It’s strange to me that table top gaming still has a stigma attached to it. Maybe less so in the last year, but still, at least in my part of the world I feel that it’s still considered to be a ‘boring’ or ‘unsocial’ hobby, which as we know is just nonsense! I base this on the perplexed looks people give me when I’m explaining what I mean by table top gaming, I base it on many people just not really knowing what board games mean in this day and age. I base it on the reactions I get when I say I’m dressing up to make a video/play a game/take a fun photo for Instagram or people I speak to about it and receive a blank or confused stare in return.
So where does this ‘unsocial’ stigma come from? I think it possibly means that as a social activity other people associate it with staying indoors. Which doesn’t bother me too much, I like staying in and having rubbish hair and eating snacks and wearing t shirts and woolly socks most of the time (this explains the lack of pictures of me actually playing games as most of the time I look like a hot mess) because when it’s just me and people I’ve been playing with for ages I tend not to worry about personal appearance too much. But I also don’t want pictures of me with my huge fluffy hair floating around the Internet! This is just me personally, I don’t attend gaming groups or anything, as much as I like the idea I am a socially anxious wreck of a person deep down. Anyway my long, drawn out point is that there’s nothing more social than board gaming whether you’re playing with one other person or a group, because you’re interacting with other humans in a way that you normally wouldn’t. When I have played games out of the house, the pub for example, I find that people are often genuinely curious, if you were playing chess or cards no one would bat an eyelid. But it’s because it looks so intriguing to the non gamer. I once played MTG for most of the day in the pub and some guy kinda just come over and said ‘sorry I’ve been wondering all day what’s going on, we’ve got like Jessie J (me apparently) and two sorta working class blokes playing cards with poker chips??’ And so we kind of explained what it was all about and life went on. I’ll bet if he’d sat down and played he would of been shopping for the latest core decks in no time! I also think that in my neck of the woods at least ‘fun’ is still associated with going out to clubs and pubs and getting obliterated.
That brings me onto ‘boring’ and possibly weird. It’s a personal preference, I happen to think there’s nothing less boring than immersing yourself in a completely different world with your game of choice. Unlike films and tv (something that I couldn’t live without) or video games (I’ve never been all that into VG not through lack of trying) it’s something that you can feel, touch and DO in the real world. That’s also why I love a bit of dressing up (it’s not woolly socks and bad hair all the time!) and music soundtracks because I really like to get into the spirit of things, especially with heavily themed games.
Weird, I don’t know. Most things that aren’t common to the majority of people are often thought of as weird. I just feel like I’m sure at Christmastime lots of people break out a traditional or a mainstream game and have a perfectly great time. So it’s just like that except the games are better and you do it all year round!
To end on a positive note I feel that table top gaming is being more accepted as a worthwhile hobby now as more board game cafes pop up and a few more games make it into the mainstream and you’ll see them in Waterstones/Borders/The Works, that sort of thing. Part of me doesn’t really care too much anyway if it is considered a worthwhile or hobby or not. It’s just irksome to have to defend it for lack of a better word.
Lastly, as I’ve said in a post earlier on in the year, with so many sweet, intelligent kids games (and gateway games) around, it’s horrible to see some of the garbage peddled out for kids by old hat publishers. So that’s why I do care that it’s becoming a little more recognised in the mainstream, because if someone discovers a great game in a cafe or a bookstore then there’s a chance they’ll start exploring the genre more and so forth and buy their children something neat, as oppose to something gross or inane. I sound like a bit of a snob now but I really don’t mean to be.
In conclusion I will resist the urge to be outwardly defensive about my favourite hobby. Instead I shall spread the word, share information and hopefully other people will give it a try. I’ll try not to tell them it will be the best decision they ever made. But I think it will be.