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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bolt Action: Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away!

What's up everyone!

Today I get the supreme pleasure of introducing to you the newest member of the Bolt Action Alliance team, the indomitable Kieran Byrne! Kieran's been a part of the UK Bolt Action for a while now, and many of you may remember him from the Combined Operations podcast which has sadly been deactivated. Kieran, never being one to shy away from a topic, comes out swinging at the bell to talk about something a lot of gamers deal with... the idea of hobby burn out. Apologies to those of you who thought we'd be talking about introducing Highlander characters into Bolt Action. Interspersed throughout the article are pics of Bryan's "Lead Mountain" as well as Kieran's armies.


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With the fact that it is becoming an all too prevalent phrase being presented by a lot of gamers, on a bigger scale than maybe what was previously seen, I am going to jump in with both feet and tackle one of the elephants in the room for my first article for the Bolt Action Alliance. The dreaded hobby burnout.

What is Burnout?

Now any internet search for the term ‘Burnout’ will bring up a plethora of information about how various stress factors that we place on ourselves daily can lead to our motivation being diminished, and lower us to certain levels of depression in a lot of cases. Through all those online suggestions for remedies a main one that stands out if you read it from our perspective is the ‘Get a hobby!’ cure, but what if our hobby is the thing that causing us the problem? Well hopefully below we may try and address some suggestions and points that can be of help.

I will preface these all with saying that this is from my own perspective. I have suffered with the complete lack of motivation to do anything constructive at all and while I hope the points I raise below will help I also am not naïve enough to say if you do this then it will sort you out. The effects and causes of the burnout is as individual to the person as the person themselves so what is right for one is not for others.

Now I do think that ‘burnout’ has become a bit of a catchphrase at the moment, but the first thing I think we need to ask is, is it really a complete burnout with the hobby? Or have we put things in our way that are causing us to unduly stress? Or are we just in fact a little bored? I think this is a main crux of the whole situation as whatever level we find ourselves then the solutions to it may be easier than others.



What Causes Burnout?

So the actual playing, how can we break out of the rut of not being motivated to get out and play? A lot of the online posts you see surrounding this all seem to point to one suggestion. ‘Go and play something else!’ Now while I somewhat agree in part to what this suggests I also don’t think in some cases that it offers a reasonable solution and here is why. A lot of us have used a marked amount of our time, effort, and financial resource to creating the armies we play with to such an extent that now if we are to attempt to distance ourselves the whole cycle begins again which in turn will just cause a respite for the issue. It may also be the case  that you will go to play these other games and never return back to, for purposes of this article, Bolt Action. Also this suggestion does not take into account the financial or time constraint levels that people are at so maybe we don’t just have the ability to go and play something else. I will come back to this point in a while though.



One thing I think we need to ask ourselves is actually what is it about the game that’s causing the problem. This is from my own experience so this is my first bit of first hand advice. For a number of years I was a quite prolific tournament player and as such all the games I played were of a similar style, so to speak, and it just got to the point of not holding interest to go out and do it all again. So what did I do? Well to be honest I joined my local hobby club. The gameplay at a club vs gameplay at tournament can be of a marked difference and the whole baggage that sometimes comes along with being at a tournament is stripped away and you just relive the pleasure of playing the game again. Also you have a lot more freedom playing away from a tournament setting as we will touch on below.




The second of my points is are we challenging ourselves enough? What I mean by this is the fact that, say, a lot of tournament armies will follow a pretty set out criteria and this can have an effect of when you are playing against these armies, then the whole scope of finding something new is greatly reduced. It can be seen that a lot of the more experienced players have the experience already to counter most things on the table, so those players that do turn up with these forces expecting to do well are disheartened when it all goes pear shaped. So on the other hand are you a player that follows that criteria? Are whatever armies you have pretty much the same setup with just different clothing? Do you think that the challenge of running your armies without any armour, being solely infantry, or another composite of what is available will help you find a new challenge in the game and reinvigorate your taste for battle? I know it did in my case.



Another part of the whole hobby that seems to cause the most burnout is the actually painting and general hobby that surrounds the making up of your armies. This is the one that has probably caused me the greater problem of the two to be honest. Now I am not a person who has the availability in my house to have a dedicated hobby area where most things are laid out constantly and it can be easy to sit down for ten minutes or half an hour and do a little painting when you get chance. The whole actual sitting down can take in excess of half an hour itself to get everything sorted so that only adds to the whole stress factor.

How Do We Alleviate Burnout?

So what have I learnt? First off be realistic about your availability of time you can apply to your output. A lot of suggestions to conquering the hobby burnout are "Sign up for a tournament!" and "Join a hobby pledge!" Now while I understand the setting of deadlines will work for some I can’t see how adding another factor of stress in making that commitment can help.

Secondly never try and compare the stuff you produce to anyone else’s! The times I have got disheartened looking at what others talent can produce are countless, and it’s a fool’s errand to try. I mean even if you were to talk with some of the top names they would always say how in awe they are of others painting and how they wish they could be as good as them. That moment when I realised this is probably as good as I am ever going to do and being totally happy with it myself was a massive relief in my hobby life and at the end of the day you are always going to be your worst critic.




So is there anything else that has helped me to get through to the other side of this hobby burnout? Yes there was and a lot of this is so simple that it is often overlooked.




Tiredness is one of the biggest contributors to stress, it is as true in everyday life as it is in hobby, so maybe not staying up to early hours of the morning doing hobby, then say going to work, and then back to late night hobby sessions will be a good thing in the long run.

Take a break! As silly as it seems the old adage of a break is as good as a rest is still so apt. So if you feel yourself starting to get a little irate and stressed, walk away for even a few minutes. Get some fresh air or coffee, go play with your children, or whatever.

Clear your mind! As with above during a break completely disconnect yourself. I have often found the worst things is if I get that irritated feeling is to jump on social media with the intentions of maybe catching up with friends and then getting embroiled with a conversation can often only heighten your stress levels.

Lastly, and this is the most important point of all, as much as you feel they are the issues you have you are not the first nor will be the last person to go through them. Discussion and getting the problems talked through can be the most effective way to relieve them.

Thank you for your time to read through this article which I hope will be the first of many that I write with the Bolt Action Alliance. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing and in fact just doing this and sharing has in some way helped with my own burnout issue so thanks to you for that.

Till next time.



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There you have it! Hobby burnout is something I think a lot of us deal with to varying degrees, myself and some of the other lads included. Reading Kieran's truth-bombs, the causes seem pretty obvious and ironically the solutions even moreso! I'm definitely going to bookmark this article and give it a quick review for those times I just can't bring myself to pick up a brush. Tiredness is one of the ones I struggle with the most, for sure. The other one used to be comparing my work to that of others. I'm no Bryan, no Patchimus... but I'm happy with the results I'm getting and THAT is the key.

Hopefully this article will be of some help to you as it was for Kieran to write, and for me to read/edit. Remember that at the end of the day, this is a hobby and it's supposed to be fun!

- Seamus

Game on!

2 comments:

Admiral Drax said...

Brilliant stuff; thanks, Kieran!

Very useful in terms of difficulties so many of us face...and not just with our hobbies, of course!

Be well,

- Chris K.

Unknown said...

Vary your projects especially in painting. When the mojo is gone i make terrain instead till i'm ready to paint , entirely different skill sets yet within the hobby spectrum.

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