobby. Not to mention a few readers for this blog. And, indeed, this and other blogs allow for continuous updates on what’s goingon behind the walls of our favourite games developers.

Butgoing back things at a game level. There are army builder apps, there’s even dice rolling apps. Technology is providing altenatives for the original ‘manual’ way of doing things so why not rules and army books? If I’m honest, I’d be quite happy with electronic rulebooks and army books. Aside from th space issue, it’d be cheaper and allow for things like a search function allowing for far swifter rule referencing. Plus only one device for all your rulebooks is actually a great idea. And having an internet ready device to hand that you can bob onto for rule advice from the internet is really very useful.

We can alsi share our hobby like never before. A battle report app will allow us to post games on the internet. They can be shared for enjoyment or just to learn tactics. Army lists can be easily shared prior to the game.

I’m not saying we should do away with paper etc because I like the feel of books and like rolling dice, but having tinkered with my new toy now for 5 days I have to say that it reads just the same. Of course it isn’t the same but to me it didn’t feel worse.

The fact remains that we enjoy a relatively antiquated hobby. Countless times I’ve been asked the question ‘why build toy soldiers when you can just play Command & Conquer?’ To you or I the answer is obvious but is it to new gamers? If the hobby doesn’t keep progressing and using technology in a positive way it’ll get left behind and die.

Granted, it’s early days but so faf I really like using my tablet to read books and rulesets. But I’m also very aware that I grew up with computers and I’m a complete technophile, but I do believe that this could be the future of wargaming as it will liberate those developers forced to produce substandard books to save costs. And more games and a healthy comunity can’t be a bad thing.

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4 thoughts on “Technology and the Hobby

  1. More game manufacturers could stand to produce searchable PDFs and own-brand die rolling apps. It won’t catch on, I don’t think, until it’s legitimised by a major manufacturer – there’s a cult-like appeal to doing things ‘officially’ and ‘properly’ that goes beyond the tired debates about piracy – but I can’t deny that I’d prefer it to lugging books around. Maybe not dice though. I do like rolling dice, and I don’t trust dice that I don’t see rollin’.

  2. Like you, I have grown up with computers and technology right from the early days of home computing and still enjoy using them on a day to day basis. But what got me back into the wargaming hobby after 25 years was the *absence* of computers and feeling that I was getting back to something real and tangible. True, there are tecnology-based components of the hobby as you’ve mentioned above that can be a real boon, but all in all I prefer to keep things as un-virtual as possible.

    I would probably agree with you that the newer, younger hobbyists/wargamers are more likely to adopt and use technology-oriented aspects of the hobby, but my personal experience is that as you get older there is a tendancy to become increasingly frustrated with the ethereal and transient nature of digital products and therefore there is a greater desire to return to something more solid and enduring.

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