Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Taste... and the lack of it....

Sometimes you really, really, have to wonder whatever was going on in the mind of the wargamer idiot who came up with this one....


"We have put together an ISIS pack at a special price of $25.00 USD for ten miniatures (a $30.00 USD value)."

What a plank... In what kind of hellish alternative reality does someone think, "I know what - I'll release a range of murdering terrorists for gaming purposes - it's just what the world is missing...."

What next for this range, a Jordanian pilot in a cage perhaps??  How about a few decapitated Japanese/British/name your nationality, hostages as victory markers?? I know what, how about a body being thrown off a building?? 

Words fail me..... and my fellow gamers wonder why people think we are weird...

40 comments:

  1. Good man. I have stopped going to TMP precisely because of the weird attitudes to modern day suffering that pass for normal there. But you are right ignoring them is not enough, sometimes you have to say, " your view of what passes for entertainment is adolescent, perverted and intolerable."

    Well said Steve.

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    1. Thanks John, much appreciated - I did think twice, and even three times before I posted.. some fellow bloggers who I respect greatly play modern era games set in Afghanistan/Iran and the like and I don't have (much) of an issue with that, but this, this was just unpleasant and left a nasty taste in the mouth..

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  2. Now I'm interested in modern wars and warfare and I've parodied so called IS a couple of times as IZAL But this goes too far. I wouldn't dream of actually selling a product with thier name on it. Its not needed "middle Eastern Ireegulars" will do or are todays wargamers so thick that they don't know ..... well anything ...

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    1. Hi Andy, you were one of the modern gamers I was referring to in my response to John.. I have no (well, not much) issue with people playing modern era games.. it was the marketing that irritated...

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    2. Steve it irritates me too. Crass and stupid to say the least but they'll sell possibly by the small bucket. I am not in the least surprised- saddened yes but not surprised

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  3. I agree 100% Steve. I felt the same way when I saw these and was half expecting a pilot in a cage. If I play modern games I like to have an imagi-nation setting where things are much more sanitised.

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    1. Cheers Natholeon... as a wargamer, and a reader of military history, I know that what we portray as a game is in reality a horrible, nasty, bloody, frightening but at times, a hugely inspiring thing.. but this is all of those without the inspirational element...

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  4. It's always a tough call the closer you are in time to a period you wargame. A mate of mine could not face WWI after visiting the graveyards and battlefields.

    This though pushes way past a judgement call into total disrespect for others.

    Ian

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    1. Ian - absolutely - probably different for every gamer.. for me, I would say that I wouldn't want to game anything later than Vietnam...

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  5. Agreed - it is completely tasteless and just the sort of thing that gives the hobby a bad name.

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    1. Matt - so true - it's hard enough to people admitting you "play with toy soldiers" as it is, in these politically correct days.. :o(

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    1. Kiwi - I have no idea what he was thinking...

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  7. And they're not accurate are they? Whenever we see them on TV they have their heads covered in black cloth which, you would have thought, would have made them easier to spot in a crowd.
    Taste has little to do with wargaming I'm afraid. if it did we wouldn't play half of the periods we do. However a little thought in his marketing would have gone a long way but then being an American neither taste and thought would have been high on his agenda - just dollars.

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    1. Paul - the owner has stated that these are previously available figures re-marketed - and that the more negative publicity the more they sell... You're also right about other periods of course - I steer clear of the SS in WWII for the same reason....

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    2. You and me both Steve! I won't have nazis in my games precisely for the same reason. I can't see them as 'entertainment'.

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  8. No - I don't like this at all. I find it hard to define where the boundaries of taste start to bite for me, but this is beyond it. Mind you, I was never very comfortable about guys who played Cold War boardgames modelling the end of civilisation-as-we-know-it either, so maybe I'm touchier than most. I prefer my toy soldiers to be fighting each other a long time ago, or a long way away, or preferably both - so I am untouched by the game at a personal level.

    I have a disturbing vision of someone checking the daily news to see if their rules for ISAS wargames need amendment. Maybe just line them up and roll marbles at them would do it? Not much play or recreation in this for me, and anyone who claims it's just a cerebral workout should go for a long walk in the fresh air, I would say.

    Cheers - Tony

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    1. Tony - some way down the line this would make an interesting post, that you'd probably write better than I! "One man's meat is a another man's poison", never a truer word said...

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    2. Since my mind was wandering, I got to wondering whether someone, somewhere today is playing a game based on a civil war in modern Ukraine. Obviously anyone's views on what's good and evil in that mess depend on who they are and where they were brought up, but it frightens the bejesus out of me - particularly when US Republicans start sounding off about direct military aid. I would be very disapproving of making that into a game. It's tricky - when we can get to watch the US taking out Al Quaeda cells on live TV it's hard to stop seeing it as a video game. No wonder the kids get confused.

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  9. I have to agree with you, Steve, and well done for standing up for what is right in public! For myself, I'm most comfortable gaming the times when men (in beards) stood shoulder to shoulder and fired hopefully at each other. You do have to despair of some people in our hobby, sometimes...

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    1. Cheers David... I have to say I was really irritated at the time, but now I've moved on - there are always going to be cretins in the world, and a spat about toy soldiers is a waste of energy - I'd be better off spending the time inventing nuclear fusion :o)

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  10. Well done. This one touched a nerve too but I thought I was just old and reactionary! I feel uncomfortable gaming anything post WW2 (and even that is a tricky call).

    I suspect this may, psychologically be akin to Hollywood film studios having Arab terrorists as villains all the time. "We can't actually beat these people in real life so lets beat them in films and now on the wargames table." All those TMPers who advocate mass bombing of the Middle East will buy bucket loads of them, I suspect.

    And as Paul says they aren't even accurate!

    Nasty!

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    1. Cheers Legatus - nasty indeed... better forgotten and never mentioned again - these guys make money off publicity, good or bad..

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  11. You are quite right: to offer such packs is simply in extremely poor taste at the present time.

    Though I can't help wondering how Holocaust survivors might feel that models of Waffen SS troops &c.were in equally bad taste. Does mere passage of time make it more acceptable to portray such people, and to even take their side in a game to try to win? Probably it does, since 'taste' is both cultural and subjective and also not necessarily logical or rational.

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    1. I'm not sure time would ease the passing - crimes against humanity are still crimes only our morale viewpoints change.

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    2. Arthur1815 - I think the guy who marketed these knew exactly what he was doing - which I find distasteful in the extreme... his brain is squirming like a toad as Jim would have said... I also agree your comment about SS - but to be fair I have never (please say there isn't one) seen a "game" based round the camps..... it's a fine line, but I think sometimes the line is clearer than at other times, and for me that was the case here..

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    3. Agree completely Steve. Sickening.
      Yet another example of why decent people rarely frequent TMP anymore.

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    1. Dave - he wouldn't think so - he would just say he was an example of the free market economy - and in many ways (much like Charlie Hebdou in fact) I absolutely support his right to do what he's doing, but I don't have to agree with what he's doing... with freedom comes responsibility- and in this case it was lacking in my view...

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  13. I'm one of those gamers who does play modern games set in Afghanistan (or to make me feel better a made up Fictional-Stan) and although I've wrangled with the ethics of it I'm fairly ok with it. These however do feel very unsettling, cynical and inappropriate. I'd also dread the thought of a press article about "sick gamers"....sadly I can imagine the headlines now.

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    1. Alastair - I don't have (much) of an issue with games set in Afghanistan - it's regular army versus insurgent, it's a bit too new and raw for me, but I understand the interest...

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  14. The only way to stop this sort of idiocy is not to buy. Very crass and in poor taste. I don't know who the manufacturer is but I would simply ignore their products.

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    1. Nigel J - absolutely - so let's move on.. well said

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  15. This does not stand alone- I seem to rememebr being appalled some years back by a model of Mussolini hanging upside down and more recently models of Hitler youth- actually modelled as young boys in oversized steel helmets.
    Now as it happens I think that we do sanitise our hobby too much abnd don't think enough about what we do- which may explain why these bloody things have appeared in the first place "its only a game " .... think on dudes !

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    1. Andy - I would have been as well... or a how many can you kill concentration camp game... or any number of other horrible possibilities.... but I don't play them.... and my games do not orientate to that way of thinking.... no matter what they actually are modelling/representing.... and yes... it is only a game... and it's time I put up the second half of the Cressay game!

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  16. Gentlemen, may I perhaps pose a contrary view?

    I am of a similar ilk as Tony, and other authors of comments here, in that I like my wargames to be 'historical'--in a long-past manner. We have discussed this 'periodism' much in our little group and I'll admit that it has no logical consistency. It probably has more to do with enabling a sense of removal 'tween the game and the real thing, as Tony said above.

    Such a standpoint does, of course, ignore the fact that simulation of contemporary conflict was a key origin of our hobby.

    To me, a big part of the hobby is the greater understanding of history, which we garner through reading AND by playing a version of history on the tabletop. I suspect and hope that this is the case for many/most/nearly all of us.

    So, what if I did choose to turn the hobby to recreate modern wars, even those that are more current affairs than 'history'*? If so, and I am wargaming the 'proper' way—using miniatures—then I need... miniatures! The above photo is an example of such.
    (*Of course, we all know that the past second and back is all history).

    Now, if I am researching and playing wargames based on Caesar's conquest of Gaul am I in some way passing judgement on the 'divine' Caesar, the tribes that he decimated? What about the other tribes that they displaced, including the Romans if they'd had the chance? Or, what if I am recreating the wars involving 19th C British troops? Am I bemoaning the march of imperial forces over down-trodden and persecuted natives? Or am I celebrating the expansion of the empire and "making the world British"?

    Hopefully nothing so simplistic in either case, nor for any of the multitude of eras available. More likely I now have a greater understanding of the history and can see it in more than black and white, or at least pass judgement based on more information.

    I am yet to meet a wargamer who speaks of the glory of war. All the ones whom I know, including myself, shake their heads at the stupidity of the 'real thing', that human endeavour called 'war'—as that 'grandfather' of wargaming, HG Wells, did. Playing sanitised games in which they all come back to 'life' at the end merely tends to reinforce this notion.

    Personally I have no interest in anything 'modern': that is WWI and more recent in my book. Others do and, as you say Steve, we should respect their right to do so.

    Of course, this could all be complete academic bunkum and the manufacturer's sole aim is to turn a quick buck/quid!!!! :)

    [Excellent post Steve, One that certainly gets one musing!]

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  17. James- Well put- after all however the models are made it is how they are ADVERTISED thsat is the cause of this particular discussion and the baggege that such advertising carries with it. Advertising a product is designed to sell that product- nothing else.
    That many of our bretheren have no understanding of the history they mangle has been one of my personal hobby - horses for years. That others do is a remider that its not all bad news !

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  18. I read this post yesterday Steve and have been thinking about it since then. I totally agree the figures are in very bad taste. I'm one of those wargamers who has always struggled with the issue of mass destruction and the reality of warfare, to the point that I gave up gaming the ACW because I was so uncomfortable with it having studied the period for many years and seen all of the terrible photos take in the aftermath of those battles. It bothers me a lot, to the point I think that I may not fight another table top battle. These figures just take things way too far in my opinion.



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  19. As a modern wargamer (and producer of figures for these conflicts) I have to agree both with the OP and what James proposed as "contradicting view" - though I think it isn´t very contradictory in fact.
    For me, modern wargaming is just the same thing as ancients: recreating tactical challenges in a difficult environment for making choices. I am not interested in recreating the human suffering. The problem with modern, contemporary conflicts is that we are emotionally attached to the real thing, as we watch/read/hear reports about people dying on said battlefields. So achieving the required distance to the game that plays out on a tabletop is much more difficult than playing Vikings, Ancients, Medieval or whatnot, because we have no personal attachment to that conflict, it´s long gone and over. But that doesn´t erase the human suffering that has gone on back then, which I think is the aspect that James and his group found to be "inconsistent". Or was killing and being killed any better in WW2 than it was today? Or in the middle ages?
    In the end, every gamer has to find his own line of comfort that he doesn´t want to pass. And we should respect these choices, though we don´t have to agree with them. Same goes for nudity and other "touchy" subjects - as long as people don´t force me to join them, they can do what they like as long as it doesn´t harm anybody (inlcuding psychological harm!).

    That being said, my personal view of the subject is that I agree with the OP. Advertising these guys as ISIS is indeed a bit tasteless considering the massive media coverage on their cruel actions. As it´s been proposed here, naming these "middle eastern terrorists" would have been a lot less offensive - and probably even better business considering the multitude of people that prefer playing imaginary, hypothetical modern conflicts that mirror current affairs to create the required emotional detachment. I´m sure they´d even sell better with that name!
    (Though again, where´s the line drawn? Am I supposed to rename my Taliban? Because Taliban have committed similar crimes, though with less media coverage and a few years ago already... difficult subject)

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    1. James/Black Guardian - well said both of you, your (and Andy's earlier) comments have caused me to consider what exactly I found so distasteful about the announcement... you're right of course...as people with an interest in military history we know that there's no period in history (military or otherwise) where our fellow man hasn't been doing away with his fellow man in the most hideous ways.. I have an interest in the Crusades, an actions then were no different to those now, and same part of the world as well, but it wouldn't seem strange to me to start a wargame project in that period... no, the issue was the advertising, not the figures... it was a cynical exercise in making money by being "controversial", and I (and you) find that distasteful - hopefully there are enough gamers who think the same and will shop elsewhere..... Thanks guys, excellent responses and feedback

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