It Ain’t Easy Being the “King”
editorial is in reply to the article King for
a Day: If I Ran White Dwarf. I worked with the US White Dwarf team
between 2003 and 2005, and contributed to the writing and editing of many
issues—including the landmark issue, number 300. Keeping in mind that I
no longer work for Games Workshop and I am not in any way a GW spokesman,
I'd like to address some of the items in the article.
First, I want to thank Kenton for
putting his ideas and opinions forth in a mature, well-reasoned manner.
Too often, comments about White Dwarf fall into the "it suxxors" category
of not-very-constructive criticism. If more readers were able to express
their thoughts and feelings like Kenton did, the magazine and the community
would be better for it.
In his article, Kenton proposes several
things he would do differently if he ran White Dwarf. In this article,
I'll use my experience with GW and White Dwarf to address several of those
ideas and explain why or why not they would be feasible or desirable.
"Give 40K its
with three main areas of focus: Warhammer, 40K, and LOTR. All three are
flagship games for the business, both here and abroad. Separating the three
into individual magazines would be somewhat counterproductive - doing so
would eliminate the opportunity for players of one game to get interested
in and "cross over" to the other two, would require more staff and more
costs (shipping three magazines instead of one, maintaining three sets
of subscription lists instead of one, three times the covers/coverage/photography,
and so forth), and would only start a new round of dissatisfaction (i.e.,
"Look what those guys got in the 40K magazine this month! How dare they
get a battle report and all we LOTR players get is a scenario!"). In short,
I believe GW wants to make sure all its customers know that all three games
are top priority, and by covering all three each month, every month, that
ideal is maintained. If GW would be willing to extend the budget for WD
staff and overhead a bit... well now, there'd be room for some more discussion,
WD does the best it can with the budget and staff that it has to cover
all three games to the extent possible. I encourage people to continue
lobbying for more 40K coverage – it’s possible that, given enough feedback
like Kenton’s article, GW will increase the amount of space and content
for all three games.
submissions from readers"
Submissions are always a good thing--it's
better to have too much content than too little when it comes time to decide
what's going in the magazine each month. However, I would like to mention
a few reasons why not many reader submissions are accepted and why most
of the articles are generated internally.
To begin with, all articles must
be edited for accuracy, grammar, syntax, and the like. As you may have
guessed, not every GW fan out there on the Internet has a solid grasp of
how to write in the English language! Next, there are some restrictions
on what WD can print--only the game design folks in the UK are allowed
to come up with new rules or write any fiction or background content.
A lot of reader submissions involve stories of new Space Marine Chapters
or entire star systems that simply can't be published because it alters
the existing storyline. Lastly, all articles must have good pictures to
be in White Dwarf - and WD has its own, very talented photographer, Dirty
Thus, it becomes more efficient to
generate articles internally--the article can be revised, photographed,
and checked for errors much more quickly. Again, I encourage people to
continue discussing this issue--there are plenty of diamonds in the rough
out there who can write great gameplay, modeling, or painting articles
that would be perfect for White Dwarf.
categories of material"
Recurring categories are an excellent
idea. I tried to encourage this trend myself by establishing the "Only
War" series (itself an evolution of Jeff Leong's excellent "Art of Warhammer"
articles), and there have been some examples in the past (Chapter Approved
and Index Xenos/Astartes). I think this suggestion is one that could feasibly
be adapted by the WD staff, should they concur that it's a good idea.
for each army every month"
isn't possible. Having worked on the magazine, I feel confident in saying
that Kenton is just asking too much of the current staff to generate, edit,
photograph, lay out, and print the current levels of content AND
include something for all nine of the major armies on top of all that.
Like Kenton, I think having something for everyone is a great ideal--perhaps,
instead, taking on three of the major nine each month and including something
for them might work, but that's still a tough deadline to meet. It's simply
a question of the amount of work it would take to generate more army-specific
content each month.
role-playing game magazine Dragon has begun something similar recently.
In the back of each issue, there are a series of one-page-long features
for each major RPG class (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Wizard, and so forth).
I'm not a fan of this approach, as it seems forced and too small a space
to fully explore the idea. Personally, I'd rather have an entire issue
devoted to an individual army and get the full experience every so often
rather than a rushed attempt each month.
"Vary the battle
Another excellent idea. However,
once again, the issue at heart remains one of resources and time available.
Battle reports are fun and are clearly popular in addition to being a staple
of White Dwarf. Battle reports are also time-consuming--it takes a few
hours to play the game, take notes, and take all the necessary photos before
you even begin writing it up. Therefore, battle reports tend to be one
of those things that happens when there's time for it--often, there are
other demands on the staff's time. I think new and different battle reports
would be great! It's just that a nicely-painted army (you can't just show
any old army in WD!) of the kind people are looking for may not always
be available on the day when there's time to run a battle report. Instead,
you go with what you've got when the opportunity arrives.
On the other hand, if your army is
painted to a high standard, if you have terrain that's not just a coffee
can and a green blanket, if you have a digital camera and a modicum of
skill at taking photos, if you can write a fun and exciting battle report--why
not give it a try and ask the WD staff if they'd be willing to publish
it? Magazines are always happy to have the hard stuff done for them, after
"Put more new
rules from WD onto the GW site"
The new rules
are making their way to the web site. It just takes time. Admittedly, the
UK site seems to have more WD rules (especially Chapter Approved stuff)
up faster than the US site presently, so I would recommend looking there
first. I agree that this suggestion would be very helpful.
of recommended websites"
like a good idea on the surface. Looking at the idea more closely, unfortunately,
means a lot of work. WD staff would have to make sure that the site they're
plugging for free in the magazine doesn't have any objectionable content
(no porn, for example), is a working link, is updated with some regularity,
and has decent content in the first place. This idea has some merit, but
I think one would be better off suggesting it to Tim Huckleberry, GW's
Online Communities Manager--I think he might enjoy trying to create something
along these lines.
"Offer a lower-priced
online version already exists! Black Gobbo (on the Games
Workshop site) is about as low-priced as it gets: it's free! The
Gobbo may not have all the bells and whistles of White Dwarf, but you get
it twice a month (or more, every two weeks) and the price simply can't
however, making WD a downloadable .pdf has some merit, but there's always
the difficulty of copy-protection. One person with an online subscription
to White Dwarf and access to Kazaa (or something like it) suddenly means
a lot of lost sales of the magazine, wouldn't you agree?
this reply helps gamers understand a little bit better about what it takes
to create each issue of White Dwarf. It isn’t as easy as it looks!
King for a
Day: If I Ran White Dwarf
copyright Ross Watson, October 2005