Friday, September 30, 2005

Help! What's The Best Game to Introduce to a Non-Gaming Co-Worker?

How many times have you seen that on BGG this week? This month?

There seems to be a lot of talk and plotting amongst boardgamers on the best way to introduce our hobby to others. Game geeks are constantly seeking advice on which games to spring on their friends or coworkers. I have noticed this trend for the 3 or 4 years I have been visiting Boardgamegeek, and occasionally in the game blogs.

Do other hobbies have this "you'll love it if you only try it" mentality. Sky divers? Possibly. Surfers? Quilters? Scrap Bookers? Horse riding enthusiasts? I doubt it.

Do Dead Heads talk about the best songs to use to introduce the Grateful Dead to their uninitiated friends? Do AC/DC, Garth Brooks, and Dead Clown Posse fans do the same thing?

And spouses. What other hobby has so many enthusiasts concerned about the exact item needed to lure their significant other over to the hobby?

Now, don't get me wrong. It can be quite satisfying to share a hobby with your spouse. Camping, hiking, partying, golf, poetry, gardening, and the like are all hobbies that are frequently enjoyed by a couple. My in-laws enjoy hunting. My parents are rock-hounds (digging for sapphires in particular). Couples that enjoy these hobbies together are often more content than couples who have no mutual hobbies. But do gardeners lose sleep and consult other gardeners over how to best lure their spouse into the magical world of perennials?

Many enthusiasts are eager to share their hobby with others, this is to be expected. However, rarely do they plot to lure in people who would otherwise have no interest. People who volunteer to teach shooting at the local gun club don't want to teach people who were blackmailed to be there. The people who come to learn shooting made the decision on their own and come seeking guidance on their own free will. Teaching willing participants to shoot properly is a rewarding activity for gun enthusiasts.

A fellow who thinks Ronald Reagan is the greatest President, and collects Reagan paraphernalia may be eager to show his collection to his friend. However, when it becomes apparent that the friend isn't interested, most collectors don't seek advice from other collectors as to what one item he needs to add to his collection to really impress his non-collecting friends.

I've been to miniature gaming websites, and miniature collectors/players don't seem to obsess about drawing their friends/spouses into the hobby. Wargamers on BGG sometimes obsess about introducing the hobby to their peers. Wargamers on ConSim World don't. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

What sets boardgame geeks apart? Is it that other hobbies can be enjoyed without a group? Boardgamers need at least one other partner and preferably several to be able to participate in their hobby.

Is it that we tend to have no friends? Are we socially inept?

While those are distinct possibilities, I doubt it is the root of the phenomenon.

While it is true that most hobbies can be enjoyed alone, boardgames are best with a group. That might be where the distinction lies, except for the fact that other gamers, such as bridge and poker enthusiasts, seem to be content to let non-card playing friends remain non-card playing friends.

I just don't know. I wonder, but I don't know.


ekted said...

It was easy to get my g/f to play board games. The trick is to get her to learn them fast enough so she can keep up with my purchase rate.

Anonymous said...

I think that other hobbies do try to convince "outsiders" to join their hobby. For instance, our family has been enjoying archery for a few years. The reason that we signed up for the beginner class was because a family of my daughter's friend invited us to try. In this case, they certainly didn't have to stress over the best "presentation" of their hobby, because there was a ready made instructional league at the local outdoors club.
More generally, I think many people think that others would be interested in pursuing their hobbies if the others were exposed to said hobbies.
It may be because there are so many gaming choices that we seek assistance in selection. Take another example, golf. To entice someone to play, I don't think taking them to the most challenging course would be the best approach. It would probably also make sense to start with somewhere local. So the available choices are much fewer and the differences between them are slighter, so the choice would be easier. Collections of any sort also have a definite starting place. Look at my collection. Either the person's eyes will light up with interest or not. So again there is no discussion needed about which collection to show a potential initiate.

You mentioned several other hobbies like hiking, if you'd just met someone and they hadn't been hiking, you certainly wouldn't suggest a ten mile grueling trail (unless it was a guy and you thought you could dare them into trying it), but instead would probably pick a less difficult trail that offered a good chance of seeing wildlife or plant life of interest to the newbie. I could even picture a conversation with a fellow hiker about that selection.
So while we gamers may spend more time discussing it than others, we are by no means alone in the habit. And let's face it, what other hobby conveniently offers literally hundreds of different possibilities for a first exposure?

Anonymous said...

Reasons we geeks try to indoctrinate others into the hobby (at least from the opinion of this geek):

1. These games of ours are fun and very accessible. Getting someone to join us in our quilting or archery hobby is not quite so easy. They take knowledge and practice. Games can be enjoyed from the first experience.

2. Who you play with is a big factor. I play games in many venues, but no venue is more satisfying than playing at my own house with my friends. That said, the idea of having a friend be taken by the pastime means more quality game time.

3. Sometimes we ask advice about a specific occasion we have in mind, not generally. For example, if I know that I'll be having friends over who have already agreed to play games, I simply want to take care to pick well. Don't get me wrong, I think I can handle this task just fine. I'm being a devils advocate for why others may ask.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason is very simple: there is a huge misconception about games unlike most hobbies. When I talk about games immediately most people think about Monopoly, chess, checkers, the standard stuff, so I have to “convince” them that there are other things out there. When talking about other hobbies usually just by referring to the hobby people can have an idea what this hobby is about since they heard/saw/read about it.