According to Malcolm Gladwell, there are people who are natural ‘connectors’ in a community. They know large numbers of people and are in the habit of making introductions to others due to their “ability to span many different worlds (and) intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability and energy.”
This morning I heard the shocking news that our community has lost one of its great connectors. Mike “The Welsh Wizzard” Hobbs who was known in hobby circles for his miniature painting (displayed on twitter), his generosity of spirit, good humour combined with a sly wit (expressed in his blog) and for being the co-host of the long running podcast Meeples and Miniatures with his best mate Neil “The Brummie Dwarf” Shuck.
The GROGNARD files owes a great deal to Mike. He discovered the podcast at a period when it was running out of steam back in 2017. Thanks to his connections in the wargaming convention world, he was spreading the word about it: “I happened across this podcast on Twitter and thought I’d have a quick listen, as I used to play RPGs back in the 80’s, I was hooked from the start … over the past 2 weeks I’ve listened to the back catalogue.”
He mentioned the GROGPOD on Meeples and Miniatures 223 with an enthusiastic endorsement and as a result we had a huge influx of new listeners. He was such a respected figure that people could not resist his recommendation. Although he wasn’t pouting on instagram, he was a true influencer, drawing more and more war-gamers to the idea of rediscovering the lure of RPGs. The new listeners he brought boosted our energy to continue and it grew the GROGNARD files community massively.
At UK Games Expo 2018 he joined my game of RuneQuest, Broken Tower and he presented me with a fantastic painted figure of Judge Dredd. “Keep going mate, it’s fantastic,” he said in his gentle Welsh accent. He recounted the experience of playing on his blog ‘Musings of the Welsh Wizzard’ with real excitement to be playing, even noting my perplexed look as I tried to hurry on the discussion about the parking arrangements of the bison mounts.
Before long he was back into RPGs, bringing along armfuls of delicious welsh cakes for the attendees of GROGMEET, he played Jenner in our Blakes Seven game and this weekend he was playing Numenera at virtual GROGMEET.
He was a caring, humble and generous soul and I will miss him deeply. My thoughts are with his family, Neil and his many friends.
I was always ribbing him about how guilty he sounded about his ‘accidental’ purchases. Last year he revised his review of the GROGPOD, adding a warning, “beware as you might find yourself buying lots of new things that you never know you needed in your life, but hey that’s not a bad thing, is it?”
Gladwell said that connectors are vital to create a ‘tipping point’, so the next time something tips off the wobbly shelf into my hands at my local games store, I’ll be thinking of Mike.