WargameHQ Relaunches for 2020
“I’m glad to know that’s in the HQ!” Harold Buchanan (Twitter, far too often…)
WargameHQ started with this harebrained scheme that if I could get a good looking site together that could focus JUST on wargames, I’d be able to attract additional writers, reviewers, and consolidate some of the fan-sites that are out there under one banner. I registered as an LLC and started having some additional conversations on places like BoardGameGeek and learned very quickly that there was no interest in such a site, and people prefer the BGG thumb karma over having more editorial control over the look and feel of their content. That was a mistake in judgment on my part.
Undisturbed, I plowed forward. After all, Steve Jobs once said that “a lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I still think that’s true. They did not want WargameHQ and I’ve learned that this is totally okay.
Sounds a little over-important doesn’t it?
Well sure. If one game site could be the headquarters of all wargaming it would be more likely called ConSimWorld.com or Grognard.com which both have a massive scope and an existing base of tons of users. As a result, I like to think of WargameHQ as the Google+ of the wargaming world.
It happened. It looked nice. A few people were regular visitors and enjoyed it, but not enough to make a dent in the online wargaming zeitgeist.
First, I think it’s important to note that I love creating content for this hobby. It’s something that gives me a great deal of pleasure. I’m not super concerned whether people agree with me as much as I’m concerned that they’ve had a chance to interact with additional promotional or editorial content. Strong communities thrive on strong independent content creators and with so many wargames getting released each year, there’s always room for more folks to write about the hobby. More than that, there’s a TON of room for it!
The original site I was running had a metric boatload of content to try and create. My thought, initially, was that folks would like the look and feel and I could pay content creators a modest amount ($.02 USD per word). For a 1,500 word article that’d be $30! I promoted this on BoardGameGeek and on Twitter without any takers.
A lot of folks retweeted it or responded, but largely the feeling was “what would I have to say that others would want to read?” I think about that often, but whether people read it or not isn’t what’s actually getting me to create because there are surely other better suited folks in the community who should be sharing their thoughts!
Instead, I got buried under an avalanche of self-expectation. At that time, I was working as a CTO and PIO for school district. It was a stressful job that regularly consumed ~60-70 hours a week. What little time I did have, I spent with my young family. When it comes to wargaming, I love it, but I don’t love it more than being at my son’s sports practices, games, recitals, or just hanging out and playing in the front yard with him. I also don’t love it more than date nights with my wife or taking care of myself by getting enough sleep.
As a result, I kept finding more things I wanted to do with family than I did with hobby gaming.
WargameHQ’s redesign that you see here is a balance. I am focusing on adding the wargames I own to the database (I’m about 1/4 of the way there now) and then linking write-ups of my game sessions to those games. That way, if folks want to check out some content about a specific game I own, they can take a peek. It will also serve as a way for me to track what games I’ve played and want to play.
One of the things I’ve learned from the community in the past few years is that you just have to pull out the game and roll some dice. I find it hard to focus on reading a 20+ page rule book all in one sitting because of my aforementioned family who are always interested in doing something that I should be a part of or want to be a part of with them.
The idea that I can track sessions without focusing so much on developing reviews or tutorials is freeing. If I end up doing those things, it’s a bonus, but it’s not a requirement. It’ll let me enjoy the things I want to enjoy with gaming like photography, miniature painting, and critically just playing the games with friends. It will also allow me to look at games that are far harder to review like campaign games or games that can’t easily be digested in a few hours at a time.
Further, I accepted a new job that’s both closer to home and focused just on technology leadership. I love both of those things and while there remains stress (I started the job during the COVID-19 lock down), I am looking forward to regaining 2 hours a day due to a shorter commute. That’s an immeasurable improvement for my work/life balance!
Why The Game Database?
I have a game database set up in BoardGameGeek, but I wanted something that let me easily browse through my games and pick what I want to play next. My game collection is spread out all over the upstairs of my house. We had shelving built just for the GMT Games collection (though it’s outgrown it already) and I have closets and a spare bedroom with games lining the walls and stacked deep on top of shelves.
The game database is a great way to think about what I want to keep. I also have about 100 games in a spare bedroom that I intend to sell this summer. I am sure to keep culling my collection of the games that I just don’t imagine I’ll ever play or don’t have a strong enough desire to get to the table. My collection, however, is just that.
While I play wargames because I enjoy them, I’m also a collector. I like completing series, or getting all the games from a single publisher. For example, I own every wargame Victory Games ever released. I enjoy the hunt for hard to find titles and love being patient to see if I can get a deal on a game. It’s all something that appeals to me as both someone who games and someone who enjoys history.
The less mainstream the topic, the more likely I am to pick it up. I want to reward diversity of representation on my game shelves both from a designer standpoint and from a historical topic standpoint. Whether or not I play Angola! doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it’s in my collection and I can interact with the history I may not have otherwise been aware through it for a few hours in Jim Dunnigan’s Paper Time Machine.
So, I want to think all of you for taking the time to keep coming back and checking out this site. It may not have ever lived up to what I had hoped back in 2017 when I started thinking about pulling this thing together, but I’ve learned it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is enjoying the hobby, contributing to it, and spending time with other folks who enjoy these things as much as I do!