New Campaign – the Third Way?

Milton Keynes Wargames Society – Campaign 2001

(This article was first published in 2001)

There have been a lot of letters and articles and discussion – when were there not – about the state of wargaming as a hobby. Is it increasingly a middle-aged hobby with no new intake? Is it descending (or ascending, depending on your point of view) into the realm of orcs and goblins? Is it engineered by rich and greedy figure manufacturers, or unscrupulous show organisers? Is it all about fiendish competition tactics or inaccurate views of historical reality?

How do you attract new people, young people? Do you want to?

Don’t attempt to answer any of that – it will make you mad or drive you mad, or both.

The Campaign Approach

So, isn’t it time somebody did something about this, rather than talking about it? Milton Keynes Wargames Society is going to. We have run a show – Campaign – very successfully for a number of years. Campaign was a typical show in a typical venue. Too typical, so last year we gave it a miss

So, now we are bringing Campaign back in different style.

We have arranged to use Middleton Hall in the heart of Milton Keynes Shopping Centre. For those of you who know it, this is the huge open space in front of John Lewis’s department store in the heart of the vast shopping mall in central Milton Keynes. For those of you who don’t, it’s a huge open space in front of John Lewis’s department store in the heart of the vast shopping mall in central Milton Keynes.

Free entry – maximum visibility

The idea is to ring the changes on the normal wargames convention. It will have everything you would expect from one of these – top quality demonstration and participation games, a top level wargames competition, and a wide range of traders. What it won’t have is an entrance fee for the general public, or a hard-to-find location that only dedicated wargamers will know about.

It will also have a massive throughput of people – over 100,000 people go shopping in Milton Keynes over a weekend. It’s a shopping mall, and a unique town centre, so there are masses of other things to do. There is a great range of shops, of course, but also the theatre, the Snowdome, rollerskating, multi-screen cinema, crèche facilities, swimming, and so on. It may sound unlikely, but you can spend a weekend there as a family, and cater for everyone’s taste. So, if you are a wargamer – it’s not like being in Loughborough University for the weekend – you can arrange a weekend that everyone will enjoy – there are even places to eat and drink as well! Check out their websites –, and the theatre – Surprise your partner and your children with a wargaming weekend that they have fun at as well!
A better show

Middleton Hall is regularly used in this way for exhibitions of all types, so it can be securely ‘cordoned’ off, while allowing passers-by to see what is going on, and hopefully come into the exhibition and trader areas.

For MKWS the fact that catering and leisure facilities are available anyway, means that we can concentrate on organising the wargames aspect of the event, rather than worrying about catering and all that. The show will be free to visitors. If you walk past, you can watch, buy or take part – and so can the other 99,999 people going past. MKWS people will be briefed and on hand to help, discuss, inform, and patrol, so that we can involve the passer-by or the dedicated wargamer alike.

A better competition

The competitions have been designed to offer a challenge to the wargamer, and to revive MKWS’ tradition of organising a National League competition, but also to present some historical logic to the passer-by. MKWS will staff the competition area, so that competitors are not disturbed during play.

We see this as a major opportunity to encourage new people to take part and to spread the word. We are looking for support, for traders, for competition teams, and for visitors. For people who want to do – not to talk.

No Campaign. No Gain

Try Campaign! Try the third way! (We’re not sure what the other two are, but who’s counting).

Article by Jonathan Crowe 2001