This guide was created as a way to allow people from outside the tabletop gaming hobby to get a basic understanding of it and for those wishing to join the hobby have resources to point them in the right direction. Tabletop gaming has many facets and may prove to be overwhelming without a guide,that is what I am trying to provide here.
Tabletop gaming can be a rewarding, intellectual stimulating, and lifelong hobby. It can also have a rather daunting learning curve for the uninitiated. Most people get into the hobby from one of several different types of games, and will usually branch out to try the others, or simply continue pursuing a deeper understanding of their game type of choice. For the purposes of this guide there are four basic types.
Roleplaying games - games that require the players to take control of a custom character in a setting, often played in groups of 4 or more with one person acting as the game master
Board games - games that are self contained and don't require any prep work prior to game time
Card games - games that require players to build a deck out of approved cards ahead of time
Miniatures games - games that makes use of miniatures and terrain to simulate battles, miniatures typically must be assembled and painted prior to game time
Naturally these definitions are fairly loose, many board games use cards and miniatures after all, but they do provide a good leaping off point for discussing them. Each of these game types have a tab of their own, along with more general resources at the end, and section on general tools of the trade.
Also be sure to visit your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS). There are always people who would love to introduce you to the hobby and teach you about any game you're interested in playing.