In an era where technology and its derivatives form a key aspect of our daily lives to the point where those with interests in more tactile pursuits such as collecting, modeling and partaking in the miniatures hobby, are reliant on those same, self-deprecating derivatives, a question must be asked. It is a question of relevance and place. How does the community maintain relevant? How do the developers maintain relevancy?
I do not pretend to have the answers, nor do I have any form of inside track as to the strategy of developers nor a firm grasp on the often splintered views of the communities involved. I can share concerns and observations, for me they exist as long term concerns of relevancy that affect all that are invested in some way.
Ours, has always been a niche. It shall as long as it exists remain a niche. The challenge before us is to have it remain a relevant niche and not an extinct one.
Our niche is both good and bad; a double edged blade if you will. On the positive side our niche attracts people with similar interests to come together. Of the other side, it is fairly exclusive in that if nothing offered within the niche it is of little interest and is simply disregarded.
The developers need to continue to innovate and produce new ideas, such as the Age of Sigmar. This to me represents a perfect example of a company seeking to maintain relevance and avoid stagnation. This is a good thing. They have recognized that they lost relevance, and have pivoted towards a new direction. So long as companies attempt that while generating sales revenue, they are contributing their component. On the community side I feel we have a far more difficult challenge. With the plethora of video games, social media, and all other varieties of virtual entertainment how we encourage new participants to assemble, paint and play with models?
This is an increasingly difficult task given two elements; online businesses and the reduction in the number of stores supporting all manner of niche elements including miniature war-gaming, roleplaying, board games, comics and such.
The online component makes it easier for the consumer to acquire, learn and discuss but does not promote the face-to-face interaction necessary to prolong survival. On the other side, as I recall from the 90s, it was not difficult to find a store that could supply these goods. In today’s market however, they are becoming increasingly fewer and further between.
I dread entering an actual Games Workshop store. This is ironic because I enjoy their products. With that said I consider myself an informed consumer, and find the high pressure used car sales tactics to be annoying to the point of avoiding their locations and supporting any number of Friendly Local Gaming Stores.
These FLGS stores are the heart and soul of the niche and the community that supports it.
This is by no means a ‘Come the Apocalypse’ musing, simply a concern that has been fluttering around my brain of late.
How do we firstly share our interests with the goal of encouraging those unfamiliar to join us?
How do we encourage those people to spend on that initial product investment?
How to we slowly introduce them to what these Niches have to offer that can provide an alternative to the virtual entertainment that is so prevalent.
If the niche ceases to exist, so too will the producers and the communities. If the Communities cease to exist so to do the producers and the niche. If the producers cease to exist so do the communities and the niche.
Perhaps this offers far more questions than answers. Perhaps this offers no answers at all. Perhaps however this can start having others think about the big picture, the future of relevance and the requirements that exist at all levels to ensure the prevention of stagnation and the future of this hobby for generations to come.