Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The social acceptability of gaming. Or not.

Live Roleplaying at Dumnonni Chronicles
(Awesome Photo by Roy Smallpage, see more in the video below)

If you are anything like me (and if you are you have my profound sympathy) you probably have several hobbies that you don’t really tell casual acquaintances about.  I’m not talking about dressing in rubber or international jewel thievery but of Roleplaying, Wargaming and Live Roleplaying.

Me masquerading as a normal person
Just to put this into context I’m going to share a bit about myself, please feel free to skip to the next post if you start to yawn.

I’m in my mid forties, happily married with two sons and I have a responsible job managing a company that provides assistance to the elderly and disabled.  I’m reasonably well educated and financially comfortable, I’m a home owner and have no criminal record.  So pretty average in most respects.

My hobbies aren't exactly mainsteam though.  I don't watch football or play gold.  Over the years my obsessions have included painting figures, Roleplaying, Wargaming, Live Roleplaying and playing computer games including a lot of MMOs.   I've pursued some of these hobbies for nearly 30 years and doubt i'll ever give them up. 

Also me, but definately not normal.
I think its odd that I feel quite comfortable telling the people I work with that I went paintballing or played poker at the weekend but avoid telling them that I spent the weekend painting models, or playing D&D or dressed as a Pirate or Celtic Warrior at a Live Action Roleplay event. And if I do tell them I feel as if I need to justify my involvement with the hobby somehow.

Have you ever said something like ‘Oh its much more advanced than the kids version’ or ‘its just an excuse to get together with my friends’ or ‘the quality of the costume is as good as in movies’.  I’ve found myself saying these on many occasions.  As if having a hobby that is a bit different to the accepted view of what a 'sensible grown up' should do with his time is somehow subversive or worse, childish.

I’ll be the first to admit that most of these hobbies are ones I first picked up when I was a teenager, but I don’t really understand why a hobby like Roleplaying is seen as a game for children but poker is not.  Or why it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about Paintballing with work colleagues but we avoid talking about Live Roleplaying from the fear of ridicule.  Maybe its just me.

Initially I thought that the only common thread was that my kind of hobby requires the use of imagination to visualise a Roleplaying setting or to suspend my disbelief that John (who I know is quite an important person at IBM) is actually a blood thirsty Orc raider.

Actually, that doesn’t take as much imagination as you might think!

I think I do know now what the reason is.  The media likes to portray Roleplayers as geeks or nerds, it used to be the same for Comic Book fans (although this is changing in my opinion and it’s considered cooler than it was).  Maybe if more ‘cool’ celebrities like Vin Diesel, Robin Williams and Jack Black admit to enjoying the hobby the media might change it's stereotype of us.

In fact how about this for an idea.  There are loads of TV Poker shows on at the moment and frankly they’re pretty boring.  But how about we get Vin Diesel, Robin Williams, Jack Black and Felicia Day to do a televised D&D game with Joss Whedon as DM!  Its got to be better than watching other people play cards!

Next on Sky Sports.....Late Night pro Celebrity Dungeon Crawl!!

1 comment:

  1. Cool idea. Space for a 'normal' definatly not odd and totally loyal Dwarf at the table?
    Dragon Slayers Anonymous, was it anonymous as we didn't want to be known even back then? Or couldn't we think of a cooler name.
    By the way, interesting that you chose that pic for your normal one - whilst on a biking tour (another socially questionable hobby) with four mates, all roleplayers.
    Keep on roleplaying mate, keep on blogging :)