Every milsim player has heard the phrase “embrace the suck”. We’ve commercialized the saying to the Nth degree, plastering it on our uniforms and equipment. However, from what I’ve observed very few of the community actually do as the slogan says.
to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea
Those things that you are forced to endure, that which is uncomfortable, strenuous or extremely tedious.
So what do we have when we put these two elements together? We have a saying that is born out of soldiers’ realization that they need to deal with the often difficult situation that they have been handed. Alternately, it can be used to remind a soldier that those on either side of him are enduring the same hardships as he or she is.
So Why Does it Matter?
It is common knowledge that a tour in a war zone will have plenty of suck. There will be foul weather, horrendous temperatures, long hours spent performing tedious tasks and never ending patrols while carrying loads a mule would shirk at. Currently, most milsim games attempt to cut out as much “suck” as possible to enable the players to have more fun. I doing this I believe that we’ve committed a fatal error.
I’ve heard it said that players don’t necessarily need to walk away from a game happy, they need to walk away satisfied. In my experience satisfaction comes as a result of accomplishment. Accomplishing an objective boosts my confidence and makes me feel good about myself. Sometimes this satisfaction comes from completing the mission that my Commanding Officer issued me. If I failed that mission, maybe it comes from the knowledge that I prevented an enemy unit from accomplishing one of their objectives. If I can’t even say that, I could still walk away satisfied knowing that I survived an injury, weather condition or other mishap and got all of my unit members home in one piece.
Humans by default, bond with others that they endure a hardship with. This is documented fact. Why do you think the military keeps units together for as long as possible? It’s because those soldiers are more effective if they fight along side others that they have been in “the suck” with before. This bond is often astonishingly tight and often lasts a lifetime. Translate this into milsim and we could see individuals actually work together with their allies, creating friendships and demolishing the petty cliques that litter the milsim player base today.
Now, adding “suck” to milsim games does require that players understand they are at the game to participate rather than be catered to.
Requirements should be clearly posted before registration of an event and should include not only kit but skill. For instance, if a game is going to require squads to find “satellite parts” in a forest at night in the middle of winter then they will need the appropriate land navigation skills as well as cold weather gear.
The amount of “suck” given to the player base at any one game should be tailored to the players that attend. Are you running a game full of people that call themselves milisim players because they wear a military camouflage or are you hosting players that have taken the time to learn small unit tactics, proper use of different weapon systems and how to maintain combat operations in the field for extended periods? Just like no two games pull the same kind of players, no one type of “suck” is applicable to all of milsim.
What this boils down to is that games must provide a level that the players must step up to in order to thrive in that game without overwhelming them.
So in a world where every Call of Duty player thinks he is a delta ninja seal and that glory comes from hitting a guy with a tomahawk while back-flipping over a car where do we cultivate a desire to enter the suck?
Recognition. Why do you think every airsofter with a video camera has a video on YouTube of him playing in a game or going over his gear? They want recognition. Instead of giving out awards at ops for impressive shots or wearing the most expensive kit why don’t we recognize the unit that sat in a frozen muddy trench for 6 hours to protect an objective and never got to shoot their guns? They were just as much a part of the team as the guys that went from firefight to firefight eliminating the enemy, except they didn’t have any fun. The shooters had their fun, let them glory in it. Let’s lift up the actual quiet professionals that do as they’re told and actually embrace the suck.