Banishing Game Shame & Glory To Chaos!

December 20, 2018 by cassn

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Last month was my birthday in more ways than one. Yes, it was, quite literally, the day of my birth, but it was also the first day of my life as a full-blown, unashamed, gaming nerd.


You see, up until I landed this dream job at OnTableTop six months ago, I kept my love of board and card games as a quiet hobby. Gaming was something I loved to do every weekend with my friends; it brought me immense amounts of joy, yet it remained glaringly absent from my Tinder profile. Gaming was the dirty little secret I kept separate from my ‘normal’ life.

That is until last week when, in a tiny tattoo parlour in Warsaw, a girl called Nikki helped me embrace who I really am (and no, this is not going where you think it is). Nikki was gentle and kind in her touch, and an hour later I emerged a new woman reborn in the blood of the Chaos Gods, with their blessing emblazoned proudly on my neck. And although my tribute may not be visible from the Aethyr, I am a true warrior of the Wastes at last.


However, it soon became apparent I was not alone in my struggle to accept my true calling. Back at the hostel where I was staying, I met two awesome English guys who, when I asked why they had come to Poland, became shy and mumbled something about a ‘card game’.

After a bit of pressing, they admitted that they had travelled half-way across Europe to attend an international Magic: The Gathering Card Game Tournament. I use the word "admitted" because, from the way they muttered and stared at their feet, it was clear that they felt like this huge part of their existence was something to feel ashamed of.

Yet, once I started to talk about OnTableTop and my tattoo, the shy guys I first met immediately disappeared and instead were replaced by incredibly confident, funny men. We became bonded by geekdom, spending the next five days talking about everything from rare cards to deep mechanics.

In fact, the article I wrote earlier this year on board games and dating touched on many of the same topics as I’m touching on now - when we are honest about our passions, that is when our personalities shine brightest. Meeting my friends from England wasn't an isolated event and, over the course of my first week with my geeky tattoo, I met an avid Canadian board gamer, a Ukranian miniature painter, and multiple Polish Warhammer fans who, before my eyes, changed from reserved to exuberant about their hobby once my own geekery was revealed.

Furthermore, my tattoo also provoked conversation among those who hadn’t heard of Warhammer before. Before I knew it, I was explaining the lore of the Chaos Gods and the Old Ones to my fellow travellers, regaling my compatriots with stories of Sigmar and fables of Archaon. Of course, not everyone is as easily seduced by the Four Powers as I am, but a surprising amount really did want to know more about Warhammer lore, how the game was played, and how they get into this new hobby.

A Bright Future...and Chaos Gods

And this is where I return to being so thankful that I work where I do. OnTableTop has just launched the Pro-Store and Cult of Games Members Suite. It's a haven where new entrants to the hobby can go through free painting introductions, gaming tutorials, hobby workshops, and organised play events with other like-minded fans without feeling overwhelmed. More importantly, it's working.


I’ve only been back at work a few days and already I have witnessed so many new faces, eyes wide with excitement at the prospect of playing an introductory game of Age of Sigmar or 40K on one of the demo tables. Indeed, one painting newbie got incredibly excited when he realised he could control the speed of his tutorial videos, pausing when he needed to or tapping John for insider knowledge about the craft.

And look, I’m aware I must sound like some tedious advertisement for our new set-up, but I promise you it’s about so much more than that. I’m genuinely proud to be part of a company who are on a mission to bring out the best geek in all of us.

Tabletop gaming is such a vast hobby, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or to feel like it’s too niche to join. OnTableTop is seeking to change the narrative of exclusion which too often surrounds hobbying, and, for me, that’s a pretty awesome challenge to be a part of.

So, yeah, I’ve gone full geek. I have my Warhammer tattoo, and I’m privileged to preach about the glory of the Dark Gods to anyone who will listen. And maybe that’s not your hobby. Maybe it’s Burrows & Badgers, maybe it’s Dungeons & Dragons. Heck, maybe it’s Crokinole. It doesn’t matter. Go out and share that knowledge. Bond over it. Try a new hobby, and get others to try yours.

Let’s make a world where gamers never need to feel embarrassed discussing their hobby, or too scared to try something new. Where you’re proud to paint, welcome to wargame, and it’s cool to collect cards. Let’s take geekiness as far as it can go and push hobbying to the maximum.

I’m not saying tattoo your neck but...ah, to hell with it, tattoo your neck!

"...ah, to hell with it, tattoo your neck!"

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