Gamers Used to Participate in the Hobby, Not Watch It

Gaming is a hobby as I’ve been reminded lately and frankly they are right.

Thank you.

To be a part of the Hobby, one needs to participate in the hobby with others. Simply collecting books and watching others play is not participating in the gaming hobby, it’s being a fan or a collector.

Lots of people have lost sight of the fact that gaming is a hobby that you need to participate in, it’s something you invest time (and money) into and get rewarded with experience based on that.

NOW collecting is a hobby in itself, but its a different hobby all together, and gamers can be collectors (of the games they PLAY).

Moving on.

Let’s look at Fandom and I am defining it to show that you must participate in the activity for it to be considered a hobby, otherwise it’s a fandom.

As we see Fandom is defined as “being a fan of someone or something” and normally not participating in the thing you are a fan of.

Now let’s check out the word community as a word, which everyone seems to umbrella us into:

We see definition #1 really doesn’t apply, so let’s look at #2. Which could apply, but it really doesn’t and here’s why.

While fans and hobbyists share some common interests, the fans really can’t relate to the experience, as hobbyists are actively (or semi) participating in the hobby of gaming, while fans are just observing the hobbyists and not experiencing it, so they really can’t relate to one another.

Sure, they can both share the excitement of the journey, but it’s through the eyes of the hobbyist and it’s not their (fans) own experience.

When a fan crosses over into the hobby and participates in the hobby, that is when they can relate to the experience. All it takes is to play the game at least once or twice to fully share the experience. EVEN if you never play again (due to time or lack of a friends to play), you still have experienced how things play from your point of view.

Here’s an example.

You attend a local comic book store, you see some gamers playing the new Star Trek Adventures RPG. You’ve heard about it, read about, watched (or listened) to people online play it and even may have picked a book to read about it.

You sit down and observe the game, you see it’s a fun time, maybe even during a break you get friendly with some of the folks asking questions and you said, “I love Star Trek RPGS!” and the Game Master looks at you and says, “oh yeah? Awesome come join us, what type of character do you like to play?” and say, “oh well I don’t play Star trek RPGs”.

The GM is going to look at you a bit confused wondering how you love Star Trek RPGS when you’ve never experienced it or played it, but you follow up with, “But I love watching games of it played, maybe I’ll play one day.”

This is when a good GM should be saying, “well you are MORE than welcome to sit down at the table, join us and experience the fun!”.

This when is when you as a fan start to become the player of the hobby, provided you say “yes.”

Now maybe you as the fan aren’t comfortable playing because you’ve never done it and nervous about it, thinking you may do it wrong.

There really is no real wrong way to play a game, especially if you are learning.

Gamers are very accepting of new players in the hobby.

As far back as I can remember, when new people came in, we’ve accepted them with open arms, sat with them and taught them how to play.

I still do this, to this day.

I spent an entire summer with a group of folks who’ve never played RPGs in their life, teaching them how to play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e, D&D 5e and even the old D6 Star Wars.

They loved it and went on to form their own groups at their own homes for years to come of many fond gaming experiences. Some of them I keep in contact with as they’ve moved away, and they ask me questions or talk about their groups and their experiences.

The one thing that’s great about gaming is when everyone sits down at the table everyone is equal and there to share an experience together.

Wrapping it all up, playing is the key here to experiencing the hobby. Watching is not experiencing it, it’s just being a fan.

Vince The Evil DM

Raised in the '80s and enjoys all RPGs, DC Comics and movies that don't push agendas. The Evil DM is an Ennie Award winning writer that has over 25 years of experience in tabletop gaming, is the host of various RPG Podcasts, including Roll for Initiative and Roll High or Die! He also has his own youtube channel where he hosts gaming advice for the OSR Movement.