The Boston Globe recently ran an article about middle-aged gamers and their secret lives. For whatever reason, these guys have chosen to keep their hobby a secret from the outside world. Some of them have been closet gamers for decades.
This begs the question: why do we hide what we do? It’s not like we’re harming anyone (except our own PCs and, on a good night, some loot-toting monsters). No matter what the critics say, role-playing games have never unbalanced a mind that was sane to begin with. In fact, since the 1980’s, all of that superstitious nonsense about role-playing games has died a natural death. Right?
Well, kind of. D&D is still decried from certain pulpits and disapproved of by people who will never play it themselves. But that’s not the only reason we zip our lips. Some players just don’t want to admit that they have a hardcore inner geek. And others, being truly insightful, just realize that not everyone is into D&D.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the reasons why we keep our D&D on the down-low.
Because it’s geeky.
Yes, D&D has a huge stigma attached to it. The players are stereotyped as true geeks who pretend to be heroes in order to feel cool. That’s a very general belief, and it’s often untrue. Many middle-aged gamers grew up playing D&D, and they’ve continued to play while holding down successful careers and starting families. I’ve gamed with veterinarians, real estate agents, and countless people with gorgeous children and happy homes. If that’s what it means to be a D&D geek, I’ll proudly count myself among their number.
Because it’s evil.
In some communities, Dungeons & Dragons carries a stigma of another kind. Yes, unfortunately, they still make people who believe D&D is a tool of the devil, designed to indoctrinate young minds into a world of sorcery and witchcraft. The good news is that they make fewer and fewer of these outdated models each year. Their arguments are pretty much without merit; many of us have been gaming for years and haven’t sacrificed anything but time and money.
Because it’s boring to non-gamers.
Just like you wouldn’t talk incessantly about football to someone who wasn’t a fan of the sport, you shouldn’t ramble on about D&D to someone who really doesn’t care. But how do you know which people are non-gamers and which ones are simply staying quiet about their hobby? Statistically, most of the people you interact with are non-gamers. (Unless you’re very secluded, in which case you *are* the stereotype. Congrats.) You could mention your hobby to see if it peaks any interest, or carry a novel or a rulebook with you to see if anyone comments. You’re much more likely to meet other gamers through the Internet than by talking to random people, so keep your geek in check and drop subtle hints.
So I’m curious: Have you told a non-gamer about your D&D hobby? How did they react? Share your triumphs and terror in the comments section.