Despite the fact that tabletop games have been in my orbit (or I’ve been in theirs) basically my whole life, I didn’t start playing Dungeons & Dragons until I was 25.
I didn’t start playing Magic: The Gathering until I was 28.
And I didn’t begin a full-on interest in wargaming until I was past 30.
So I’ve had a lot of ground to cover in a fairly short period of time.
It’s a fairly strange situation, having only been really and fully in the “hobby gaming” arena for just over a decade. I’ve read broadly about it, played many games, painted many miniatures, discussed it with friends and interlocutors on social media. When I talk to people about gaming, given my age, they assume I’ve been involved in it for decades because, heck, most people of my acquaintance seem to have started in their teens and more or less kept up with it.
But there’s a small but, I think, growing population of us who are delayed vocations in this world of gaming. Maybe we picked up Warhammer or Warhammer 40K in their early editions, dropped them for whatever reason, and then decided to come back in now that 8th edition is back (I’ve heard this story more than once). Maybe we played D&D in basements in high school, forgot about it, grew up, got married, had kids, and then rediscovered the game through a podcast or a YouTube video and decided to dust off the dice.
It can be pretty daunting at times. I’d tried multiple times over the years to get into Warhammer 40K after years of seeing boxes of the minis, of seeing beautifully painted models in the glass cases of an FLGS, after nibbling around the edges of rulebooks. But I always seemed to be catching the game at a bad time – during a period of change in editions or unrest in the fandom, and it was pretty difficult to figure it out on my own.
I lucked out this summer when 40K’s 8th edition came out, because, when I bought the big box, I was in the same boat as everyone else, trying to digest the new rules and put the new models together.
The learning curve for returning gamers is, I’m sure, about the same for new gamers, but I liken it to how what are euphemistically called “non-traditional students” (i.e. people older than the usual college age) must feel when they’re trying to finish their degree on a campus amongst people often half their age, or more.
Just starting out in a game, when it seems like everybody else around you knows what they’re doing, is rough. You feel insecure in your knowledge of the rules, you think your minis aren’t painted right, and so forth and so on.
It doesn’t help, either, when other players try to lord their massive knowledge over you. Now, thankfully, I’ve never experienced this in a wargaming situation, but I’ve seen it plenty in Magic: The Gathering, sad to say.
I’ve tried to go out of my way to welcome new folks into the community when they introduce themselves online. I’ve said it before, but I’ve found the online wargaming community, with a few caveats, to be a wonderfully welcoming place.
But just give us old-timey newcomers a break, ‘kay?
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube
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