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Author Topic: Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)  (Read 20174 times)
Seth L. Blumberg
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Posts: 303


« 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.)
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #1 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
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 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
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #3 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
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Seth L. Blumberg
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« Reply #4 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.
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James Holloway
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« Reply #5 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
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #6 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
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 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
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #8 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
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 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.

Best,
Ron
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paulmjessup
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« Reply #10 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.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 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
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Enoch
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« Reply #12 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
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 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
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Eric J.
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« Reply #14 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.
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