Hello everybody, Danny here for another waxing of poetic about gaming. As I drift farther out to sea and my golf-ball army begins to take shape, I’ve sent this blog post in a bottle to you all.
Having a new baby means I’m at home, a lot. Changing diapers, soothing tantrums, and generally trying to keep a small primate alive occupies most of my time, so I haven’t been able to play nearly as much as I’d like. To survive, I subsist on podcasts, Facebook chats/groups, and even the dreaded forum, but as I spend more time engaging in the digital aspect of the hobby and less at the table, I’ve noticed that a lot of people just seem to enjoy whining about the hobby, like, a lot. With my own time and cash disappearing down, down, down into the deep, dark waters of commitment, and the constant negativity online, I can’t help but ask myself: Should I be in this Hobby anymore?
I think most of us have asked this of ourselves at some point. We read our daily forums and see just constant negativity about the state of a game, about the designers, about TFG players (zing!). We take our lovingly painted army with a carefully and scholarly-researched backstory to our local shop or club and get trounced by the grey plastic of the new hotness. We pay a King’s ransom to buy the grey plastic new hotness and get trounced by the newer hotness.
Sometimes, you just look back at your hobby and your time spent, and you cannot help but think…should I even do this?
Chances are, the answer is yes, yes you should. For me, that answer is hell yes. I love this hobby, and I want to keep doing it, but I figured this out by looking at 4 key things.
- You are incapable of accepting defeat
Losing is a part of any game system. Nobody maintains a perfect streak forever, and losing is a far better teacher than just blasting some scrub. More to the point, outside of the LVO, when do you win big cash prizes for a minis game? I get that Magic has some big payouts, so if you are a Pro magic player, then I understand that defeat is a sore point. The same way I understand how professional athletes get upset when they lose because there is legitimate, real-world success at stake. Your local RTT or club night? Not so much. Did you lose best painted? Was Crystal Brush on the line? No? Then shrug. Your success at your hobby should not be indicative of your worth as an individual. The purpose of a hobby is to add enjoyment to your life, so even taking a loss shouldn’t completely sour the experience if this is the hobby for you. A bad day fishing is still better than a good day at work, right? That is the mentality that should pervade your hobby. So if you can’t take a loss without your blood pressure spiking, your self-worth plummeting, or your salt levels rising, then perhaps this is not the hobby for you.
Really, you should enjoy taking part in the hobby, even if the game doesn’t go your way. Seeing as how I am starved for a game, I’d take a trouncing of epic proportions if it meant I actually got to play a game, and lol, sometimes you just lose. I actually got to play just last night (0f this being published) and lost, but man, it still felt good to play.
- There is no joy in the Hobby
I mean this in a specific way: You take no enjoyment out of the Hobby aspect of a game. You don’t want to build models. You don’t want to paint models. You don’t care if a model looks cool. You don’t care if your opponent’s army looks cool. It is torturous to paint or build. The fluff is for losers. You’d play with post-it-notes if it was allowed. You only think of the hobby as a game to master, and if this is the case, then I suggest chess. Part of what makes most minis games so engrossing is that even when you are not playing, you can engage with the hobby on numerous levels, whether that’s painting, modeling, or engaging in the fluff. Even in the pre-painted world of X-wing or Star Trek, you can at least engage the fluff pretty easily on TV.
I’ve re-read most of my codexes since my Watch Began just to immerse myself in the world when I can’t make it to the shop, and I’ve really enjoyed that. I find a great zen in painting models, especially while I catch up on my DVR queue. The past few nights, I’ve stayed up after the 2am feeding just to sit in the nursery and paint rather than snag a few hours of sleep before getting up for work. I’d still rather play than paint, but I still find a great joy in painting or reading about the game.
Seeing as you how you’ll likely spend much more time in the hobby aspect rather than the game aspect, it should tickle some fancy of yours, even if it is just reading the fluff.
- Games are not fun
When you play, win or loss, the game is not a fun experience. It feels like work. You study lists, study missions, and you play with all the intensity of an over-achiever prepping for the SATs. There are no laughs about bad dice rolls. There is no friendly banter. You don’t give much of a hoot about your opponent; they are all the same, abstract concepts to be defeated and solved. If they have a bad game but you won, who cares? You should actually enjoy playing the game, and yes, bad games happen, but if every game is bad, you have to wonder, is it you?
Part of this is pressure, maybe. I know when I get super competitive or get it into my head that I’m going to do well at a tournament, I can feel my blood-pressure rising as I play, but then I also enjoy that part of the game sometimes. I like to be competitive, and the thrill of victory and the sting of defeat is enjoyable when I’m in the mood, but if you get neither of these feelings, maybe you need to take some pressure off and just try to enjoy playing, not necessarily doing well.
One of the best games I’ve ever played was at the first GE Pasadena team tournament. The tactics were cunning, I played well, he played well, I had a good time with my opponent, his army was beautiful, I was proud of my army’s appearance (tons of planes!), and I was smiling afterwards. I lost, and I lost because the game went to 6 and then went to 7, but I still had a great time. Yes, I lost, and it was because of dice rolls that I had no power over, but you know what? It was a great way to spend two hours of my Saturday. If you can’t say the same, then yah, maybe this isn’t the hobby for you.
- Everyone is a TFG
It seems without fail, you go to play a game, and you get the most douche-baggy, loaded dice wielding, netlistiest TFG in the world. Every one of them quibbles about clearly worded rules, questions your measurements, and calls a judge at the slightest provocation. God, does that suck. But, you have to think: One bad game means you may have had met a TFG, three bad games in a single day? You might be the TFG. I’d be willing to wager that most of the people that complain the loudest about TFGs are the TFGs themselves. If you constantly have interpersonal conflict with others, then chances are you are the source of that conflict. Not a pretty truth to be sure but there it is.
Maybe you and the crowd at the local place don’t get along well, and that happens, but maybe then it’s time to move on. Again, I’d be willing to bet most times, the crowd sucks because you antagonize them, and if that is the case, time for some good ol self-reflection. I have met many of my closest friends because of this hobby, and I love tournaments because I get to meet a lot of new people. If you go to a tournament and just can’t get along with the folk there, then well, stop going. If you have friends that play, focus on Garagehammer. If you don’t have friends that play, maybe try to teach them. If you don’t have many friends, that’s beyond my ken to help.
I took a big hit to my DTI (Domestic Tranquility Index) for the chance to sneak off to Hammer of Wrath just to see folk and get dinner, but it was well worth it. The sense of camaraderie and fellowship is one of the defining aspects of this hobby, and well, I just wish I got to engage with it more.
So, take a deep breath, stare into the abyss of yourself, and answer honestly: Do those 4 points resonate with you ? Do you see yourself as if I was writing this article right to you? (to be fair, I’m writing mostly to Adam)
If yes, then maybe this hobby isn’t for you. Hobbies should make our lives better, not worse. If you can’t enjoy the process, only the win, if you can’t enjoy the hobby aspect, if you can’t enjoy a game, and you can’t enjoy the people you meet playing this game, then you should find something else to do. Chances are that you and a lot of other people will be much happier afterwards.