So back on Wednesday of this week, I packed up my paints, a model (the new Bobby G model everyones been talking about) and a pair of headphones, and went and sat myself down at the painting area in Warhammer World. And I’ve been reflecting on the experience since.
First, I think it’s worth saying that by my nature I’m an introvert. Weirdly, I’m in a job that requires me to be an extrovert (I’m a Methodist minister, aka God Squad), and so as a means of recovering from that, whenever I have free time alone, I prefer to spend it alone. Unless theres a reason for us to hang out (such as an event, or a game, or its work related etc etc) I don’t tend to do well with other people. Oh, it’s not intentional. Just that somedays I wake up and just…can’t really face anyone.
As such, I can come off as being socially awkward. I won’t go so far as to call it social anxiety because I wouldn’t want to belittle what some folk have to deal with by claiming to suffer the same, but it means that at times I’ve come across as being on edge, uncommunicative or just plain rude, constantly wearing that “startled rabbit” expression anyone tries to talk to me. It means that at times I’ve missed out on opportunities as I’ve gone to an event and just lost the courage to go into the building, never mind talk to people.
Now, I’m fortunate. Warhammer World is my local Gee-Dub store. It’s big. This means that on Wednesday, when I was having one of these “Low” days, I was able to sneak in, get through the store without being noticed, get a coffee from Bugmans and get set up at the painting area, all with the minimum of conversation. I think that, by the time I went home (I was there from 11am til 4pm), I’d had a total of three conversations; one to ask for a coffee, one to ask the dude across from me if he had a pair of clippers (he hadn’t) and one as I packed up. For me, that was heaven.
It’s also limiting my ability to get more involved in the hobby. You see, despite being the home of GW, there are no established 40k gaming groups in Nottingham. WW doesn’t run one, most gaming groups are focused on other game systems, and the few times I’ve asked the question either online or in person, I’ve really got no where. Staff at Warhammer World, while enthusiastic, are also unable to help. The best suggestion seems to be that I should just turn up to WW on a wednesday or a friday night when they’re open till 10pm, and see if I can find a suitable opponent to play.
This is not helpful.
Putting aside the fact that I’m of the opinion that pick-up games are the least enjoyable of 40k games, the thought of walking up to strangers and hoping for a game is, to me, the stuff of nightmares. I know, its irrational, but there you go.
So what to do? Well, I’m not going to do what my gut reaction is to do when I’m having a “low” day; to avoid the place like the plauge. Instead, I’m still going to go to Warhammer World to paint, or to read, or to write. For me, the environment is friendly enough that if you do just want to be there, but alone, then no worries. And if you do want (or have built up the courage) to chat to a few people, you can do that as well. The gaming community is on the whole a friendly and accepting one, full of awkward and bizarre people just like me. I’m not expecting to meet the perfect opponent, but maybe, one day I’ll get the courage to chat to a few people there, maybe find a small informal gaming group.
For now though, I’ll be at the painting table. Looking scared, with headphones on, and enjoying the atmosphere as best I can, despite myself.