Greetings, fellow roleplayers.

Over the last few months, there has been a series of discussions about how “geeky” roleplaying is and how roleplaying is ostracized from the respectable adult world. Folks have been trying to identify what exactly is geeky about sword-and-sorcery or space opera or pulps, what parts can be used in roleplaying, and what parts will drive away “non-gamers” like garlic waved in a vampire’s face. The relative merits of roleplaying’s geeky core have been debated: is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Is it interfering with spreading the Good Word of roleplaying across the globe and making every human being a roleplayer just like us?

Many times over, I’ve debated wading into these discussions, but I have abstained. You all seem to have been having so much fun. The discussions seem to be diverting little bits of self-identity, cotton candy for the geeky soul, as harmless as a cute furry creature. However, the discussions are reproducing like tribbles. If this goes on, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in them, and they’ll suck up all the air. I’d like to talk about something that isn’t how geeky you think our hobby is. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to make the one contribution to these discussions that I’ve long refrained from making.

Roleplayers, please: get over yourselves.

You think roleplaying is considered geeky by outsiders? The adult world does not waste its time contemplating the geekiness of roleplaying. In fact, it does not waste its time contemplating roleplaying at all. The adult world has far more pressing matters to concern itself with, chief among them being who will be voted off of American Idol this week. Why would anyone spend half a moment’s thought on an activity whose existence they’re probably only dimly aware of when they could be figuring out how to afford a giant flatscreen television on which to watch sports, impress their friends, and keep track of their fantasy football team? The outside world does not care how geeky roleplaying is.

The only people who care about the geek-factor of roleplaying are roleplayers. I’m not even sure why. It certainly isn’t a valid concern over the hobby’s image: the hobby doesn’t have an image, any more than quilting has an image. Instead, it really must be something within roleplayers themselves that makes them obsess over their own geekiness. Is it the lingering effects from being snubbed at school for playing D&D? I think it’s about time to get over that. Is it because your parents don’t understand your hobby? Join the club called the Rest of Humanity. Seriously: are you not getting laid enough? Is that the problem? I assure you roleplaying has absolutely nothing to do with you not getting any.

What is all this sound and fury about? Why are we spending this much time talking about our own geekiness? Are any of these discussions improving the quality of your gaming? Designers: has your current game design developed because you discussed how nobody outside of gaming understands pulp? Indulging in a little self-centered identification is nice now and then; making an entire hobby out of it seems a little, well, narcissistic. In fact, for all the talk deploring how unfortunate the geeky label is, discussing that label ad nauseum is one of the best ways to make sure it sticks. Which is, quite frankly, the most probable reason so many folks jump into these discussions: establishing geek cred, and distinguishing oneself from the monsters of the outside world, who are themselves too busy watching Deal or No Deal to notice that you’ve taken your leave.

Me personally, though? Your obsession with your own badge of pride is getting on my nerves. You know what? You’re a member. Congratulations: you’re one of us, and not one of them. Now sit the fuck down so we can actually talk about roleplaying. Let’s talk about the games we played last night, the techniques we discovered, the book we just bought, the system we’re designing, the house rule we’re testing. Let’s talk about what place roleplaying has in our lives, rather than what place our lives have in roleplaying. Just, please: get over yourselves, already. This hobby is much more fun to participate in than to talk about. Go Play.

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The fetishism of geekiness,

The fetishism of geekiness, eh?

100% AMEN!!!! It's amazing

100% AMEN!!!!

It's amazing to me, Josh, how many times your view on things and mine line up. Good post. I hope it's screamed from the hills. We do ourselves a disservice by painting ourselves as abnormal or some kind of pariahs.



Joshua, I think roleplayers

Joshua, I think roleplayers are still dealing with the negative perceptions of people who do know about and ridicule roleplaying: the kids they went to middle and high school with. You're right that the rest of the world doesn't care.

A welcome reminder, is what

A welcome reminder, is what that was.


Jonathan, I totally agree

Jonathan, I totally agree with you. The thing is, said gamers are not in high school any more.

Moreover, I suspect that those same folks who ridiculed gaming when they were 14, if presented it by a colleague at work in a straightforward manner, would probably end up feigning polite interest -- and not mention that they mocked their schoolmates for it years ago. If they can grow up, why can't gamers? =P



Hee hee hee! OK, let's all

Hee hee hee!

OK, let's all discsuss discussing geekiness!

Then let's discuss that!

No, wait, let's do something else.

Well said. The gaming

Well said. The gaming community I am part of in Canberra so obviously fit into what you have described here. Their narcissistic self-obsession often detracts from the fun of gaming or even hanging around with them. Many are so obsessed with self categorisation and their obvious school self that their gaming seems to have stagnated where it was when they were school age, along with their level of maturity. Unfortunate, as it makes finding people who are critically self aware difficult and, people willing to productively experiment with alternate game systems to DnD are the exception.

Joshua is right regarding the feigning polite interest amongst work colleagues though I have found a tinge of negativity and suspicion, I think born from unfamiliarity and historical views on roleplaying. But after some initial skepticism and views aired at work that roleplaying was weird many of my work colleagues have come to realise that it is just as social as having a few drinks with friends but adds a nice creative element. It only took polite pointing out that it was not as widely socially acceptable as getting drunk but far more socially responsible to shift the general opinion from negative to ambivalent.

The main reason that we have

The main reason that we have all those geekdom threads is that we, as roleplayers, generally love to argue. Heck, most games contain a good bit of debate. A topic that's controversial and sure to get a response? It's like a bug zapper - we just can't stay away.

Well said, sir. Allons-y!

If role playing isn't such a

If role playing isn't such a big deal, then why did you write this article?

FYI, role playing is not limited to 'geeky' games. Actors (who I'm sure make FAR more money than you do) role play for a living. Even my wife, who has about as much interest in games as you do, does some 'role playing' of her own from time to time. Role playing is about having fun with your imagination and getting away from the drudgeries of the real world for a while. It, in itself is no different than quilting (as you mentioned) or any other hobby.

Geeks have a tenancy to seem arrogant when confronted by the average person, especially when it concerns something complex like role playing. This is simply because most of them know that the average person wouldn't understand or relate to what they're doing, let alone enjoy it. Geeks aren't trying to seem superior, they just don't like what you like.

Is that OK with you?

Roleplaying (like, actually

Roleplaying (like, actually getting into it) is usually pretty taboo among main-stream gamers. There is definitely a definable hierarchy among nerds.

Neo, reread the post, man.

Neo, reread the post, man. I'm not saying roleplaying is irrelevant, or that roleplayers like something other than what I like. I'm saying roleplayers (and specifically, roleplayers that were posting online at the time) were obsessed with how geeky they appeared to others -- others who weren't preceiving them as geeky, or, indeed, anything worthy of note. Why waste the breath? I'd much prefer actually talking about roleplaying and games, you know?

Unlike a previous poster

Unlike a previous poster *ahem* I actually read the post, and as a person developing a system for publishing, I applaud you for this. Also, you get a thumbs up on StumbleUpon.

I've never experienced this.

I've never experienced this. I'm also not 'geeky' enough to be on many RP lists/forums/whatever. I guess if the folks I hang and game with (my 'gamer friends', which is most of my friends, admittedly) started obsessing over how others perceive them -- that is, how 'geeky' others thought they were for gaming -- I guess it would get old pretty quick. But heck, every time I have to even mention RPGing in passing to people who don't game, it's awkward, but only because it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't do it. Not that I'm concerned too much with how they'll think of me. (If the fact that I'm an RPGer changes their mind about me, they weren't worth the breath to speak to them anyway, IMNSHO.)

But I think you're right that most folks just don't care...UNLESS it somehow affects THEM. Personally. As in, "oh, Bob does this gaming-thing on Sunday afternoons....THAT'S why he is never available for playing ball. Damn, and I thought it was something *important*, like going to church..." Then they feel devalued or dissed. But they don't 'get it:' Bob might game 'religiously,' but John might blow off a game to play ball once in a while. We all value gaming at different levels. And as long as it doesn;t become an addiction, that's ok. Or it should be, at least to the RPGers themselves. Screw what others think. :-)

Uh, sorry this kinda rambled. I guess I don't want to jump right on and completely agree, but I do see your point. However, some folks are just more concerned with how other view them, and they are just a person who has to make a choice: game like you wanna game & to hell with how the non-gamers see you, or quit/become a casual gamer and deal.

(BTW, I think it's a sense of PRIDE: "I'm geekier than thou.")

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