53: Hobby

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The only one of these games I really played was Area 51
Title text: The only one of these games I really played was Area 51


This is the second in the "My Hobby" series of xkcd comics.

This comic humorously compares the rules of light gun cabinet arcade video games with real life.

Randall suggests that his hobby is going to drug busts with the expressed purpose of getting shot as an innocent bystander, thereby causing the police to lose 100 points.

Drug busts are events where police attempt to catch drug dealers, suppliers, and financiers in situations with enough evidence to convict them. In the style of arcade video games being examined, drug busts are usually depicted as chaotic events with villains, innocent bystanders, captives, and allies popping up like spring loaded targets at a shooting range in a setting with lots of places to hide. If you don't shoot a hostile target sufficiently quickly, you will be shot, so it is common to shoot the wrong targets. To add extra challenge, these games often deduct points — or worse, cause damage to the player character — if the player shoots the wrong target. This is often frustrating; not only does the player feel that they have failed to judge their target properly, but the wasted time can cause them to get shot by the real targets.

Obviously, doing this in real life would be a really bad idea, as the hobbyist would quickly be killed. Whether this can even be a hobby is questionable because hobbies typically refer to actions that one does repeatedly, but if one was killed the first time, one would not be able to sneak into drug busts and startle police officers again. Also, if Randall actually did this, he would be dead and therefore unable to draw a comic about it.[citation needed]

The title text refers to the game Area 51, which was a popular shooter arcade game from 1995 (although a console/PC game of the same name was released in 2005). Area 51 was one of many cabinet arcade games that featured a light gun that allowed players to aim at the screen and shoot in a realistic control mechanic. The title text confirms that the comic is referring to these light gun cabinet games specifically.

The title text of 188: Reload references this strip.


[A person with hair lies on the ground in a pool of red blood. At the top of the panel there is a caption. Then a text. And above the person there is a score with small lines around to indicate that it has just appeared over the body.]
My hobby:
When the police bust drug hideouts, I sneak in and hide. Then I jump out and startle them into shooting me so they lose points.


  • This was the 51st comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
  • Original title: "My Hobby"
    • As is also the caption in the comic, but the "My" was lost in the xkcd title.
    • It is part of the last six comics on LiveJournal that all had a title without the word "Drawing" in it.
    • The five other comics had exactly the same title on both sites.
    • Apart from the thirteen first comics posted to LiveJournal, there were only three other comics without the word "Drawing" in the title before these last six.
  • There was no original Randall quote for this comic.
    • However, Randall did reply to this comment by "SpEnSe" on LiveJournal:
"I'm reminded of Area 51 where you accidently kept shooting the cops in the back...over and over again.
  • Randall made the following reply:
"That was actually precisely the game I was thinking of. I remember my brother playing that game all day at the arcade when we were little.
Fuckin' innocents."
  • This comment is reflected in the title text on xkcd.
  • This comic was one of the last 11 comics posted on LiveJournal.
  • For some reason, 54: Science was posted before this one on LiveJournal on 18 January 2006.
    • It first came out a week later on xkcd on 25 January 2006.
    • This was the day that 53: Hobby was released on LiveJournal.
    • But 53: Hobby had already been released on xkcd two days earlier, the same day as 52: Secret Worlds came out on LiveJournal, on Monday, 23 January 2006.
    • The release date here on explain xkcd uses the first release date, so that is the one from xkcd.
  • After the mishap with 54: Science, the next three comics up to this one came out on LiveJournal a release day later.
    • First with the next (and last) comic released on LiveJournal, 55: Useless, did the two sites release the same comic on the same day again.

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There was a later comic that referenced this one, and it should be mentioned in the Trivia. I don't know which one it was. 20:05, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Found it. It was #188. I'll let Wiki Magic take it from here. 20:08, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
Done. --Alex (talk) 12:28, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Something similar is in comic #347.[stalk the blue seas]UTSc

Explanation: are you sure it was the police who lost 100 points ?