Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nerd Rage

I've noticed recently that my enthusiasm for 40k is once again on the wane. I haven't been able to get any painting done in a while now and I'm definitely feeling that loss of momentum. I'm starting to get really excited about painting some of those Privateer Press miniatures and so the prospect of working on my Space Marine Scouts right now just doesn't seem all that inspiring. But I believe there are other factors at work as well, in particular one that I have been aware of for a long time but am perhaps only now starting to understand the full impact that it has had on me. I'm talking about the dreaded phenomenon of Nerd Rage, in particular that of the Internet variety. Seriously, how can I get Internet Nerd Rage Syndrome added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?

I think I've figured out a key element of my 40k-interest cycle... spending too much time online kills my interest. After a period of time away from the game, invariably something will catch my imagination and I begin the process of immersing myself into the game once again. The joy and thrill of the game comes back to me in addition to my love for its beautiful miniatures and dynamic background. Everything is fun and enjoyable and I make big plans about all the things I want to get out of my hobby and wonder why I ever let things slip away. As I try to get back up to speed on what has been happening in the larger wargaming community, and in particular that of Warhammer players, I spend lots of time soaking in all that is available online regarding my favorite games. I have now come to the conclusion that this has largely been a mistake and has ended up only serving to drive me away again into the waiting arms of some other game system or miniatures manufacturer.

Although there's a lot of really useful info available and plenty of inspiration for painting, what turns me off is the huge amount of whining, complaining, arguing, and general negativity that is endemic to gaming sites and forums. You'll find annoying rules-lawyers at any gaming store, but the nature of online discussions seems to concentrate all of them into one place. And living up to the unfortunate gamer stereotype, the people who engage in this display an almost total lack of civility or cordiality. Instead it either quickly degenerates into rudeness and bitter scorn or else simply starts out that way and sinks even lower into mean-spiritedness and vulgarity. I don't think the majority of people who do this would treat others that way in person, but the anonymity of the internet allows them to indulge their basest instincts. It reminds me of the type of gross behavior you get when there's a bunch of dudes in a room and no women around to help lift them out of the sewer. Add to this the wide range of ages represented by online users and the lack of maturity demonstrated becomes quite understandable, especially considering that this is a hobby to some degree appeals to that part of the male psyche that doesn't want to grow up.

So what am I going to do about all of this? Simple... avoid it. I may not be able to cure INR Syndrome, but I can at least keep it from affecting me. I don't game nearly enough, nor am I competitive enough, to make it worthwhile to me. I'm now trying to significantly curtail my intake of online 40k conversations, especially in the forums and comment threads as these are easily the worst battlefields of gamer futility. I find that there seems to be much less of this on people's blogs and even the biggest Nerd Rage offenders at least try to be on their best behavior when participating in someone else's personal webpage. I therefore plan on just keeping up with the blogs that I find most interesting but otherwise not get caught up in whatever happens to be the debate-du-jour. When it comes to wargaming, I choose peace.

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