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KenobiJim
14 September 2004, 08:08 PM
When you look at yourself as a gamer, do you see yourself as one might notice as a "gamer" or do you feel like your are a normal person who happens to game?

(Definition of "gamer" is relative and subjective so I would rather not try to define that)

That was a rather complicated question.

I've worked in game stores and met a lot of different cool people, some who could be typical gamers or normal people who gamed as a hobby... Myself I see as one of those 30+ overweight gamers who has nothing better to do with his life other than commit a significant portion of my salary to games. I have a pretty good life - I live on my own and have a productive job, and make a decent enough money to live on. I do not (thankfully) live with my parents. But I don't have a great social life, still being awkward and bashful in public. Gaming is a point of embarassment to me, and most people I have talked to, from my boss to casual friends, don't seem interested in Roleplaying or Mini Gaming, etc. I've tried to find groups locally, but out of a quarter-million people in my local area, I don't think there are over 100 gamers. Many groups around here are insular and I have had a lot of trouble finding the gamers at all and have not successfully got into a game yet. Perhaps I am too scary for these local folks.

With the increase in number of people who game, do you feel that the demographic has changed?

Gaming in San Diego was no problem (still is AFAIK). But San Diego is 150 miles away... Perhaps I am being hard on myself. I am finding it more difficult to talk about gaming (away from the internet) with other people. My confidence level has waned greatly. I would give a lot to have fun gaming conversations with people. It's been a while and getting longer.

Am I asking too much? Or am I just being too hard on myself? Do others here in the community have any issues like this?

Penangallan
14 September 2004, 08:42 PM
The folks I've gamed with over the years have all been, by and large, normal (at least within their own social groups and cliques). I can't point at many of them and say to myself, "Bob was a typical gamer." Some had families, some lived at home, some were out on their own.

Locating new groups is a sticky issue, and "insular" is a great word in regards to some game groups. Most of the ones I've seen are wary of including new folks, especially people they're meeting cold for the first time. Generally it works better if you're referred to the game by one of the players who can vouch for you. This isn't particularly comforting to someone who doesn't have any contacts.

That door swings both ways, though. It's tough to find a group that you enjoy playing with, who shares your opinions on the rules, or whose playing style closely matches your own. Just because you've found a game group to play in doesn't mean that you won't be beating your head into a wall a week or two after you realize that they're not your kind of players.

I've had some luck meeting local groups via the Wizards message boards. You might consider posting an ad there, or at the least, looking over any ads that might be for games or groups in your area.

It takes a bit of courage, as well as sensitivity, to meet new groups. You might start by running a game of your own, post an ad for players, and see what kinds of replies you get in return. Meet the folks ahead of time, discuss gaming and games, make sure you're comfortable with them.

It's also possible to introduce new folks (ie, your non-gamer friends and co-workers) to the hobby. If you're not comfortable discussing gaming in public, though, this might not be a viable tactic. For myself, I don't care if folks know that I'm a gamer. Heck, just about everyone I work with knows that I game, even though they may not have a clue what that really means. For all they know, I'm really into poker or backgammon or something like that.

Gary

Dr_Worm
14 September 2004, 10:28 PM
I have always been a bit off from the standard demographic, but then I could be generalizing. I have gamed for decades, but as soon as I hit high school and got self-conscious and starting caring more about how I presented myself. Now that meant that I intentionally hovered between Goth/Punk/street kid/Skater in my fashion sense. I was called all kinds of things, but rarely a geek or a nerd. So I guess I never really fit the bill.

Now I am pretty ordinary. I am slightly overweight, but so are most people in America. My appearance is more influenced by the current metrosexual look with some baggy skater thrown in. I am married and, though I am no Casanova, have never had much trouble in the female department. My conversations with people, gamers and non, are as likely to be about music, politics, or films as they are about games (RPG and Video). To be honest I have my guys that I game with, but other than that I rarely hang out with other gamers. Not out of any intent, to be sure, but just because.

I think that the demographic for adults is changing, because I meet a lot of guys at clubs and parties that have heard I game and want to know what it is like. They say they were alway curious when they were kids, but were afraid to be branded as weird or nerdy. We all go through it, and for some people it is tougher to ignore their peers than others. As for kids...well I see the same gawky awkward kids at card stores as I did when I was in that age. My son will probably follow my interests, as he is showing some interest now, but he is way more fashion conscious then I was at his age, so we will see.

As far as getting envolved in new groups I cannot be much help there. When my brother moved to San Francisco in the early 90s I pretty muich stopped gaming. He and another guy were the core of my gaming group, and with Kester gone it juse fell apart. I tried getting in to games here and there, but I just could not mesh with some of the folks. They were either powergamers to an extreme, or SCA freaks (not all SCA members are freaks, just the ones I knew) who took roleplaying too seriously for my taste. So I dropped out for ages. It was really not until about 98-99 that I started to come back to gaming, but I never really got in to any gaming groups. Fortunatly for me my brother moved back to Portland 2 years ago, and our old group has re-formed. We take on other folks, but it is never the same as gaming with the same guys (both WAY more hep than I am), that I started with 22 years ago.

Tao
15 September 2004, 04:04 AM
normal... just play (though the rest of the world doesnt even suspect that)

im definately never been identified as the "type". although i was never a jock, i did have two varsity letters (b-ball and soccer). in middle school i was one of the first punkers and skaters, then i moved on to indy rocker when punk sold out... now i dont really have a stereotype. i had a healthy dating life throughout high school and into college. ive done the whole backpacking south america thing, and to the outside world i would seem very normal in every respect. in fact, only a select few know i like to roleplay, and even the people that hear about it generally just laugh it off (like its a joke or something). so my peter parker side is safely hidden for sure.

as for demographics... im 21, white, male, single (but never alone)

blivengo
15 September 2004, 06:53 AM
Hmm...interesting...I'm neither "normal," nor a "gamer"...mostly I'm referred to as "oh, that's just Bryan," meaning, at least in my opinion, that I'm neither here nor there, I just am...through school everyone knew of me, but I had few good friends...I did have several girlfriends though...played a few sports (to this day I still love football)...got into skateboarding, hurting myself daily 'cause I sucked at it...started a punk band (and punk didn't sell out, jackasses who called themselves punk to catch a bit of its budding popularity sold out...the media confusing punk with "emo" didn't help either)...now I'm 24, live with my fiance, our two dogs and two cats, work a 9-5, wear a tie, play on the internet instead of working :D...life is good...

Now, I'm not sure if I bring a lot of weight to this discussion because I just started pen and paper gaming a few months back...I did play a little Magic in high school, but didn't really enjoy it...I got into roleplaying first and foremost because I am a HUGE Star Wars fan...I don't have any interest in any other type of roleplaying aside from Star Wars, so I guess I'm not so much a "gamer" as I am a tride and true Star Wars nerd...quite honestly, the only reason I picked up the RCR in the first place was to use it for ideas for fan fictions and such because I love to write...but after reading through it I became very interested so I went to my good friend the internet and, I have to tell you, I really enjoy the games I've joined here on Holonet...gaming so far to me is akin to writing my own scenarios in a choose-your-own-adventure-type book...it's great, and I think anyone with an imagination that wasn't too worried about what people might think of them would enjoy if they'd just give it a try...now, as far as in-person gaming, I don't think it'll even happen unless my continued pressuring of some of my co-workers and my brother pays off...I put myself out there at my local shop, but when I started talking about gaming and I didn't say the magic words, "dungeons and dragons," I found nothing but a lot of up-turned noses and, honestly, a few chuckles...that I found really weird...I was the butt of a joke from other gamers because I wanted to play the wrong game...well, screw them, I'm having a jolly good time playing on here...it'd be sweet if the posts were more frequent, but that's life, and I'm sure I've already been a culprit in slowing a game...

Well, anyway, I say if gaming makes you happy, then do it...don't worry about other people...I understand that's easier said than done sometimes, but think of it this way, if someone's going to think less of you or look down on you for playing a game, what sort of person are they and why would you want to be involved with them anyway?

cheshire
15 September 2004, 08:04 AM
I don't think I fit into the category of "typical gamer." However, I don't know of a gamer who would describe themselves as such. So, I suppose it would be hard to say, wouldn't it? :)

I was a real geek in high school, was pretty well-liked in college, and had all kinds of friends in grad school. It wasn't until my graduate work that I started gaming. It's really odd that I would find gamers at grad school because I was in seminary (a graduate school for pastors and people interested in teaching biblical Greek, theology, and the like). A friend of mine had always been a role player and had done a couple of D&D campaigns. In comes a new guy who is a HUGE role player and we sit down, enlist a couple of other people who we knew had done some gaming and we were off on a campaign.

Currently I'm teaching Ethics and Philosophy at a nearby college while I'm a youth pastor. I'm married and my wife functions as the senior pastor of the church. However, that creates a bit of a problem for us. In a small town in the middle of rural Kansas, if you say the words "role" and "playing" together, people immediately assume that you're wandering into the seward sacrificing animals and killing yourself when your character dies.

I'm GMing a campaign right now. My players include my wife, a couple of former students, and their friends. It was easy to get things going with the students. I had called one of them into my office telling him that if he didn't get his act together he was going to fail. After that we wound up talking and I found out that he had almost every WOTC book published, but had never played a p&p RPG. Well... I told him once he and his friend finished the class, we could rectify that. :)

Other role playing ins have been through Epic Duels and Munchkin games.

johnnyputrid
15 September 2004, 08:22 AM
Personally, I gave up caring what people thought of me a long time ago. Life is far too short too worry about other people's opinions of you. My friends know I game, but they don't care. If I meet someone who thinks that I'm a geek or a nerd because I'm a gamer, then who needs them. If someone judges you for your hobbies, without taking the time to actually get to know you, then whatever value they may have as a potential friend is very limited.

Demographically, I have no clue where I fit in. I'm a 31 year-old white male of Irish, German and Scottish descent. I've been a skateboarder since I was about 13. I've played sports, mostly soccer, since age 5. I've been playing guitar for 15 years, solo and in various bands. I'm a gun nut who loves to go to the range and fire off a few hundred rounds on the weekend. I used to be really into the rave scene. For several years I was a serious member of the counter-culture, buying, selling and using various drugs. But the only consistent thing in my life has been a love of Star Wars and roleplaying. I've met so many cool people just from having Star Wars conversations. Heck, I was engaged to a girl I met while buying Star Wars action figures (we both wanted the same figure and argued over who saw it first!).

When I explain what RPGing is to people, I tell them it is very much like acting. Its just another form of storytelling, like going to a play, only the audience is much smaller. When I tell them this, they seem to understand more. Of course, I still get "Man, that guy Jay is sure sketched out" quite frequently, but then again, who isn't a little strange? It is our little weirdnesses (I know, that isn't a word) that make us each unique. RPGing just happens to be a weirdness that many of us share. I think everybody who is into RPGs should be proud that they have a creative and constructive hobby.

Dr_Worm
15 September 2004, 08:44 AM
Originally posted by johnnyputrid

When I explain what RPGing is to people, I tell them it is very much like acting. Its just another form of storytelling, like going to a play, only the audience is much smaller.

My schpiel is usually "It is like acting, only without the embarassment of doing it in front of hundreds of people. Remember when you were a kid and you played pretend...you were roleplaying. Have you ever met a girl at a party and pretended to be someting that you are not...that is roleplaying, and your just about as likely to get layed doing this too (ie not gonna happen)." Most of the time if someone appraoches me they are interested enough that they do not need convincing. On the occasion that they over hear me talking to someone, and want to know more, I just keep it light. It is a bunch of folks (all guys in my case) hanging out, drinking beer, and rolling dice. The characterization and roleplaying just follows naturally.

cheshire
15 September 2004, 11:23 AM
If I meet someone who thinks that I'm a geek or a nerd because I'm a gamer, then who needs them. If someone judges you for your hobbies, without taking the time to actually get to know you, then whatever value they may have as a potential friend is very limited.

The unfortunately thing as a clergyman, people tend to think it undermines your credibility as a professional/religious authority. Unfortunately, often times in religious circles fear of RPGs tends to undermine critical thinking. Thus, I tend not to disucss my hobbies unless I feel it is perfectly safe.

johnnyputrid
15 September 2004, 01:56 PM
Originally posted by cheshire


The unfortunately thing as a clergyman, people tend to think it undermines your credibility as a professional/religious authority. Unfortunately, often times in religious circles fear of RPGs tends to undermine critical thinking. Thus, I tend not to disucss my hobbies unless I feel it is perfectly safe.

I sympathize with your position, but I believe a person, regardless of their profession, should be able to pursue such activities without fear of reprisal from 'authority' figures, such as higher-ups in the religious heirarchy. It sounds to me, from reading your previous post, that you are in an excellent position to help remove and dispel the stigma associated with RPGs.

Case in point: I first discovered DnD in 5th grade, around '83. My history teacher was, and still is, an avid DM. He organized huge RPG sessions (over 20 players usually) as after-school activities for his students. Being a history teacher helped out tremendously for him, as he was able to craft some really cool games, as well as educate us youngsters on certain aspects of medievel history. Mr. Holmes is the reason I got into RPGs, and whenever I visit home, I stop by to see if he's got any good campaigns going on. There were a few concerns from parents, but he invited them to sit in with the group and observe the sessions. After watching all of us kids having a good time, interacting socially, and learning at the same time, the parents and faculty blessed off on it. Heck, a few of them even became RPGers themselves.

As a teacher yourself, organizing some RPG sessions for your students is a good way to encourage new people to join in on the fun. Hold your sessions in public and easily observed places, so folks can see that you aren't performing ritual sacrifices and worshipping the elder gods. Show them that RPGs are a healthy and creative outlet for people who may not have any other activites that interest them. You could even base some of your sessions around moral themes if you want, furthering the idea that RPGs aren't just for kids, but can contain serious and adult themes which impact our own lives. Just a suggestion.