Things Change

At the far end of the panel, freelance games writer and general man-about-town Rob Zacny is speaking and saying entertaining things like he usually does. He is currently describing his experiences from having been on his high-school football team, and the audience of some few hundred gamers seems largely engaged and responsive. It’s been a good PAX East panel that seems to get better with each anecdote and joke, and the topic “Dorks vs. Sports” feels largely like fresh and fertile ground.

But I begin to detect a growing dissonance between the high-school experience Rob is describing and the reality of my own. Rob is talking about playing D&D with his football teammates, and beginning to draw lines to what he describes as the myth about jocks stuffing nerds into lockers and the artificial social stigma of being a gamer. It’s largely BS, he is saying, and around him there are some nods of agreement.

I have no reason to doubt this mirrors Rob’s experience, and judging by the tacit — and in some cases active — agreement, it appears to be a shared representation of what many experienced. But it stands in stark contrast to what I remember of high school. I turn my head to look at Bob Salvatore, who I am sitting with and who is my partner in middle-age on the other end of the panel. I am somewhat relieved to see an equally puzzled expression on his face. I begin to realize that somewhere between the world Bob and I existed in and the one that the younger panelists on the other side of the table experienced, there is a line where Things Changed (tm).

It’s interesting because Bob Salvatore is a guy with a marked Boston accent and a great love for the “Sox” and the “Pats”. He is quick to tell his favorite sports stories and describe in loving yet heartbreaking detail to me the pain he suffered when in the ‘97 Super Bowl Desmond Howard, who played for the hero Green Bay Packers, ran back a kickoff for a touchdown against his New England Patriots just as they had seemed poised to make a comeback.

It’s easy to imagine him as the ordinary yet enthusiastic nextdoor neighbor you hang out with to watch the game on Sunday. To look at him in his red polo shirt, or to notice the glimmer in his eye that comes to life when he talks about New England Sports, you would never leap to the conclusion that he is also R.A. Salvatore, creator of some of the most famous and recognized characters in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. You’re more likely to guess that he’s in finance or sales than that he’s written dozens of highly regarded fantasy books. And that’s sort of the point. To hear him speak, he grew up in a world more like mine, where in high-school you might not want people to know that you were a gamer or played D&D. Such acts carried repercussions.

Now, I’ve known Bob for all of an hour total, so I’m in no position to presume his background or that the lingering stigmas he takes with him into adulthood are anything like mine. But as we both talked about the period of time in which, oh yes, the life of the high-school nerd was a very real and tactile thing, I suspect we might find more similarities than differences. Had someone come to my school in the equivalent of a Minecraft shirt, that person would have found themself isolated like a wounded gazelle on the Serengeti, and likely poised to meet what might feel like a similar fate. The stories of nerd-dom and the many small atrocities conducted against its populations are not some concocted tale drawn from unchecked insecurities. They are a documented history, a thousand ballads of the forcibly rejected.

It is definitely gratifying, but I have to admit, alien to me that my own nine-year-old son can wear to school his Minecraft T-shirt (on which the game’s central character, Steve, is riding a pig while holding on high an enchanted pickaxe) and not come home with bone-chilling tales of being cornered in the hallway by bigger kids. I am extremely grateful that the modern halls of public schools seem to have, if not become more inclusive, at least reigned in the open hostility and physical abuse, because although I didn’t experience much of it myself, I definitely saw it happen.

I have to remind myself that it’s been twenty-plus years since I’ve been to school, which is as big a difference for my son today as the late ‘50s would have been for me when I was his age. And, of course, I remember my own parents’ puzzled expressions when I described school in terms that must’ve seemed equally alien to them. It is the nature of an ever-changing culture.

It is remarkable to me to think that had I gone to school in this generation instead, I might not have had to make that choice. I find myself a little jealous, frankly, because I would have liked to have grown up at a time when playing video games and enjoying D&D with friends wasn’t something you had to hide from peers. I am aware bullying still exists today, and in wholly new and exciting forms, but for us kids who attended school in the mid-to-late eighties, it was as likely to be ignored or dismissed as anything else. I wish I hadn’t had to make the choice to discard some of the things that I had enjoyed, to ensure my position in the hierarchy.

This is the part where maybe I end up saying, “but it turned out fine for me, because that time spent away from the games had me spending more time outside and playing games.” But, I don’t feel that way at all. Even if the physical health part of it were true, what I learned at the time and had to unlearn later is that the best way to be successful in my peer group is to marginalize who I am and change the way I present myself.

Rob Zacny’s story of a football team collected around a table role-playing gives me a great deal of hope, actually, that my own children might feel more comfortable in their own skin than I did at that age. I sincerely hope that indeed Things Changed (tm) from the world Bob and I seemed to live in.

Comments

I'm 41, and my experience resembles more of what you present by Rob. On Thursday nights, the football team, cheerleaders and the dance team would meet at various team member's houses for a cookout before each Friday night game, and more often than not the night would end with many of us around a TV playing Nintendo. I was one of the cross-overs -- I could easily fit into either the jock or geek crowd, but fortunately, I was not the only one.

I am very glad to hear that is becoming more of the norm, and not the exception (although I never really knew my experience was an exception).

I had an interesting experience when I moved in middle school. I've always wondered if the true divide were the sort of town or school, as I spent babyhood to seventh grade in a small town where all the parents went to school together and never left. People married high school sweet hearts, grudges that were born in fifth grade carried on into middle age, and I wouldn't be surprised if most of the parents were cheating on each other.

It was also your stereotypical neighborhood where sports were the most important thing, and if you couldn't do sports you were a failure. We had maybe a dozen kids in our concert band at any one time, and it was horrible sounding because we always had multiple kids dedicated to the same instrument.

I still recall being in sixth grade, drawing various characters from Chrono Trigger, when a girl I hadn't spoken a half-dozen words to peeks over my shoulder to see Lucca and Marle and questions "How come you always draw cute girls? Is it because you can't get a girlfriend?" This startled me because, in my mind, I was too young to want a girlfriend, and also because I barely knew this girl and most of the time I was drawing dinosaurs disembowling each other.

I probably don't have to go into how troublesome it was that I tried to argue Final Fantasy III (U.S.) was the best video game evar, not Mortal Kombat.

Then in eighth grade we switched towns. I moved into a regional school where kids came from different elementary school districts, parents were moving in from other places into new developments, and generally there was just a greater variety of people. My first week there a kid that looked like he'd beat me up for milk money had lent me his copy of Breath of Fire III, another similar looking kid showed me his Final Fantasy Tactics strategy guide so he could help me at a point I was stuck, and I made two of my closer friends through the duration of public school while waiting for the bus playing Pokemon Red.

This is nothing to say of the friends I made simply because I had an older brother that was frequently introducing me to new anime.

It was a culture shock. For the next five years I carried this assumption that there was still an "us vs. them", and it occasionally caused me to act like an asshole to other kids. I could never understand how the goth kids would talk to the preppy kids about this shared party experience they had, or how that punk rocker was dating that cheerleader. I thought the cliques were supposed to divide us, but at this school they all inter-mingled.

I now regret some of my behaviors, and am even more startled that I made no enemies with my attitude (or at least, I made few). It wasn't until College that I realized that original small town I came from was just that: a small, nobody town.

Of course, things ARE changing. Kids growing up with technology, more parents going to College and leaning on academic importance, Hot Topic being popular, the whole Geek and Goth Chic thing. I've been in debates whether that ostracism is really what defines a geek/nerd/whathaveyou or not.

Me? I'm honestly not sure at this point. There's some sort of pride in knowing I had to suffer during my most formative years for my passions, yet at the same time, what did it get me accept low self-esteem and an inward fear that I won't be accepted for these loves, even though I'll wear my nerdy t-shirts proudly while playing my 3DS in public.

Good article, Sean. I always enjoy this sort of food-for-thought. It is good to know that, in some cases at least, our young won't be ostracized for the same things we were (well, sometimes. My niece has had some rough times in school...kids can be dicks).

I was born in 1990, making me 22 years old. There was a "game club" at my high school and it was crowded with what Hollywood would label "rejects" playing Warcraft III, Battlefield 2142 and Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. Some of those people could have been my friends, except for the lingering feeling that if I were to join them, I would be them and I didn't want that.

I had my own group of friends, who barely participated in sports (myself included) and loved playing video games. We had "LAN parties" on occasion, birthdays usually, and we spent a great deal of time talking about games, too.

As I walked by the room in which game club was held (and run by one of my favorite teachers), I wondered if I belonged there. Before I could give it a swing, my instincts told me to never go "full nerd" and I went home to play Gears of War with my friends online.

Due to my family moving, I went to two different high schools. The less clique-y one also had a lot more bullying. The more clique-y one had distinct social groups, but I was more confidently myself, and didn't run into the same problems.

Oof. This was a tough article to get through. I, like you, are middle aged now and what I was and am to this day had to be repressed deep, deep, down to survive high school. Unlike you, Sean, I never did figure out how to present myself differently to be successful. In my school back in Sweden it wasn't sports who was the ever present master over us all, but rather the popularity that comes with having the girl or being able to ride the skate board or who was simply pretty or handsome. I was neither of those things.

I believe to this day that I still carry quite a bit of shame over who I am and it's the reason why I prefer to not stand in the spotlight promoting myself and the work I do. I look at people who run kickstarters or any other successful project and stare in awe, rarely at the projects themselves, but how these people are able to sell themselves and stand in the spotlight hoisting the flag of themselves and shout loud, and proudly, "I am geek, LOOK AT ME!".

Kudos to these people and all they achieve.

What you describe is the whole reason I have 'never rolled die' in the real world.

Marginalized already from being in a focused art stream through high school in the mid eighties I remember the sting of being different.

There were 5 of us in the whole of the school who would 'swap' C64 magnetic tapes filled with games, but we would dress up those tapes by putting them inside audio jackets to 'hide our shame'. Pencil and paper D&D? That was the sort of stuff the media was demonising, scaring parents with stories of rogue DMs who would urge the unsuspecting to suicide or commit attrocities in real life (I kid you not).

I am glad my youngest daughter gets looks of understanding, rather than derision, when she proclaims her favourite colour as "Sonic (the hedgehog) blue" and my eldest wears comic book inspired character shirts to school on free dress days.

I too am envious of their freedom to choose, but I hope I have had a helping hand in shaping the world they live in where that is now acceptable.

I'm 31 and have always tried to tread a careful line where I have been an uncomfortable amalgam of jock and nerd. I'm a massive nerd at heart, but have enough jockish characteristics and can wear enough of a mask that provided I don't go "full nerd" as michaelfossbakk put it I can pass for much the same description you gave Bob in the article. the difference being I've read about Drizzt and Wulfgar and the gang whereas he wrote about them

Interesting. I think my experience mirrored Rob's more. In elementary school, I wasn't popular but I wasn't singled out and actively bullied either. I was pretty much just ignored, which was fine by me. In high school, it seemed like everyone was pretty much on equal footing.

Maybe I was just lucky to go to so-called "good" schools, but we had jocks and nerds and basically every social circle just did their own thing and didn't care about what the other cliques were doing. This may have been odd at the time, but it sounds like it's becoming more the norm. I sure hope so.

I am 40 and grew up as a geek and never backed down from that label. However, I was always the "big fat" kid who had a proven tendency to react violently when backed into a tight corner. So I was mostly left alone for weaker prey.

But there was...and to be honest, still is...a stigma associated with gaming. Sure, video gaming is "in" now, but admit to the guys at the water cooler that you ran an awesome tabletop RPG this weekend and see the looks you get. It gets even worse if you mention LARPing (and inevitably you have to explain what that is). Even in geek-dom, there is a social pecking order.

Fortunately I have gotten to the point where I am far past caring what people think of me. I explain to people that everyone has hobbies that you can take way too far and that I don't make fun of what someone does for fun. To me, the LARPer who hides under a bridge for a weekend is no different than the guy who goes to a football game in February, with no shirt and painted up in his team's colors.

Fortunately I have gotten to the point where I am far past caring what people think of me.

This is always a fascinating comment to me, and I see a lot of people say it. And, I believe them when they say it.

But, if I'm honest with myself. I will _never_ be past caring what people think of me. And, I don't just mean my family either. I think it may be a holdover from some of the things I talk about above, but I am always "on", meaning I am always measuring how I act, what I say, how I present myself with the company and situation I am in. My personal identification of success on a daily basis is wholly wrapped up in my measure of how I was perceived compared to how I want to be perceived.

Fortunately, I've gotten pretty good at controlling that. Maybe that's why I still care about it, because I seem able to manage the results. But, the idea of not caring is so alien to me that I can't imagine how I would begin to feel that way.

No judgment here, it's just interesting how different that mentality is to me. In some ways, I imagine it's very freeing.

[For the record, when I say always "on", I mean down to the point that if I'm alone at the grocery store, there is part of me judging if I'm playing the part of "alone at the grocery store" well enough. Like, if someone walked past me, there is a possibility they would think, "man, that guy is nailing being at the grocery store!"]

I saw the Bob Salvatore -> R.A. Salvatore twist coming. How did I miss that panel? I read all of his Forgotten Realms stuff through The Orc King. I even managed to read some of it while I was at my high-school. I tried to hide that though. It was not looked kindly upon to be found reading for pleasure, let alone reading about a dark elf. I was never treated unfairly as a result, but I knew that I was being judged by the student body.

I think it's important to care what other people think to an extent. Sometimes I'll ask my friends questions about my behavior or how I come off, or some of my more blunt friends will tell me off the bat some of my more irritating characteristics (I've been working on my uncanny ability to cut someone off mid-sentence and not even realize it. At this point, it's only really a problem when I'm drunk, it seems).

But there are times when it is silly. Part of me wonders if folks around me will assume I'm some sort of man-child for playing 3DS in public. But the truth is they don't know me, and they're certainly not entertaining me during this one hour train ride into the city, so they can go f*ck themselves if they feel negatively about it.

Then again, I also didn't have Solidarity's issue with reading for pleasure in front of everyone. I was in elementary school reading The Hobbit, Jurassic Park, and by sixth grade had moved on to Sphere and Lord of the Rings. I was actually proud of it, as I felt it proved I was smarter than everyone else.

ccesarano wrote:
I was actually proud of it, as I felt it proved I was smarter than everyone else.

Not intending to pick on you Chris, but here's some of the problem. 'My pop culture is superior, so I'm superior' - the High Fidelity. I'd imagine many of us would feel upset at someone claiming this about Football or Pro Wrestling, or My Little Pony. Why is it any better when we do it about Officially Sanctioned Nerdy Pursuits™?

I went to high school in a Chicago suburb that sometimes seemed to desperately want to be a town from some high school football drama, right down to whip-cream bikinis. I was from a different town, but enough of a tough nut that they didn't crack me.

The worst I experienced was probably in joining the 9-5 workforce, where plenty of older people were not only from the Divided Times, but were on the other side. I've done my share of Inception-eque squinting about their attitudes.

Tanglebones wrote:
ccesarano wrote:
I was actually proud of it, as I felt it proved I was smarter than everyone else.

Not intending to pick on you Chris, but here's some of the problem. 'My pop culture is superior, so I'm superior' - the High Fidelity. I'd imagine many of us would feel upset at someone claiming this about Football or Pro Wrestling, or My Little Pony. Why is it any better when we do it about Officially Sanctioned Nerdy Pursuits™?

Oh no doubt. I'd like to think I've mostly outgrown that habit, especially since I see nothing different from my over-analysis of video games and someone being a sports analyst (aside from my efforts being strictly amateur).

But I was young and also had an older brother to influence me, so I became convinced that I was disliked because I was smarter, and smarter was, in the long run, better.

The question is whether you grow out of this idea or not. From walking into comic shops or other locations full of nerds and their debates, my guess is a lot do not.

Elysium wrote:
Fortunately I have gotten to the point where I am far past caring what people think of me.

This is always a fascinating comment to me, and I see a lot of people say it. And, I believe them when they say it.

But, if I'm honest with myself. I will _never_ be past caring what people think of me. And, I don't just mean my family either. I think it may be a holdover from some of the things I talk about above, but I am always "on", meaning I am always measuring how I act, what I say, how I present myself with the company and situation I am in. My personal identification of success on a daily basis is wholly wrapped up in my measure of how I was perceived compared to how I want to be perceived.

Fortunately, I've gotten pretty good at controlling that. Maybe that's why I still care about it, because I seem able to manage the results. But, the idea of not caring is so alien to me that I can't imagine how I would begin to feel that way.

No judgment here, it's just interesting how different that mentality is to me. In some ways, I imagine it's very freeing.

"I don't care what people think of me" is a sentiment that I often express, both as a declaration to those around me and silently to myself. It's not entirely true, though. The situations where I make that statement are moments where I have second guessed an action based on the impression it would give to others. Perhaps I caught myself about to walk outside with my pajamas still on at 2 in the afternoon, or I might have just flabbergasted a group of people with the revelation that I've never seen classic movie X. The verbal or mental announcement helps reinforce to myself that I shouldn't care, contrary to my human nature.

psoplayer wrote:
or I might have just flabbergasted a group of people with the revelation that I've never seen classic movie X.

When you're around me, that might get a "WHAAAAT?" response first, but then it's an excuse for a movie night.

So I actually welcome such information.

I remember clearly the day I sat in Freshman year History class and thought to myself that I should only admit to playing Madden games because that's what seemed acceptable to people.

Funny thing is I was on the Football team, and yes there was a perceived image of who I was. But I played D&D and if anyone was observant enough they would have seen the Dragonlance books on my desk or the fact that I carried six-siders around just to roll a character if I felt inspired. BUT IN NO WAY should I actively admit to being a geek. No, I wasn't going to shoved in a locker, but felt I couldn't let my rep be tangled with since I had a hard enough time shaking the "loner" stereotype.

20 years later I feel like I missed out on so much by not just admitting who I really was. I feel like there is a lot out there in "geek" culture that I am just now even discovering. Whether its gaming, reading, music even...by stifling who I was, I denied myself things in which I was tryly interested.

It is still relevant even now. While I will admit to still gaming pen/paper, video, board, whatever it may be, I still feel that sting of "what will they think" when someone asks what is it I do on Sunday nights. Sure I'm comfortable with who I am...but sometimes its Freshman year all over...On the other hand it is weird to be one of a handful of my gaming friends actually interested in Football (American and European for the record).

The great thing about this though is I now get to expose my 2 boys to both worlds!! There is hope to hear that the stigmas are disappearing, so that I can feel free to let them grow up and choose to be whoever they want without fear. (Secretly I can't wait to DM our first adventure)

Elysium wrote:
[For the record, when I say always "on", I mean down to the point that if I'm alone at the grocery store, there is part of me judging if I'm playing the part of "alone at the grocery store" well enough. Like, if someone walked past me, there is a possibility they would think, "man, that guy is nailing being at the grocery store!"]

Ohh, that's what Adam Orth meant?

Elysium wrote:
But, if I'm honest with myself. I will _never_ be past caring what people think of me.

This is probably true of all of us, whether we admit it or not. The thing that has changed since those terrible days is that we are no longer forced into social confinement with a large number of people who share nothing with us but chronological age.

This means we can freely assemble with people we like / have common interests with / aren't assholes / have similar levels of education / work with, and very few of them are teenagers.

As a university professor, it's my great joy to watch students develop from being just-past teeenagehood into fully formed young adults. They get so much better as people and citizens and thinkers.

Doh, double posted.

I may be of even pre-Elysium vintage, and my high school experience very closely mirrors his. Playing D&D with friends was something to be strictly hidden from others until they were fully vetted. To this day when one of my good friends from that time brings up our old gaming group, my first impulse is to shush them until we can make sure we're talking to receptive people.

But the 20-somethings I work with certainly don't have any of this caution. They constantly talk about the video games they play, including obsessions/addictions to Minecraft, Warcraft, Starcraft, or something else. My high school friend and now neighbor was expressing to me his deep concern over his 17 year old becoming obsessed with Starcraft II, until he sat down to watch the kid play. When he saw the number of critical judgements the son was making each second, he was intrigued. But the stigma of our high school time was still there. He hoped his son wasn't telling his friends about this new obsession (in fact the boy was the envy of his high school friends because he is ranked pretty high on the Starcraft ladders].

A few years ago I saw these old prejudices rear their ugly head to point where even I, trying my best to accept that I no longer had to deny being a gamer, was rather stunned. A somewhat rural county where another high school gaming friend lives was having a community meeting with the local Library Board. It seemed some high school kids wanted to book one of the freely available meeting rooms for a weekly game of Magic: the Gathering. Someone in the community, likely one of the library staff, heard about it, and told their minister. Soon there was a hue and cry to prevent the kids from practicing this un-holy game on government property. My friend was one of the hundreds who showed up at the meeting hosted by the Library to hear arguments on the issue. He was one of the very few to speak in favor of the kids. He spoke about his days in high school playing D&D with a group of friends, and how he felt it had helped shape him into the person he is today: a critical thinker, an open-minded person, and someone who found the comfort of like-minded friends to help him through what for almost everyone is a difficult time of life. He told the somewhat shocked crowd that these friends, like himself, had gone on to become lawyers, doctors, university professors, and business owners.
While I was surprised to hear just how incredulous the attendees were to hear that a successful community member could have come from such roots, I also found myself realizing my first instinct, 30 years after high school, would still have been to not admit I was one of "those people".

Double post

My experiences were much more like Rob's. The first board on our high school chess team was also the starting center for the varsity football team. The only football team party I was ever invited to was a 4 xbox, 16 player, Halo party.

I played magic the gathering in the cafeteria before school.

My entire freshman dorm played counter strike together on a private server.

When I first started with my company, the owner and I would have long discussions about World of Warcraft. And eventually our company of less than 30 people had not one but two D&D games going.

sheared wrote:
I'm 41, and my experience resembles more of what you present by Rob. On Thursday nights, the football team, cheerleaders and the dance team would meet at various team member's houses for a cookout before each Friday night game, and more often than not the night would end with many of us around a TV playing Nintendo. I was one of the cross-overs -- I could easily fit into either the jock or geek crowd, but fortunately, I was not the only one.

I am very glad to hear that is becoming more of the norm, and not the exception (although I never really knew my experience was an exception).

But what games were you playing? Playing the new nintendo is a bit different from playing D&D or say Zork.

It is definitely the communities though. And I would be interested in average income levels of the communities. I went to a small private junior high, of which the 30 of us went to about 12 different high schools. Some expensive wealthy schools, some middle-class filled public schools, and my friend and I came to the conclusion that it was the schools that were filled predominantly with rich brats or street rats that had the most problems, whether it be bullying or drugs or sex. Maybe its due to a stable position in life or feeling like they have nothing to lose ("I'm never making it out of the ghetto" and "Momma and Daddy will take care of things" as oppose to "If I work hard I can move up in life, but if I don't things will get worse"), or maybe the lack of parental supervision or hugs as a child, or maybe we just saw what we wanted to while convincing a friend's mom to let her transfer to public school.

Great article Sean. I went through hell on earth in junior high where I experienced physical bullying but even more psychological abuse. Though to be honest, gaming was just one thing that set me apart. The fact that I was fat, not good at sports, and the poor kid (relatively speaking) attending an elite private school probably all played greater roles in why I was a pariah.

I also caught a lot of hell from my parents about being a gamer, especially from my "Shia Catholic" mom who bought into all the BS about DND containing real demonic spells and secret occult practices. So I actually had to hide my DND books at a friend's house.

Things got better in high school, but a lot of that had to do with walking away from any type of social gaming. I could still play strategy games on my computer at home, but at school I was Mr. Student Council, editor of the school newspaper, and "team player" in sports. That is, I still wasn't very good but I took a lot of hits for the team so I gained some gruding respect.

So yes, I envy the modern kids who can totally embrace their geeky nature and still be considered socially ok. However, I'm not always sure it's good though that games like WOW are so popular, especially when I hear about many high school students playing MMOs for 20-40 hours/week. That's a lot of time not spent doing other important things, and I kind of shudder to think what would have happened if I had grown up during the heyday of WOW.

I think that I fall into the more "Elysium-like" camp; as far as high school experiences were concerned.

A few close friends and I played every sort of PnP role playing game on weekends. We would stay over at a friend's house and play all day, then stay over, and probably play some more the next morning. None of this was ever spoken of in public.

Come to think of it, this better reflects pre-high school gaming. Once we were indoctrinated into the worlds of cars and girls, and the high school social minefield. Things went more like, PnP all day, and have a party, or go to the pool hall at night.

I too played on the high school football team. Strangely none of my friends played. I was also on the rowing team, which sadly kept me from the rugby team. Of all my jock-like activities the rowing team was home to more of my friends than any other. Perhaps because it is least jock-like of all the sports.

So, high school ran in several disparate microcosms, which were all meticulously maintained for the reasons mentioned above. The things which were most likely to cause you to be socially ostracised were kept most secret. My first girlfriend, who was on the rowing team, never knew what me and my buddies did on Saturday, before everyone came over for the party. I wonder what she thought?

Interesting that many mention how they've been freed from the burden of maintaining their hidden nerd gamer identity, as a secret lifestyle. I find that I'm surrounded, in offices, by people who are just like they were in high school. While younger adults, perhaps, bring with them the more accepting attitueds of their youth, my peer group by age, still foster all of the same stigmas.

jdzappa wrote:
I also caught a lot of hell from my parents about being a gamer, especially from my "Shia Catholic" mom who bought into all the BS about DND containing real demonic spells and secret occult practices. So I actually had to hide my DND books at a friend's house.

My mom read this little gem, and as a result if a game box contained the words "magic" on there she wouldn't buy it. We basically could only borrow games like Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo for the longest time and make sure she didn't see the levels where you fought ghouls and monsters.

She eventually lightened up. The last game she really read the box to was Secret of Evermore.

Great story. I was the typical jock growing up. I played soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, and even practiced martial arts. I also played D&D with my best friends who were also just like me. I want on to play collegiate athletics too. We played video games too. Funny, as I never really associated D&D with "geeks."

I guess I was in a unique situation. My wife, however, labels me as a "geek."

SoupBone wrote:
... I never really associated D&D with "geeks."

How is Bizarro world these days?