This post is not by me, the mighty (yet not that brave) Vermin warrior living in this lair, but by one of the first person who introduced me to the #warmongers community on twitter: Predrag Vasiljevic (Follow @PVasiljevic ). Among threads about food, books and movies, he shared a couple of articles with me. I liked what I read and he allowed me to publish them here, thus being the first resident of the « Guest Room » of my Lair (a modest room I use to accomodate visiting friends, see banner picture). Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Now to serious business.
Do you want to start a hobby?
Now that’s a silly question right there, isn’t it? Does someone want to start a hobby… how would you know do you want to? Did you enter that hobby store with intent the first time you decided to buy some miniatures? Or is your hobby of the collecting nature so you knew from the start you will have albums upon albums of postal stamps? Or something just clicked? The truth is for most of us it usually does just click. We’re in that age where we’re still discovering how the world works, getting awed and amazed by science fiction, epic fiction, science, details, arts, you name it. At some point something just sticks to us. Maybe because of a cartoon we saw or something one of our elders did or still does. The answer is therefore simple – nobody knows do they want to start a hobby until something clicks inside.
Then why do we constantly drag our friends into stores hoping they will share our hobby? Why do we complain about the price of a hobby element? Because we forgot how it is to be a kid. Or we simply became spoiled brats.
Hello, my name is Predrag Vasiljevid and I’m a hobbyist. I’ve started doing my hobbies (yes, more than one) when I was a wee little kid, playing with my Lego sets. Maybe those sets were the reason I wanted to continue being creative in my old age or maybe it was my dad’s habit of assembling ww2 models. Who knows? The point is, I didn’t know I wanted to be doing these hobbies, or hobbies at all for that matter, it just happened. Now over the years I’ve tried introducing others to one or more of my hobbies, but now I realize that was a mistake. A hobby is something people do for enjoyment, therefore you can’t push someone into doing it. I know many of you have tried too, especially the nature of some of our hobbies where they require someone else to enjoy it with you. I picked this topic as an introduction to who we are and what we’re about to both new ones and as a reminder to ourselves. You don’t go about dragging people into your hobby like it’s some sort of drug everyone has to share because you find it awesome. No, a hobby is an enjoyment, a relaxing moment either done alone or, better, shared with friends. You’re all literate here, you can all research the full definition of what a hobby actually is and just how many different forms of hobbies are there, so I won’t bore you with those details. I will instead focus on the phenomenon seen often in circles of wargamers, and on a problem which is one of the many reasons why our hobby is, metaphorically speaking, going down the gutter. I will talk about… the very basics we all forgot.
A friend named Bob.
Say you have a friend, named Bob. Bob is your friend from work, you’ve known him for a few years, you share a few interests and you would like to introduce your hobby to him, perhaps show him to the group of friends and bring him into it. Most make a mistake right here. We’re not about to date Bob (unless you’re into that sort of thing, but then you wouldn’t be romancing him through shared hobbies… wait, you would? I’ve been out of that game for too long, but nevermind, I digress). We are not introducing Bob to the hobby like our hobby is a mistress – or worse, MOTHER – with whom Bob has to deal with. No. You are a promoter of your hobby as much as that host or hostess is at the store. Your only job is to help Bob find the same type of click you did. It’s immensely easier if Bob and you are middle school friends, then all you have to say is that it’s awesome, or all you have to do is show it to him without saying anything. Communication at that age is so much simpler… we should have stayed there; whoever invented this grown-up stuff really screwed up somewhere. Growing up notwithstanding, we still somehow manage to introduce Bob to our hobby. But by doing so, we not only fail in the basic element of hobby introduction by forcing him our hobby onto him, but we also skew the concept of hobby for him, ending up with a consumer and not a hobbyist. Bob will now, instead of slowly enjoying the hobby in its entirety, or by picking by himself what part of the hobby he likes most if he doesn’t like them all, Bob will now instead approach it as a competition. Not as a collector, not as a gamer (per se), but more like a “professional” gamer. Now winning is important, it’s all about the game system, it’s all about the value you get out of it, it’s all about the effectiveness. We end up with Bob who is dissecting our hobby like a McDonald’s menu and going for what he thinks is best, instead of enjoying it whole like a gourmet meal it should be.
Our community is slowly dying from inside because of our own mistakes. We have forgotten how to hobby in its very essence. Now, I’m not saying that playing competitively is bad, or that enjoying only the rules is bad, but we need to let new hobbyists pick that on their own if they want to, not because we’re telling them its best. There’s a whole other community that is full of kids swearing, impolite bastards and bitches (I apologize the dogs and the illegitimate sons whose terms we have borrowed as degrading terms in these cases) insulting your every action, people who don’t help you in any way to learn. It’s the video game community. It has gotten so bad it’s being used as a stereotype joke in movies. Sure, they’re not all like that, but there’s a big enough majority to create a stereotype of an evil gamer.
In the light of that attitude, most new videogame players enter the community either fully prepared for it, or even hoping to become like that. In the same way, our community of hobbyists starts “indoctrinating” new hobbyists instantly. We no longer let them discover the hobby for themselves; we try to “spare” them the issues we’ve been having. Because of that they enter the hobby the same way new videogamers enter multiplayer games: fully ready to be evil, or anticipating that everyone is evil. Or they don’t enter at all, just like many people don’t play multiplayer games at all. As a result, we have a lot of people who are valuing whether a miniature is worth the money or not instead of regarding it as a models (which it is), we get people who won’t game in clubs or stores because of people who go there (and for a game that, by definition, requires to be played by more than one person, this is really a big issue). I’m just waiting for people to start calling each other “lol, noob!” just because someone assembled a miniature a certain way… oh, wait, that’s already happening.
So instead of this failed approach, let’s all take a step back and reenter the hobby world first personally the way as it should be done – by finding that click, that spark again. Then, and only then, we can introduce others to the hobby and with nothing more than a simple question:
“Hi, do you want to start a hobby?”
From there on, let the conversation guide you. Show them your hobby; show them the joys you share with your hobby. Ask them what they like, ask them what they think it’s cool. Then build upon that feeling of cool, and continue from there. Later, sure, we can talk about painting techniques, tournaments, rule tricks and whatnots, but for now, have a laugh together and enjoy a hobby as it meant to be enjoyed. Like a good pint of beer: it costs a lot, but it relaxes you, it relaxes the friends you’re with, and it brings a smile to your face and makes you forget your daily troubles.
My name is Predrag Vasiljevic, and I’m a hobbyist. If you want to find a way to relax, forget about your daily life issues, find new wondrous worlds, or just chat about nonsense, you can find me on twitter (Follow @PVasiljevic), reporting about the hobbies we enjoy.
Banner picture: view of the « Guest Room » LeVermenarque’s lair, if you want to book it one day you can find me on social media or just summon me here.
« Genestealer activist movement » picture courtesy of Predrag Vasiljevic.