Let’s go on a Shitty Adventure
Now that it has been a little over a week since the Warhammer online community went spiraling into a fairly typical existential crisis, over the doomed to fail Warhammer Adventures children’s books, I feel like it is time to collect some thoughts and put them to digital paper.
Warhammer Adventures for anyone who doesn’t know, is Games Workshop attempt to enter the young readers market. As the day announcement went on it seemed like the Warhammer online community was about to birth a 5th Chaos God. Though the Emperors’s light quickly shot back against the chaos spawn, still hadn’t seen this much parricide since the Horus Heresy.
The defenders of Warhammer Adventures where an obvious cabal of Imperial apologists, Game Workshop employees, and players who happen by some miracle have children. On the other side was a hodgepodge of old timers, realists, and fluff Nazis. Then you have an another group who aren’t really worth mentioning, but lets just say they fear any change involving increased amounts of non-sexualized boobs and humans with darker skin tones. As for myself I am certainly a feel someone between being a realist and being an old timer.
Warhammer Adventures is a whole lot of bad. I felt like I was looking at the Last Airbender having a love child with Goosebumps behind the Riverdale gymnasium.
Starting with target audience: 8-12 just seems a bit off. Putting aside the established setting these books take place in, Warhammer Adventures looks to underestimate the reading ability of 8-12 year olds. This is an age range where kids arereading, a Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, not to mention any classic by say Roald Dahl. There are great books with dark adult themes in the 8-12 reader range, but Warhammer Adventures looks Penny Dreadful in comparison.
Warhammer Adventure doesn’t have any ambition either, a 50s Nancy Drew rewrite running away from the grim dark faster than Little Ann loses her will to live. The watering down only hurts the whole endeavor. Here is a chance to have children grow into the Warhammer universes, instead these books won’t prepare children or parents for the inevitable mistake purchase of a more adult Warhammer title.
Imagine instead Games Workshop taking Warhammer Adventures and aging the books with the readers themselves. Just like how the Sorcerer Stone is more like James and Giant Peach, while Deathly Hallows is something closer to the Hunger Games. You can even do this keeping true to the the Grim Dark, a journey started outside the Imperium only for the characters to encounter the true darkness of the universe in later books. Instead we have characters creating a fictional bubble universe within another universe.
Then we have unbelievable characters themselves compared to the universes they inhabit. Each book appears to mirror one another. Both have a pacifist character, both have a plot voucher character, and finally the outsider that must learn the true meaning of friendship. Then take the average age of these characters and you start to see how far fetched the whole narrative will become.
The biggest question though that needs answering, is Games Workshop going to explain the blatant contradictions between these characters and the universe at large or they just going to gloss over it? I am going with the gloss over; just take a look at the landing page and the description of Warhammer 40,000.
There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods, for in the grim dark future there is only war.
In the universe of Warhammer Adventures…
Brave champions and the forces of the Imperium battle alien beasts and mechanical tyrants across the gulf of space.
Quite the departure wouldn’t you say?
Of course this leads to a fear that Warhammer Adventures version will become the predominate version of the universes. More likely though, these books will be such total crap they actually turn off a generation of children, as they associate these book with the games we play, instead say a book like The First Heretic.
Traditional, Warhammer has always shown growth not through books, but through box games, like those of the late 80s, to the Dawn of War video game revolution of the early 2000s, and the global reach of the Lord of the Rings. The miniature game and video games should come first, and have proven to drive in new players. Contrast with the amount of people who read the novels, but have no clue a game is attached to them in the first place.
There is a way to make Warhammer Adventures a winner besides hiding from the maturity of the genre, Games Workshop could have make this a great vehicle to get kids interested in Age of Sigmar and Age of Sigmar alone.
Warhammer 40k just has too much baggage and is no surprise most of the hate is directed there. A sole Age of Sigmar children series can be done as the universe is still being established. Age of Sigmar isn’t as bleak and has clear forces of good to get behind. You don’t have to jump through hoops of fluff gymnastics to see the novel’s characters existing in the Mortal Realms. It is low risk experiment, and if it works gets players into the newest Games Workshop universe, where new players are needed the most.
My general prediction is Warhammer Adventures will fail, partly because of Games Workshop incompetence with marketing to a mass audience and not actually targeting the right age group. This product won’t really move beyond selling to hobbiysts who also happen to be parents.
That is the thing, kids are into what parents do because it makes them feel like an adult. They like our toys because they are more adult then there toys, they like our books because they are more adult then there books. Children always want to punch higher than their age, and these terrible books will either insult their intelligence or convince them our fictional universes aren’t worth playing in.
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