If you haven’t already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.
Gaming is a weird thing when it comes to shame.
Given no other details, there are loads of people who feel any gaming of the types I do is a waste of time. Shame on me!
Given no details of which games I play, the fact that I’m a geek means plenty of normal people feel like I deserve mockery. (No joke: I’ve overheard dudes talking about a video game they played all night the night before, and then they immediately shift to mocking other players who are obviously just sad geeks…)
Given no details, there are plenty of my fellow geeks who’d like to shame me for gaming just because I’m a girl. The fact that I happen to have a vagina is proof that I’m a fake gamer or means that certain games aren’t serious enough gaming so I dare not enjoy them. (Or non-geeks will think there’s extra shame here because it’s gaming and because it’s barely excusable when a boy does it. But a girl? Tsk tsk!)
To make it “worse,” I’m not just talking video games. Oh, no. You see, for a variety of reasons, my access to video games was limited in my formative years. So, though even “normal” and “cool” people play video games now (and there was always some room in video games for people who wouldn’t be treated like their hobby was something to be ashamed of)….and though I do enjoy video games (I kind of suck, or at least I do compared to guys I know who’ve been video gaming their whole lives) and can lose days to them…
The bulk of my gaming experiences didn’t involve screens of any kind. No TV, no arcade console, no gaming system.
When I was three years old, in order to help me deal with some nightmares, my dad ran a D&D game for me. Yeah, that’s right, old school geek action at a tender, tender age. Dungeons and Dragons! (And I still have some of his old books and figurines. Plus my own small—compared to other friends—handful of dice that aren’t six-sided.)
I grew up bugging him to run games for me. And happily gave up hours and hours every week to playing tabletop RPGs once I was older and found friends to play with. (In case the term is unfamiliar…RPG = roleplaying game. Basically, the players use rules of the game to create characters and, with the help of the game master—the person running the game—and some dice, they all weave an improvised story together. “Tabletop” comes because, as opposed to sitting in front of a screen, you’re usually sat around a table to roll those dice and create that story.)
Even “worse,” and opening me to the mockery of other geeks (aye, even those who play tabletop RPGs), I’ve also happily given hours to LARPs. That, my friends, is live action roleplaying. Which is a bit like improv theatre. (It actually is. I’ve done both…And found LARPing more interesting and prone to creating better stories.) I have happily run around in public pretending to be someone else and weaving those shared stories. In fact, my favourite and longest running character was a 600 year-old vampire who, in the end, sacrificed herself to save Seattle. Yep.
(Note: No, I didn’t believe I was actually a vampire or, outside the context of the game, pretend to be one. In fact, the people I knew who did do either of those thought they were too cool for gaming…)
Now, I could stoop to drawing parallels with other theoretically more legitimate hobbies or to the behaviours of people who are most likely to be rude about what I enjoy. But, you know, I’m not going to sully my enjoyment with that or make this about reverse-shaming. (I’m just putting this paragraph here to make myself feel like I deserve a gold star for restraint.)
I tend to be ridiculously busy these days. In order to live up to my commitments and the demands of my Muse, I don’t really have spare time. I haven’t really gotten to game in years. And certainly haven’t had enough reliable free time to commit to playing either tabletop RPGs or LARPs in even more years.
I do love the things I give my time to now…But I kind of miss, at the end of a long work week, staying up all Friday night to eat and laugh and game with friends. Or, before a night out dancing, to get my sense of fun going by running around creating fictional drama. So, I might feel a little abashed because I get tired of the stigmas and teasing that come with such hobbies, but I am definitely not ashamed to be a gamer. Creative fun that’s harmless to others? Obviously awesome! Obviously not ashamed!
(I did some pictures as part of a birthday surprise for a fellow geek and gamer friend earlier this year. Figured I’d get a little more use out of them. You’re welcome!)
Cross-posted to the Not Ashamed section of my site (so that it’s all tidy).