What do you mean I've done this before?
Yes, I've talked about Competitive versus Casual play before. The reason I'm doing it again is partly this article by GMort, and partly this article by SandWyrm. Partly, however, it's just the same kind of reaction again, to an Internet that seems hell-bent on turning our hobby into something it isn't, to me at least.
I'm going to say it straight out, again, just to be clear. I do not approve of the increased emphasis on the Competitive* side of Warhammer 40k in particular, but the hobby sphere in general.
*I'll try to use the capitalized 'Competitive' to refer to this new cultural trend, rather than the simple adjective of compete, which is not quite the same thing.
There are two points I'm going to address here. In fact, they are what I'd term (in GMort's words) bollocks arguments.
Competitive gaming is never forced upon anyone
See Sandwyrm's article above for one example.
The main problem with this argument is the following. Many gamers have a very limited pool of opponents. You play against the guys at the club or the store. How many guys are there? How many of them do you play regularly? I think twenty is optimistic, at least on the regular count.
What happens when five of those guys start bringing lists that have been optimised with one goal, and only one: winning? Crushing face. What happens when those five guys put those armies on the table against the 'sub-par' lists of the other fifteen? Particularly if their express intent is to win by any means necessary.
Tell me, with a straight face, that those fifteen guys won't be forced to optimize their lists, to start play more competitively.
SandWyrm's argument is flawed. It presumes that the non-Competitive party is uninterested in a face-off. The disinterest is in the attitude, not the playing. A better metaphor might be found in any number of things; the friends playing football (yes, I might be hung up on the football simile) for fun. No one keeps score, but they have fun, like making goals and so on. They will not be happy to have someone come into the game and start playing differently, focussing on the score, playing rough... They might even have been winging the rules (gasp!) and won't appreciate having their version questioned, just because that's not how things are played 'by the book'.
Competitive play is what brings the hobby forward
This is GMort's argument. In a way, he has a point.
The rules have been tidied up lately. Somewhat. Many of the FAQ's have been raised by Competitive or pseudo-Competitive gamers first and foremost.
Also, obviously, from a competitive standpoint, the tournament scene is what drives the search for good combos and sneaky tactics. If you consider 'netlists' the pinnacle of hobby activity, well, then Competitive play is a really good thing.
However, what drives the hobby, as a whole, forward, is not the tournaments. The Golden Daemons competitions are closer (and not Competitive, even if they are competitive), bringing out the eyecandy in a way that inspires (I would think) far more people than the result of a tournament, any tournament, ever would.
As a social event, I get tournaments. Yes, you Competitive detractors, I approve of Jervis' approach. I like a lot of the things he's been behind. And there you have it.
What's it all mean?
It's a sometime mentioned nugget of wisdom that the objective of the game is winning, but the point of the game is to have fun.
I think this is a good tenet. If one player leaves the battle unsatisfied, something is wrong. It might be the result of any number of things, and all of us have had games that just weren't any fun. The dice were beyond crap, you'd had a bad day, the sugar-cabinet was empty, and so on. All of these happen.
What should never be the cause of a crap game is one player's all-out steamroller attempt at victory. Because if it is, he's obviously misunderstood what kind of game they were playing.
And this, ultimately, is why the current trend bugs me.
It will inevitably bring out the jerk in enough people that even those who have no interest in Competitive play are forced to approach their hobby in a way that sits badly, or face repeated, horrible defeat.