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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Seth L. Blumberg on November 21, 2002, 01:25:04 PM



Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Seth L. Blumberg on November 21, 2002, 01:25:04 PM
Perhaps Jake is failing to see how gamers feeling proud of themselves would cause 300-pound men to refrain from dressing up as Sailor Moon. Perhaps I am as well.

(Do people really do that? I've always thought that was just a joke. Mind you, I've seen some wildly ill-advised costumes, but never that one.)


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Jake Norwood on November 21, 2002, 02:26:08 PM
Quote from: Seth L. Blumberg
Perhaps Jake is failing to see how gamers feeling proud of themselves would cause 300-pound men to refrain from dressing up as Sailor Moon. Perhaps I am as well.

(Do people really do that? I've always thought that was just a joke. Mind you, I've seen some wildly ill-advised costumes, but never that one.)


I saw it, man...horrible. You can read about it on RPG.net, too. Horrid, I say.

I didn't mean to comment (although I probably did) about *why* someone would dress up like that. Truth is, I don't care. What I was pointing out, though, is that I'm embarrassed over it, and I don't especially like being associated with such--hence my own caution in talking about gaming with others. I think that we, as gamers, embarrrass each other, and we're ashamed of each other, and by default many of us are ashamed of themselves, at least in a non-gamer context.

Anyway, so Ron says he's been saying "The process starts internally, with actual pride. In many ways, that's the only process that matters." I can see that (although I see a little bit to the contrary in the threads alone, but after a "real" chat with him I figured it out). So how do we instill gamer pride? How can we reform? Do we want to? Is it possible that we just like to bitch and we *like* running around in our little closet?

Quote from: greyorm
Is it, though?


I think it is rare, when compared to more serious areas (other persecutions of others, etc). What's more, though is that I wonder how much of it is accurate...I know a lot more "instable" gamers than I know "instable" others, and I don't know that many gamers. Is gaming a cause of instabilty? No. Does it attract instable people? I think it does--just hang around your FLGS for an hour and watch the clientelle.

Quote
What I'm really interested in is how we deal with that as a group, what "that" actually is (the actual forms it takes, individually and culturally), and how it affects our hobby, perception of our hobby, et al. "in comparison" isn't the issue; I think the issue of severity is a red herring...not unimportant, certainly, but off-topic right now in this context.


Right on. See my previous pondry.

Jake


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 21, 2002, 02:55:46 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
I know a lot more "instable" gamers than I know "instable" others, and I don't know that many gamers. Is gaming a cause of instabilty? No. Does it attract instable people? I think it does--just hang around your FLGS for an hour and watch the clientelle.


I'm not sure if instable is a good term. I prefer to think of myself as eccentric...

I guess that's the point. What if I want to be a geek? I personally prefer to play over socialization of any sort. Am I deranged? Why is this not my personal right to "pursuit of happiness" as I see fit?

I don't expect the mundanes to understand me, just to respect me as just another person. It's not like I go around waving swords dangerously at other people, for goodness sake...  ;-)

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Jake Norwood on November 21, 2002, 03:13:16 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm not sure if instable is a good term. I prefer to think of myself as eccentric...

I guess that's the point. What if I want to be a geek? I personally prefer to play over socialization of any sort. Am I deranged? Why is this not my personal right to "pursuit of happiness" as I see fit?

I don't expect the mundanes to understand me, just to respect me as just another person. It's not like I go around waving swords dangerously at other people, for goodness sake...  ;-)

Mike


LOL...yeah, exactly. That's the thing. A lot of us are happy with our eccentricness (is that a word?). We revel in it to one degree or another. So how do we achieve that "respect as another person"? Assuming that we even care...

I'll assume that we do. I think it comes from two places:

1) Decide that you're normal enough for the world and don't hide what you are...but don't annoy folks with it either. These seem to be the two cliche extremes of "nerdy gamers."
2) Take an active roll in exploiting your position in the world to change the stereotype. If you're a journalist, write non-freaky articles about games and gamers, including reviews of books. If you're a student, join/start/promote a more "normal" gamer's club with wider visibility. And so on.

What could come from this is a few more problems like what Raven experienced, but I'm not so sure that even that can't be prevented. If you get assaulted, turn the guy in. Make it public in a "normal" fashion. Take preliminary precautions against such attacks of any kind...cut your hair, wear a tie, bathe, get a degree, go to church, join the PTA, whatever...but involve yourself in "mundane" culture somewhat. That's how other persecuted groups have made progress...we can do it too...

But only if we give a damn...which we just might not.

Jake


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Seth L. Blumberg on November 21, 2002, 08:29:23 PM
Re "instability": Every adult gamer I know well enough to have any idea about their personal history had a more-than-averagely-traumatic home environment as a child.  It was a running joke in the Columbia U. Games Club.

This either says something about gamers, or about my choice of friends.  I can't tell which.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: James Holloway on November 21, 2002, 09:16:05 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
What I was pointing out, though, is that I'm embarrassed over it, and I don't especially like being associated with such--hence my own caution in talking about gaming with others. I think that we, as gamers, embarrrass each other, and we're ashamed of each other, and by default many of us are ashamed of themselves, at least in a non-gamer context.


But is it possible to reach a level where you're not ashamed of other gamers? Other gamers aren't me. Gaming is a big part of who I am, but other gamers aren't a significant part of that, excepting my actual gaming group, who are all people I'm glad to be associated with. Or I wouldn't be gaming with them. Why should other people's behavior reflect on me just because we share an interest?

That's my proud speech...

but of course I am embarrassed by the gaming "community." Horribly so. Oh well.

- James


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: M. J. Young on November 21, 2002, 10:39:21 PM
I have for several days quite intentionally avoided touching this thread; as a result it has exploded into many things about which I really probably should comment, one way or another.

But in the process I'm going to say a lot of terrible things about myself. I'm not certain any of them are secret, but they aren't all terribly public, either.

To begin, I've avoided this because I am publicly known to have what would be called "conservative" views about homosexuality, and don't care to make an issue of it. I do not hold extreme views, but I do disagree with many points maintained by the homosexual community generally and individuals within it. Thus it is also very important to say that my views about homosexuality don't impact my attitudes toward homosexuals. People are people, and whatever I think of anyone's character, personality, or choices, I always treat everyone as fairly and kindly as they will permit, and think society at large should do the same. So please, for those of you who are gay, accept that my disagreement is not laced with any sort of hatred or fear, but merely a position I hold if the issue arises.

Seth said that all the gamers he knows come from traumatic home environments. I did not. I know few people whose home environments were as stable, loving, or solid as mine. I only wish I could provide such for my kids (maybe I see the flaws in my parenting better than in my upbringing, but I think I could have done better).

I think I have a problem relating to this thread because I was "out" before I knew I was supposed to be "in". I played all kinds of games with all kinds of people before I discovered role playing games. My parents taught me to play hundreds of card and board games, including bridge, rummy, pokeno, Sorry, Parchessi, Oh Heck--well, accept that it was hundreds, and very varied. They  also had a pingpong table and a pool table. Playing games was always a central point to any social interaction that worked for me. Role playing games was just another aspect of that. I'd actually broadcast my involvement in Dungeons & Dragons rather nonchalantly over the airwaves of an Evangelical Charismatic Christian radio station in 1980 before I'd had a clue that there was anything "wrong" with it. Of course, I was also out of college (two undergraduate degrees in theology by then) and already established in ministry there. So the objections came, people told me that this was some evil thing I shouldn't play, and I just asked them to explain why. They told me what they'd been told, and I told them they were misinformed. They sent me pamphlets (no, not the Chick Tract--I'd have laughed so hard I don't know if I could have answered that one) and I publicly responded to the claims. In short, I won. I made them see that they were mistaken. So I stayed "out".

There has been a lot on this thread about being a "geek". I think I'm too old to have been a geek; the word didn't exist, or at least had not reached the affluent quarter of northern New Jersey, when I was in high school. I think perhaps "nerd" was the cutting edge word then, although I was usually called by uncounted (and unprintable) vulgarities. I was spat upon regularly, beat up frequently, had my possessions stolen and destroyed as a game, kicked down a flight of stairs once, and otherwise abused. I was not a gamer. I graduated high school in 1973, and that concept just wasn't around. I was not a computer nerd. Fewer than one percent of students at that school had ever used a computer at all, and perhaps one tenth of one percent (which I think came to twelve students) were members of the "computer club". These guys actually had some respect from the student body (at least, those who weren't already regarded as nerds on other ground), and they hammered out Basic programs via teletype to a mainframe computer about forty miles away in what was then called a timeshare arrangement. I was not one of them (I learned my computing from my father, who was in the industry, and sometimes had his own teletype at home). I was just a guy with no athletic ability, and therefore a ripe target for abuse.

Guess what I did? By the time I was out of high school, I developed a mental defense structure that essentially insisted that, regardless of how much it hurt outside or inside, I didn't care what anyone else thought of me. If people couldn't like me for who I was--unfortunately, I can't think of a completion for this thought that isn't vulgar. Yes, it hurt to be ostracized, to be the outsider. But I had come to the conclusion that I was never going to be the insider, never going to be part of the crowd, and it had better not matter to me.

Of course, it does matter to me; but since somewhere deep in my psyche it's been ingrained into me that I can't win that battle, it's not worth the resources to fight it.

So I don't much care about my appearance. I haven't shaved since some time in the 1980's, because shaving is uncomfortable and causes my face to break out. I trim my mustache and beard maybe every month or so, when it starts to annoy me. Haircuts are an expensive waste of time; if I can find a way to keep my hair out of my face, I'm happy. I wear the same jeans and T-shirt outfit (different clothes, same motif) to almost everything. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who judges me by my appearances isn't worth my time. It isn't that I don't know how to look right; I did quite well in law school and know how to present myself in court. I just don't see why I should bother trying to impress people with my looks.

I suppose the joke of it is that the Internet has completely turned things on their heads. None of you would have guessed most of those things about me had I not said them. I'm intelligent and articulate, and in this medium that's what people see. I'm concerned about ideas and about people, and in this medium that's what people see. So I do very well in this cyberworld where I leave my body behind and deal with people strictly in words and ideas. A lot of people who would probably take me for a homeless person if they passed me on the street (it has happened) have a lot of respect for me here.

It's not an accident that I spent five years on the radio. I get on extremely well with people who can't see what I look like, even when they disagree with me.

I sometimes wonder about all of you. I know Ron is a professor, so he's got to maintain some level of appearance for the sake of his job (although even in that, I've seen quite a range of such among university faculty). Most of you have jobs outside the home (I do almost everything right here in this room, but for travel to demo games and book signings, when I have to look decent). But any of you could be unshaven, lounging around in your boxers, dangling a cigarette butt from your lips, swatting flies away from your head--that's extreme, none of you are that bad (not that I care, because appearances don't matter to me), and none of the rest of us would know it.

Those of us who don't work to look "acceptable" have reasons. They aren't good, but they're reasons. I don't think they have anything to do with gaming or gaming culture. They have to do with a deep-seated belief that attempting to look good is a wasted effort. I'm not the least bit embarrassed by my hobby, or by my appearance, because I value things about myself that aren't superficial.

So I'm tilting at my own windmills. I think that all those people in the community who look at me and only see the clothes, the hair, whatever, and never get to the intellect and emotion, the person who I was always taught really mattered, is a superficial idiot. Let them think what they want. They're obviously not bright enough to realize how shallow their reactions are.

And it is possible that were I to turn up at Origins, I might just embarass some of you. Probably not, because I would certainly clean myself up for a public appearance like that, but then you can never be sure.

You don't have to be gay, or a gamer, or part of any other identifiable group, to be beat up. You don't have to be black or female for the system to shut you out. People want others to be "normal", and by that they mean "like me". Break the mold in any way, and it threatens them. Then they can't see anything by "he's different, and that's bad".

I think one of the Bible lessons I keep trying to drive home to people is that we're supposed to be thinking, "he's different, and that's good."

--M. J. Young


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 22, 2002, 08:16:17 AM
Seth, the only gamers I know and play RPGs with had childhood homelifes right out of "Leave it to Beaver". And that includes myself. Not even a single divorce amongst the parents of this group, they are all still alive, and from what I can see happily married.

In fact, when watching Springer, I sometimes feel disenfranchised, as I have nothing worthwhile to complain about.

So I can't corroborate your idea that they are all unstable and from bad homes, etc. But many were geeks, nerds, whathaveyou. If the show Freaks and Geeks isn't written about my friends and our experiences in school in the eighties, I'd be surprised. So much so that I find it hard to watch at times. These "geeks" of said show aren't from dysfunctional homes, they are from stable environments. Perhaps too stable. The end result is sensitive and socially inept children unable to support their own egos in the sea of adolescent angst that is High School.

The point is, that, like MJ, most of us geeks all developed the same coping mechanism. "If they criticize us and our actvities, it's just because they're not smart enough to see how neat it really is. Ignore them if they don't see that we're as cool as they are." Which of course doesn't work. Because it denies that what everyone wants socially is to be accepted. So what do you do? You play in your basement where nobody can see, so you don't have to deal with the dissonant feelings of people rejecting the activities that you enjoy, and simultaneously wanting to be part of theirs.

Well, here we are more than a decade later. What do we find? Well, first that they are still raising geeks. Apparently the nice suburbanites of the eighties, never saw fit to warn those of the nineties also raising kids, and new geeks seem to keep rolling off the assembly line. And indeed, there have always been geeks or nerds, or whatever you want to call the socially inept kids. So, you're always going to have people showing up at the cons who are going to be heavily entrenched in their defense mechanism. Not caring what people think about them, but just driving headlong into the activity that they love so much.

And even the adult geeks show signs. That is, as Jake said, they still revel in the things that make them unique. Oh, they may have learned to deal with society (all but a very few), but that doesn't mean that when in their element at a Con, they aren't going to just release some inner tension, and go overboard. Be Sailor Moon for a while.

The latter might actually be examples of the militant geek. The person who says that the only way that we're going to get acceptance is to stand up and be counted as a gamer (not to mention a transvestite). Isn't that parallel to the Gay movement's decision to become highly visible in parades, etc? Isn't there a parallel here between what StumpBoy calls an Anoying Fag, and an Annoying Gamer?

In any case, such behavior results in "Freaking the Mundanes". And with a lack of context saying that it's about legitimating a hobby, it's very likely to be misunderstood (approaching 100% probablility). So, is what we need Gamer Pride parades that are well documented by the media?

OK, that's silly.

I think that the covert method works just fine. And in fact that we're winning. I see it all the time. It starts with the fact that Wisconsin has the largest production of film and media graduates of any place on Earth. Ever notice that a waaay disproportionate number of shows are based on Wisconsin? Many of thse direcotrs and procucers went to shcool in Madison. Oft referred to as the "Berkely of the Midwest", a school and town so liberal that it produced a graduate that went on to become Mayor, of whom a friend of mine once said: "Hey did you know that I get my pot from the same guy the Mayor does?" Here's a place where gaming is not only accepted, but rather tame by comparison to all the weirdness that goes on. From these people (and, of course, others around the country with similar experiences) we are getting shows about all the geeky sort of stuff we like. Turns out that a lot of producers seem to have been geeks in their times.

Yes, we're being marketed to. Sure, there's always been a Superman TV show. But have you noticed that Lois and Clark was aimed not at teens so much as twentysomethings? Smallville, even disguised as a teen show, tries to co-opt an older demographic that they know can't stand not to watch Superman. OK, this could be seen as a Comics issue, but how unrelated do we think the comic and RPG populace are? And what about Buffy and Angel? Can we be sure that Wheedon and ReindotHagen aren't the same person? Hell, he even had his own show (hmm, does the failure of Kindred say something about the game, I wonder?).

We'll ignore Freaks and Geeks for a moment as the one drama-documentary sort of show that every marginalized group gets for free. But what about the proliferation of Sci-fi? "Ah, but," you say, "that's sci-fi fandom, not RPGs." Again where does one stop and the other begin? I'm a card carrying member of both groups, as are most gamers. Though oddly they'd be the last to admit it on occasion. I've always found it ironic how gamers will somtimes criticize the Trekkies as being wieird. I want to do double-takes at times. Heck, the divisions are even further down; how often have you seen a Table-Topper criticize a LARPer (well, lookee, there's one earlier in this thread).

The Secret Masters of Fandom (SMOF) aren't doing their jobs too well. It would seem that where there should be an ecumenicism of geekdom, there are instead camps. How is society as a whole going to accept this group of misfits when they don't even accpet each other? At what point does exhuberance become objecitonable? Sailor Moon crossdressers (obviously also part of the Fetish crowd)? Going to court wearing your Star Trek uniform? Speaking in Klingon? Elvish? What's the use of knowing Elvish if you can't spout off a few lines occasionally?

So, the first thing we need to do is to say that it's OK to do your thing. And that this applies to all forms of geekdom. We can't discriminate. And then to realize that, as a group, we're being marketed to. That's where the real power is, no? Don't go and see the crappy D&D movie, it you want better from the industry! Be a Neilson household, and rate shows like Farscape as your favorites. Keep hoarding your comics. And, most importantly to us here, buy RPGs.

Because it's dollars from people like you that inspire people like us here, and other designers to produce. That makes it viable. Fortunately, those of us geeks with a penchant for RPGs are getting to an age where we have more disposable income. Things are only getting better in the near future.

For all y'all non-geeks who have happened to come to gaming accidentally, and not through the geek rout that I and others have, sorry. It sucks to be you. But I can only do so much as an individual to make the experience more "Normal" for you. Occasionally, I'm going to do something, or say something that will make you think, "Damn, Mike's a big geek." The problem is that I have become a person who is comfortable enough with who he is that I don't want to change. So, either you become more accepting, or we'll just have to contiue with the status quo.

Which is fine by me.

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Jake Norwood on November 22, 2002, 08:42:01 AM
Quote from: James Holloway
But is it possible to reach a level where you're not ashamed of other gamers? Other gamers aren't me. Gaming is a big part of who I am, but other gamers aren't a significant part of that, excepting my actual gaming group, who are all people I'm glad to be associated with. Or I wouldn't be gaming with them. Why should other people's behavior reflect on me just because we share an interest?

That's my proud speech...

but of course I am embarrassed by the gaming "community." Horribly so. Oh well.

- James


It is, to a degree. When I end up talking with "mundanes" about my gaming habit (LOL) I often say "there's two kinds of gamers the [sailor moon] type and the really normal guy that just enjoys the hobby. I'm the latter. Then they get it and everyone is happy. I think that most of the membership of the forge that I've personally met is more-or-less normal enough to "take home to mom," and I'm proudly a member of this community. I'm proud of you too, James. ;-)

Jake


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 22, 2002, 12:24:14 PM
Hello,

I was thinking that there are major connections to be drawn between this thread and this one: Romantic partners who game (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3464).

Best,
Ron


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: paulmjessup on November 22, 2002, 12:29:23 PM
oh, at orgins 2002 i got to see this:

http://www.bdtma.com/sailorscouts.html

in person.  it's wrong.  so very very wrong.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 22, 2002, 12:44:10 PM
I love these guys! They are my tribe!

Sure they make my skin crawl. So what. Wouldn't have a Con without them.

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Enoch on November 25, 2002, 08:41:28 PM
Now that I've actually seen the guys dressed up as Sailor Scouts, I realize that they are just having fun.  For some reason I always imagined this disturbed pervert who takes it all way to seriously.  

These guys are just doing it for fun.  Damn, if I had the motivation, I wouldn't mind dressing up as Chun Li... (Sorry that's an injoke.)

About the dysfunctional family thing.  I'll take it one step further.  I have absolutely ONE friend who has a normal family structure.  Still married, no divorce.  That ONE friend unfortunately had other family problems that I won't go into.  All of my friends besides him have divorced parents.  Every single one of them.  This just blows my mind.  When I was a wee Josh, I had maybe one friend that was in a divorced family.  And I was wee not too long ago (80's).

My family is normal in all respects, but I am the biggest game-geek in the group (Me being in the Forge is proof enough for that).  Now, I'm geeky, but I have never been considered uncool.  I've never been real popular either, but I wasn't into the stuff the popular kids were.  I've never been in a fight (this might be because I've always been a large kid, when I was in the 8th grade I stopped growing, but throughout high school I was STILL the biggest kid.

Ever since I can remember I've been playing role-playing games.  Before the I even knew what role-playing games were I was playing them.  This was mainly a cross between video games and let's pretend.  I was the neighborhood GM (remember no knowledge of RPGs whatsoever).  People would always want to play with me because I would come up with the best games.  For example: the Mario game.  Basically it worked out where everyone picked a hero character, and I was the bosses.  They went up levels after defeating each boss through various means that I would make up.  We also played a game 'Around the House' where we would walk around the yard and as we came upon differant features, like a fence gate, I would explain to them what it really was and what they needed to do to get past it.  Now this might sound like Let's Pretend, but these games had rules, and descriptions.  Albeit they had little 'role-playing', less than our 'freeform' lets pretend games.

Damn... its going to be cool when I have kids...

Hmm. This post has no structure, no point, and just kind of rambles on, sorry.

-Joshua


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 25, 2002, 09:25:19 PM
Hi Joshua,

I was gonna say, you shifted into free-associative sharing for a moment there, and the air kind of ... thickened ...


Anyway, folks, this thread did have a fairly coherent question/issue when I split Seth's post and various responses into its own self, but we may have simply shown that we're not very good at discussing this stuff yet. I'm happy to have anyone demonstrate otherwise, though.

Best,
Ron


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Eric J. on November 25, 2002, 10:59:09 PM
Wow.  Longest page of posts, I've ever read.

Anyway-

I don't know how one can describe a "normal" life.  My parents are had one of the worst divorces in the history of the world, and a million other problems have come.  None of my current friends (at least thoes in my gaming group) live in single-parent families, but are any of their lives "normal"?  If you ask me, which you aren't, I wouldn't want to live in a 50's television family, which is the only way of describing "normal" to me.  

Are gamers more likelley to be eccentric, or unstable?  I don't think so, but they'd probably like to think that they are.  If there was any indication in this direction, it would probably be because gamers are more likelley to be intelligant.  This is nearly undeniable, so don't deny it.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mark D. Eddy on November 26, 2002, 08:27:13 AM
And therein, perhaps, lies the central issue about Gamers' self-image. None of the people I have ever gamed with were less than above-average in mentation.

Gamers are smart. What else do we need? I'll point out that two of my gamer friends are high-functioning autists (Asperger's Syndrome, for those who care), with emphasis on high-functioning. As long as you're smart, you don't even need to understand that those around you are human. You can still play.

But, and here's where trouble starts, because the limiting factor is intelligence linked with creativity, we make demands on people who won't be able to follow our leaps. How patient is a gaming group likely to be with someone who has difficulty putting a coherent sentence together?

Once again, I feel like I've just pitched a curve ball, in a game of quoits.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on November 26, 2002, 08:44:12 AM
The "gamers are smarter than normal" argument is one I see a lot - and one with no empirical proof behind it. (If one wanted to be especially snarky first thing in the morning, they might say that Pyron's post was a good argument against it.)

It's an easy defensive argument to make when people have issues though - to identify themselves with a group that is somehow superior to others. The problems are:

a) Gamers aren't a unified group.
b) There's no evidence outside anecdotal that they're smarter than anyone else. In fact, this argument brings up the box of wild cats that is the definition of intelligence. If intelligence includes in any way the ability to adapt for life's changes, anecdotal evidence points in the opposite direction.

Quote from: Mark D. Eddy

But, and here's where trouble starts, because the limiting factor is intelligence linked with creativity, we make demands on people who won't be able to follow our leaps. How patient is a gaming group likely to be with someone who has difficulty putting a coherent sentence together?


First, I honestly doubt you'll be gaming with anyone who can't put a coherent sentence together. People do tend to socialize with people of similar social and mental skills. Second, this argument smacks of elitism in the worst way - the idea that you'll be able to be more creative than others.

The "we're smarter than others" argument in no way answers the question of "why do some gamers have such low self-image?" It does, however, reinforce the question, pointing out the problem in stark relief.

Best,
Clinton

P.S. Pyron - you've been a member of the Forge long enough to know that your post was inappropriate. However, you made one of the best points in this thread: "Are gamers more likely to be eccentric, or unstable? I don't think so, but they'd probably like to think that they are." I agree whole-heartedly, and find this to be one of the primary sources of the self-image problem.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 26, 2002, 08:49:52 AM
Hello,

I hate to be a rainy cloud in this self-congratulatory festival of smartness, but I see no evidence whatsoever to support the claim that "gamers" are "smarter" than others. I put the two terms in quotes because they are undefined.

I am not presenting "the other side" of a debate; you'll notice that I am not posing the counter-claim ("are not!"). Therefore, please don't attempt to provide evidence to support one side or the other. I think that conflict-of-interest (perceiving oneself or an activity that one loves as "smart") is unavoidable and will pollute any attempt at a reasonable debate.

I suggest that this line of discussion relies on several realms of highly controversial debates, mainly over terms, and furthermore utterly misses one of my most basic points in the Infamous Five: that the world is not divided into Gamers and Non-Gamers, but rather into imaginative/neat people who game or might be interested in gaming, and others (regardless of whether they do or do not game).

A note to Mark specifically: I suggest considering issues like definition of terms before posting what amounts to flame-bait rhetoric. That sort of thing is fun & spunky at some sites, but not this one.

Best,
Ron


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mark D. Eddy on November 26, 2002, 09:07:25 AM
Ok. maybe I went over the top there, but I stand by my experience, which I'm not sure how many others share. I ran a 'drop-in' gaming group Friday nights for several years at the original WotC game center (in the U District of Seattle). Of the people who joined/dropped by the game, all but a handful were either in college or college graduates. Of those who were not, all but one or two were (or had been) in 'gifted student' programs at their high school. Including the high school dropouts/runaways/street kids. This was out of a sample size of at least fifty.

I stand by my comment that role playing games demand a higher level of creativity than many other hobbys. 'Sports fan' springs immediately to mind, as do 'amateur athelete' and 'counted cross-stitch.'


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: greyorm on November 26, 2002, 11:29:08 AM
Two of my regular high school players were in Special Education because of learning disabilities, most of my (large) group were not of above average intelligence, though a few of us were.

Considering this, and other factors, I think the position of gamer intelligence is unquestionably unsupportable (without further evidence gained via study), but does serve to highlight something I've been mulling over since Mike and MJ posted about the issue of their "proud geekness."

Something had been bugging me about Mike and MJ's responses to this thread, but I hadn't been able to put my finger on what that was without some thought. Mike and MJ are gamer geeks, they admit it, in fact, they savagely defend their geekness with pride.

I believe it was Anthony who said something about the "asshole queer" phase (move along, folks, no pun intended) that just out-of-the-closet gay men often go through. As much as I like them both, I think Mike and MJ could be examples of "asshole geeks," in that "I'm so comfortable being a geek, screw you if you can't deal with it!" translates directly to "I'm so comfortable being queer, screw you if you can't deal with it!"

Which I think is the problem.
When we're talking about pride, we have issues of social ostracization behind the pride movement, because when you are made to feel less-than-worthwhile, you want whatever it is you have been ostracized about to feel worthwhile instead.

This is accomplished in a number of ways, notably the "We're gamers, we're smarter than everyone else" statements and other such self-fulfilling circular truisms, coupled with the bashing of other 'inferior' groups by the 'better' group. All appear to be endemic of the pride idea across multiple groups...

I believe this is done without the individual necessarily realizing it, as a way of reinforcing the ostracized subject/behavior as something positive and better than average to compensate for the valuing of such as worthless or the rejection of such with a supplied logic that provides a distinct counter-claim, along with attempts to reverse the positions of the ostracized individual and their persecutors (ie: let's see how they like it; or see how they're hypocrites). Simply, an attempt to dilute, if not outright destroy, the 'power' of the persecutor and thus their judgements.
Case in point, new Pagans often foolishly engage in Christian-bashing.

I also find correlation among Pagans and witches who come out of the closet, whom display this exact behavior: banding together to shout to the world that they're there, they're intelligent, this is what they believe and they're proud of it...and usually to make complete asses of themselves in the process, while bashing "the man" and other groups.

A clear anecdotal example of this is a story I know about a Wiccan priestess at a solstice gathering, who, while in the parking lot on her way home happened to glance over and read some of the choice bumper stickers of a fellow Pagan...only to be met with shouts from that individual, quick to defend and proclaim her beliefs, "That's right! I'm a PAGAN! I'm a WITCH! Does that BOTHER you? Go home, Christian!"

(Said proud pagan was quickly chagrined when something occurred that alerted her to the fact the woman she was shouting her pride rhetoric at was a high priestess)

In short, we're talking about the whole "don't oppress me, man!" attitude.
I suggest that people who stand up "proud" of what they are are actually still IN the closet, psychologically, with who/what they are or do. That is, they're still uncomfortable on some level with it -- or with the world knowing it -- and are responding to this internal lack by trying to give the finger to the world to make themseleves feel better and correct, regardless of whether they already are correct (and hence the "asshole queer" stage).

Here's the issue in a nutshell: how does a heterosexual pride parade sound to you?
Yeah, I think it's perhaps the dumbest mother****ing idea I've ever heard, too.

I believe what we are talking about here when we discuss being "proud of your hobby" is the same kind of "pride" middle-class, suburban white guys have in that they play poker. This kind of pride isn't about shouting it to the world to hear...frankly, being proud of the fact that you're a gamer or a geek or poker player or whatever is just frickin' weird, as weird as being proud of the fact you're heterosexual (or gay).

Pride, in this discussion, I think needs to be replaced with "comfort."
That is, don't be proud of who/what you are, be comfortable with it.

You're gay. Great.
You're heterosexual. Great.
You're a gamer. Great.
Nobody needs to have a frickin' parade about it.

(And now that I've offended half the queer community, I will launch into a round of jokes about not wanting to be cornered by a bunch of angry gay men and bitch slapped...ba-dum-bum!)

In all seriousness, however, I realize this is a slight oversimplification of the issue, but as it stands, let us not pick at the minutia (ie: standing up to be counted and such is necessary in gaining rights and acceptance in the political/cultural power structure...also completely off-topic) but discuss the idea.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Bankuei on November 26, 2002, 02:43:11 PM
Let's step back and look at the basic point of the discussion;

Gamers have a bad self image about gaming (notice that they may feel great about everything else in their life).

There is a certain level of shame or fear of ostracization that goes with gaming and talking about it with folks who don't game.  Corelations have been brought up with sexuality, religion, and could easily done so with politics.  All of the commonalities boil down to, "Can I be open about this, in front of this person(s), and what sort of reactions can I expect?"

The expected range of reactions go from, "Hey! I game too!", to, "D&D is the work of the devil and you're fired!".  That's a pretty wide range, but of course, the latter example is exceedingly rare compared to the sorts of positive/negative responses one can get with politics, religion or sexuality.

To bring up a more universal comparison, it would make more sense to compare gaming to mastrubation, in that there's a high level of shame associated with it(for a lot of people, anyway), and occassionally the response to admitting you do it could be being damned to hell or other social ostracization.

The first part of the pride issue, is simply getting to the point of "There is nothing wrong or bad about this", which is a reasonable attitude devoid of shame.  The part of the asshole whatever portion kicks in when folks go, "This is the greatest thing and you're not shit!" or "Hey! Hey! Look at me! I DO THIS!".

The second part of self esteem/social issue, that of validation or at least basic respect by other folks comes in when they say, "Well, they're having fun and they're not bothering anyone, so its fine by me."

I'd say gaming suffers a great deal by the amount of well adjusted, socially competant people who simply stay in the closet out of shame.  The only folks that we see representative are the weirdos who only hang out at the game shop every day or the folks the media pulls up to blame for the newest satanic D&D murder spree.  We don't have a celebrity or mainstream figurehead that validates gaming in the eyes of the mainstream.  

Which isn't to say that one is needed, but that if most gamers simply came out of the closest, unapologetic about their hobby, people would probably see that gamers come from all walks of life, and you can find intelligent, sane, socially capable individuals, along with the freaks and media stereotypes.

Is this a call for a mass coming out?  By no means, the only thing I'd like to see on part of gamers is to not be ashamed, whether you choose to discuss your hobby or not.  Feeling bad is usually detrimental to having fun, which is really the point of any hobby.

Chris


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 27, 2002, 10:05:18 AM
Hello,

I agree with both Raven and Chris (Bankuei) in all particulars. Thanks, guys.

Best,
Ron


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 27, 2002, 11:26:53 AM
Hmmm.

First, Raven, how can I say this without sounding defensive? I find it odd that you would associate me with the "assholes" as, well, I identified that group in my post well before you did, and, in said post pointed out that I was not that guy.

Doth I protest o'ermuch? You've met me in person. Could you clear my name here? Or am I much more on an asshole than I think I am? Let me know it that's the case, because it would be nice to know.

This is all tongue-in-cheek. I'm not angry or anything. I just want eveyone to know that I've never worn a Sailor Moon outfit. And that I've seen Raven (and most of the other posters here who I've met) act in similarly geeky ways. Oh, I'm probably not as well presented as Ron and Jake, quite, but I'm also not a raving lunatic. None of us are.

My point has been, in fact, that while I'd confess to being apprehensive at times about others reception of my "gamerness" that I am personally very satisfied with who I am.

That is, I think it's OK to be enthusiastic about my hobby. Not for the purpose of "Freaking the Mundanes" at all. My post should have made clear that I think that the way things are going is just fine by me, and I have no need to be militant about my "gamerness". But I also don't want to have to worry about freaking anybody out accidentally. So I don't.

To further stretch the analogy, I think that I am like the Gay guy who has gotten past the annoying phase (or never had one, really). But I'll be damned if I was gay that I wouldn't be gay in public. Not to annoy anyone, or change any opinions, but just because I want to be able to be myself wherever I go. As such, if I mention Cthulhu in casual conversation a lot, you'll have to excuse me - I like H.P. Lovecraft and all Cthulhuania.

Do I have a hidden agenda, or some deep seated neurosis that makes me do these things? I dunno. You wanna pay for a therapist for me so we can find out?

Or wouldn't it be cheaper to just say, oh, that's just Mike, he's a little wierd but the woudn't hurt anyone. That's all I'm looking for.

Now, I've made this all very personal. Which was not really my intent. WHile we are all individuals, when looking at a group, it's good to have a practical sample. I think I fit the bill. So please try to extend my points to all the folks who may be like me. I think we constitute a large portion of Geekdom. Just like there is a large number of Gay people who aren't militant about it, but still act gay in public, there is a similar group of Gamers.

I wonder if the "Sailor Moon" guys wore that stuff to the bars across he street?

As I think we're seeing here, it's not so much the reaction of the public that I'm railing against; they don't seem to give me too much trouble, really. But of a subset of geeks who seem to think that they're so "normal" that they are put out by the rest of us geeks. Again, I think it's their squeamishness that's the problem, not mine.

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: damion on November 27, 2002, 02:53:08 PM
Various comments:
1)While the whole 'gamers are smarter' thing is debatable, I do think gaming requires a different personality type, one that is not common in the poplulation at large. As mike mentioned, there is a considerable overlap with SciFi fandom, possibly due to them being enjoyed by similar types of people.
Even IF gamers are smarter (as defined, by say IQ tests) that definatly does not equate to better. In fact, if you include 'ability to get along in the world' the 'optimal' ,i.e. will cause you the least trouble in your life, IQ range is about 115-130 or so.
(My apolgies, my fiance is a psych student studying gifteness, so I've assimilate ALOT of info on this topic.)

Gamer culture seems to follow the trends of most 'minority' cultures.
I think there are a couple reasons for it being one though:
Compared to most other hobbies, gaming requires a larger commitment of time. This is because your group has to get together at some sort of regular interval for a fairly long time. Also, a peron not being able to make it has a larger impact than on most other such social hobbies. (So a poker player can't come, who cares.  Gaming is different in that each person is more integral to the result. This is different from falling below a threshold, i.e. losing a bridge player.  You can just bring in someone else. In gaming, the new person will have a new charachter, which is more disturbing to the game.)  

There is a social issue though. If the general perception of gamers was better, people can say 'I'm a gamer.' and the other person would know what that is, and not worry that they don't understand it. You can say 'I'm a rugby player.' to me and I can know approximatly what that is ( a sport and it's rough) and not worry that I don't know anything about the game.

Part of it is gaming falls into the gray area between a social activity and
'game'. I can bring a new player to a sport and they can replace a another person pretty easily. Gaming requires a social contract, because it's to complex for rules to legislate all behavior, so bring a new person in is more complex.  I may know system X, but with a new group, there is still a learning curve.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Irmo on November 27, 2002, 03:25:35 PM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
The "gamers are smarter than normal" argument is one I see a lot - and one with no empirical proof behind it. (If one wanted to be especially snarky first thing in the morning, they might say that Pyron's post was a good argument against it.)

It's an easy defensive argument to make when people have issues though - to identify themselves with a group that is somehow superior to others. The problems are:

a) Gamers aren't a unified group.
b) There's no evidence outside anecdotal that they're smarter than anyone else. In fact, this argument brings up the box of wild cats that is the definition of intelligence. If intelligence includes in any way the ability to adapt for life's changes, anecdotal evidence points in the opposite direction.


I think this discussion really has to be qualified further, although most of you already do that involuntarily.
Are we talking about gamers in general? Gamers in a specific country? Due to interaction with the society "gamers" live in, there can be quite some differences in self-esteem, too, I think.

In any case, Dr. Jeannette Schmid, at the time at the Institute for psychology of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, who was herself a roleplayer, IIRC, did a survey using an established questionary distributed at a roleplaying con and at several local game stores in southern Germany in 1995. (There is also an older study, by now considered somewhat flawed, and due to its age also of questionable relevance today, given the changes in roleplaying itself: Simón, Armando, “Emotional Stability Pertaining to the Game of Dungeons & Dragons”, in: Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 24, October 1987, 329-332) The purpose of Schmid's study was to verify several common prejudices of outsiders towards gamers:


    Roleplayers are in danger of confusing game and reality and let themselves be influenced by the GM outside the game, they are more emotionally labile, i.e. unstable (Factor Neuroticism)
    Roleplayers tend to violent behavior (Factor compatibility/tolerance)
    Roleplayers are less achievement-oriented/ less diligent (Factor diligence)
    Roleplayers are more creative, or more open to new things (Factor openness to new experiences) [/list:u]

    77 questionaries were returned, 74 from male players, 1 from a female roleplayer, 1 without information on the gender. The average time the people were gaming was 7.2 years, the average age 21.8

    The questionaries were analysed according to five factors:

    Neuroticism (emotional stability/lability, how people deal with emotions, especially negative ones, etc.)
    extroverty (How comfortable people are in groups, how secure they are in their bearing, how active, energetic and optimistic they are)
    Openness for new experiences (Interest in, and degree of dealing with new things, desire to learn, curiosity, intellectuality, creativeness, artistic interest etc Higher interest in questioning norms and greater readiness to accept new social, ethical or political paradigms. Tend to be independent and unconvential)
    Compatibility/Tolerance (A high degree here often signifies altruism, empathy and benevolence)
    Diligence (Focus, purposefulness, discipline, willpower, reliable.)
    [/list:u]

    Since an established questionary was used, it was easy to compare with the average population. Results of 2112 questionaires were availble in the literature.

    Of course, the 77 samples of roleplayers analysed are small compared to that, and can only show a tendency.

    Significant differences were found in the neuroticism factor, in which roleplayers were lower, i.e. they actually have a HIGHER emotional stability, and openness for new experiences in which roleplayers were higher than the population at large.

    The suggestion that this is merely based on people trying to flatter themselves is unlikely in light of the fact that the result for diligence, a factor generally seen favorable by society, showed a lower result for roleplayers than for the population average.

    The small number of samples made it of course difficult to postulate any further correlations as significant. That being said, there seemed to be a slightly lower extroverty among long-time gamers than among those who had started only recently,  and at the same time a positive correlation with openness for new experiences, i.e. long-time gamers were more open to such experiences. That could not be found to be solely based on a higher age.
    -----------------------------------

    Dr. Schmid also held a talk on roleplaying games including possible reactions by parents and teachers on learning about their offspring's activity on an invitation of a teacher's association.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: contracycle on November 28, 2002, 05:31:29 AM
Quote

I suggest that people who stand up "proud" of what they are are actually still IN the closet, psychologically, with who/what they are or do. That is, they're still uncomfortable on some level with it -- or with the world knowing it -- and are responding to this internal lack by trying to give the finger to the world to make themseleves feel better and correct, regardless of whether they already are correct (and hence the "asshole queer" stage).


This argument strongly irks me.  I dislike speculation as to someone elses motivations with little to back it up; and it becomes even more unreliable when projected onto thousands, maybe millions of people.  It is however a very nice excuse to ignore the parade; after all, you understand it better than the people ON the parade, don't you?  And hence you can put them back in the closet, out of sight and out of mind.

The "arsehole" phase may not be the most persuasive of political techniques, but equally ther only way that a concept gains credibiklity and normality is to be visible and public.  Hence, freaking the mundanes is a useful technique, because eventually you become so normal that the mundanes are no longer freaked; you have become mundane too, part of the colourful backdrop.  Keeping your head down only validates the hostile opinion; after all are you not cowering in shame?  Well, such an ostentatious demonstration of your proclivities makes it quite clear you are not.

That said, I don't particularly think this explains what is going on with the Sailor Moon outfits; after all that strictly speaking has little to do with gaming.  Anime freaks can go to their own Con, AFAIAC.  Now if they dressed up in some sort of gaming related way, I think the whole thing would be much more explicable, taken in better spirit, and not leave the RPG community lookuing as outright weird as it can do at the moment.


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 28, 2002, 10:27:23 PM
Hello,

It is clear, I think, that various different takes have been arrived at by different people. Mike, Gareth, and Raven represent three very different decisions about how to handle the issue.

The entire point of the Social Context thread and its daughter threads, most especially this one, is simply to get that issue on the table. We don't have to arrive at a given "what to do" policy. We most especially do not have to defend our individual chosen policies up to this point in time. But the issue is on the table; it always has been, and I'm merely pointing to it. Whether you shrug, like Jake, or give a cry of pain, like b_bankhead, or step back and look wary, like Mike or Gareth ... it doesn't matter.

Let's give one another some credit. In expressing a personal take on how to handle something very touchy, very emotional, and which in some few cases does indeed have significant consequences, no one can point fingers and say "You shoulda handled it like I say," or worse, "Live your life as I say you should." No need for refutation at this time - we are sharing.

Final point: Mike wrote,
"Doth I protest o'ermuch? You've met me in person. Could you clear my name here?"

He's referring to Raven's "arsehole gamer" portrait, but I'm going to extend it in an interesting way. Mike described himself earlier in this thread as a "fat, sloppy gamer," and added some details. This is weird to me, because I have met Mike and hung out with him on numerous occasions ... and the man is cool. He's big - but not chubby/pasty; in fact, he's a pretty good-looking guy with definite presence. He's assertive when he feels he's been run over, verbally - without getting querulous or angry. He's nice to people and listens to them. He plays a hell of an electric guitar and could, I think, hold his own at any open mike night in any club. None of this is intended to reassure him. It's merely how I would have described him to anyone who wanted to know.

I bring this up to point to the contrast between self-image and perceived-image.

Best,
Ron


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 29, 2002, 08:53:41 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I bring this up to point to the contrast between self-image and perceived-image.


Well, to be truthful, I overstated the case to bring up the point. That is I don't really have a huge amount of "Sloppy Gamer Cred", but felt we needed someone to defend that corner.

My point was that many, many of the gamers that are pointed out as being the "problem" types are capable of being quite normal when they want to. In fact, most of them are only that geely around other gamers where they feel comforatble doing so (I assume that the Sailor Moon crew only does that at conventions, and not, say, for Halloween).

As such, what problem are they causing with public perception? Rather little, I think. Instead the problem is with Gamer perception. No geek wants to be outgeeked. And I think we all here know that the Salior Moon guys have us by quite a measure in their level of geekery boldness.

Then we worry that "somebody normal" will see these guys, assume that these "normies" will judge them badly, and then assume that we will somehow be judged via association.

OK, that's just a theory, but does it ring true for anybody? It's what I do. Just before I get a grip on myself, and realize that it's a long chain of efvents that's unlikely to ever effect me personally. But everyone makes kneejerk reactions at times. Especially when visually assaulted by guys my size dressed as "Magic Girl" type anime characters. An act that could only have been performed with that assault in mind. The question is, do they really constitute a threat to me somehow? Given that I can comport myself well, when neccessary, I realize no.

It's that sort term psychology that makes us all concerned with each other's behavior. I've personally chosen to take to appreciating the geeky behavior of others as much as possible. Is there a munchkin in the game? Well, either I'll just try to adjust the game around him, or just play something else. I'm not going to kvetch about a personality that I'm not going to be able to change. Fortunately there are other games to play; with players who don't have such opposed modes to mine.

And at the end of the day, I build my own self-esteem not on the actions of munchkins and Large Male Sailor Moon Enthusiasts, but on my own merits. And I find that I have no problem with my hobby. I'm OK; you're OK.

I imagine that most Male Accountants at Accountant conventions all wish that more Accountants were sexy females. But, in general, we cannot pick and choose who will be members of our chosen activities, and will have to focus on those who do appeal to us as companions. Fortunately that's what's great about such associations; we all have at least one thing in common.

And I have to say that I love my gamers! What other group of people can I count on to be as obsessed with gaming as I am?

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: greyorm on November 30, 2002, 12:26:37 PM
Mike,

No, you specifically aren't an "asshole"...the response you gave, ie: "Whatchagonnadoaboutit?" and etc. bothered me because (I eventually realized) I associated it with the whole newly-out-of-the-closet behavior I've seen elsewhere -- as stated, giving the finger to the world if they don't like who you are or how you act -- and as such, with the "asshole" stage of coming out that Anthony mentioned.

It was definitely NOT to say you, or MJ, are assholes -- ie: big jerks and purveyors of rudeness and hostility. It was the response, the phrasing, the nature of the defense, the specific behvaior that was asshole-like, not you yourself. Like Ron, I recall you're a pretty cool guy.

I know quite a few "asshole pagans," and "asshole Christians" for that matter, and what's more, I'm good friends with these people. On the other hand, I know quite a few assholes, and I'm not friends with them at all. I hope that clarifies the difference for you. Don't focus on the adjective...the adjective doesn't carry the meaning of the term.

Quote
I am like the Gay guy who has gotten past the annoying phase (or never had one, really). But I'll be damned if I was gay that I wouldn't be gay in public. Not to annoy anyone, or change any opinions, but just because I want to be able to be myself wherever I go.

Or wouldn't it be cheaper to just say, oh, that's just Mike, he's a little wierd but the woudn't hurt anyone. That's all I'm looking for.


And that's the perception we should all be looking to foster. Here's the thing, though: I read your post and MJ's and what I saw was, "This is Bob. Bob doesn't care what we think." When it is obvious to others that you don't care what they think, you've already lost the acceptance battle, because the immediate response (right or wrong) is "Fine, we don't care what you think, either."

Does this mean you become a patsy for the mainstream? No.
You can care what other people think and still be yourself.

Anecdote time:

I went through a "screw the world" phase in regards to my geekness and religious beliefs and etc. After some time of this, I realized it wasn't working (ie: making both others and myself happy) any better than conforming would have. I was still on the outside, and while I was comfortable with that (or believed I was), I was still on the outside.

The trick, I've found, is caring what other people think, even if it means you aren't going to change for them. It is the difference between saying, "Too bad if this bothers you" and "I'm sorry this bothers you."

Take my hair for example, I wear it abnormally long for a male, down to my mid-back. For years I've had to put up with crap from my family about the length, polite ribbing about being a hippie, threats to cut it when I slept and so forth (including being bribed with a large sum of money to cut it short)?

I used glare and scowl and tell them, "I'm not cutting and I'm tired of listening to this." And, of course, it never worked because I was paying as much attention to their feelings on the issue as they were to mine.

When I started saying, "I know you don't like it and think it looks bad, but I don't, and I really don't want to cut it. And I don't like being teased about it, either, it really hurts my feelings. I wear it this way for personal, religious reasons." Then I started getting results, and I hear far less about it these days.

Quote
a subset of geeks who seem to think that they're so "normal" that they are put out by the rest of us geeks. Again, I think it's their squeamishness that's the problem, not mine.


That's a valid point, and quite possibly correct...but I also think its a cop-out for the reasons above.

Then again, what's the definition of a geek? Someone who is socially incompetent and possibly differs from the main culture in behavior/hobbies? (I don't know, but that seems to fit.)

Or is it just the latter (differing from the main), or possibly the latter to geeks (who seek to swell their ranks by association) and the former to others (who use the latter to define why they think the person is a geek, right or wrong)?

In the first case, if you're a "normal" geek, you aren't a geek at all, because your peer group doesn't peg you as one due your hobbies. Instead, they would have to peg you as a geek and then use your hobbies to support the label. Anecdote: at my high school, a few of the most popular guys played D&D in my group...however, even though this was known, they never recieved the 'geek' label for doing so. Though anecdotal, this seems to support the first case as the usual way to obtain the 'geek' label, rather than by mere association.

Regardless, it's another label to seperate "us" and the dreaded "them."

Now, IMO, this all ties into Gareth's response as well.


Gareth,

I thought I had explained the reasoning behind my speculation adequately in that post, as I dislike and attempt to avoid creating such theory without some solid support, even if it is based solely on personal experience with folks who fit the profile (in this case, pagans, not gays) and some pop-psychology.

But I find you're taking my argument places it never went. I am in no way advocating use of the theory posited to allow anyone to say, "Oh, I know why they're doing it, so now I can just ignore it." Nor does my post in any way indicate this as a course of action for anyone, so as far as I am concerned this is not an issue I can even remotely address, as it has nothing to do with my post.

(In fact, I find the modern concept that the understanding of an issue or item somehow cheapens that thing or leads to ignoring it 'peculiar' to say the least.)

So, though it deals with them, the reactions of the mainstream to the "parade" is a side issue to the reasons for the parade in the first place, or more correctly, the possible motivations for the "asshole Xer" behavior Anthony pointed out and others have also noted.

(And yes, "asshole" isn't the best term here, but let's get past the wording, shall we? We're all adults, we can think and not react. And if you can suggest a better term, please do so, I'm more than willing to change terminology.)

You do bring up an interesting point: Will folks ignore it when you flaunt it? (thus putting you right back into the closet) Will doing so in fact have the reverse of the intended effect?

Your group might become a part of the "colorful backdrop" through "flaunting it," but it is doubtful they will gain actual acceptance through such a method...the group will still be seen as the odd-man-out & weird (and hence 'dangerous') by the very people who they're trying to convince they aren't so weird and different from.

Your statements about "freaking the mundanes" strike me as exactly the problem, in fact. The whole "mundane vs. special person" dichotomy is dangerous and unhealthy, both from a position of gaining social respect and being heard, and from a social/ethical viewpoint.


So what do we end up with? Is the real discovery in this thread that the whole "us" vs. "them" attitude ("gamer" vs. "non-gamer") is the actual culprit in regards to the public perception of gamers and (more importantly) gaming as a hobby?

Because we choose to distinctly identify ourselves as "not-part" of the mainstream due our hobby, thus chasing away anyone comfortable with being a part of the mainstream who might also otherwise be interested in it?


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 30, 2002, 05:44:47 PM
So, basically you're saying, "Don't be an asshole gamer. Care what other people think."

So, does that mean that if I want to play an RPG in public that I have to explain what we're doing to every passerby that gives me an askance glance? Or do I have to play in non-public areas?

Or is it, as I've suggested, a non-issue? Now that it's been revealed that I'm not the "asshole gamer".

Does anyone here consider themselves an actual bona-fide Asshole Geek? I'm going to guess not. And I'm going to guess that they are actually very rare. Further, if we assume that there are some, what are we going to do about them? As I've tried to point out (unsuccessfully), though I am not an Asshole Geek, let's assume for argument's sake that I was. What would you do? What could you say to change me into a "normal" geek (BTW, defined as still in the geek set, but not an asshole about it)? Would you drag me out of a public playing area, and put me where the "mundanes" coudn't see me? Are we talking about some sort of asshole gamer outreach here?

Hi, "I'm Mike, and I'm an asshole gamer."

Does anybody else think this is getting absurd?

What I'm saying is that we're more OK than we think we are. And we aren't going to be able to change those who may constitute a problem. If they even do constitute a problem. Given all this, is there really some sort of action that needs to be taken by anyone?

As I've said, we're already winning. The staus quo is just fine by me.

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: M. J. Young on November 30, 2002, 07:09:22 PM
Reverend, is it possible that this phase of in your face with a chip on my shoulder is one expression of a necessary step in a process?

My "geek" background is completely unrelated to gaming or in fact to anything else. It is one of the cruelties of children. I was hospitalized during my preschool years (acute nephritis--you all came very close to not having to listen to me) and so developed neither the knowledge nor the physical prowess necessary to excel in sports. Such skills are (or at least then and there were) the foundation of the valuation of boys among elementary school children; if you weren't good at kickball, dodgeball, Red Rover, duck-duck-goose, and the myriad of other physical/athletic activities, you were on the outside; and being on the outside at that age tended to make you desperate to be on the inside, and so to exhibit rather embarrassing habits (fawning over popular kids, for example). It snowballs; long after everyone has forgotten why you're a geek, you're still the geek. It imprints; even if you move to a new place, your lack of self confidence identifies your status to the new crowd.

My wife thinks that it's all nonsense. She was also teased and picked on (the fat girl syndrome). She says she just picked her friends carefully from among those who didn't share that view. Maybe it's different for girls. I knew boys who would play with me when no one else was around and chase me home if someone showed up. But she also thinks that somewhere in college you get past that point, such that people no longer care, but that the geeks still perceive themselves as such and so spurn the friendships of others. I don't know that I agree; but then, if she's right, I would be exactly the person who wouldn't know it.

What I do know is that I had to go through a few phases. I was never the sort of adamant jerk under discussion here; that is, I never stood up and challenged the world to knock me down. But I went into a rather withdrawn stage in which I didn't really care what the rest of the world thought (coupled with a "one day they'll see that I'm really special and they should have been nice to me"--I often wonder if Bill Gates feels like that). Then it was my future as a famous musician (which obviously didn't happen, as none of you have ever seen my face on an album cover); but more basically it was an effort to come to grips with a phase of "I can be O.K. with myself, even if right now I'm not, regardless of what everyone else thinks, even if I really do care." I don't recommend the passive form of this; it tends toward clinical depression. But it seems to me that the adamant jerk is the aggressive form of this.

I say it is a phase, because it is a necessary step in a process that then moves to "I'm O.K. with myself, and really don't care what everyone else thinks," and hopefully eventually to something beyond that: "I'm O.K. with myself, and hey, it seems like nearly everyone else is, too."

I'm saying that maybe to get to the point where you realize that people don't dislike you you have to get through the place where you like yourself without reference to whether they do.

That's the mistake we make. We predicate our own self image on the attitudes of others, when in fact it may be that others are predicating their attitudes on that self-image. If you are comfortable with yourself, others will be comfortable with you; if you are concerned about what they think to the degree that you can't be happy without their approval, it's unlikely you'll get it, because you're already signalling them that they shouldn't like you.

This is really speculative, maybe; but I think I hear something like this in a lot of the other stories being shared here.

Thoughts?

--M. J. Young


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: C. Edwards on November 30, 2002, 07:57:23 PM
M.J. Young wrote:
Quote
I'm saying that maybe to get to the point where you realize that people don't dislike you you have to get through the place where you like yourself without reference to whether they do.


Well said M.J., well said.

It should also be noted that there are people who will dislike you specifically because you have passed through that stage, they can sense it, and they become jealous in a very unhealthy way because they have yet to reach that point.

-Chris


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: greyorm on December 01, 2002, 10:35:48 PM
Mike,

Clearly you're taking the adversarial position to my own. My only problem with this is I'm not sure exactly what you're being adversarial about?

For example, the "should I have to explain what I'm doing to everyone in a public place" query.
Please, Mike, don't suppose to make me or anyone an advocate of such an obviously absurd "solution." And I know you realize it is absurd, even without mentioning such behavior itself would be typical of the very "asshole Xer" behavior that we're discussing as being baneful.

Whether or not you (or anyone), specifically, are an "asshole gamer" is really besides the point, and thus whether you are or are not is ultimately moot and the answer to this does not create a non-issue because it is precisely not-the-point. I used you, or your statements rather, specifically the "Whatchagonnadoaboutit?" and associated attitude as an example of the behavior -- as an example.

Perhaps I need to clarify my purpose in the discussion -- that is, what I'm looking to achieve and why I'm participating? I'm not looking specifically for solutions, and my posts aren't meant to engender them; though I admit such might arise from the content or be culled. I'm looking at creating an understanding of the problem, and defining the problem in the first place...solutions can wait, and are IMO premature until we pin down "what's wrong with gamers?"

[tangent]
And I know someone's going to go off on a crusade about that little bit in quotes right there...don't, ok? If you feel the need, just shut-up and figure out what's being discussed in the thread instead of dragging everyone else off willy-nilly into discussions of internal persecution-complexes -- "But we're all gamers! Are you 'better' than us? How can you insult the rest of us?" One: I'm not (insulting gamers, that is). Two: I'm not "a gamer." If you don't know what I mean by the second, you haven't been paying attention to these discussions -- or discussions of stereotyping, et al. Context. Use it.
[end tangent]

As to the absurdity, Mike, I think it's all yours. I say this not to be mean or assinine, but because no one has stated anything similar to what you're suggesting be done...of COURSE what you're suggesting would be absurd, I agree completely that the scenario you outline is such! But it also has nothing to do with any actual suggestions or statements far.

Again: I'm attempting to identify the nature of the specific problem brought up through the correlation of data and comparison of behaviors, to provide insight into the motivations behind such behaviors. Anything beyond that is premature.

Now, I realize you don't think there's a problem and you don't think the hobby is suffering backlash from the type of individual being described. That's all fine, it's your opinion, it's valid and you're welcome to it.

So, in the interests of discussion, what do you make of the folks we're describing?
Have you encountered any? (Many?)
What do you think prompts these behaviors?
Is the self-image of most gamers an impediment?

(Notice I'm not asking "What can be done about them?"...not interested right now)

Or a different approach and a different set of questions: is there a gamer-stereotype that is more-or-less accurate as a general trend which includes behaviors/psychology which meshes with that of individuals in other similar groups? If so, what groups, behaviors and processes do you see in common? Are these behavior-patterns positive or negative, and in what regard?


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: greyorm on December 01, 2002, 11:07:06 PM
MJ,

Good question, and it could well be...or it could simply be the culturally-ingrained response to the scenario of persecution? That is, this is how we see people in that situation acting, so we assume that is the correct pattern of behavior in that circumstance, and then when we arrive in that circumstance, we react the way we believe we are supposed to.

I doubt that either way that really makes a difference in this situation, other than being able to identify the problem and the behavior makes it easier to discuss.

For the record, I too was a "geek" before I was "gamer" (reasons: small, non-athletic, socially unsure(clueless)).

But I'm really more interested in this quote: "I don't recommend the passive form of this; it tends toward clinical depression. But it seems to me that the adamant jerk is the aggressive form of this."

You're right...you're completely freaking right. EXACTLY.

To wit, the "asshole Xer" stage doesn't necessarily mean an actual aggressive stance. You can be a passive "asshole Xer" too...in fact, I would posit off-hand (without any actual data) that the passive form is the more common form of the behavior. That is, internalized and expressed through the subtle social channels instead of expressed through the blatant ones (the "in your FACE!" symptomatic responses).

I did not make this description clear in my previous posts, because I wasn't recognizing the distinction myself, so thank you for pointing it out! In fact, where Chris writes about an individual having the reaction of "This is the greatest thing and you're not shit!" I note that such an idea can be wholly internalized, individually or as a group, as a self-rationalization/defense mechanism without ever being verbally stated to a non-member...or stated only under duress/attack.

In fact, the "gamers are smarter than other groups" is one of these very things: it's an "asshole gamer" statement spoken only within gaming circles used to bolster pride in the group and support the contention that, as a member of said group, you're worthwhile whether anyone outside the group can see it or not.

Which leads right back to my problem with "I'm ok, whether or not you agree" sorts of statements...because they're still asshole statements, they're just not aggressive-social statements made to the general public, they're internalized defense mechanisms that seem utterly harmless as self-comforting and logically true, but actually contribute to negative behaviors instead of a more positive behavior where the whole "whether or not you agree" and "I don't care what you think" part is utterly unnecessary...which, I just realized, is exactly what you mean when you talk about arriving at a place "where you like yourself without reference to whether they do."


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 02, 2002, 09:26:09 AM
Quote from: greyorm
So, in the interests of discussion, what do you make of the folks we're describing?


They're just people. Some have problems, yes, but it's not something that one can fix with a simple plea to act differently.

Quote
Have you encountered any? (Many?)


Tons. All the time. They are fairly common. Or, rather, they are each individuals, and I could place them all more or less on some spectrum of geekiness. The ones that I think qualify I think I usually run into each time I go into a game store, or at a Con.

OTOH, it is problematic that these are my judgements. What's the objective criteria for when some sort of action needs to be taken?

Quote
What do you think prompts these behaviors?


Isn't that obvious by now? Low self-esteem.

Quote
Is the self-image of most gamers an impediment?
Impediment to what? Doesn't seem to keep them from gaming? Does it make the public think that we're a weird group? Yes. The public also thinks the same of lawyers (actually they think worse of lawyers).

Quote
(Notice I'm not asking "What can be done about them?"...not interested right now)
But that is what's being asked. If not, then what's this all about? I say there is nothing to be done, and, therefore ask, "Why are we even talking about it?"

Quote
Or a different approach and a different set of questions: is there a gamer-stereotype that is more-or-less accurate as a general trend which includes behaviors/psychology which meshes with that of individuals in other similar groups? If so, what groups, behaviors and processes do you see in common?
And now we're back to the Gay thread. The answer is the same here as it is there. While there may be superficial similarities, the comparison yields little other than to say that each individual must stand up and have some self-respect.

Again, we can shout that from the rooftops, but the issues of "geekiness" obviously go deeper than gaming. At the point at which it becomes "problematic" the only thing I can see  is to cheekily suggest the classic response, "Seek therapy." Other than that, I don't see that there is anything to be done.

I truely feel that if widespread acceptance is what we're after (and we're not even sure that's a goal yet), then solving the "Geeky gamer" image problem has much more to do with what Walt's talking about in the other thread about the perception of obesession. Which we all suffer from.

This has been and continues to be my point. We are all part of the "geeky gamer" image problem. Every one of us. Because, it's not just the fact that some few of us might be socially inept, but because we play RPGs and do other such activities. To the outsider there is little difference between the Trekkie, the Comic's collector, and the gamer.

To whit, I'm watching the new episode of Malcolm in the Middle last night and see a classic exampole of what I'm talking about. The Father wants to buy a Comic for Malcolm. He arrives in the shop only to be told to leave by a retainer-wearing poorly complected asshole clerk who tells him, essentially, that since he doesn't know his comics that he's not worthy. The solution? Get the fat guy who manages the Mother's store. He's an inveterate geek, and should be able to handle it. I was actually able to anticipate the moment when it would happen in the show, but, as he enters the comic shop, the clerk stares in awe, and says, "Wow, that guy's a 45th level Dungeon Master, we're in trouble." There then follows a duel of geeks.

The clincher comes though after the episode where the Father is complimenting him on how he handled himself in the store. Our geek, thus emboldened then says timidly, "You know, there's a convention next weekend..." and is interrupted by the father who responds, "I have a life."

Ouch. Message? If you are into comics or D&D or anything of that nature, you must be like the fat inept store manager. You must have no life. They could pick on anyone this way. In fact this character has never been portrayed to my knowledge as being a gamer before. It's just that when they need someone to fit the role for the plot, who do they turn to? Is it a cool character? No, it has to be the guy most likely to be obsessed.

OK, that's long winded. But the point is that it's the activities that lead to the view of us as obsessed. Not anti-social behavior of any particular sort. We suffer from guilt by association.  

And that's not going to change until the opinion of the activity changes.

Mike


Title: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)
Post by: greyorm on December 03, 2002, 02:00:38 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
They're just people. Some have problems, yes, but it's not something that one can fix with a simple plea to act differently.
...
But that is what's being asked. If not, then what's this all about? I say there is nothing to be done, and, therefore ask, "Why are we even talking about it?"

Understanding is a goal in and of itself.
I realize you're wrestling with that, and thus most of your response is colored by answers of what is, ultimately, your own question. So, no, Mike, that is not what is being asked; it is, however, what you are asking. You're looking for the "meaning" of the discussion where I am not.

Though I'll try, I don't know how well such a discussion is going to go. If you're intent on answering your own question about the question rather than dealing just with the question by itself, you second-guess me and add a second layer of discussion to the existing discussion. Due this, we could easily end up talking at cross-purposes, with you looking for an answer to one question and I looking for the answer to another.

Quote
OTOH, it is problematic that these are my judgements. What's the objective criteria for when some sort of action needs to be taken?

We're moving into your territory for the moment...and my personal answer is, "I don't know." The problem here for me is that what needs to be done depends on if anything needs to be done at all, if anything would work and so forth. This is a whole other discussion entirely...and we haven't even scratched the surface of it yet.

Can you do anything? followed by Should you do anything? and If so, what?  As well as the looming question of Why should you do anything?

However, you have already repeatedly provided your answer to these questions, so why are you asking now? (Considering you know I'm not interested in exploring that issue at the immediate moment)

Quote
Isn't that obvious by now? Low self-esteem.

The answer you give is the obvious one, yes, but despite summarizing the issue neatly, it doesn't provide much of an actual answer to me. There's more to the issue than the simple answer of internal perception of self, methinks...or perhaps there isn't, but that simplicity is done a disservice by buzzword answers.

What causes the low self-esteem? How is it expressed? What about the answer actually provides a resolution to the issues brought up?

Quote
Impediment to what? Doesn't seem to keep them from gaming? Does it make the public think that we're a weird group? Yes. The public also thinks the same of lawyers (actually they think worse of lawyers).

Interesting.

How many lawyers do you know who can't get work because they're lawyers? Or fear reprisals or ostracization at work or in public because they're lawyers? I don't see the comparison at all.

Lawyers are disliked, yes, but they aren't considered social outcasts, geeks, freaks or societal pimples...your mother would be proud if you married a lawyer, but she'd be confused if you married a gamer, since the "social role" has nothing to "offer" and she might even see it as a detriment...in fact, the social role isn't even comparable, so comparing the two is a mistake on that count.

ie: Compare "I married a doctor/teacher/writer." to "I married a bridge-player/model-train hobbyist/bird watcher." The former and the latter aren't even in the same social category, nor, I suggest are being a barrister and being a gamer.

And yes, I'm aware the same could be argued for being gay and being a gamer...I think there are different reasons for the comparisons in these two instances, however. Frex, what can we learn about ourselves as gamers by studying the social behavior of lawyers?

The question about "impediment"...well, I was asking you, that's why I left it deliberately open. I'm asking the simple questions for in-depth commentary and thought -- not snap, pat-answers.

Quote
And now we're back to the Gay thread.

Well, we never really left it IMO; it holds central supporting data...not because of the fact that gaming is being compared to being gay or anything else. That's the non-issue that seems like the issue.

But, this doesn't really answer the question.

Quote
The answer is the same here as it is there. While there may be superficial similarities, the comparison yields little other than to say that each individual must stand up and have some self-respect.

And then we get right back into the issue of being an "asshole Xer."

Define "self-respect," define "standing up," explain the proper and improper methods of having the former and doing the latter, look at the typical individual who hasn't participated in this discussion...will they even realize the differences? Not likely.

I think that's why this topic keeps going...the obvious answer isn't much of an answer, because it doesn't provide any real commentary, understanding and (for you) definitely no resolution.

Quote
I truely feel that if widespread acceptance is what we're after (and we're not even sure that's a goal yet)

Agreed.

Quote
but because we play RPGs and do other such activities. To the outsider there is little difference between the Trekkie, the Comic's collector, and the gamer.
...
OK, that's long winded. But the point is that it's the activities that lead to the view of us as obsessed. Not anti-social behavior of any particular sort. We suffer from guilt by association.

That's interesting, since my experience has been entirely different, and (in fact) I argued the opposite...that geekiness does not come by association, given that two individuals involved in the hobby -- one who is not a geek and one who is -- each will remain on their respective "sides" regardless of whether or not their hobby is known to the public. Ref. my high school group, consisting of both popular kids and geeks.

That is, a "not-geek" will not magically become "a geek" if he reveals he plays RPGs, and an already-geek will become neither more cool nor more geeky by association. Thus I think the association you're positing is backwards. It is not gaming which makes one a geek, nor is it the reverse. One is a geek or is not a geek regardless of whether they game or not.

The episode of Malcom you reference supports this, IMO...the geek character was already established as a geek before it was revealed he played D&D. The character wasn't a geek because he played D&D, he played D&D because he was a geek.

I think perhaps gamers have the perception of association wrong...that gaming does not make you into a geek and that it is not a geeky passtime. In fact, I will go as far as to openly disagree with your statements about "all of us geeks" and "those geeks too normal for the rest of us geeks" and such, precisely equating all gamers to geeks is, IMO, false.

In fact, in my view, such a position supports the false gamer vs. non-gamer dichotomy as well as the perception of gaming as geeky. After all, think about it: you believe it is -- you've said as much through comparison, particularly with the "normal geeks" statement...all gamers are geeks -- so how will anyone not-a-gamer ever disassociate the same?

Subtle and insidious the perception is!

In light of this, how do the activities of "standing up" and "having self-respect" sound? Suddenly a lot more deep and murky than they appear at first glance, since their very basis is unsound without a thorough internal check of the individual's own unconscious perceptions.
(and once again, I'm not advocating a hit-squad going around preaching this to the masses)

This is exactly what you stated about no-one admiting they're an "asshole Xer"...no one does because no one thinks they are...even if they examine the issue, they may not realize it because their fundamental truths remain unquestioned and only the outside effects/symptoms are examined.

So, I believe what I'm going on about is that a fundamental alteration in the very culture of gaming has to take place...

Quote
And that's not going to change until the opinion of the activity changes.

I quite honestly disagree, because the opinion of the hobby will never actually change.
What do I mean by that? Well...ask yourself, if there is nothing to be done, and we're status-quo OK, then how does one even begin to change the opinion of the activity or why would one want to? You see and state the problem clearly, yet argue that it doesn't exist.

IMO, it is the opinion of the public about the people who game that has to changed, not the activity.

...and thus the people who game have to change.

Quite a quandary from where I'm sitting.

So, no, we're not all geeks. We aren't geeks because we game, and we don't game because we're geeks.
Geek solidarity...well, I have to disagree with you, Mike, on your assumption that certain geeks are put out by other geeks...because the ones being put out don't actually identify with being geeks.

Nor, I think, should they.

Right back to gamer solidarity: "We play together because we're gamers." is the same thing as "Gamers stick together, we're all geeks." This is wrong, backwards.

I'm not sure if we two can go anywhere from here, since we obviously have fundamental differences in opinion of the underlying issues.
Anyone else?