As I mentioned in a previous blog, Ken of All the King's Men Toy Soldiers hosted an invitational game on Saturday at Historicon for some valued customers and friends. Earlier in the day, I had made a trip out to a supermarket to pick up some food and beer for the snack table. Ken's wife Gina had set the bar pretty high last year at Historicon (or was it Fall In?) with some incredible home-made goodies for the food table. The players really appreciated the gesture. Ken and I decided that this year we'd try to emulate Gina's efforts, albeit with store-bought food. While Ken was setting up the game (with help from Bob and Matt Lehman...thanks again guys!), I was putting out the food. We had a small folding table set up next to the game table in the Distelstink room. On it we had three platters of cheese and crackers, donuts and other delicacies. Underneath was cooler full of beer. You can see the set up below.
The little diagram here is important so that it might become apparent how obvious it was that our food table was meant only for our game. The side of our game table on which the food table was situated was bordered by a set of empty gaming tables. So again, it was unmistakable that the food table was meant for our game and players. The more astute among you will probably have already figured out what's coming next. Within moments of the food being displayed, I had several people come over to comment how cool it was that we were treating our players with this. These people were respectful of the food's provenance and its target audience. To them I easily offered unlimited access. They hadn't asked to partake but the fact that they had come over in a friendly manner with no apparent pretensions of getting free food of course precipitated my offer. It's a friendly atmosphere (usually) after all and, frankly, why not? Now comes the rant! Several people from neighbouring games (and even not so neighbouring events) casually began to walk by and grab food on the way by. No inquiries. No permission asked. Not even a friendly, "Hey that's cool! I wish our game had that!" Just grabby, grubby little hands from people that, I assume, thought that food on a table was free for the taking. Did they walk through the main foyer of the Historicon host and grab food from the food vending tables? I think not! So why grab it from ours? Some people even came back for more after being told that it was a private spread! Deaf? Stupid? Uncaring? Probably the latter two. So, there is now another category of gamer to be added to my list (see this previous blog for some descriptions of common gamer types), The Thief! Granted, we're not talking about serious "take the bastard to court" theft. But c'mon! Isn't there a basic code of conduct that might be observed here? The Thief is probably also The Leach. The Leach is someone who contributes nothing to a gaming experience (or the hobby in general) but takes from others' efforts. Damn, but this riles me. Thankfully, the company of players at our game was superb and made this incident of little import at the time. The longer I've had to think about it the more I understand why at times I distance myself from the hobby. I'm lucky to have excellent friends to game with at home and I've gravitated to only gaming with similar people at conventions.
And to cap this experience off, this week on The Miniatures Page there was a notice from Conquest Miniatures about a serious theft from his vendor table in the dealer hall. You can see the thread here. Same type of perpetrator, same type of attitude. And gamers wonder sometimes why it's a niche hobby looked upon as unwashed nerds and geeks playing with toy soldiers. That may well be true (and I count myself among the geeks who play with toy soldiers, but clean and washed), but incidents such as these just reinforce the negative stereotypes. I'm also aware enough to realize that these types of people inhabit any organization, whether professional, social, or hobby-related.
OK, rant over!