Saturday, March 5, 2011

Has the Internet Ruined the Sense of Discovery?

I am always fascinated by how the internet has changed our world. Information travels so fast, and opinions on anything are so accessible that it can be overwhelming at times. When I look at how the internet has changed the hobby, I question whether or not it has hurt it in some ways. In particular, I wonder if we have lost the desire to discover things as individuals.

As an example, let us take a new unit from a recently released book, the Arachnarok spider for Orcs and Goblins. Without the presence of the internet, the only way someone could learn how good it is or the best way to play it would be via experience and personal conversations. In a way, someone wanting to play the spider would have to discover the best use for it in their army. With the internet, before someone purchases the model, they can go online and read dozens, if not hundreds, of opinions, battle reports, and tactical breakdowns on how to use the model. In a way, all of the intangible potential of experiencing the model has been taken before a player has ever even touched it.

When it comes to this potential risk, who is to blame for it? Should players do some level of self regulation when it comes to managing that potential that I spoke of earlier? The alternative would be for the global community to set-up standards to prevent such degradation of potential. The reality is that such a standard would be impossible to achieve and even more impossible to enforce.

As a father, one of the most important things in the world to me is to make sure my children experience as much of life as possible. With my daughter, we have started a journal called “Animals We have Petted”. The idea of the book is to capture the first time we pet a species of animal that we have not petted before. You quickly go thru the usual suspects, like domestic dogs and horses, but there is genuinely something very exciting when we can record something unusual or rare.

I am sure at this point my readers are asking how keeping a journal about petting animals is related to experiencing the wargaming hobby. The answer is that the internet has changed how we experience things, not that we do experience something. In my example, the internet has made it easy for my daughter and me to see any animal we can think about. As an example, type coconut crab into Google and look at the images of that creature. The point is that we found a new layer or level of experience that we could share with something we both love. I think the same is true with this hobby.

The internet has taken away a layer of experience from the hobby, but not the hobby itself. Just because one aspect has become obvious, doesn’t mean that there are not other ones to explore. In the end, we make our own experiences, and no advances in technology can rob us of that. I think that is why I may start another journal for myself, “People I have Played for the First Time”.

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