Tabletop War Gaming And My Mental Health

Before moving on to tabletop war gaming, let’s address the elephant in the room. I don’t recall how many years I have lived with depression and anxiety. It would be entirely inaccurate describing my condition in terms of a switch; one did not simply turn out the light. Instead, it was akin to the sun slowly descending the sky before night devours the light hurriedly in its final moments. In other words, symptoms crept in over time. Symptoms such as a low mood, feelings of inadequacy and fear of ridicule when talking within a group. I often ask myself: How could this happen to someone who was at one time the life and soul of a party? Someone with boundless confidence in their profession? Someone married to an incredible woman and father to two wonderful children? That’s the thing, mental health doesn’t discriminate. You see, we all have mental health, but at times it can be healthy and at others not so much.

The Tabletop War Gaming Hobby Was A Light In My Darkest Moments

Although I have been in and out of the hobby for much of my life, it was when I felt my lowest that I really reached out and grabbed it by the horns. Anxiety had lead to a long deep depression; far into the depths of the Umbral Deeps in the Age of Sigmar’s Realm of Ulgu. Prophecy foretells that if you wish to hide something forever, within the thick mists of Ulgu is the place to do it. That is what I felt I had done with large swathes of my life. I had hidden them beyond reach within those mists. With depression, it is all too easy to detach from everything of value in your life. I find it also amazing and wholly intriguing how piercing clarity and creativity can penetrate through the thick mist whilst within its depths.

Lore writer’s were right on the money neighbouring Hysh Realm of Light to Ulgu.

Realm of Ulgu and its cloying mists, Warhammer Age of Sigmar Wiki

With a sudden realisation that I had a map within my grasp and the magical effect of a magnetic field exerting torque on the needle of my compass, I was en route back to existence. I had decided there and then that I would get back to the hobby. Firstly, by rekindling my love of collecting miniatures and painting them. Secondly I picked up rules and books on the lore. Thirdly, and this was the big one, I started socialising with others in the hobby and playing games. I still find that last one the most tricky with anxieties at play. These manifest around knowledge of the rules, challenging an opponents play if they have broken one, and general tactical performance.

Terrain Making And Tabletop War Gaming Scenery As Therapy

It didn’t take many moments back in the hobby to remember my true love of the modelling aspect. Memories of leafing through the dog-eared pages of the original Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader rulebooks modelling and scenic painting pages came flooding back. Making the buildings and landscapes of the battlefield fascinated me way back then. And it is safe to say, even more so now.

Tabletop war gaming scenery from household waste

I am at my most creative when making terrain. As a result, I fully engage and lose myself in the act of creating and crafting. For this reason I believe it has a very profound and therapeutic effect on my mental health. Not only does it allow me to reconnect with a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy on many levels—be it gaming, painting, crafting or reading novels and background lore—yet also it is a form of artistic expression. With all things considered, I produce tabletop war gaming scenery and terrain for enjoyment. I enjoy the entire process from conceptualising an idea, the act of making, right through to the final outcome. It is then, for the most part, exciting to share my creations with the community and receive feedback.

Carving Out A New Existence

With my mental health condition making it increasingly difficult to continue with my current profession in the software industry, I knew it was time for a change. If making tabletop war gaming scenery and terrain makes me feel good, and I can produce it to a competently high level, can I make a business out of this? As can be seen, The Immersive World Crafter was born.

Interestingly, I was still able to use parts of my old skillset. I mentioned that I worked in the software industry, let me expand on that. I have been what is known as a user experience designer for software producing businesses for around 15 years. In brief, a user experience designer aims to create an environment in software that is functionally usable and accessible to all of the audience it serves. Now that has a lot of transferable skills. Firstly, I built this website, host it and maintain it entirely by myself. Secondly, the mindset of always researching and asking customers about their experiences with my products is ingrained and I regularly check I am fulfilling customer needs and wants.

At this time, I am not setting the world alight with my business, so to speak. It is modest and growing with my reach and exposure increasing month on month. Unfortunately, I am unable to run it full-time at the moment because I am not turning over enough to sustain my family. I work on The Immersive World Crafter part-time two days per-week, evenings and weekends as family time allows. The other three days during the working week are still with my past profession. I am however working at a lower level than I have done previously. Even still, my time is split and this can cause fatigue with very little downtime between.

What I Wish I Could Change Next

My largest concern and annoyance at the moment is my response time to completing work for The Immersive World Crafter. As the business grows with more and more orders coming in, the handmade nature of many of my products means that there is a delay between receiving an order, producing it and getting it shipped. I know that I am exactly the same as my customers in that if I order something online, I expect to receive it within days. With the time that I have to devote to the business alongside a constant battle with fatigue and mental health conditions, my response time can be less than desirable. I won’t relax on quality, but I do always strive for more efficient ways of producing my items. The Immersive World Crafter always delivers on its promise though, even if it does take me longer than expectations to get there.

Running a business like this is completely new to me. On the whole I am very happy with the progress I have made over the past 18 months. There is no doubt on areas to improve upon. I am always pushing for a better me and a better business. In the meantime, if you could please be understanding that for me this business is a lifestyle change still transitioning. The takeaway here is…

I may take longer than expected, but with the wait comes quality and dedication to my products. I fully believe that quality is worth the wait.

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