Standing with Cavan.
Recently, Games Workshop announced a series of books for release that are to be aimed at 8-12 year olds, to introduce the settings of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000.
The writers, one of which is Cavan Scott, have a past record in writing books for Younger Readers which deal with complex situations and settings, but in a way that the intended audience can relate and understand.
So far, we've had character synopses and a few illustrations of what these characters will look like - very much in keeping with the universes older readers will recognise, but rendered in a more 'animatic' manner (and I don't mean this as a negative point), the character biographies given hint at characters which will grow and mature alongside the reader.
Now, this to me is a good thing. Any hobby, sport or past time, regardless of what it is, be it wargaming, chess, football, macrame, crocheting or stamp collecting die and pass into memory if not for the recruitment of new enthusiasts, who can take up the hobby, enjoy it and pass it on to the generation after them. To see younger players getting involved, and having avenues that make it all the easier for them has to be celebrated and encouraged.
However.... here we come to the reason I'm writing this blog passage. Im 43 - far beyond the age these books are aimed at (though trust me, I won't let that stop me buying them if they tell a good tale). But it seems that the very existence of these books has enraged parts of the hobby community, and moved some to even post threats to the authors social media feeds.
This is unacceptable. By all means, question and critique the books when they're out, but this total loss of perspective is outrageous. Imagine if you will receiving threats and insults for your work if you were an accountant, or a bricklayer, or plumber - would you be happy to continue work? Why do some see it as their right to barrack, harass and abuse those in a creative role within 'their' favourite settings?
This is the same behaviour which has recently seen several stars from the Star Wars films leave social media - because a group of overwhelmingly white male 'fans' decided that the producers, writers and actors took a storyline in a different direction to what THEY demanded. These are the actions of bullies - insecure, immature, violent bullies, scared that what they see as 'theirs' is being opened up to all.
In fact, there is a different word to 'fan' to use for these morons - Gatekeeper. I'm not sure on when the term was first used (if you know, let me know in the comments) but it refers to those who would block entry to a hobby, or interest to those they deem 'not suitable' - they're no different to the old men who would gather in their clubs refusing access to women or Persons of Colour for no other reason than they were not male and white - these idiots seek to build walls where there should be open doors, stopping potential hobbyists, gamers and readers in, to experience what they purport to love.
I truly believe that this toxic element is in a minority - a vocal one, but a minority all the same. In my many years of gaming, both within my social circle and the wider community through tournaments and events, I've encountered so many great people, all of whom want to see our hobby grow and flourish and be as popular as possible. These are the people who matter, they're the ones who will set the groundwork for the new generation of gamers and they are the ones who will be held up as examples of how to behave.
So how do we do this? Some simple steps:
1) Don't allow negative, abusive comments go unchallenged - but don't become abusive in return - this only feeds the view of the abuser that they're in the right.
2) Do promote positivity - if you see a gamer, designer, blogger, shop or company doing something you like, let others know as much as possible - by highlighting these positive voices we can drown out the negative
3) Think about what you post - you're entitled to not like something, we all do - but don't let it become personal with the creator. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but just saying 'it's crap' doesn't help anyone.
In future posts I'll be highlighting some of the good work others are doing - hopefully by doing so I can do my part to keep the positivity going!