examining a few misconception about today’s tabletop gamers

There have always been a few misconceptions surrounding table top gaming culture.  A few have passed with time but others seem to stick around.  I’d also like to call your attention to the movie star dude in the picture.  Big time RPG player there.

1. Gamers are obsessed with numbers, statistics and ‘facts’ to the point of missing out on real life.

Which, on the face of it seems very geeky and horrible to the average non-gamer.  Until you look at any fan of any major sport. They’ve digested years worth of statistics, pour over charts, get into fisticufs over fantasy leagues and paint their faces up in multi-colored streaks.  Sure, not all sports fans behave this way.  Neither do all gamers dress as wizards or fighters and argue for hours over who has a better offence/defence ratio, a palladin or a knight? Most of us look just like everyone else, whether we’re football fanatics or gaming fanatics.

The truth is, every group has its outliers.  There are oddball HVAC repair nuts and bizarro accountants as well. It’s often not best to judge a group by the vocal minority.  It may be true that in the past the vocal majority of gamers were seen as on the fringes of society but that is no longer true.  Lots of normal people who have kids, jobs and a social life also enjoy playing games.

2. Games are for kids and you’re an adult which is just plain silly – go do something meaningful with your life!

Yes, kids play games. Adults do as well. There are many games that are far to challenging for folks under a certain age to master.  There’s a huge culture of gaming for adults which is picking up traction in the US and already has traction in lots of other places.  There is a real shift in culture when it comes to gaming as adults which includes gaming with the family.  Whether its Monopoly or Carcassone, games are a great way to bring people together in a social setting, stretch your intellectual muscles a bit and have fun.  As a hobby games are great.  As an obsession, well nothing is great if you let it devour your life.

3. Ha ha!  You unwashed nerds will never touch a woman!

This comment, which I’ve heard a lot in passing over the past few years immediately makes me think of all those women who play games. I can picture them unable to complete the easiest of tasks because they can’t brush their hair or apply contact lenses. No touching! This then makes me think of Pratchett’s “gifted hydrophobes” .  Those folks who detest water so much they are able to fly above it on large lenses carrying people or cargo.

The often true stereotypical mid-80’s gamer geek guy has grown up. He’s no longer a 15 year old kid, he’s gotten past those awkward years as a teen and learned how to interact with other people, even people of the opposite sex.

In many cases he’s married, has kids and continues to game.  Add to that the fact that there are a good number of women also interested in the hobby who actively game and this point becomes moot.  It’s an old hat, generic insult that no longer carries any weight.  If you really want to insult us talk about how little sun we’re getting.  Except, isn’t that a good thing now? So take your vitamin D supplements, walk around your misconceptions and come join us for a rousing game.  You’ll probably enjoy yourself.

[tags]rpgs, table top games, geeks, ben’s corner[/tags]

4 thoughts on “examining a few misconception about today’s tabletop gamers

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  1. I met my husband at a roleplaying game—one in which there were more female players than male (out of about 10-12 people) and the GM was female. That was almost 15 years ago or so; now I play with folks in their 30s and 40s, almost all married couples. Heck, the first GM I ever had (20 years ago, when I was in high school) was a married Protestant minister; his 2-year-old daughter used to sit on his lap and peg the dice at us while his wife (also a minister) baked us cookies.

    I don’t think I’ve EVER been in a game that fit the gamer stereotype. My current two GMs are my husband for one game and a married retired army officer with a wife and kids for the other.


  2. I’ve gamed with both normal average folk and a few of the stereotypical gamers. I ran in to more of the obsessive folks in college than in grade school through high school, or after college though.

    Sounds like you’re very active in gaming! Good for you!


  3. It’s funny—that other GM’s wife hates dealing with all the details & numbers; he writes them down on her sheet & lets her know what to roll if she forgets. But she’s a kick-ass roleplayer. And their son is a chip off the ol’ block. It’s been fun to watch him grow from excitable and too-quick-to-act to a genuinely crafty strategist over the last couple of years. 🙂 The funny thing is, gaming is an inherently social activity, so the stereotype of gamers as anti-social people is in some ways dead wrong, even when it’s right—if that makes any sense. Gaming can be a way for people who have trouble relating to others to come out of their shells and socialize, using the safety net of a put-upon personality and identity. But at least gamers are out there, attempting to engage with others, even if they don’t always do it well.


  4. Have you (or anyone else) read The Elfish Gene? Highly recommended. It’s about a D&D addict growing up in England in the mid to late 70’s right when the 1st edition was published.

    The one thing I’ve always appreciated about my gaming groups are, despite our differences (in opinion, in interpretation, in interpersonal communication) they were always a safe place where you could just be you. That’s one of the reasons I very much enjoy gaming. It’s not just the game, but when I’m with others who share my love of the game, I’m with *my* people.


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