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Here's the article for those "work impaired" people. :devil:


Original Greek article:


"War on a table


A plunge into the dark, bizarre and militaristic world of the game that combines modeling and strategy, and holds as "prisoners" thousands of players in Greece and all over the World.


"Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for the Skull Throne". This is the motto and war-cry of the servants of the God of Chaos, Khorne (The Antipope: she translates if phonetically to Greek as "Horn"...). If you think that this sentence was "strange" enough as a magazine's article opening line, wait and see what's to come. This started as a report for one of the most popular miniature tabletop games of the last 30 years and I still don't know how I ended up fighting against "Daemons of Chaos" in 40000 AD and hang out with creatures with names such as Necrons, Dark Eldar, Black Angels (not sure what army that is...)and much more like them...undead and badass.


(Caption under my picture): Dedication. Studying the rules needs time, building requires effort, the creation of a decent army...money- up to 500 euros for the starter "set". During the game all this is forgotten though.


(Caption under next picture): Precise calculations. Before any move the player must contemplate on it's consequences. "Somehow like chess..." like they told us, but much bloodier.


Dozens of horrible creatures, together with an Emperor-God (of the earthlings) and four Gods of Chaos, live in the blackest, obscurantist, religionist, militaristic, fundamentalist, authoritarian, racist, abominable and repulsive world ever conceived by the human mind. In fact, by the British mind, since the game was coined and released in England at the beginning of the eighties.


The game, that for the last 30 years has been played by millions of people all over the world, is called "Warhammer:40000 or "40K" for it's friends. With many of these friends (Greeks) we talked about the multifarious 40K and it's exceptional miniatures, modeling, hobby, required intelligence, strategic ability, men (that play), women (that don't) and daemons that eat souls (soul-eating is the pop corn of the future).


In the same future that, as the general motto of the game states, "There is no time for peace. Neither for forgiveness. There is only war. Endless War."


Little "toy soldiers" for men? And beyond...


As an intro into the world of this "joyful" game, we watched ,during a tournament, around forty males (between 18 and 39 years old), with tape measures and dice on hand, planning assaults against the military units that were placed on top of special dioramas (model battlefields with obstacles, buildings, trees etc.). 40K is a game of strategy (or tactics rather) and requires thought, a lot time studying the rules and a certain degree of intelligence of the mathematically skilled type. The toy soldier miniatures-designed with a lot of imagination and incredible details by the company of Games Workshop-have to be assembled and painted by the hobbyists-players. Painting the "armies" is a form of art on it's own accord, to which modelers dedicated hours or even days. Considering all this, when questioned "why do you play" everybody gave the same answer:" Because it's a hobby that gives me the opportunity to do miniature modeling, to think strategically and, mainly, get together with friends at least twice a week, for gaming, talking, painting...". That's great!


At this point it could be the end of this discussion, if there wasn't for the fluff to be considered, i.e. if there was no ideological-mythical environment of 40K. The world "fluff" ,that is the creation of tabletop or non tabletop role playing gamers and it has to do with everything else but the rule set of the game, is the key to open the...darkness of 40K. Because the fictions, facts and characteristics of the bloodthirsty and soul-hungering soldiers are so outrageous that the question "but, why do you want to play?" was coming back to our conversation almost automatically.


To think or not to think?


What does someone need furthermost in order to be able to play 40K? "Brains", most of them think, claiming at the same time that "nobody takes fluff seriously" but also..."I chose the game based on the fluff" or "real life is a different thing to the game" but also..."I have seen in the US the ideology of the army and the player matching to a dangerous degree. I've even seen a player with swastikas tattooed all over his body". So many contradictions they could win a Guinness world record.


Generally speaking, when having to choose the game, but also the army, fluff is always there to play a role. As a 38 old professor of biotechnology told us "I also chose an army based on the fluff - I play with dark eldar..."(he stops to think)"in the end they are psychic vampires..." (pausing and saying out very loud)... "I don't even care about my army's fluff!". Perhaps a mind with mathematical skills is necessary but it also seems necessary that the same mind needs the ability not to be able to...think!


The first thing we found out about the 40 participants of the tournament, is that most of them is what we would call "educated" (higher degree level) and working (you need a lot of money to be able to play 40K seriously for many years). Amongst them we found a manager of marketing in a multinational company, a university professor, a gold smith, a 23 year old business man, many civil engineers and many students (chemists, engineers, mathematicians).


Most of them started off as fans of science or heroic fiction, mythology, history and comic books. Many of them have read the low literary value novels based on the game's fluff, for which 30 year old Thanos said: "If I had a child, I wouldn't let him read these novels before he develops his character". We can summarize the profile of the average 40K player as follows: a rather "introvert", lonely guy that doesn't like to go out, doesn't like to watch the TV or football(!), but he likes listening to music (foreign, and mainly classic rock) and he prefers when going out to talk with friends in cafes or houses. Many of them claimed that they "believe in God", whom they defined as the "beginning" of everything or "the power" of the universe etc. but they don't like his "fan club". Couple of them claimed to be pronounced atheists.


Lastly, we found out that all of them are ready to talk about politics, expressing extreme ideas more or less with words that are somewhat muddled inside their heads. We only found one person who deals with the understanding of human relationships, while most of the other are ignorant even of the word "psychology".


Heil, Emperor?


A large percentage of their population compared with their average number (5 out of the 15 interviewees) had some racist and xenophobic ideas and had been involved with the study of Nazi texts, including "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler. George, a mulatto (from a Greek father and a mother from impoverished Louisiana), one of the most intelligent and sincere kids we met, following the question if the game is "a bit" racist he replied: "It's very racist and in America (US) many gamers identify themselves with that racism. Moreover, Black Templars, that have the Iron Cross as a sign and their colours are black, white and red, are clearly Nazis"


"Have you noticed that a percentage of the players belong to the extreme right wing?" we asked 35 year old Takis, a middle school teacher who claims to be "left wing". "Yes, but I don't know why. Maybe they are fascinated by the epic, heroic or even the racist elements of 40K. Because there is a lot of racism in the game." The next question that came up naturally is if 40K makes you feel superior compared to other people :"Yes, it's a bit elitist. It requires a lot of thought so it makes you feel..."somehow". Somehow superior" said Markos laughing. One of the most extreme statements we heard was :"It's been proved throughout the history of Greece that we can only go forward with a fascist government" said John. "And I am going to be the one executing them", added his friend Fotis.


Playing with your soul?


I would also add, playing with your sword. But why would someone fight with a sword in the technologically super advanced 40000 AD? And why does it's system has to be so authoritarian and obscurantist? And why does the "trophy" have to be the most valuable thing humans have, i.e. their souls?


"Because 40K combines elements that fascinate men, like chivalry, heroism, power, ability, speed etc" said 38 year old widely educated Kostas with his well structured speech. "Probably because we want to look better in comparison. Maybe I would never go to real war, but in the game you can be an awesome hero or a general without having to pay the price in return. For it's system now, the wider the network of planets that human inhabit becomes, the more we will keep losing our humanity. In the minds of the creators of science fiction, there is always a strong central authority necessary, which through cutting down our freedoms and though fear can create a structure in order for that new world to function. In 40K there is a mixture of western imperialism and eastern fundamentalism."


And why does the future has to seem so bleak I wonder: "Because", as 39 year old Giannis is saying "this sells. This game has the best marketing." "Furthermore because reality sucks and progress is even worse" adds the younger Minas. "Everything in the fluff is derived from human history, to an excessive extend maybe, but historically".


Why aren't women playing the game, I ask them: "Now you are delving into a touchy subject", Fotis told me, who is married and has one child. "Women don't go for mentally committing stuff. In order to be able to commit in something so that you can disengage from the everyday life, you have to be a man." Fotis was the same person who told me when I asked him why the ideology of the game is crazy: "Are there any ideological obstacles in fantasy?".




In the interview we did with 23 year old Markos, who describes the game as a "struggle for the survival of the human race" and as the "absolute decline", after he told us that "Warhammer is not a comedy but a tragedy with the classical sense, in a dystopian future" he also express the optimistic thought that "Man has the awesome capacity to conquer everything, even himself." When I asked what does he do to ...conquer himself he answered :"I am reading thousands of books, I am writing down stories and poetry, I work, talk, travel and do thousands of different things. Why? Because I have an enormous stress that I will stay mediocre"."




Here is the editorial by the blogger that brought the article to everyone's attention.


" Initially, I didn't know how to feel, seeing my face printed in a huge two page spread photograph in one very famous Sunday edition Greek newspaper. Since I was with my gaming buddies at the time when I saw this, everybody was making jest and japes at how I got another shot to fame.


After reading the article however I wish I wasn't even near that place when they were taking the pictures. I guess I could be angry at the fact that they took my mug shot without mee ven knowing (doesn't help that I kinda look like a drooling idiot) but that's not the point. I am mad because the article presents Warhammer 40K and gamers in general in the worst way possible.


First of all the journalist's tone and style comes across as extremely sarcastic and mean spirited. She is constantly making fun of gamers. Most of the times she is claiming that gamers aren't using their brains and aren't really thinking. She then writes that gamers that attend tournaments are "educated" but puts a lot of emphasis on the quotation marks. She refers to us as playing with "little toy soldiers" and generally the text is dripping with bile and irony.


She even makes some very intelligent people I know (that unfortunately gave her an interview) sound like idiots. I am pretty sure she was guiding them with sneaky questions and misquoted them to achieve the effect she wanted.


In a nutshell, gamers for her are introvert and lonely guys that doesn't like to go out and prefer to play with little toy soldiers instead. Great way to stereotype us! I consider this extremely insulting for myself and also everybody I know in the gaming community.


Most importantly for me, she is trying to connect 40K with extreme right wing politics (fascism and even nazism) based on the superficial knowledge she had acquired (probably by reading a pamphlet). She claims that 5 of of the 15 interviewees (wow, great population sample you got there) had some racist and xenophobic (and we are not talking about 40K xenos here) ideologies.


She constantly questioned the gamers if they know people in the extreme right wing that play the game. One gamer actually says : "I've seen in America (US) the ideologies of the army and the player become one. I've even seen a player with swastikas tattooed all over his body". Is that true my American brothers? Is there a secret nazi militia that plays 40k in the US? Bunch of rubbish I'd say.


From another gamer:"Black Templars, that have the Iron Cross as a sign and their colours are black, red and white, are purely nazi.". Hmmm , and I always thought that Black Templars where based on...the Templar Knights? Space Crusades and everything? Anyway...


I won't deny that there are some people like that in the hobby. After all it's a game about war and it could draw these elements. However judging the whole community by a few bad apples and trying to create a sensastion out of nothing is at the top in my list of bad journalism.


It's obvious that she had an agenda to present an inherent danger in wargaming. Without it the article might have been very boring for the average Joe. This is typical of the "leftist' culture in most major Greek media (for all the wrong reasons by the way).

What the journalist didn't get from her superficial knowledge of the game is that basically the 40K universe is a critique of our own world. The fluff was written in the eighties by a bunch of English guys while the Soviet Union was still in power so they drew their influences by it's monolithic and totalitarian state. The inexorably beaurochratic Imperium that relies on taxes, tithes and military drafts is basically Communism. The vast Imperial Guard is based in the Red Army. The hatred that the Imperium has against all the alien races is a projection of the woes of nationalism.


40K doesn't glorify war. It constantly reminds us how futile, brutal and endless it can be. In the future, there is only war and I bet you won't like it if you lived at that time. That's why the background could come across as bleak and pessimistic. Being an Imperial citizen would totally sucκ. All these allusion went over the journalist's head since she obviously didn't invest much time to understand the game's background.


In a nutshell, it's a critique of a totalitarian state. Saying that's it's pro extreme right wing is like saying that George Orwell's "1984" is so too.


I bet you are thinking that I am nerd-raging so much because I am such a huge GW fanboy. Well I met with some friends last night (one of them works in the media business and none of them plays any wargames) and asked their opinions about the article. They all shared the same feelings as me. They thought that the text was very negative and presented gamers in a very bad way. The sarcastic tone didn't help much either. Even my wife was pretty pissed off and she doesn't even like 40K!


I would like my fellow Greek bloggers and forumites to touch on the subject and bring their judgment upon it. Every other gamer that would like to help could visit the newspaper's website (you can sent a complaint email to the editor here: [email protected] or here: [email protected] and here: [email protected] if the first one isn't working and also contact GW and let them know about this)and address their concerns about that certain article. It's okay even if it's in English.Our voice has to be heard. We shouldn't be the easy target to be picked on.


I think that it's about time that tabletop gamers (and nerd culture in general) are acceptable in our society (like video gamers have recently) since we are no different than most other people. Having such negative publicity by a major newspaper can destroy all the effort that the community makes in order to expand. Can you imagine what some parents would have to say to their kids after reading this article? You think they would allow them to play the game?


Also Games Workshop should know about this. This article is an extreme prejudiced libel and defamation to the company and it could certainly cause the loss of sales."

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Proof that girls have cooties.



The article is fairly misguided, but it is opinion and not libel. Some people don't "get it" or it's not for them. Reading a nice "fluffy" article abut how "I just don't get it and it's not for me" is not very interesting. This article allows her to laugh at us, but really we laugh at her as well, so everyone is laughing and the world is happy. :)

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Having read this and being familiar with 40k (I'm a bit of a fan) - and the typical 40k gamers....


I think she's pretty accurate with her article. There is a definite misunderstanding of nazism and general fascism - but that is one of the appeals for many gamers, I think and they sort of bring it on themselves. I think gamers sometimes hate having a mirror held up to them. I know not all gamers are this way, but a non-trivial number are and stereotypes do have a basis for their existence.

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I don't know if it's just my own personal quirks or not, but in the article proper I read a lot undertones hinting at the author's belief of "It's impossible to take part in something without wholeheartedly believing in it"...the same fallacy Jack Chick so hilariously pushed years ago with the 'DnD turns people into witches', and the one which saw Jack Thompson disbarred in his zealous crusade to prove that video games create murderers.


We gamers have our quirks and our oddities, but that piece goes out of its way to make we on the whole look much worse than we are. It's true, we're a societal abnormality for pursuing hobbies that interest us rather than what interests a perfectly stereotypical person, but in that respect it's entirely subjective. In another society, where mental prowess is favored over shows of machismo, being obsessive over high impact sports would be the oddity, so I don't let that get to me anymore. It's also true that, by definition of being 'abnormal', we have our share of misfits. But so does any grouping, and it's no more fair to judge us by the worst examples as it would be to judge every business owner by the actions of Ken Lay, to judge every athlete by the actions of OJ Simpson or Michael Vick, every member of a church by the actions of Westboro Baptist, and etc.

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You could say a lot of scaaary thing about Nazis, but I still like to play Axis and Allies occasionally. And if I take the German side, does this make me a Nazi?




Well, for the duration of the game, yes. Yes it does.


Well, maybe so, but I can't say I ever felt the urge, while a game was in progress, to go attack a French restaurant or anything...

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I think that reading it here might have less impact. I read it in the blog of a Greek player who happened to be at the tournament she went to. He is one of the people she misquoted, and in fact, his picture appears prominently at the top of the original article (he has pics up on his blog). This was of tremendous disappointment to this blogger, whose embarrassment is extreme. He asked for support, so I am giving it. I understood that not everybody would feel this issue as keenly as myself, but I had to put it out there. This also got a lukewarm reception on the Paizo boards, where some suggested she might be right. Below is my follow-up response there from a few minutes ago (read or ignore at your leisure):



"I can't believe any of you really believe she was right in linking 40K players to Nazis.


I know 40K players tend to be very loyal to their game. But I know a lot of them, and not a one of them is a Nazi, and not a one of them is a misogynist. One very zealous player is among the nicest guys I know. I also happen to know female players, and they are very smart people. In fact, all of those players are smart people.


You wouldn't want this woman generalizing any group you belong to by the off-hand comments of a single member, nor should any of us expect that it is right to do so. Yet, those of us who were playing tabletop games in the 'eighties remember only too well how easy it was to find ourselves ostracized by playing "Satan's Game."


This writer is doing nothing more valid than that. She has no point, because all of her points were derived from bias and ignorance. That she may have accidentally touched on something you might once have also encountered, doesn't make all the hyperbole and misinformation okay.


You know, I realized when I brought this up, that not a lot of people here are 40K players. I'm not either. I am mainly a roleplayer with a bit of Warmahordes in me. But whatever 40K players might be, they are a part of our community. We share pretty much everything crucial to our hobbies with them.


I sent an email to that magazine. Because what they did was wrong. And once the moral panic begins, it doesn't end until everybody has been touched by it."

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Wildbill: Thanks for posting what you did so I could think about this at work. My work gives me little enough to think about as it is.


And while I can think of plenty of things to say about 40K players (and Games Workshop in particular), I can't say I've ever felt any urge to compare 'em to Nazis.

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