When Does Gaming Move from an Activity to a Hobby?

Okay, you obviously dig games or you probably wouldn’t be reading this, but just how into tabletop gaming are you? Is playing a boardgame or rolling up a character for an RPG just an activity you’re doing, or has it become something more?

Take this quiz:

  • Do you keep track of your plays? If you also keep track of who was playing and who won, then give yourself a star.
  • Have you gotten excited about a game before it was published? Give yourself a star if you have translated a game into English (or whatever) because you didn’t want to wait.
  • Have you ever purchased a used boardgame? Give yourself a star if you’ve participated in a math trade.
  • Do your children understand the term Meeple? If you do not have children, then get some and come back to this post in five years. I’ll wait….. Good. Wow, you look like crap. Parenting is hard. Uh huh. Tell me about it… Yep. Give yourself a star if you own a Haba game.
  • Have you ever watched a video or listened to a podcast about a boardgame or tabletop games in general? Give yourself a star if you’ve been in one.
  • Do you own more than 50 boardgames? If you have more than 200, then give yourself a star.
  • Look at your bedside table. Are there any rules to a boardgame or RPG? Give yourself a star if it’s not the first time you’ve read them.
  • Have you ever played a game and then thought to yourself that it would be even better if those little wooden cubes were actually shaped like ships or sheep or grain? Give yourself a star if you have created specialty bits out of Fimo or other material.
  • Can you name five games by a single game designer? Just one game designer, not a game designer that is unmarried. That would be weird if you knew which game designers are married or single. That’s just creepy, seriously. Give yourself a star if you have a copy of a game that is signed by the designer.
  • Could you easily spend an entire day playing games? Give yourself a star if you already know what you’ll be doing for International Tabletop Day.
Shear Panic sheep
Are these the sheep of which you dream?

Now count up all of the times you could answer YES. If you responded no to all of the questions, then roll a d20. If you roll less than 10, you take full damage. If you answered YES more than a few times and you picked up a few stars, then for you, gaming has moved beyond an activity, like the times you play ping pong in the backyard at your uncle’s house. Gaming has become more than something you do when you sit down at a table. At some point, gaming leaked out like a well animated special effect worm-like thing and made its way onto your bookshelf and into your computer. It slithered into the political witticism you shared with friends while eating that Chipotle burrito of unearthly size. Honestly, those things are huge. It did a cool spiral up your arm toward your smartphone, stopping briefly for a cool lens flare effect before diving inside and launching your game of Ascension.

You probably weren’t aware of when this happened, but at some point, it must have come to you in some slow-motion coffee cup dropping Keyser Söze kind of moment.

“Damn,” you thought, “I’ve got a butt-load of games.”

I remember this moment. I remember slowly sitting down on the floor and just staring at my open game cupboard. I only had one cupboard back then. Shut up. I sat there and I looked at all the colorful boxes, some of them from foreign lands where they drink beverages without ice and use strange words like “Würfel” and “Kartenstapel.” I was filled with a hopeful sense of being part of a larger community of like minded people around the world, who could be looking at their own game cupboard wondering about hamburgers and words like “metagame” and “simultaneous reveal.” I felt happy.

This is a wonderful hobby. Embrace it. Celebrate your enrollment in this ongoing education of strategy and probability, of history and simulation, of competition and kinship. Participate in the bigger game. Roll the dice and have fun.

9 thoughts on “When Does Gaming Move from an Activity to a Hobby?”

  1. 16… partially because of the way you phrased the rules reading/re-reading question. If it was “in your work space” instead, we’d have to add 2 to my score.

    Here’s what I love about our hobby/my obsession – I get to meet cool people like you.

    1. What, you’ve never fallen asleep in your workspace? 🙂

      I with you on that sentiment, my friend. I’ve always loved gaming, but when I decided to stop doing theater because of my situation at home, gaming not only filled that creative space but also provided me with lifelong friends.

  2. I may have gotten a few stars…

    Probably should get bonus stars for having Haba games and 0 kids.

      1. Bonus stars? You guys can’t even take a quiz without trying to max your scores. Joe, you get credit for gaming with all your nieces and nephews.

  3. …oh, and I don’t keep track of who played with me or who won. I think keeping track of who won is EVIL.

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