My biggest hobby is gaming. You name it, I play it. Role-playing games, board games, war games, miniature games, computer games, video games, card games. I love games. It's probably the mental stimulation that I enjoy most of all; pursuing a goal, plotting and planning, hell, I can even enjoy arguing about the rules. But even more than games, I love gaming.
Now, doubtless some of you are unfamiliar with the hobby. What's more, those of you who have heard of it immediately think of pimple speckled nerds or obese, socially inept computer engineers. And, to be honest, many of you would not be too far off the mark. While gaming does entice an incredibly diverse range of people, there is an intellectual common denominator, an interest in concerns beyond the mundane. Gaming is made up, in large part, of nerds. And, while that label has managed to shed some of its pejorative context with the rise of things like the internet, it's never going to completely shake itself free of stigma.
I really think gaming is a wonderful hobby. It's too bad that it's just so strange, a lot of people don't know how to approach it. What's more, it can be pretty intimidating for people too. I know that sounds odd, but gamers are a fairly insular lot. I wouldn't say we have a seige mentality, but neither do we really reach out to new participants. Add to that the fact that gaming is a hobby based on collaborative imagination; it isn't passive like collecting or solitary like reading. You need to put yourself out there, and a vulnerable part of yourself at that. Your sense of adventure and imagination, those things that are usually confined to the private recesses of your consciousness. That's the only way the game can move, fueled by the contributions of its particpants.
If I could, I'd explain in general terms the years of enjoyment I've gained from the hobby. And, while I can talk about things like comraderie, imagination, challenge, and accomplishment, in a very real sense I'd be doing the whole thing a disservce. So instead, from time to time, I will endeavor to share a story from my table top; tales of table top heroes battling cruel villans over the fate of imaginary universes. Maybe you think that kind of thing is a waste of time. Stick with me, and hopefully I'll change your mind.