in the eyes of many? Ask an average person to describe a role-playing gamer and words like “basement dwelling fast-food worker,” “socially inept,” and “poor personal hygiene” quickly spew forth.
Sadly, as much as I might hope otherwise, this stereotypical gamer exists. He (or she) usually makes it on the evening news when the local TV station shows up at an RPG convention. Simply because wierd people generate more interest and better ratings than boring people. By “boring” I mean average people with a spouse, two kids, knowledge of how to shower, a mortgage and no significant social impediments. I know that most gamers are the latter and only a few outliers the former. It is this disconnect between the hobby I know and its reputation among non-gamers that drives me to post. I have a theory; I think many of the stereotypes arise because role-playing games are one of the most egalitarian hobbies in existence.
Most social groups self select; take golf as an example. Golf requires significant initial outlays of cash and a large time investment. This almost guarantees that most golfers are reasonably functional within society and have a certain level of income and free time. There are socially inept, smelly golfers out there, just as in the RPG hobby, but I suspect the numbers are lower than the RPG community. The hobby’s requirements filter them out.
Apply the same lens to the role-playing hobby and you see that there are few, if any, barriers to entry. A handful of dice, a couple of moderately priced books and some time get the job done. In many cases the only requirement is to show up at a game! This fact, combined with a remarkable tolerance in gaming circles for odd, eccentric and highly creative people creates a perfect storm for stereotyping.
I do not have any easy solutions to this problem. People will see what they want to see and only regular exposure to the D&D playing bank manager down the street will ever change this perception.
Then again, if the fact gamers are tolerant of differences contributes to these negative stereotypes, what does that say about the rest of the world’s acceptance of those that do not fit the norm?
Trask, The Last Tyromancer