The 11th Company 40K Podcast

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Is Internet Redemption Possible?

Anyone who has ever played a multiplayer online game knows there are lots of people who don’t know how to act. People hiding behind their assumed anonymity doing things the majority of us would never think of doing to others in real life, even less likely in person. We have a whole generation who haven’t (and probably won’t) learn basic skills such as getting along with others in a game, abiding by the rules and playing nice with others. As a kid playing in the neighborhood you had to get along. Take your ball home too often, and you were left with no one to play with. In online multiplayer games getting alienated from a play group is not a big deal, either find a new group among the thousands of people playing, or better yet, create a new account.

With 40K most of us have limited opportunities to play; we are either limited by the amount of local players, or limited locations offering a place to play. We are therefore still bound by the old fashion playground rules, mess up too often, get labeled as ‘that guy’ and sit at your local store with your mini’s on a table watching other people have fun. On the many forums and blogs like BellOfLostSouls, people can behave as badly as they want to be. Hundreds of thousands of threads and comments make statements and degrade people in such a way that would get you physically hurt if stated in person.

Some podcasts act in similar fashion. Calling people douche bags, calling people out for real or perceived cheating, making statements about companies of individuals, often without doing any research or providing sources of information. As a podcast, we have in the past struggled with striking a balance between our perceived truths of a situation and alienating people in our limited sized community. Like it or not, the amount of people playing your favorite game in any location is severally limited. Even relocation across the country may still not save you from your reputation.

I usually get disgusted with accusations of cheating, I actually had to turn off my screen and go for a walk after watching the first 5 minutes of a 30 minute YouTube video on cheating at a large event. It had my blood boiling. I have limited patience for shenanigans at tournaments. Regardless of what people may think, I am not going to tournaments to ‘win-it-all’. I go to tournaments so I can play other people outside of my regular gaming group. I am really looking forward to going to the Nova and being placed in a decent group the second day, looking forward to some fun but challenging games. While I will not tolerate cheating and other bad behavior, I would not call out people on the podcast, certainly not by their real name. This finally leads me to what I am getting at, and the main reason for writing.

Tony K. made a mistake at the Nova Open last year. He was 3 points over. He brought it to the attention of the TO the same weekend of the event. The tournament organizer (Mike Brandt), and the other ‘top competitors’ (including Stelek) chose not to sanction him for his event. If you want a dissenting opinion, check out TastyTaste at We have had 8 months since that event, in that time we have seen several podcasts and countless forums and blogs badmouthing a minor, calling him every name under the sun. Neil and I had the pleasure of playing one of the brothers each at the last Nova. I have to say we were both impressed with their abilities and manners. I hope my little sons grow up to be gamers like them one day.

Tony goes on to win Adepticon and got himself selected to Team America. Not a single shred of evidence suggested that his 8-0 record was tainted by anything but good sportsmanship and courteous behavior. Several podcasts and other internet voices still cast doubt on his performance. Is it really possible that he could, by luck alone, have won Nova with a perfect record and then Adepticon eight to zero? Sure. But is it may be possible that some adults are having a problem controlling their little green monsters? Are we really disrespecting Tony’s capable opponents as a bunch of losers? You can watch some of Tony’s abilities on the excellent coverage the Independent Characters provided. I for one am looking forward to hearing about his exploits among the rest of Team America at the ETC. I for one cannot think of a better person to represent a typical American gamer to the rest of the field in Europe.

On the flip side, how many chances do we, or should we give some people. Is getting banned from stores in North Carolina and Florida enough? Is public intoxication and public bragging about it enough? How many times does an individual need to get mentioned with questionable play ethics on BloodOfKittens? How far are we going to let individuals like this bend rules, forget rules, model to advantage and pull other shenanigans? How do we fix this situation? I am not sure I have any answers. There is minimal communication between event organizers. It is hard enough for me to get information of events happening, let alone have them talk to each other about misbehaving players. If people knew that their behavior at one event would carry over to the next event, would they behave better? While I do not have answers, I think a setup like the NovaOpen has the potential to fix a lot of problems. The separation into smaller sub tournaments the second day I hope will insulate the main group of players from the overly competitive win-at-all-cost types. Now I am not calling everyone in the top brackets WAAC players, but those brackets do seem to pull in more than their fair share of them.

Please tell me how wrong I am, I am looking for smarter people to hopefully solve this problem so a slacker like me doesn’t have to deal with it anymore.


  1. I don't listen to many podcasts, actually only yours which I have fallen very badly behind on. I have luckily stayed away from most of the hate filled places, but I do read bols, even though I often skip a lot of the comments. But seriously, are people so screwed up that they have to be mean to a minor for being 3 points over *AND* being the one to point it out? Come on, three stupid points. Not 30, not 300, but three. And the organizers didn't notice either...

    Our hobby is small, finding real life people to play with is hard and if you do you are very lucky. People behaving badly needs to be weeded out, because they honestly ruin it for everyone else. For every one of these "humans" with no manners there are several other people not wanting to attend tournaments, stores, etc. Alienating them is not an issue, it's the people they alienate that is an issue.

  2. Hi Pat, I think some of what you're asking about comes down to responsible journalism. If a blogger/podcaster has a beef against someone for some reason, valid or not, the internet provides them a forum to express their opinions. This forum is unfiltered and frequently devoid of any context so it is completely reliant on the author to present their information in a balanced way that provides reason and context.

    Unfortunately I get the impresion that some blogs and podcasts write intentionally sensationalist articles to drum up interest in their subject matter/forum. This is nothing new and is the cornerstone of tabloid journalism. The difference is that in the mainstream media consumers are more aware of the distinction between a tabloid and a more responsible news outlet. I would suggest that it is not so clear to all consumers in our niche.

    Regarding the skuttlebutt around Tony K. I think most people taking a balanced view on the reports that have been written about him and his games will realise that he's a nice guy who's pretty damn good player and who made a simple mistake on a list. I did think Stelek's comment about noticing the error before his game but refraining to call him on it unless he "actually used the Meltabombs" during the game, was hillarious!

    Regarding cheating, I can't say I've experienced any intentional cheating in tournaments I've played in. I make mistakes from time to time as do my opponents, if we notice them we try and rectify it, I've even requested that an opponent put models back on the table because we forgot that my models had run and could not have shot in the previous turn. I would be personally mortified if I had been perceived by my opponent to have cheated as I'm just not that fussed about winning. I just play to enjoy the game and for me that's as simple as getting my models out and rolling some dice.

  3. With regards to cheating/bad behavior. I think its best confronted squarely, sternly and politely each and every time it comes up. I think part of the problem is players/T.O.s juggling that sternly/politely part and in some cases a genuine reluctance to confront someone. I have been pleasantly surprised how often turning up the polite knob a bit(without being sarcastic) really gets to the "insert bad adjective here" who is trying to when confronted get a rise out of you. It takes time but eventually people will change their behavior or if not maybe the game they decide to play.

    With regards to podcasters....well it really is their bully pulpit to say what they want and let their audience decide via the download button whether or not they want to hear that repeated trash talk. I would give them a bit more slack then the cheater....with the effort it sounds like podcasting is...but after a bit I just stop listening. Sadly bad news always travels further/faster than good news.

  4. I have to agree with you Pat, it has been nearly a year since the Nova, and to keep hearing about Tony being 3 points over is rediculous. It was a mistake, he did not overtly rules lawyer, bully his opponents, fix his dice, slow play, or lie about rules in his codex. I have played plenty of people who make plenty of mistakes, even some big name internet celebs make mistakes (often times, it comes down to running a codex that most people are not familiar with, and no one calling them on it.)

  5. I think the problem is not that he was over in points but the fact that he is 16. I think it is ultimately jealousy. All avid tournament goers want to achieve a first place victory. Tony has done this a 16 not just once, but TWICE! I am twenty three and I am envious at the fact that he has done something that I have not done.

    It was an honest mistake, but in order to discredit or make them selves feel better they do this to get a power trip. Honestly it is the same sort of stunt that a rival political party does.

    Ultimately tony's character determines and his prowess determines how he is viewed, not the mud slinging towards him.

  6. That might be true for some people, but I honestly think being 16 is an advantage. School age people (high school and college) often have more time to devote to the hobby (I'm not saying this is true in this case because I have no idea.), but once you are older with a job, wife, kids, etc it is much harder to find the time to devote to the game. I average abotu 1 game per week, and that includes about one tournament each month, I'm sure that there are plenty of people who play (practice) far more than I do. If anything I am jealous that he comes from an area with so many good players.


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