When claiming support = equals abuse, Spikey Bits Crosses The Line.

If you've been around the GW hobby for even just a short while, you'll have encountered a website called 'Spikey Bits' (SB for short throughout this article).

Once upon a time, SB was a 'go to' rumour site, with it's creator, Rob Baer, Harvesting tidbits of information from all over the web, adding in articles about modelling, painting, tactics - a really nice and useful support tool.


Somewhere along the way, it changed. It became bitter in tone, biting the hand that fed it (Games Workshop) to a certain extent as GW retreated from social media, putting out harsher and harsher critical articles out, on everything from pricing to model choices, rules to background.

There are also many occasions where gamers themselves needed to challenge SB for their actions - allegedly stripping pictures from blogs and reposting them without credit, refusing to remove them when the owners asked hiding behind ephemeral 'TOCS' which are posted on their website as if they absolved them from their legal obligations (Something I came a cropper of not so long ago).

But that's pretty tame stuff compared to the newest 'article' SB have deigned to publish - The Most Alarming Trend In GW Tournament Play

Criticism, at it's purest form, should provide communication, feedback which can improve the product, service or information and force the reader to evaluate how they think (for more on how good criticism works, this article from the Guardian is a good start ).

This article by SB does none of those things, and in fact, goes one further - it offends and makes light of a serious issue.

Lets look at their claims:

  • Spikey Bits is an industry pundit, we call it like we see it for all companies, especially our friends in Nottingham with whom we stay fiercely independent from GW for that very reason" - This is a risible claim. I can't think of one person, website or publication that would consider SB to be an 'industry pundit' - they barely rank in the lower leagues of websites let alone aspire to the levels of say, Geek & Sundry, Beasts of War or Den of Geek - in fact, they're little more than a click farming fanzine (anyone who visits their page without an adblocker functioning will attest to the amount of popups, malware warnings and dodgy ads that occur so often it almost renders the page unreadable).  As for 'calling it as we see it' - that may be as they say, but it's often wrong, misdirected or just plain false. As for staying 'independent of GW' this I suspect is a dig at those sites and bloggers who now work in partnership with GW to promote new releases in a quid pro quo to receive promo copies early - something that SB isn't included in.

  • Some of you new kids that started in the last couple years can be forgiven for this. You're exempt, you can leave - just how condescending to a wide portion of the hobby community can they be? 'You're not a vet therefore you don't understand' - this is pure gatekeeping.

  • If you’ve been playing this game for a minute, then you remember the dark days when it took years for a Xenos army to get a new codex, or for that matter, new models (8 years for the one Ork book IIRC). You remember GW scaling back community engagement, closing down their tournaments and events, and shutting down the major company hubs.  This is correct - to a point. GW did scale back the US and RoW events, but the UK events carried on, as did the tournaments at Warhammer World, which sold out (and continue to sell out) in minutes of going on sale. I'm not going to say it was the right decision to do so, but the decision was made.

  • Basically, you remember the days when GW abandoned the community and left you all alone. There you were in your dark house with your superglue and your clippers in your hand wondering what to do with yourself. As with the previous point, it's hard to not agree to an extent - GW decided (I'd bet) that the wider US community did a better job than they could - after all, events such as GenCon had been running well before GW became the prime mover in the war-games scene.
But these points are the shallow end of the article, the preamble so to speak - this is where my problems begin...

Your Stepdad Came Home and Begged You to Let Him Back In

  • Then like every victim that enables your abuser, when Kevin Rountree showed up and turned the company around, he started handing out a quality product and re-connected with the community. That’s when you threw open the door and let him back in.  “This is the new GW! Don’t worry baby”.  An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales (1.2 million women, 713,000 men).  ONE POINT NINE MILLION PEOPLE. Yet somehow, SB think it's appropriate to equate the return of a games manufacturer to the tournament organising scene to the brutal treatment of women, children and men at the hands of their families - be it husbands, brothers, boyfriends or cousins.  This is disgusting - it shows a lack of respect for the victims (70% of which are women in regards to cases resulting in homicide) and a lack of understanding of the seriousness of which Domestic Violence should be taken.

You Hobby Like Your Buddy With the Controlling Spouse

  • Remember when you used to go out with your one friend all the time, and you were best pals. Then he met up with that new significant other and he started changing. You eventually figured out that you saw him less and less because she didn’t like his friends and you least of all? Remember when you thought, “well if that’s what our friendship means and that’s how easy it is to get rid of me, then screw you too.” Remember that?  So, not only do SB think that domestic violence is somehow a minor thing to be equated to GW coming back to support the tournament scene, SB decide that perpetuating the 'controlling spouse' trope is a good thing to use - to make out that women are harpies, harridans that want to do nothing more than remove a man from his social circle - a form of domestic abuse itself - and such a cliche as to be parody. This tone deafness, this sexism - misses that a good portion (some say as high as 50%) of the gaming community are women! To perpetuate this outdated misconception is to ignore their input into the community, to relegate their status to just 'the girlfriend' and is in no way helpful or constructive to their argument. This is also shown in the next point...

Who’s A Grown Man?

  • Listen to cops, because they tell you to obey the law so that you don’t go to jail.

    • Listen to your boss, so that you keep your job and he keeps paying you.
    • Listen to your lawyer, because he needs to keep you out of jail to get paid.
    • Listen to your accountant, because he needs to make you rich to get paid.
    • There’s a lot of people in your life you should listen to you, either because they pay you to listen to them, or you pay them for good advice.
    So do you listen to people to tell you what to do with your spending money on your toy soldier budget? Yeah, maybe if you’re a child and you get your allowance from mommy. If you’re a grown man though, your money should buy the best product on the market regardless of the manufacturer or who told you that you could or couldn’t use it.
    It’s a plastic toy, not a surgical prosthetic heart valve or a precision instrument on a space rocket. 
    Sigh. How many times does SB want to ignore the fact this is a unisex hobby? Do they need to be presented with women gamers, painters, designers until they believe it? 
    Maybe this is the problem - they don't see women in gaming in their social circles - so using outmoded tropes and language is OK - they can't offend those they don't know! But to the rest of us? To those of us who have groups that are unisex? This kind of article, this kind of language and this kind of website should be consigned to the skip of history.

    If you want to know more about the the statistics involved in this article, the Office for National Statistics provides a report every year on domestic violence.

    If you are a victim of Domestic Abuse, or need to talk to someone about DV, The National Domestic Violence Helpline are there to help - it's a freephone number in the UK - 0808 2000 247


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