Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My views on excessive rivet counting in real-world wargaming

To preface: I am not writing this in response to any particular criticisms to my work, I am merely sharing some thoughts that I have had over the years and that were stirred up by the concluding video.

When I was a tad younger I used to be something of a purist when it came to modeling. I would always go for the product that demonstrated the greatest amount of real-world fidelity. I think this is a perfectly fine methodology to approach our hobby from, but really it is ultimately a personal choice; while I felt this was the most rewarding way to approach the hobby, and couldn't quite understand why others would choose another path, I never expected nor criticized others for having more lax views on, say using early 90s US troops in their ventures into Helmand in 2010.

As I've gotten a bit older, however, I've found that personally my views on accuracy versus fun factor have begun to shift. My modeling efforts today are not designed to replicate the precise reality in detail, but rather emulate what I view as the predominant themes of modern conflict. Thus, when I paint a platoon of marines I am not concerned with generating an accurate 1/72nd color-correct uniform, but rather to convey the general chaotic nature of contemporary counterinsurgency and the ad-hoc nature of the USMC itself.

This is, of course, my own subjective view, and it has certainly evolved over time. Despite my internalized development, however, I have always tried to maintain a healthy respect for other people's views on hobbying this period and more generally. One thing that I often notice, unfortunately, is the tendency for many to simply attack other people's work because it doesn't fit with their own paradigm of what 'hobby' should truly be. Of course there are the ultra-liberal views that often can stray into the absurd in this respect, but there is also a worrisome tendency for many to adhere too close to the concept of 'rivet counting', i.e. extreme fidelity to the real world. While there is certainly a degree of benefit from following this type of approach to hobby, and obviously a necessity to it to some degree, I think it becomes something of a self parody when people start to visibly chafe over whether a 1/100 scale T-9873493 should be 5 inches or 5.1 inches in length.  

At the end of the day, this hobby has a heavy art form component, and art is not simply a pursuit in absolute literalism.

To conclude on a lighter note: Hitler's views on rivet counting


  1. I'm uncomfortable agreeing with Adolf...

    While I appreciate the effort the scale modellers put in, I also love the fun of gaming and painting with toy soldiers, and don't care if they're not 100% correct. As I get more time-poor, I'd rather have a large dodgy painted army than one accurate figure and the rest unpainted...

    Film rivet-counting is similar. I'll overlook flaws if there's a good story, but all the correct buttons in the world won't save a stinker.

  2. Hmm, not sure if Adolf is the best tool.

    Hell, I would rather "sub" any unit and have a good game. Most rivet counters I have met usually base their knowledge on single blurry images from 1940-something. Usually incorrectly identified in their source. So who cares. When I am standing a 1,5m away from my 15mm 1990's US Infantryman I can't tell if he is a WW2 German or a 2010 US Marine. With my eye-sight a human standing 150m away is a blob. So maybe not a good example. With regards to scale, I am pro upping the scale of support weapons so they are more visible as most 15mm producers do.

    P.S. One day I will paint my Lee/Grant and it had better have all the rivets!

  3. I think gaming anything from WW2 to now can be really tough; there are so many experts and everyone has an opinion. I tend to be pretty relaxed about the technical specifications, but there are those who can't get past an inaccuracy.

  4. After spending 20 years in the US Army I can say with some assurance even the real vehicles are not entirely accurate! There is always some variance
    in the paint job or how our what is stowed on them. I take that into account on my modeling.