Starting Up a New Nerdy Hobby
We’re in a new year, so I want to talk about New Years sort of things at least for the next two days. With the new year, we often want to pick up a new hobby or a new good habit (or end a bad habit), so how do you pick up a new hobby?
Now, there are plenty of things that we can start as a new nerdy hobby, maybe you want to start playing Dungeons and Dragons, get into board games, or read more Sci-Fi books. But where you jump into them can be pretty tricky for some of them. So how do you pick that starting point of joining into a hobby that already has a lot of people in it?
Let’s use, what I know well, board games, as an example. In 2019 there were thousands of board games that were published, and that’s just last year. And in that, there were thousands of bad board games published, so if you are getting into the hobby, what should you be looking for? Is there some proper starting place?
It is going to be overwhelming to jump in, but thankfully, there are a lot of articles out there about good starting places for board games. So to start with board games or any hobby, I’d use Google and simply research, “Introductory…” and it’ll give you some good options. Now, that might seem off, because you want to play the best board games, so maybe you would go to somewhere like Board Game Geek, which will probably come up in search results, and just buy games in the top 10, but a lot of those are much bigger and heavier games, and the same with picking the most popular Sci-Fi or anything, it is going to lean more into what those who are already steeped in the hobby like.
The other reason that you want introductory is that while the games aren’t always cheaper, they are going to be teach you about the hobby. So something like Carcassone teaches you tile placement, how games can have various ways to score, and generally gets you to a point where you can understand board games better, and the different introductory games are going to be good at teaching different things. Catan can teach you about probability and resource management. Ticket to Ride is about set collection, route building, and there are so many other intro games that teach other things.
But, maybe you won’t like all of the introductory games, so should you really go out and get all of these games? You will probably find some that you don’t love, so did you just waste money? Thankfully, if you’re in a larger town/city, you might have a couple of options. A lot of larger cities are going to have gaming stores. These places often has games that you can just try or the employees should be willing to open up a game and teach you how it’s played a little bit so you have an idea before you purchase the game. Also there are other spots that you can try and game. A lot of breweries are going to have some games, and while you might mainly find Cribbage and Cards Against Humanity, I’ve seen Catan at a lot of them as well. And who knows what gems you might find there. Also, you can look on Facebook or other places used to schedule Meetups (again Board Game Geek could help) and you can find a public one in your area that you can join. I’m in a city, so there are more options, but in more rural areas, you might be able to at least connect with people who are already in the hobby. But use these ways to start playing the introductory games and then when you have a better idea of what you like, you can get some.
Now, that section seems fairly specific for board games, but it works well for D&D as well. For something like Sci-Fi, this would be the library. Get a library card and check out books that are different types of Sci-Fi to see what sort you want, maybe you want the hard core scientific Sci-Fi, or maybe you prefer one that focuses like on the science aspect and is more a grand space adventure. Who knows, maybe your library even has a Sci-Fi book club or would have up a poster for one. There are always groups around for various nerdy things, whether it’s in person or an online forum that you can join as well and ask questions. Now, it’s the internet so there will be people who get annoyed because you aren’t already into the hobby like they are so you’re stepping on their turf and wasting time by asking questions, and while it’ll seem like they stick out more than anyone, it is really less people than those who want to grow the hobby, so ignore the trolls.
This is all a good way that you can start and it helps get rid of some of the chafe that might be less than ideal stuff to dive into to start. But any hobby, unless it’s something with technology that is brand new, is going to have a lot to dive into. So it’ll seem intimidating when you’re jumping. And you’re going to run across games or books or DM’s or whatever it is that you don’t like. Don’t let that drive you off and don’t let those people who feel like it’s their hobby and because you’re just joining keep you from joining the hobby. It might take you time to find the area of it that you like, so the last piece of advice is patience. And with that, if you don’t like part of it, move on and try another part of it, if you don’t love heavy Sci-Fi, go and try some more adventure type Sci-Fi, if you don’t like deckbuilding, try area control games, if you don’t like playing a wizard try playing a fighter. Experiment until you find something that you like more. And maybe the hobby won’t be for you, but there is so much diversity in all of these hobbies now in different types of things that hopefully there will be something for you.
I could talk more about this topic, but I don’t want to overwhelm someone who wants to get into a new hobby. To summarize, try and find an existing local community that can help you or a good online community. Try a wide range from the hobby you want to join, and while everything might not be for you, find what is for you.
If you’ve already gone through this process, what other simple tips do you recommend?
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