Aug 18, 2008

A dark covenant...founded in earnest. It's only goal: To roll the dice!

Heya everybody! I had a fascinating conversation this weekend. It was with someone that just didn't "get" gaming. It wasn't one of those ignorant "D&D is either devil worship or cosplay nutjob types. It was just a normal person, who couldn't understand what it was all about.

"You mean you just sit around for hours and tell a story...that sounds pretty gay"

A gen Y quotable if there ever was one eh? I straightened them out in short order. You see, even though this person had no idea at the time, we DID have a common frame of reference...World of Warcraft.

Oh noes! He's gonna do the D&D = Video crack thing! Run away!!! Still there? Good.
As I was saying, This person plays WoW for about 2-4 hours a day, 3-5 days a week. I'll see your sitting around for hours, and I'll raise you ten!

"But I don't try and make up some lame story the whole time, I'm, PLAYING a game."

Forest for the trees anyone? When I asked this person who prince Arthas was, the resulting 30 minutes of excited monologue recounting the entire fall from grace effectively meets their "Lame story" and calls. The oddest part was that this person (a pretty intelligent type I might add) hadn't "ever looked at it like that" before. They were content to graze someone else pasture, and stick with the storyline, no thought to what would happen if they could make it up or change it as they went along fetching A and carrying it to B.

Maybe we're onto something in this. Is this how to get people to try D&D? "It's like WoW, only non-linear, and more random!"

So now we have a "person" now convinced that MAYBE this D&D thing isn't so bad. Then comes pitch number three,

"I don't really like the thought of being trapped in a sweaty, nerdy, sausage-fest..."

Ouch! This one could be a problem. Luckily, my current group proudly bucks the trend with not one, but FOUR females! The poor guys are actually a minority. I would also like to add that while nerdy (whatever THAT means anymore), we have no hygiene issues at all. Though I must say, in the interest of full disclosure, I have had unwashed nerds in my groups before. Those types are politely warned (in private) then ejected if they cannot conform to the hygiene standards of the group. So I was able to defuse yet another crazy stereotype.

Don't laugh people, this is really how the uninitiated sees us. A bunch of acne covered, MALE, borderline antisocial math geeks, that smell awful and would rather roll dice than date...I'd say TSR blew their marketing, as these stereotypes have been around since even my early days.

The reality (for me) has been quite the opposite. I have played with some pretty diverse groups. I have transitioned form always being the youngest, to usually being the oldest. I have played and DMed. I have been stuck with a 7 man all male group, and the (even worse) 7 female group. The more I game, the more it looks to me like the stereotypes need to evolve to match the times. Better yet, lets buck the trend and make them positives!

  • A whole lot of you gamers out there seem to be in the Engineering/Technical fields.
  • I see a lot of crazy mathematical based discussions regarding rules and their mechanical interactions within a many other hobbies can boast that?
  • I see a lot of Passionate folks in my hobby.
  • I see a lot of Artistic types as well - Across ALL mediums.

Most of all though, I see a lot of imagination. The good, silly kind. Like when someone asks what's so funny (you're smiling), and you think to yourself that your last character (a half-elf ranger/rogue) looked kind of like them - but was eaten by a dragon, silly. Of course you will probably just say "nuthin" or something, but then again...she probably just wouldn't get it anyway right?

Wanna share your best/worst player or stereotype? Ever met a card carrying B.A.D.D. member (for the grognards). Every tried to recruit a player that thought the whole thing "just wasn't right?" Tell me!

NOTE: To my Assault on the Lightless Depths fans, I am discovering why "everyone" doesn't do's tough! And worster - time consuming! Will post an update in the near future.


TheLemming said...

Stereotype? What's that? :)

I mean currently the headcount of one group is 4 women, 2 men - that's just not even in the slightest way fair, but I think it's interesting that especially the girls prefer to play with geek men around here. (As long as they meet hygienic requirements ofc).

Interesting that someone playing a MMORPG doesn't even realize what the last three letters mean - but I think that's a majority or at least one of the larger groups there.
Have you got any experience with pure MMORPG gamers in your groups?

Donny_the_Dm said...

Yes. We had a newbie stop in for about three games last year. He was 20, and played WoW, Guild Wars, and EVE. He had been getting into them for quite some time, and was looking to come out of his hole.

After three games mostly punctuated by his fidgeting, pacing, and smoking every 10-15 minutes, he called and let me know he wasn't coming back. His reason:

Real life gaming is boring.

This was a reminder of the fact that while you can fight all you want for everyone's freedom, there will always be those who long for the chain around their neck.

Or was it "to each their own...." I can never remember.

Geek Gazette said...

I've also played in groups with and without females. As a matter of fact my wife still gets in on D&D games every once in a while. So I have seen the non stereotypical groups. Today for instance I was in a large chain bookstore asking about the new Forgotten Realms novels, when I offhandedly asked whether they carried any Rifts novels. It was then that the clerk began going on about the troubles that Palladium had and how she... that's right she had not seen a Rifts novel in quite a while. She was just a random clerk I picked in the store and she was a gamer!

I'm a Psych major and while earning my BA did more than a couple of term papers about various aspects of Roleplaying. In my research I found several interesting tidbits.
1. People who play Roleplaying games (the pen and paper type) tend to be of above average intelligence.
2. They tend to gravitate towards professions that require problem solving.
3. They tend to be creative.
4. They are not antisocial, despite the stereotype. Some may be shy but as a whole are generally friendly people. One of the reasons given for the shyness, though not the only reason, is the fact that due to their intelligence and creativity they often feel uncomfortable around "normal" people. They result is the forming of a gaming group or a personal clique made up of like minded individuals.
Like everything there are exceptions. Age and family upbringing also plays a large part, but that is the gist of it.

I avoid the "gamer geek" label by being honest and nonchalant about it. If it comes up in conversation I talk about it the same way they talk about sports, or video games. I don't bore non gamers with tales of my characters or adventures.
However, everyone knows I go to Gen Con, they know I play D&D, and they never give me funny looks when I wear my black geek/comic book/gaming tee shirts. They just accept that it is part of who I am.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Thanks for the hit! I eat stuff like that up :)

If people only knew how many "Dragon swoops down and eats offending idiot" Daydreams I have on an average day...Being a professional while having a hobby as misunderstood as gaming is tough. I've always felt that a LOT more people would love the game if they just tried it.

Most of the folks I have been priviledged to play with HAVE been closer to the "elite" ideal than any other work or social groups I have. It is what it is. It takes a lot to play this game.

Thank you for coming by!

Geek Gazette said...

I have seen the elite gamers as well. I think that comes from being locked into their clique for too long. It becomes an us against them type of thing where outsiders are not welcome. But that happens in every hobby. I know NASCAR people who are Racing Snobs, Computer people who are Tech Snobs and so on. It doesn't matter that I happen to know a great deal about each of those.
I know a fair amount about NASCAR strictly by chance as I have a brother in law who is a NASCAR fan and since he treats my interest with respect I return the favor. He went to Gen Con with me and I have been to a NASCAR race. He's still not a gamer and I'm not a racing fan but that is another story.
While I suck at programming, I know quite a bit about computer hardware. Yet I still get the snub by a lot of tech elitist. It doesn't matter that I have had to fix hardware problems for them, I still don't have as much computer geek cred because I can't write code. Same thing happens with gamers.
I don't think it is that common as I have only had a few minor incidents. Even my brother in law commented on how great and nice everyone was at Gen Con. He expected to be treated like a freak when he strolled in wearing a wife beater, looking the part of a redneck who has never picked up a d20 in his life. I doubt he will ever go back, it isn't his thing, but he had a good experience. If you can cram thousands of enthusiast into a room and have an outsider still comment on what a nice group of people they were, that says something about gamers.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Does that make us officially "Pseudo-intellectuals? lol.

We are definitely a diverse lot, even within the bounds of the stereotypes. Gaming is such a subjective and totally unique individual experience, that it's hard to quantify.

My wife is really hot/cold about gaming too. She doesn't LIVE it like I do. My other siblings are the same - except my little sister, she is a gamer fiend now too. It takes a special type of person...

Jonathan said...

I'm not even done reading the post - but i was compelled to say

"You mean you just sit around for hours and tell a story...that sounds pretty gay"

was the funniest fucking thing i read all day. OK, back to reading the rest of it.

Jonathan said...

My group is also A-typical: 2 men, 3 women. 2 PhD level scientists (me included), 1 HS Teacher, a Presbyterian minister, and a stay-at-home mom (slash ex-corporate marketing guru). My current group is probably the most diverse I've ever had - but yeah.. the smelly wierdo SUPER nerd with BO - I've had one of those in my group before. "What do you mean I _smell bad_?" "Dude... you SMELL BAD... as in horrible". He had to go. It was sad, I honestly felt bad for him. He just... didn't understand.

Donny_the_Dm said...

LOL! Yeah, I had the same reaction when she said it...looking back, I think that reaction was exactly what kept the conversation going. She wasn't being cruel or anything, just matter of fact.

You have quite the group! I'm jealous, we have a bit of a shortage of professionals, just "normal" types. Whatever that is.

We had a couple of "creeps" come through too. You know, the single guy who lives alone, always shows up and hour early? The one that makes all the women folk nervous? I didn't think he was so bad, then they started killing all his was a tough time, and I am VERY glad it's over - Drama sucks!!

The hygiene guy was the same. He insisted he was being targetted for some odd obscure reason, but dude...he smelled like corn chips. YUCK!!!

Graham|ve4grm said...

Lessee... my current group consists of:

3 girls: a mechanical engineer, a retail worker, and a bank office worker

4 guys: a retail worker, a plumber, a civil engineering student (me), and an electrical engineering technician (student as well)

In the past, we have also had a computer engineer, a chef, and all sorts of others, though we're all under 30, so we're just getting into our careers.

I have never played in a game without at least one girl (except for a few weeks when one moved away, before my fiancee joined), and the female players often outnumber the males.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Back in my olden days, that would be the early 90's. The "sausage Fest" label was pretty accurate. In fact, I had been gaming for almost 5 years when I joined my first "professional" group. All 10 years older than myself, with careers to boot!

This was in Sioux Falls, SD - so most of them were middle managers @ citybank. It was also my first experience gaming with girls...there were two; the DM's girlfriend, and and my future ex-fiance LOL!

In any event, in my experience, only the professionals make enough cash to AFFORD this damned hobby in the first place! Add to that, needing a steady (usually non-retail) schedule, and it's no surprise that I personally know 8 gamers who are engineers of some stripe. I do CAD, but I am definitely not deserving of THAT title :)

This is interesting. I sense another writing project...

Geek Gazette said...

If you consider the fact that D&D basically got its big boost on college campuses, it makes sense that a lot of the older players are professionals. I mean they must have been in college for something other than D&D. Although that is a pretty good reason to attend college too.
Since there are younger professionals that play I would attribute it to the fact there are usually game groups on campus. I have seen flyers for groups wanting new members in the student lounge for years. It just keeps the cycle going. If not for college kids D&D may have died out.
Probably not, but college students did have a huge impact on the survival of the game.