Friday, December 1, 2023

On Hobby Best Practices - Part 3


Series Index
<< Part 2 * Part 4 >>

Part 3 - Participate in a hobby community

Most hobbies, but especially tabletop RPGs, tend to be social activities to some degree. Many people become interested in a hobby as a way to find others with similar tastes or views and participate in a community of like minded people.

This is good, and you should do it too. Obviously community participation carries its own sets of issues and problems, but I believe it is still best practice to find at least one community focused around your hobby and be a part of it.

I will not go into details on how to be a good participant in a community, as that is deeply context sensitive to each community and each hobby, but I will direct people to this excellent post on Papers and Pencils about it.

Being part of a hobby community allows you to be exposed to other hobbyists that you can talk with and share your experience with. After all, if you have been writing about your hobby and about the experience of practicing it, it would be useful to have people who would read those writings. And to read the writings of others and compare them to your own experience and learn from them.

Obviously, a hobby like TTRPGs is a social activity, so having other hobbyists to all do your hobby with is a big boon. While running demonstrations and playing with newcomers or complete outsiders to the hobby is valuable, it can also end up ultimately rather limiting your own experience as a hobbyist. If this is all you want to do, then great - more power to you! But I consider it important to also practice your hobby among peers or, even better, those who are more experienced hobbyists than yourself in order to grow.

To go to miniature painting for an example - it will be more useful for your own learning to be around better painters than yourself, rather than to demonstrate the basics of base coating to new people and nothing else.

A hobby community does not need to be big, either. Tony Bath, a luminary of the wargaming hobby, ostensibly started his hobbyist practice with just one other friend to play games with, eventually it ballooning into the Hyboria Campaign, a wargaming campaign of such scale and importance that even now, some 60 years later, people are still mentioning it or referencing it!

Don’t have anyone though? Well, I think you know what you have to do here, right? If there is no community for you to participate in (and that is almost never true, but maybe you want an in-person rather than an online one!), then it is your job to create it. Yes, community creation, maintenance and growing are difficult, hard and complex things that most people are not suited for or good at. As someone who has done that work before, I fully acknowledge that. But it is also a good thing to at least try and do, even if you just learn that you are not strong at it.

Perhaps your efforts will attract the attention of someone who is better at these things, and you would have helped start a community anyway! It does happen, believe it or not.

In the next part I will talk about being a creative hobbyist, not just a consumer.

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