The Rising Price of Glory

by | Nov 15, 2019

The over 30 year history of Warhammer 40k, has always been filled with colorful characters of a non-fictional variety. Cheaters, table-flippers, or just random folk with various anti-social emotional spectrums, have over the social media age become public punching bags and pariahs. This article though isn’t about those people, it is about a newer crop of players who are by nature, good people, but with new hotter spotlights or growing demands have made them susceptible to developing bad habits. 

These demands come thanks the new stature of Warhammer 40k, along with the ability to “profit” from it. Across all forms of social media we have seen a rise of a new class of (pro)player who are attempting create some modicum of fame and fortune for themselves. This has lead to new forms of pressure on players like never before, and with the help of the ITC and BCP have ways of measuring those most at risk.

Over the last few years I have seen players progressively encounter more stress; for a still pretty casual game with an ever changing set of nebulous rules. Take the SoCal Open 2019, where a rage quit by a top player, goaded by his opponent, who saw an opportunity to beat one of the best. Or what happened on a live stream game where another top player frustrated by losing, threaten to drop from the tournament because of his performance. This on top of many of top players pressuring beaten opponents to talk out higher scores in order to make sure they stay in the running for the top table. 

As the Warhammer 40k competitive scene grows with larger prize pools, the stress of being the best will only grow along with it. This intensifies if you have sponsors you need to keep happy and/or teams to impress, leading otherwise normal people to have what looks like mental breakdowns. Which will look to most as a public tantrum or cheating scandal, magnified tenfold by social media. Warhammer 40k will never be the competitive game many people want or hope, and now that eSports money looking to enter the Warhammer 40k competitive world these problems will only get worse. 

Incentivising winning only increases the pressure many players I see feeling, the systems currently in place are just not conducive to preventing the worst lapses in judgement to not crop up in more frequency. Take the rage quitting story from SoCal, even the no name player who beat a top player felt the need to be total tool, just for a chance to take a top scalp. This isn’t a new phenomenon, as competitive video games are filled with random scrubs relishing the chance to crush a signature or famous players any chance they get. Larger still, is the mob mentality which often is on the lookout to any sign of drama to magnify for no better reasons than trolling and or jealousy.

Warhammer 40k could be heading to a very toxic place, where normal people are put under ever finer microscopes we never thought possible; for a game with almost infinite rules to remember, random dice rolls, only to be put players into strange Faustian bargains that will never end up being worth it.