Technology has united the world. Today, there’s a virtual community available for just about any hobby, interest, or experience. The more niche, the harder that chatroom or platform might be to find—but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.
For example, Magic: The Gathering was once considered a highly fringe tabletop RPG. Back in the 1970s and 80s, it was considered a ‘nerdy’ affair. Today, Magic the Gathering Arena, a virtual counterpart to the original game, has around seven million active monthly users. The top players advance to an annual global competition, which is held in person.
While technology has helped bring together hobbyists from around the world, it’s also helped to introduce newcomers to a new activity. More specifically, live-streaming technology provides a place for people to interact with their favorite hobbies. And it’s these same live-streaming channels that are helping shine a light on some of the world’s most unique and misunderstood hobbies. Let’s dive in.
Films like Rain Man and 21 have created an air of mystery around the card game blackjack. Even if most players today are casual and prefer to stick to online formats, the average person probably thinks a blackjack player is an MIT-caliber mathematician or a mad genius. In reality, blackjack is favored by the mathematically minded because it’s a game of probabilities.
The rules require players to hit the number 21 without going over. The dealer is also playing the same game, which means the house edge is slightly smaller. According to hardboiled probabilities, players are prescribed straightforward advice on how to play each card according to how the game is unfolding. So, while expert players are certainly quick-minded and analytical, anyone can learn the game’s probabilities—it’s all down to numbers.
It’s not surprising that people enjoy exploring underwater worlds. From snorkeling to scuba diving, people from all walks of life enjoy taking a dive—but some want to really push the boundaries. Free diving is a way of diving far below the surface without any technical equipment.
This sport is enjoyed by hobbyists of all levels. At its most basic, people enjoy free diving because it’s quieter without scuba gear—which usually means fish aren’t quite as timid around divers. However, many choose to push their bodies to the limit to see how far they can descend with only a rope. Competitors say they enjoy exploring their own potential, seeing how long they can hold their breath and how much pressure their bodies can handle, specifically in the context of nature.
Hot Dog Eating
Both blackjack and free diving have an austere nature; blackjack because it’s a pursuit of the mind and free diving because it’s a pursuit of athletic prowess. Hot dog eating isn’t nearly as glamorous as either—but it’s certainly a hobby that has millions of fans. In fact, around 35,000 live spectators pack into Coney Island to watch the largest live competition each year.
So, what’s with this odd hobby? From a competitive perspective, athletes want to push their bodies to the limit. It’s not just about eating hot dogs—there’s a fine-tuned methodology to swallowing a glizzy and keeping down as many as 70. That’s up to 16 pounds of highly processed meat, though it’s still quite a bit behind other animals, like Burmese pythons and wolves.
Bodypainting probably brings to mind holidays like Halloween and festivals, but it’s a lot more than seasonal art. Bodypainting is an international form of competition, which includes an annual championship. Modern body painting is all about using a person’s body as an interactive canvas, creating bright and imaginative designs.
However, there’s also a cultural component to body painting that makes it incredibly dynamic and exciting. For example, Carnaval culture in Brazil includes plenty of body paint, which takes on a unique significance. The annual global competition, hosted in Austria, includes artists from around the world, who use their designs to create conversations around global topics.