Getting People Into Your Hobby
New Years is a time for new things for a lot of people. People do New Years Resolutions, and while most are self improvement, sometimes, you want to do something for others (or it could still be self improvement). How do you go about getting people interested in your nerdy hobby? Or, maybe to make it focused less on other people changing, how can you become a better ambassador for your hobby?
There’s a reason for the focus change in the second question because you won’t be able to get everyone into your hobby, for some people that’s just not interesting. And that’s fine that you can’t get everyone into your hobby, but for those people who seem open to the idea, how can you help them into the hobby without overwhelming them or having an elitist attitude about the hobby?
First, I would start by inviting them to join you in the hobby. You’re looking to create a welcoming space. If someone seems interested in board games or the game you’re playing, if you’re in a public space, ask them if they want to sit down and watch or if they have any questions. Or, if it’s a smaller/fast game, you can maybe even ask them to join in on another game. People aren’t going to be that apt to invite themselves to your table, but you can invite them in. Or if someone is interested in your Sci-Fi books, consider inviting them to join you in reading the book or to a book club that also is reading Sci-Fi. And when you do invite people to that club or to a game night or to your table, it is part of being inviting to make sure that they are having a good time. This doesn’t mean playing the game for them so that they can have the optimal strategy, but it does mean helping them if they get stuck, explaining Sci-Fi terms or who an author might be when they don’t know. It’s about creating that welcoming environment because they are going to feel like an outsider no matter who welcoming your are, but you can make it feel less that way.
Next, don’t overwhelm them. I talked about this in the last article about starting in a new hobby, about how a lot of hobbies can be really overwhelming. How do you pick through all of the Sci-Fi books that came out last year, let alone all the Sci-Fi books that are already out, and the same with board games, or anime, or comic books. So, while you don’t need to have a list of things already to go for new people, because you can do better than that, don’t overwhelm them with a ton of different options either. Instead, using your knowledge of the hobby, ask them about other things that they like, maybe you can tailor it more so. If they like comedy movies, starting with a heavy Sci-Fi book isn’t going to be what they’ll want to start with, instead, you can recommend a lighter Sci-Fi book. Or if they like Sci-Fi movies, don’t pull a fantasy game off of the shelf. I think that there is often a temptation to pull your favorite book or game or anime off the shelf and recommend that, but, if I were to do that with my favorite game, I’d scare people away as Gloomhaven is too much of a monster for a new gamer. So have options of more accessible options for new people into the hobby.
Thirdly, slowly introduce more, and I mean slowly. There’s always a desire to rush someone to the point where you are in the hobby, because then you’ll have more in common to talk about, but that goes back to the overwhelming, you don’t want to do too much too fast. Most people won’t be able to jump into Gloomhaven right away. Let the person who you are leading into the hobby lead the pace they get into the hobby. If they are seeming bored with a type of Sci-Fi book or interested in another type of Sci-Fi book, you know you can move them on. If they really like a game, say, if they really like Dominion as a deck builder, when you’ve played that a handful of times, introduce them to more deck building games. If they start pushing back when you suggest something else, slow back down again. I realize that this might be boring to you at times, but hopefully you’re able to have other gaming groups or other people to discuss Sci-Fi books with, and realize that creating a strong base with the new person to the hobby is going to allow them to more fully join the hobby.
While I’d like to say that these three steps are a guarantee to get someone into your hobby, but it’s not always possible. Some people won’t like it no matter how you go about it, and that’s fine. Not everyone has to be in the same hobby. But also, don’t let that discourage you from trying again with another person or group of people. There will be people out there who just need a nudge to join you in a hobby. I’d also like to say that these aren’t the only things that you need to do to get people into a hobby, there are other tactics that you can take, but these are fairly easy steps that you can do to hopefully introduce someone to a hobby in a way to make them more likely to joint the hobby.
What other suggestions do you have for someone who is trying to bring people into and grow their hobby?
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