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.