I first got into online PC gaming back in 1999 with a little known game called Starsiege. I promptly realized I needed to join a squad, what Starsiege referred to a guild, in order to have some real fun. Long story short, I took the reigns of the squad that was named Destroyers of Hope.
The Early Days
Online gaming was my life, as sad as that may sound. I had my guild to run, which entailed the site itself, any services we needed like Ventrilo, and of course the running of the guild within the games we were playing.
In our earlier years we competed in ladders for FPS games like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty (the original), and many more. Twice a week we held practice and had matches nearly as often. In later years, as we got a bit older, we started diving into the MMO scene with City of Heroes being the first MMO for the guild, though many of us played various MMOs on our own before that.
My days were spent waiting to get home from work, eat dinner, hang out with my wife, and then jump online with the guys. Now, that scenario is the same except insert 40K in place of jump online. So what happened?
Back in high school I had friends who played 40K, but at the time I had no disposable income for the game. Also, back then the games took forever, we’re talking Rogue Trader era, and I didn’t have the time for that…I had homework to do (though the homework never seemed to get done either). I ended up losing touch with those friends and we met again just before our 10-year high school reunion. They were still playing 40K and so I got into it.
Slowly 40K started taking over my free time; time that was previously designated for online gaming. As the years have gone by I’d say it’s now about 95% 40K and 5% online gaming.
For me the reasons to work on 40K hobby stuff, or play a 40K game, far outweigh the reasons to jump on my PC and fire up a game. Online gaming was my social interaction and all around stress reliever, but 40K does that so much better. I physically meet with real people and socialize in person, not over Ventrilo. Instead of spending hours raiding a dungeon for cool gear to wear on my fictional MMO toon, I instead spend modeling or painting, and getting true satisfaction out of something tangible.
Those hours of having fun in a virtual world are now mostly replaced with a physical hobby. Instead of setting aside nights for ladder matches, or dungeon raids, I go down to the shop and play a few games. The games themselves are far more satisfying also. I’m pitting myself against another real person in a one-on-one 40K game.
It’s not about who has the better gear, it’s about list composition, deployment, strategy, tactics, and the luck of the roll. When I win a 40K game I feel I’ve accomplished something, and when I lose I know I faced a better player and I need to make adjustments. The comparison of 40K to chess is not without reason.
In the End
For me 40K just does everything that I got out of online gaming better. The time I spend in the hobby is not wasted. I’m improving artistically with painting. I’ve learned sculpting by doing modeling. I have physical rewards for all my efforts in the way of my armies. My mind is constantly exercised in strategy and tactics, trying to outwit my opponent on the table.
Almost seems ironic in this day and age to digress from technology in favor of a physical hobby, but I don’t regret it for one moment.
Aside: It’s funny I wrote this 7 years ago and it remains just as true today as it was then. I still have a love for online gaming, but it will never replace this great physical hobby that is 40K, Blood Bowl, and whatever else it is I get into.