Me Nerd. Yes I'm a nerd. Suffice to say I won't be the type to go trekkie conventions with Spock ears, but I sure do love to ogle at the Starships and read their specs. I guess I'm what you call a Sleeper Latent Nerd. Or a Part-time nerd.
I do get out of the house, and I am active when I want to be. But thinking back. Nerds are very special. Like a true nerd I will never admit to it in public or in person. I in my spare time did play Games Workshop games as well as Battletech and dabbled as a GM in RPG's like Shadowrun and Earthdawn.
What really bothers me these days is the invasion of commercialism into my little world. Playing fantasy miniature board games use to be a really great past time for me. Unfortunately it kept me from joining gangs, learning how to shoot a 9mm and spray paint gang tags, but hey, at least it was fun. I learned at a very young age to paint and mess around with miniatures. I think that's probably why I ended up with glasses. But I digress. I use to like playing these games. But now it's gotten' disgustingly commercial. Allow me to elaborate.
Games-Workshop use to be a small nerdy operation based on Queen Street in Toronto. It stemmed from the Dungeons and Dragons genre of fantasy RPG's in that GWS made more detailed miniatures with a whole line of supporting products.
It use to have a cheesy little cut n'paste magazine sporting gaunt scrawny nerds and flubby big guys with plain black and white hand drawings. Ahh, those were the days, miniatures and the fantasy games had a underground feel to them. You were special for knowing that there were more dice than a regular six-sided dice and its not a die. It's a 1D6. Get it right bitch. I use to enjoy playing these games because it involved an entire afternoon of coke and pizza. We'd automatically throw out the rules and make up some whacked out scenario. It was fun. It was loads of fun.
But now that's all changed. Yes, I'm pissed about it. I use to go down to Games Workshop and play with the other nerds. We'd revel in each others glamorously painted armies, virtually kick each others asses and trudge off to paint our new "mini's", or work on a new tactic to beat the other guy.
Since GWS has moved to the Eaton Centre all has changed. I quickly realized this when I was dealing a nice beating (rare) to my friend Joe. I looked around looking for that praise from my fellow gamers only to find I was surrounded by tourists. I found myself beating back and scolding the little throng of annoying children who were deposited by their parents in the store. "Hands OFF!" I'd say to the little gnat bastards who would frequently touch my precious mini's. They would gleefully snap off the painstakingly detailed weapons and parts and skitter away to their parents before I could swat them. Then there was the uneducated throng of tourists who had no idea of what this game was. The uninitiated. There was nothing wrong with them. Unfortunately it was now a tourist attraction.
GWS had lost its nice grimy dark image with a commercial image. Those creepy gothic pictures were replaced by well painted artistic brilliant images. The old school gamers, the large twins Mat and Jeff? The Army vet guy, The toolboxes full of mini's. Dwindling. No longer do the ketchup stained T-shirt nerds exist in the store. The Guru's of AD&D and fantasy are gone now. Now replaced by plastic employees bred and trained to spew allegiance to Games Workshop and call each other "Brother Marines". My younger friend John is an amazing painter, he once tried to enter a Young Bloods painting competition only to loose because his model's base wasn't up to their standards of what Model Bases should look like.
I was told that my goofy dark eldar army was to "disgusting". Okay fine. My Dark Eldar Army (Which GWS describes as a race of people are suppose to be grotesque disgusting and pain loving) had goofy little unit names like "Spawn of the Brown Portal" "Children of Self Defication" "Protectors of Necrofilia" and "Enforcers of Bestiality" with nifty little hand painted banners depicting this. And yes my army did have a miniature goat as its mascot. (Leandro we salute you!) The reaction from every single veteran gamer in that place was absolutely fantastic. They loved it. It was hilarious. It was even more fantastic when everyone realized that one of the figurines was oddly posing in a "Who's your daddy" pose. The entire store had its shits and giggles with that goat and that miniature. Until the bloody tourists and kids with parents came along. Now my carefully crafted Army of mini's offends GWS family sensibility.
Its silly really. Considering GWS owes its existance to such underground dark beginnings. Not to say that GWS started with bestiality, necrophilia or S&M. Its the fact that GWS has turned commercial and professional, GWS was rooted in skulls, death, and gothic Imperial undertones.
Everything has been simplified and prettied up to sell to the parents, and the 5 year old artsy kids. Paying $60 bucks for a decrepit piece of plastic that looks ugly is not my idea of a good buy. Especially when I can make something entirely my own creation that would suit my tastes. But wait, I can't show case or use my scratch-built pride and joy, because its "not a Games Workshop product."
My favourite game Battletech has mutated into a commercial half-bred of "collectable miniatures" brought to us by Wiz-kid. Everything is cheap plastic and quick spray painted by some sweatshop in Asian now. I enjoyed the technical side of it. The detail made it real. Now its over simplified and watered-down for the layman and the commercial "I can't paint to save my life" fool. To all those fantasy buffs out there. There is a difference.
To the purist the godfather of AD&D and fantasy as we know it is J.R.R. Tolkien. To the nieve, its Magic the Gathering, Collectable Trading Cards Game. It's like the original Star Wars versus the new Jar-jar Binks Trilogy.
Or the original old school die-cast metal (Throw at someone and cripple them) Transformers versus the new highly breakable "Beasties". There is a clear difference between what fantasy gaming was and what it is now.Unfortunately its just one less thing I'll be doing in my spare time. Is there nothing safe or sacred anymore?