interesting article on The Times website. In a nut-shell, it talks about how 'convenience' is shaping our world, our lives, and potentially stripping us of something important. Near the end of the article, it talks about how we've had to turn to our hobbies to find challenge and express our individuality.
I started to think about this in terms of my own hobby of wargaming. Are we not seeing 'convenience' take over here as well? Now, I am not advocating a return to the days where everyone had to cast their own miniatures in lead, but think about this. Twenty years ago, if you were into wargaming, you had to:
Read and decipher the rules yourself (or find someone to teach you).
Paint your own miniatures.
Construct your own terrain.
Write out all of the important information about your army/warband on a piece of paper.
Create your own scenarios.
Roll dice, refer to charts, and occasionally perform simple feats of mathematics.
X-Wing game from Fantasy Flight. If you bought the game today, you could watch numerous 'how-to-play' videos online to learn the rules. The figures come painted (much better than most of us can paint) so you don't have to worry about that. The game doesn't need any terrain, but if you want there are a few ready made things you can buy, like asteroids. All of the information you need about ships is on handy cards (and more cards, and more cards). Even the 'characters' of the game, are right their for you on the cards. The game has plenty of scenarios you can play, but usually people just go for a straight shoot-'em-up. You still have to roll dice, although they are special made-for-the-game dice which means you don't need any math beyond simple counting and their are no charts to refer to.
This is not to berate X-Wing. I think there are a lot of positives to be said about the game. And, it is not even the 'worst' in these terms. A lot of wargames these days are taking convenience to an even greater extreme and becoming board games, so that you get everything you could ever need in one box (well, until the next expansion box makes parts of it obsolescent).
Again, I am not advocating a return to the 'good old days' of lumpy figures and children's blocks for terrain (although, I suspect there is just as much fun to be had that way). I am advocating that we keep some of the difficulty in the hobby.
wargame where every figure has lots of Health that is slowly degraded through a game (a very un-modern wargaming element) - more excuse to use my pencil.
I know, for some people, all they want to do is play the game, and the rest is just an annoying distraction. It's your hobby, do what you want. However, if you don't try some of these things, if you don't invest the time it takes to work on them and develop the skills, you will never know if there might be more enjoyment to be gleaned.
Start small. Buy a few figs. Paint them. Come up with their story. Design a scenario that is specific to your figures. Write it all down. Build a small piece of terrain that features in that story. Then play the game. Afterwards, write about it. Blog about it. Decide what happens next in the story and see if you need new figures or new terrain. Let it spiral upwards and onwards out of control. To me, that is the joy of the hobby. But even for me, it is often easy to forget all of this...for the sake of convenience.
As a final point, I am not saying we must all enjoy or even participate in all aspects of the hobby. If you don't like painting, that's fine. What I am saying is that we should take our time to find the parts we love, and when we do, invest in them. I believe today's market place makes it easy to forget this.
Note to self: make some terrain.