Confessions of a Gamer

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 7, 2009

Are you proud to be a gamer? Or do you hide the fact that once a week you play Dungeons & Dragons? I’m 34 years old, I’m a gamer and I’m proud to admit it.

I’ve been playing RPGs since I was 10, so 24 years now. And during that time I’ve met many different types of gamers. Most, like me, are proud to be gamers. Others are what I like to call “in the closet gamers.” They loved to play D&D, but would die a slow and painful social death if anyone outside of our immediate gaming group learned this terrible secret.

I’m sure this will not come as a shock to anyone reading this blog, but when I was in high school I was a huge nerd. In fact, I’m still a pretty big nerd. As a teenager, I was not part of the popular crowd and I wasn’t invited to parties. But I had a solid group of friends and one of the hobbies we shared was D&D. Every weekend, while the “cool kids” were getting drunk and partying, we were enjoying a night of role-playing games. And as lame as that sounds, I’m not ashamed to admit it.

As much as I think I’m more of the norm than the exception, I know that there are gamers who are genuinely ashamed to admit they play D&D. I think they’re worried that people associate gamers with the following stereotype: overweight male, single, virgin, living at home with his parents and lacking social graces. Let me tell you, my group is nothing like this.

Sure we were (and still are) nerds, but we do not fit into this stereotype. In fact, we’re as far from it as possible. My group consists of six core members. We all have five years of post-secondary education or more. We all own our own homes. We’re all happily married and five of us have kids. Two of us work in the financial industry, two guys are teachers, one guy works with computers and one guy is a pharmacist. I’d say the guys who were the unpopular kids in high school turned out just fine.

I credit my love of RPGs with many of the successes in my life. I like to read – a lot! Growing up I read fantasy novels and comic books looking for inspiration for my next D&D game. When I was the DM, I wanted to make my games as good as possible so I researched history, politics, geography, sociology, mythology, theology, architecture and art history. At the time I didn’t know that what I was reading fell into these disciplines, but when I got to college it all clicked. I found that this knowledge-base had many real-world applications and helped me find direction at school.

Although most of us have no shame in admitting that we’re gamers, a few guys I’ve met over the years were not as comfortable admitting that they knew what a d20 was.

I have a friend who played D&D with us all through high school and college, until he met the girl he eventually married. Sure he’d had a few girlfriends over the years, but when he met her, he changed. We were not to speak of RPGs or admit that he had ever played them when she was around. They’re still happily married and have two kids. To this day he won’t admit to her that he’s a gamer. But when she takes the kids out of town for the weekend guess who calls me begging to play some D&D?

On the other end of the spectrum is one of the guys I still play D&D with every week. When he started dating the girl he eventually married he was very upfront and honest about being a gamer. He told her early in their relationship that he was still very good friends with many of his high school buddies and that every Sunday night we got together to play D&D. She was cool with it. Until, one Sunday, we played at their house.

She was out when we arrived and it wasn’t until we were hip deep in the adventure that she came home. When she saw us playing D&D at her kitchen table she was shocked. “What are you doing?” she asked. “We’re playing D&D” he replied. “You REALLY play Dungeons & Dragons on Sunday nights? I thought that was just euphemism for going to see strippers.”

We all fell to the floor in hysterics. It was great that she didn’t have any issues with him going to the strip bar every Sunday, but she had a bit of a freak-out when she discovered that he was an honest-to-god gamer. She quickly explained that she didn’t have any issues with our gaming, but she was genuinely surprised that we still played. They are still together and just celebrated the birth of their second child.

As for me, I’m a full-blown, raging gamer. I play D&D and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I bring my D&D books to work and leave them proudly on my desk for everyone to see. If anyone asks me about them I immediately talk their arm off about D&D and my love of the game. As one of the founders of this blog it should be obvious that I’m passionate about my hobby.

Be proud that you’re a gamer. Don’t stay in the closet. If people ask you what you did this weekend, don’t be afraid to admit that you played D&D.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Questing GM March 7, 2009 at 7:27 am

Isn’t this your first post after you joined the RPG Bloggers Network? I’ve felt like I’ve read this before or maybe it’s just deja-vu.

I would call myself a semi-closet gamer. If no one asked, I wouldn’t tell. That’s probably because tabletop (the ones with pen and paper) RPGs is a concept that is too alien a concept to be grasped by the people around me. RPG to them is always equated with computer RPG which is often a whole different beast altogether and it makes it very hard to explain against preconceived (and sometimes dumb) notions than working with a blank slat.

Playing D&D had a different effect to me in my school life. It sort of made me the cool kid with a close bunch of friends who shared a secret pastime involving complicated books and weird looking dices. I love it when people give me that fascinated but cautious look. Yes, I grew up in an environment where RPGs is mostly unheard of (the ones that we play at least).

My girlfriend knows that I’m a gamer though and I had thought of quitting gaming for her (you know, to maintain a healthy relationship and all that, you have to admit that the hobby can be very time consuming) but she didn’t had a problem with it so that’s settled. Now, I’m plotting to spring a session on her and to get her hooked but things are harder than it seems at the moment. I believe that it’s best for a gamer to be upfront with their loved ones about being a gamer especially if you have been one for years, it makes a better relationship in the long run than having to hide something for years from them.

Although I’m not playing or running any games at the moment thanks to uni, I’ve already met other gamers in my hometown and introduced the game to new players who occasionally badger me for a game when I’m back for the holidays. Still the numbers of people who know about RPGs is pretty dismal compared to other countries, sometimes we are stuck with playing the same few people because there’s no one else who plays the game.

In the real society, I don’t know how people will perceive my gaming habits. It is definitely not under the ‘cool’ demographic but more like an enigma, which becomes a ‘hit or miss’ depending on who you are telling about the game to. I’ve been a gamer for more than 10 years and I don’t think I can ever get it out of my system anymore, even if I tried. My life loses all its creativity without gaming.

2 Ameron March 7, 2009 at 7:45 am

@Questing GM
Thanks for sharing. I’m glad that you’re gaming hobby is something you’re proud to admit to. I agree that when I tell people I’m into RPGs they immediacy think computer games.

Most of the guys in my group attempted to get our wives to play at one time or another, but none of them enjoyed it as much as we did. They’re content to let us play while they spend a quite night at home. It’s win-win.

I recently attended a gaming convention in my hometown and met a whole bunch of new people. If there’s one thing I’ve found it’s that most gamers are pretty good people.

This is the first time we’ve posted this article or anything in this vein. My examples may sound familiar because I’ve shared them with other gamers before, but not in this forum or on Dungeon’s Master. I figure if it’s a good story that people will enjoy reading then keep telling it.

3 Quid March 7, 2009 at 8:31 am

As a retired gamer, and former member of Ameron’s high school campaign (ahh, how I miss the 10’x6′ map of Waterdeep on your rec room wall!) I can safely say I was a closet gamer back in the day and a proud former gamer now. Not that I had a social life in high school, other than the D&D group, but I likely would begged for home-schooling if it got out to too many people that I was a gamer.
Now, I proudly proclaim that despite playing D&D in my youth I still turned out relatively well adjusted- I have simply found new hobbies to occupy my time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my PS3 is calling to me.

P.S. I take exception to your use of “nerd”, above. “Geek” is the preferred term for one such as us, with the word “nerd” being associated with a lack of social graces and questionable hygiene. I, sir, do not smell.

4 Josh March 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I’m a closet gamer but not for the same reason that I hear most people cite. I’ve had several experiences in which I’ve been virtually stalked by those socially inept gamers who give the lot of us a bad name. It isn’t the rest of society that scares me… its that smelly guy who follows you around the FLGS and never has a conversation that doesn’t include D&D or WoW.

5 Dead Orcs March 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Well, I’ve been a gamer for nearly 30 years. The wonderful woman I’m married to is fully aware of my enthusiasm; and after a number of years, I finally got her to join our game group.

As for letting others know about my hobby, well; most know I’m a “gamer”. I think most people believe this to mean I’m a “computer gamer”; but unless I’m asked for details, I just leave it at that. I work in a corporate office, where gaming in the marketing department is really not that common (which is why most of my gaming friends are IT geeks).

When asked though, I usually provide as many details as the occasion requires. I’ll start in easy, and if I get a bunch of blank stares, I just drop the conversation.

6 Ameron March 9, 2009 at 7:46 am

@Quid
Ah, the days when I had a dedicated room for my gaming (I miss that giant map of Waterdeep). There is no way my wife would let me commandeer one of the guest rooms for that purpose in my current house.

Nerd/geek, I never really understood the difference. I’ve always called myself nerd, but if you think geek is more appropriate, I’m ok with that too.

@Josh
I know the type gamer to which you refer, and they scare me too. I’m all for enjoying D&D as a hobby but you need to understand that there’s a time and pace for it. As much as I like to talk about D&D, I can carry on conversations about other topics. Given your circumstances I don’t fault your choice to remain in the closet.

@Dead Orcs
Sounds like you’ve found a perfect compromise between of proud gamer and social acceptance. I think you and I fall very much into a similar school of thought on the matter.

Thanks to Quid, Josh, and Dead Orcs for stopping by Dungeon’s Master and sharing your stories. We’re glad you found us and look forward to hearing from you on future posts.

7 by_the_sword June 12, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Hello:

New reader here. So far I like what I see. I realize that this is an older post but I couldn’t resist commenting.

I started playing D&D back in 1981. It was a time when the general public had NO idea what roleplaying was and what we kids were doing with our books and dice and maps. There was also a lot of bad press concerning the occult and suicides so ignorant parents were ready to deal out the stigma. Frankly, a cross-dressing, nazi, pedophile would have received less stigma.

So for the longest time I kept my gamer status under raps. is is only recently that I have been able to admit to playing rpg’s in public. Sadly, many people still don’t get it but I think I am more comfortable in my skin now and I really couldn’t give a rat’s hindquarters what people think about me.

8 Ameron June 15, 2009 at 9:18 am

@by_the_sword
Welcome to Dungeon’s Master. We welcome all comments, be it on new or old posts.

I remember the stigma of being a gamer. Fortunately it has lessened considerably over the years. The fact that so many other geek/nerd hobbies have become mainstream, money-generating phenomena probably hasn’t hurt either.

Like you, I decided long ago that I wouldn’t be embarrassed about playing D&D so now I make zero effort to hide it. It hasn’t hurt my social standing or happiness.

9 Emma Tabrook June 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm

I would have say I’m a closet gamer, for a lot of reasons, but mainly being a girl, and targeted my nerd hate groups at high school. Gaming in the mid to late 80 was a neat time, but it also had its problems. Gamers were not liked much, and beaten up. Sydney is a unforgiving place at times.

I play with Uni friends & still don’t mention unless asked what my hobbies are. Most people, don’t care these days, with so many console games & online computer games about.

10 Ameron June 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

@Emma Tabrook
Welcome to Dungeon’s Master. It’s always interesting to hear the female take on a conversation like this one. When I was growing up I didn’t know of any female gamers, but I can imagine how difficult it must have been to have a socially-unacceptable hobby like RPGs. I find that even today the girls tend to still be closet gamers more so than the guys, but that is just based on my limited experience. Thanks for sharing.

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