Shining Dodecahedron

One geek's views on role-playing and games in general.

This place is all about discussing paper-and-pencil roleplaying games. I'm Jay, and I run this joint, but that doesn't make me smarter than you. This will all work best if I say things, and you say what you think about them, lather, rinse, repeat. With luck we can all understand the hobby a little better. If you have a topic that you would like me to start a thread about, post a comment here. If you've got something to say about characters (my ongoing topic du jour), post a comment here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Embarrassed by Gaming?

Marc Mielke says

I refuse to discuss RPGs with non-gamers, and get very embarrassed and upset when others do around me. When asked, I've learned to be very evasive about what I do on weekends.

So what's up with this? I'm sometimes embarrassed about my hobby of choice too. What about the rest of you? What makes you so?


Blogger Brendan said...

Because nongamers, who comprise most of the world, will immediately judge you on it and feel no guilt about doing so. It's not like they're looking down on you for a difference of race, creed or sexual orientation; we've been taught that those are Good Differences. All they know is that you choose to participate in a leisure activity that is portrayed in almost all media as alternately dangerous or worthy of derision (and often both).

A few months ago, I was at a family gathering, showing off my new copy of Nobilis to a cousin. My uncle wandered up and listened to the conversation for a while, then asked "so what makes people who play that stuff go crazy?"

It was an honest question, and the man's known me all my life. How can I expect any better from a stranger at a party?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous brennan taylor said...

Back when I was in high school/college I really didn't want to admit this in public. I felt it was too nerdy to admit to. Now, though, I happily talk about it. I usually get two reaction: complete cluelessness, or the other person mentions that they play too. I have been very surprised by some of the gamers I've met this way, and I'm not shy about talking about it any more. The only time I wouldn't mention it is if I'm not in the mood to explain what it is.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 1:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Loomis said...

That's interesting, Brendan. I really haven't had a lot of negative experiences in the last ten years or so. Have you seen any negative media portrayal recently? I'd be interested to see what people are saying.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 1:43:00 PM  
Blogger John Kim said...

I always talk about it pretty openly, but I am aware that there are negative images. My boss seems to think it odd when I talk about roleplaying, for example. Recently, I recall playing "Ticket to Ride" with some friends at my sister-in-law's place, and one of them commented that role-playing was too geeky for her.

But overall, people are interested and positive even if they don't play themselves. I think the biggest problem for RPGs is role-players own lack of self-confidence rather than negative portrayals. I think we've broken through the anti-RPG attacks of the eighties. However, mostly I feel that RPGs are absent in the media.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 3:16:00 PM  
Blogger John Harper said...

I've never been embarrassed by gaming. It's not something to be embarrassed about. It's like Chess or Szechuan cooking: a hobby. I will happily talk about any of my hobbies in mixed company without embarrassment.

Fellow *gamers* on the other hand? Yeah, I've been embarrassed by *them* plenty of times. When, in mixed company, they want to talk my ear off with breathless "and then," stories of their 14th level cleric and his Rod of Manhood. That stuff makes my skin crawl.

It's juvenile, poorly socialized behavior. You can find it among Trekkies and rabid sports fans too. It's not gaming that's embarrassing, it's those people. I don't spend much time around that sort of person anymore, so it's become a non-issue.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Loomis said...

That's what I thought, too, John. I haven't encountered media badness of late. I think my own hesitation in talking about role-playing with strangers is more of a reaction to some bad experiences many years ago.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 5:21:00 PM  
Blogger Sven Holmström said...

I definitely choose carefully the situations where I admit roleplaying as a hobby. A few times it has evidently been a problem when someone i tried to connect with learned that I dealt with this kind of things.

I must also admit to often stress the larping part of my hobby, in favor of the traditional roleplaying, since here (in Sweden) larping is more accepted (I imagine the opposite could be said in many other locations). It's quite often treated as 'art' in culture pages in newspapers and so on. In reality I still engage mor in traditional role playing. (A nerd that tries to show off as another type of nerd, that must be the lowest life form of all, right?)

Thursday, June 02, 2005 3:39:00 AM  
Blogger Marc Mielke said...

I dread the comments people make once they find out. It's always, 'my kid brother did that when he was 12', or something similar that lets you know the other person thinks you a juvenile halfwit, while on the surface trying to be quite accepting.

But then, I do tend towards hypersensitivity as regards to social interaction.

Thursday, June 02, 2005 5:51:00 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

I have always been really bashful about talking about RPGs in public. Then again, I'm pretty bashful around strangers in general, but still. I think that I have difficulty answering the question "isn't that like dungeons and dragons" without getting into geeky, fiddly minutia. I mean, yeah, Universalis (to pick a game at random) has lots of fiddly bits and no GM and such different from D&D. But, from the point of view of someone who is not close to the hobby, it is pretty much "like dungeons and dragons.

I just had a fascinating experience recently. A 40 some year old woman, my mom's friend, mother of three, said "oh, hey, your mom told me you are designing this wierd game. Is it like dungeons and dragons?" I did my, uh..., balking thing and then she said "I used to love playing dungeons and dragons as a kid! So much imagination" and proceeded to tell me about her really good D&D experience.

My hope is to soon be able to say "yeah, it's pretty much like D&D" and have other people smile and nod and move on in conversation, just like I smile and nod about their hobbies (model trains, softball, bowling, whatever.)


Thursday, June 02, 2005 6:15:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas Karlsson said...

Someone I know recently had a meeting at a Swedish employment agency. They discussed which associations people get when they hear the interests people put in their job applications. During a break she asked the session leader to ask the others about roleplaying. Most of them associated it with something silly, one had only sexual associations and one measured with his hand a metre above the ground and said "you pretend to be, like, this tall and... a penguin or something, and then you fight bad guys with a sword". This was random people in the age of 21-50 years.

This makes me a bit hesitant to mention roleplaying in job applications. During an interview it's ok, because you have the chance of explaining, but I don't like the prospect of being discarded by someone with these misconceptions.

On the other hand, a Swedish government investigation from -97 say that around 200 000 young Swedes had played a roleplaying game in the last year, which is quite good considering we're only 8 million. They asked people between 13 and 25 years old, and 16% had played in the last year. 9% of the boys and 3% of the girls said they played more than once a month.

My point is that even though my friend met some clueless people, a lot of people do know what roleplaying is or have tried it themselves. I'm not hesitant to talk roleplaying when I'm being social, but I'm less likely to do it in a formal situation.

Thursday, June 02, 2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Sven Holmström said...

I write about that report and link to it here. The report itself is in Swedish, though, so it should be of limited interest to most.

As a minor point, we are actually nine millions nowadays, Jonas, but more like eight in 97, of course. And as a more major point, it would be very interesting to see how that ratio compares to other countries.

Thursday, June 02, 2005 1:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas Karlsson said...

Sven: As a minor point, we are actually nine millions nowadays, Jonas, but more like eight in 97, of course.

Oh, you count people born after 1969 as existing people. Ahh.

I actually looked it up, we were 8 million in 1969 and 9 million in 2004.

Jay, sorry to fill your blog with Swedish statistics, back to roleplaying!

Thursday, June 02, 2005 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger Brendan said...

Jay, this may not be the example you're looking for, but it's the first thing that comes to mind: an excerpt from an episode of Reno 911!

I'm not going to pretend it's not a funny clip. But it's the same old image of gamers as weird, chubby white guys who hurt each other. You're supposed to laugh when one of them gets shot. Seventeen years after BADD, we can't get past this?

Thursday, June 02, 2005 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason L Blair said...

Hey, these games are my job. I'll gladly tell someone what I do/make and will endeavor to explain them to the uninitiated.

Monday, June 13, 2005 2:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Tris said...

If someone shows any interest (even "is that like Dungeon's and Dragons?") I'll explain. Hell, that's how my last RPG group got started :-)

There may be people who dismiss you as nerdy, argue with them or ignore them, as you see fit.

Friday, July 15, 2005 6:49:00 AM  
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