21 Feb 2013

What the Hobby Means to me

What does it Mean?
Hey guys - JT here with something a little bit more personal then we'd usually like to discuss in the realm of the internet - but it is something close to my heart. I was having a chat to a friend today about the state of the hobby and how the price increases were effecting our purchases (or not, in my case) and why - in the face of the rise of online gaming - we continue with the hobby in a day and age that has largely forgotten about it. For me, the hobby represents something deeply personal and special - but does that apply to everyone else?
I would like to share just what the hobby means to me, and maybe - just maybe, get you guys thinking about the same thing as we evaluate in an honest manner what exactly keeps us stuck to our little model soldiers.

Click the 'read more' link to view the article.

   If you believe the tales of doom and gloom circulating amongst the online communities that tie us together; there isn't much holding us together any more - people are moving on, we're getting older and things are just getting way too expensive for us to continue to justify continuing with the hobby. In the face of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), much of the worlds wealth (particularly in Europe) was wiped out and the world as a whole entered a period of economic strife that we have yet to fully recover from; yet in spite of the trying economic hardships we all faced; Games Workshop did not reduce prices - they may have actually increased them. How can they justify that? How can we, with the cost of living always increasing - justify our expenditure on these little men when it may be cheaper to purchase video games to while away our leisure time with.

   I find myself thinking about just how much money I pour into Games Workshop on a weekly basis and never wonder why I do it, but more - does everyone else do it for the same reasons? Most of the guys and girls reading this will be regular's at their local GW or FLGS, and spend lots of time working away on their latest piece of plastic crack or writing up their latest army list - we spend so much time invested on our hobby we can even spend hours on the internet talking to each-other about it. It is a lot like the Metal culture, a group so open and social that seems insular and strange to outsiders. I have been listening to Heavy Metal since the release of Demanufacture by Fear Factory in 1995, and over the years of being an angst - ridden teenager and a semi - sane young man, it has always been a companion; a comforting friend I can curl up with and feel to the depths of my soul whenever the going gets tough - I feel powerful where before I felt weak, I felt connected where before I was not and I love it, I feel it in every ounce of my being and I live it - many metal heads will share my sentiments, they may experience it in different ways however; but the principle is the same, we feel it.
This makes me shiver every time.
   I discovered Warhammer 40,000 through some friends, I always had a thing for my grandfathers miniature train set that took up the entirety of his basement (basements are rare in Australia) and I have many fond memories of spending afternoons playing with the trains as they whizzed around the tiny tracks across an immaculately sculpted and decorated representation of the English country side (my grandfather came across to Australia after leaving Tottenham) - but Warhammer was something all together different. It was cool, it was sci-fi, it was violent and dark and most importantly - my friends were doing it. We were all poor, having grown up in the poor part of the poor suburb in the Western area of Sydney - so many of us could barely afford to get any kits outside of our birthdays and Christmas - but we cherished those kits and painted them lovingly with more enthusiasm then skill. We didn't have any of the new games consoles, most of our days were spent running around outside building cubby - houses in the pockets of bush behind our homes and riding bikes and the like, then at night - we'd whip out our little armies and promptly smash each other with the same armies, day - in and day - out.

   High School came along too fast, my family moved to a new area and no - one I knew had ever really heard of Warhammer; and those that did were much older then myself. Throughout High School - I went into hiatus, the local store that carried Games Workshop products went bankrupt and the nearest GW store was a half hour drive away - too much of an inconvenience for my family at that point. Over time, I forgot about my time with the Space Marines, the Dark Eldar and the awesome new race known as the Necrons - most of my models from that time were sold off for pennies or lost. I got a job, invested most of my money into games consoles and this formally ended my relationship with GW for close to 5 years.

Upon the Wings of Angels
   I left High School still in the same job and moved in with what I thought would be the love of my life, a pretty blonde girl who shared my love of metal and video games. Like all things at such a young age, it was fated not to last - and following the move - in, I heard that a GW was opening in my local area at the closest major shopping centre. I still had those fond memories from my childhood and decided to stick my head in and have a look at how everything had changed over the long years - 5th edition was out, the Blood Angels had just been released and those Sanguinary Guard models were looking amazing, along with the bad - ass Furioso Dreadnaught finally being available in plastic. The relationship went South soon after, as far South as it was possible to go with-out going North again - and around this time I buried myself in the store, I bought my first few kits in years and lost myself in the hobby. When I came home from work, following a spat of arguments - I'd park myself at the desk and paint my new Storm Raven. When Thursday night rolled around I went straight from work to the GW to paint my models and do something I enjoyed doing - over time, my partner at the time came to despise my little miniatures and the time I spent with them - failing to realize that the more she tried to tear me away from them, the more time I spent hiding in that world. I was making new friends, finding people who shared my growing passion for the hobby and I found only acceptance in the community - I never felt that I had to be better or be someone else when I was working away in my local GW, talking to the staff and having a blast with the other guys - I'm still friends with those staff members to this day, and love going to the store simply to hang out with them and talk about stuff we're all interested in.

    What followed was the single most difficult period of my life, and throughout all of it I used Warhammer as a kind of therapy - and I still do to this day. If you know me personally, you'll know that eventually the hobby came to represent something to me more then simply escaping my horrible relationship and the stupid trap I found myself in; it represents freedom - the freedom to do what I want, the freedom to be true to myself instead of doing what someone else wants me to do, the freedom to have my own life apart from everyone else. Eventually I had to make a choice, I either had to give up my hobby or I had to leave my partner - I chose to leave her much to her surprise. It is not a matter of me choosing inanimate objects over human interaction; it was about me choosing to be free of those who only wish to control me for their own gratification, and my rejection of those who would make me choose - the choice was unique to me but it was one of the defining points of my natural life, and Warhammer brought me to it.

   I believe so much that Warhammer, and the friend's I've made through the hobby, kept me afloat during those difficult times - the world of the hobby sucked me in like no video game could, and I was fully able to escape my worries for a short time - for a few brief hours every day nothing could get me down - and it really was a short time; but it was a sweet time. I've been in and out of Hospitals over recent years with major surgeries; yet the hobby has always been there for me even when I could barely get out of bed - some of my friends that I've only seen at the local GW came to visit me during my last stint in the wards of the local hospital; and it was touching to say the least.

   When people ask me how I can sink so much of my money into pieces of plastic; how I can spend endless hours haunting my local GW laughing with friends and playing games whilst showing off my latest painting experiments - why I decided to launch this blog and why I spend hours every day working on it; I merely point out that it makes me happy - and despite the price increases, and despite the price gouging on certain items - and even though I am now in a far more constructive relationship and have other things to worry about; I always make time for my little plastic men. My relationship with the hobby goes beyond paints, beyond plastic or resin or metal, beyond the stores and the books , beyond the money- I do what I do because because it reminds me of something very important; I need conviction.
   I am looking to get the above image tattooed somewhere on my body, probably on my chest - not as a show of devotion, but as a reminder of what I nearly gave up for a misguided relationship. Some of you may not understand what I am getting at with the word conviction; but consider the 'compromises' you make to maintain a relationship and think of the point where it goes too far -where you stop being yourself and become a parody of who you really are. It helped me escape the hole I'd dug myself into and shed light on all the things I was giving up to appease someone who refused to accept me the way I was - a mistake I will never make again. The hobby rescued me from that, it reminded me of who I really am; and that is something that I cannot put a price on. It gave me strength. The hobby may not mean as much to you as it does to me; but I'm sure many out there have stories of just what exactly the hobby means to them - and I'd love to hear those stories if you're willing to share them; and that really is the beautiful thing about a hobby such as ours - it brings people together and it doesn't matter in the end why you do it, its something we all share; even if it is just for now.

   So feel free to leave your comments below or contact us on facebook, and take some time to really think about why the hobby is a part of your life - it might mean a lot, or nothing.

No comments:

Post a Comment