News: Posted November 5th, 2019 by Alina

^ 33 Comments to “Hobbies”

  1. Joe Says:

    Just the tone of voice of people when they hear first about RPGs makes me hesitate to admit that I know the term. Heck, even these days where the MCU conquered cinema is unconfortable to admit being into comics; I think only videogames are being socially acceptable for those “outside”.

    This whole arc is taking on the real premise of the “weregeek” thing, the “double life” thing. I hope we’re not wrapping up the series.

    Posted November 5th, 2019 at 6:41 pm
  2. Bakuiel Says:

    I feel a lot like Mark does here I’ll admit, I talk to my wife about this stuff though she finds it all very strange, I can’t talk to most of my friends about it. They all think its weird and worthless, especially my parents. Thankfully I have two cousins and a nephew who I can talk to about it, until I did I felt very alone and worthless.

    Posted November 5th, 2019 at 7:53 pm
  3. Frostglare Says:

    Bit of a narrow-minded thing to say at the end there, Mark, but it’s good. Starting to get to the meat of what his worldview is. Might even get some childhood snippets. While I doubt he was abused or anything dramatic like that I am getting the feeling he was raised in a bit of an ‘us vs. them’ mentality household, where everything that didn’t fit the mold is evil. He shook off some of it, enough that he could get into things he might not have otherwise, but that kinda stuff still leaves its Mark.

    *ba dum tsh*

    S’at least my take on it based on personal experience.

    Posted November 5th, 2019 at 7:55 pm
  4. Malecus Says:

    Point of Reference: It used to be a common hobby/party activity for a bunch of people to get together, dress up, and try to physically recreate a scene from a famous painting. Photos weren’t usually taken of the recreated scenes and there were no prizes for “best recreator”, it was just for fun.

    At least LARPing has a plot.

    Posted November 5th, 2019 at 9:43 pm
  5. ShuxTehUber Says:

    That’s the thing about having a hobby.

    They’re weird.

    Posted November 5th, 2019 at 10:55 pm
  6. Ozzi Says:

    Ah! Ok, interesting.

    I think someone needs a realty check and stop living in the 1980’s. Nerd is (sadly) mainstream now. No longer is it a part of the shadows, or seen as that different anymore. This suggests otherwise and is confusing to me.

    The bigger problem, and it needs digging into, is why Mark is ashamed of his (in)ability to love unconditionally. His hobbies are only the outlet of this. I wonder if he was never truly loved by his parents, or bullied into submission over the things he loved. Or even the cognitive dissonance between his looks and how he is perceived. Maybe even linked into the ability to be successful and have these hobbies. All these things can be blown out the water with a good therapist. I wonder how good a therapist she is considering she has no understanding of mainstream culture.

    Posted November 5th, 2019 at 11:17 pm
  7. Martin Bonner Says:

    @Malecus “It used to be common” – when? I’ve never heard of that activity (and I was in utero before space flight was a thing).

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 2:19 am
  8. Adamgeekboy Says:

    @Ozzi, while ‘Nerd’ is now mainstream there is definitely a class system. Plenty of people I know consider themselves nerds without engaging in fairly massive bits of nerd culture, they have never even considered tabletop roleplay let alone larp because it’s “weird”

    Hell, I would consider myself a lifelong nerd and I only got into tabletop roleplay a couple of years back.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 3:32 am
  9. Peya Luna Says:

    hm…i wonder WHO convinced mark it was weird aka bad to be a nerd – do i smell daddy issues here?

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 5:20 am
  10. jesslc Says:

    Gaming – of all kinds – isn’t even that weird these days. Or maybe I’m just living in some sort of bubble where it’s not. I guess it’s hard to tell.

    Interestingly, I still sometimes worry about the sigma around videogaming, and yet I have no worries about encountering sigma around boardgames. Perhaps that’s to do with my upbringing and having parents who think videogames are a waste of time but who have come around to how great modern boardgames are.

    Or perhaps it’s just that I’m very capable of refuting any misconceptions about boardgames in a way that “the mudanes” can understand, but I’ve yet to work out how best to counter the usual videogaming stereotypes and misconceptions. I do notice that I have no qualms about talking about boardgames with anyone but that I generally hesitate to talk about videogames unless I know the other person is a gamer.

    Personally I think watching TV is more of a waste of time than any kind of gaming, and yet somehow it’s more socially accepted. That will always be weird to me.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 5:52 am
  11. Lee Says:

    I know a lot of people are going to have issues with this being “from the past,” which it probably really does seem if you live in, say, New York or California, but believe me, if you’re in rural West Virginia or something, it *is* still seen as weird, and a lot of it has to do also with the kind of people you’re around/grew up with. Mark has always struck me as a very average white guy jockish type growing up, meaning, yeah, he probably would have heard and internalized a lot of negative stuff about “geeks” growing up. I was never even alive in the 80s: I’m 28, probably about Mark’s age, and I still vividly remember being harassed by classmates for going into “nerd” stores and then harassed by the men who ran those nerd stores too.

    Yeah, D&D is a household name in some places, because some people watch Stranger Things. But other places still only watch saturday night football and fox news and still think D&D is for summoning the devil. Shrug. It’s just all part of your environment.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 6:21 am
  12. Trivena Says:

    @Malecus: Oh, so *that’s* what “tableaux” are!

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 6:30 am
  13. argentlupus Says:

    I think she may have to bring up certain celebrities to prove that it is not weird.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 8:38 am
  14. Kate Says:

    Hi Ozzy, much of nerd culture is fairly mainstream these days, but I think larping specifically is still considered weird by many people.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 11:23 am
  15. N0083rP00F Says:

    @Ozzi – It isn’t all that simple.

    Mainstream Media “says” that nerdy and geek is in but is it really?

    Video Games – Violent and causes mass shootings
    RPGs – Warcraft? Pencil and paper. Oh [gives concerned look]
    Cosplay – Those weirdos that like to dress up
    LARP – ^^^^ as above
    Furries – [censored]
    Comics – Isn’t that for kids?
    Anime – Cartoons ^^^^ as above

    Then there is the whole we love geeks and science in mass media aka Big Bang and Trek as touted examples
    How long did the former devolve into a canned laughter sitcom and lampoon every nerdy pastime and the other stomped all over actual science and shat on it?

    It has been 40+ years since the birth of Newtype hobbies and all that has happened is that mainstream has monetized whatever they could while putting their mass marketing homogenization on everything that was the hobby and destroyed a whole lot along the way.

    A prime example is HASBRO – they “saved” WotC who had earlier on saved TSR – They trashed the whole TSR library and archives full of unique artifacts and documents instead of donating it all to the Library of Congress. They bought Avalon Hill and killed off war gaming and alternative board games in general. The Pokemon CCG debacle still smells funny and all the details may never come to light.
    They have bought out so many other companies along the way
    Coleco Tonka ParkerBros Kenner MiltonBradley Nomura WotC AvalonHill Galoob Cranium BackFlipStudios BoulderMedia Saban EntertainmentOne… Heck they have come close to buying out Mattel at least once in recent history.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 1:01 pm
  16. Grimpen Says:

    Sorry for the incoming wall of text.

    I get where Mark is coming from. Even with D&D on Community, Big Bang Theory, Stranger Things; the popularity of the MCU, and the broad success of “geek culture”, TTRPGs are still a fringe of a fringe. Where I work, Friday hockey has dozens of participants, yet I am the only person I know of that plays TTRPGs.

    I try and not be a bore and bring it up since I am usually the only gamer in a random group of the general public. If it does come up, I’m honest but don’t go into details, unless asked. I do tend to wear rather geeky attire though, and it is delightful when I run into another gamer by happenstance.

    Granted I was the kid in high school who was pretty open about gaming, and I would certainly recommend to Mark that he has to be comfortable with himself and less concerned with what other people think. Still, it’s tiring having to explain the TTRPG hobby again and again to people that really don’t care.

    When I moved cities about 9 years ago, it was a tough slog to *find* other gamers, thank goodness for a local convention and some decent FLGSes.

    And to Joe above, it’s not worthless if *you* enjoy it. Gaming is a hobby that forges friendships. I think the world would be a better place if more families and friends were having board game nights, gathering in person, sharing time with each other.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 1:23 pm
  17. Scia Says:

    I *do* think that Mark has a bit of a point there at the end; the amount of of exposure to different things can really affect whether or not something seems “weird” to you.

    Granted, this can go in reverse and apply to Mark, but still.

    I do think that the therapist’s argument does sort of fall flat. I mean, I know that it’s a last-panel thing and that only so much can fit in it, but it still feels rather… shallow – like, in a way it seems like she’s just dismissing it as that the *only* reason why things are (seen as) “weird” is because it’s not super-familiar to a lot of people, instead of addressing the deeper issue.

    That said, I also know how hard it can be to hit right on the core of an issue immediately after it’s mentioned – I usually don’t get it until at least a couple days later… sometimes, not until MONTHS have passed. XD;

    But yeah. I feel like, when you dig down deep enough, whether or not something appears ‘weird’ to someone has less to do with how much exposure they’ve had to it, and more to do with whether or not – or the tiny little nuances of it and what those nuances mean – match of with what you believe is right, and all the tiny little nuances involved in that worldview.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 4:41 pm
  18. Kobold Says:

    Meh, those prejudices stick… I remember my father eying me suspiciously when I told him I was going to meet my friends for P&P. In his mind, gaming was for losers living in their parents basements. I think he is still confused by the fact that the “losers” have become doctors, teachers, lawyers, engineers and one of them his son in law 😉 one day, I’ll get him to admit that, just maybe, having “weird” hobbies does not make you a weird person… or, at least, not in a bad way 😂

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 4:50 pm
  19. Skruddgemire Says:

    I can appreciate Mark’s point of view. He’s young and hasn’t hit that magical age of “@#$% it years old”.

    Back when I was younger, I felt as he did. I was into some nerdy things, but I certainly didn’t come out of the nerd closet about them.

    Then when I hit 40…I hit “@#$% it”. By then I didn’t care who knew what about my hobbies. I’d talk about them with my friends in the subway. I’d wear my SCA garb into WalMart when ever I had to make a town run, or picking up dinner on my way home. I even got into it when someone got in my business when me and the Subway clerk was talking about World of Warcraft.

    Mark is too young to have hit “@#$% it”…and therein lies his problem. Once he hits that point…the world is his oyster.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 5:09 pm
  20. Cyrus Says:

    The point really isn’t whether gaming is mainstream or viewed as weird, it’s about Mark learning to accept himself and not base his self-worth on what other people might think of him.

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 11:01 pm
  21. Gene Wirchenko Says:

    There are plenty of people who do not game and think of it as weird. I think that it is more accepted, but there was a gaming convention in my town last weekend. There were not a lot of attendees and a number were from out of town. I still had a good time.

    I wish there were more gamers around, but chacun a son gout. (To each his own taste.)

    Posted November 6th, 2019 at 11:38 pm
  22. Drraagh Says:

    It may just be me, but I think I could see a therapist making a great gamer. Really able to get into people’s heads could be fun for getting into character. And how much Therapy Roleplaying there is, I’m pretty sure there’s quite a few therapists who do partake, so I could see the therapist bringing up next how they roleplay.

    Seriously though, I’ve been toying with what fictional people I’d love to have at a gaming table, and a few come to mind but one I can say without spoilers is Rango from the CGI movie of the same name. It was a genre save chameleon, who knew quite a bit about acting and assuming roles and the like. I swear he was one of the best examples of a bard I’ve ever seen, and he was in a cowboy movie.

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 2:20 am
  23. Aknoby Says:

    Oh Mark stop,you are doing it again!!I really never cared if people think it’s weird or not!They don’t pay it or are my parents or my friends!So I’m happy with RPG..LARP..I just need to find one I feel connect…not a fan of Vampire LARP in the end

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 8:28 am
  24. Johan Broad Says:

    Most people put there still consider things like RPGs, Online Gaming, LARPing, and Comics to be for dorks/geeks/weirdos.

    Even with the geek trends on tv and in films, most people still look down their noses at gamers, nerds, and geeks.

    ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has always struck me as more mocking of geeks and nerds than celebratory. The writers seem to have a goal of cramming as many sterotypes as possible into each episode.

    I know that geeks and nerds have more freedom to leave the basement now, but that does not mean we are completely accepted.

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 11:54 am
  25. Steve Says:

    The Satanic Panic of the eighties did RPGs no help at all.

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 2:19 pm
  26. TB Says:

    When you think about it, the entire acting profession is a form of LARPing. People dress up and pretend to be other people for fun, and many even get paid for it.

    That said, there were times in our history when being an actor didn’t stand up very well in social circles either.

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 3:31 pm
  27. Public_Danger Says:

    To everyone saying that “this days geek is mainstream”: it is *more* mainstream than it was, but I wouldn’t say it is in general terms. Yeah, thanks to shows like TBBT people know what geeky stuff is, but the whole point of that series is that geeky stuff is hilarious and only done by misfits with no social skills (has Penny gotten interested in ANY of the main cast activities after 10 seasons?).

    And even if you consider that things like comic books and video-games are now more or less mainstream, we are talking about RPGs and LARPs here, and in my experience that is a whole different issue. I mean, I work in Math, where everyone is a gamer (in the video-game sense) and geeky is kind of a requirement, and when I asked around if someone wanted to play RPGs with my friends (we were lacking a player for a day) more than half the answers I got were “… isn’t that a sex act….?” and very disturbed faces. And don’t get me started on trying to organize a LARP!

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 4:06 pm
  28. Valtharr Says:

    So, these last few pages made me think: How exactly did Mark meet Joel and the others?

    Of course, your initial response might be “just read the beginning of the comic again!” But really think about it. The beginning of the comic shows us that Mark met Joel at the game store. And it presents Mark being at the game store as his inner Weregeek acting up. But the whole Weregeek thing was retconned into being one giant LARP! And Mark was shown to be very oblivious about anything RPG and geek related, and of course (especially in this arc) to be very ashamed about his geeky tendencies. His friends and coworkers seem to be more “mundane”, if not outright bro-types, his girlfriend was your typical girly-girl fashion queen who tried to accept his new hobbies and friends, but never really understood them, and based on all that, and how he’s acting and talking to his therapist here, we can assume he grew up in an environment where he didn’t really get to live out his more “weird” interests, and was either ashamed, or not aware of them.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is: I really hope this arc re-contextualizes and explains the beginning of the comic, and tells us what exactly led to non-geek Mark deciding to check out an RPG store late in the evening.

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 4:37 pm
  29. CardinalRam Says:

    I started ‘geeking’ back in 1976, when a friend from high school introduced me to the original D&D (white box, 3 booklets).

    Whenever I talk to someone who thinks that I am weird for doing RPGs, or that people who do CosPlay are strange, I ask them how different that is from sports fans who wear team jerseys; paint their face their team colors; or dress up in the latest fashions and make-up before going to a ‘cool’ club?

    There is generally a long pause followed by a grudging, “Well, that’s different…” Too which I give them my best Spock-arched eyebrow. 😉 😀

    Posted November 7th, 2019 at 7:24 pm
  30. Karla Erkkilä Says:

    First of all, I have loved this storyline! It’s been very raw and painful but also heartwarming and fascinating to read. So good job on that!

    Also, to be fair to Mark, even the actual larpers might have their moments of “wtf am i doing”, even if they obviously don’t think it’s weird or care about what other people think. I’ve always worn “weirdness” like a badge of pride, for having wild imagination, being a tomboy, being a gamer and whatnot (nothing actually weird about any of that, but I did grow up in a small village so I didn’t meet other kids like that). Even when I was anxious teenager, I refused to care what people thought of me cosplaying and going to conventions, I let my weird flag fly high!

    That said, when I first tried out larping, even though I was beyond excited and thought everything seemed so cool… I had a stumbling start. I felt weird and clumsy going in. When things got going and I became really immersed in the game, I relaxed and forgot the outside world. Even now, when a larp begins, there are those first few minutes when I’m internally stumbling to shake off the real world completely off my shoulders to get into character. So I can see why Mark got so distracted in the changeling larp – he was made thoroughly aware of what he, as a person and not a character, was doing. That he was dressing up like a dog and pretending to be one. For someone so insecure of his hobbies, it’s no wonder the long-festering shame/anxiety/etc. boiled over.

    Posted November 8th, 2019 at 5:35 am
  31. Ari Says:

    Okay, I’m old.
    Old enough to have been the only girl in my high school physics class and my senior higher level math class. I’m old enough to be the only female GM at a game con and a rare female player. I remember going into a store and talking to the guys playing and actually getting the ‘you’re a girl’. I laughed. My daughter grew up in this world – SCA, SciFi cons, gaming, married a man who gets it all. LOL.

    I don’t believe in closets. All they do is cause harm.
    When national coming out day comes around next year, remember you can come out of the closet even if you are not LGBTQ*etc. You can come out of the broom closet, you can come out of the game closet, and most of them, you are better off for it.

    Sign me here, an old female bisexual polyamorous pagan geek gamer who works at the most conservative Christian organization in the area, and well, I’m not a minion, and I don’t care who knows I’ve loved women as well as men, and my daughter had a female lover before her husband. I don’t care who knows I”m not a Christian (sometimes, I admit, I avoid the word witch, because I don’t want to spend hours explaining why I don’t worship Satin). I admit I game, I admit I read avidly, almost always fiction, of all sorts of types.

    Mark has to come to terms with who he is. Some never do, this I admit, but it is much healthier to accept yourself.

    Remember the famous words of Max Ehrmann in 1927 – …. “be yourself. … You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. . . .And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

    Posted November 8th, 2019 at 11:14 pm
  32. AJ Says:

    Hoping she asks who this theoretical ‘everyone’ is. I know we haven’t seen a lot of Mark’s interactions outside of the groups and his girlfriend but really honestly every hobby is weird to those outside of it to a degree. I honestly find the concept of comparing stats of sports players for a theoretical team to be more akin to math homework then a game but some people enjoy it and I’m happy they do.

    Most adults who have matured enough to be called such aren’t going to belittle each other for their hobbies. Sure you’ll run into the occasional obnoxious person, and definitely some people won’t ‘get’ your hobbies, for a simple example Mark saw no joy in knitting or sewing, I forget which it was his ex did, but he never called it out as being a bad hobby or anything like that. His ex has proven to be both a mean person and iirc a stalker to boot so definitely shouldn’t use her as a metric for ‘everyone’.

    Posted November 9th, 2019 at 1:30 am
  33. Urikanu Says:

    Like many others here, I know where mark’s coming from. I’ve been seen as weird by most everyone in my schools, in my family and my workplaces since I was around 10, for my love of fantasy books, of games, of wargames, larp, etc. And I -still- get it today, when I encounter a new group of people and someone asks ‘so what’s your hobby’ and then go all goggly-eyed when I bring up ‘gaming’. that, or derisive.

    I’m just fortunate that I’ve almost always had friends who were my kind of weird, and parents who supported my weird despite not understanding it AT ALL.

    Posted November 11th, 2019 at 8:37 pm