Reverb Gamers: Out of the Closet

Question #4: Are you a "closet gamer?" Have you ever hidden the fact that you're a gamer from your co-workers, friends, family, or significant other? Why or why not? How did they react if they found out?

If there's an opposite to "closet gamer", that's me. The Prairie Gamer, visible for miles around. I was open about gaming in secondary school, and had two good gaming groups there. I was open about it in my social life, and met some of my best friends through gaming. I was open about it in college, for all that I wasn't doing much, for as long as I was there, which also wasn't long. And I've been completely open about it in every job since.

This makes my life easier in many, many ways. First and foremost, it teaches people not to ask me "so what did you do at the weekend?" unless they want to know. Because I will tell them. And sometimes they do come back and ask, because they're genuinely interested, and if it brightens people's lives a bit to hear about the events in my game world, then hey, that's great.

Second, it lets people know what skills I have, once they get a grip on the concepts. I've had two bosses now who, when they're confronted in a meeting with questions they can't answer, will pass the question to me. And I will calmly ad-lib based on the facts I do know, because this is what I do every day running games. I've gone into meetings with no concept of what the client did for a living, and emerged later having dictated a fourteen-point two-year strategy for them off the top of my head. It probably took serious adjustment later, but that's also fine; I'm good at fitting odd details and non-sequiturs into longer-term plans, because I do that every day running games. You get the idea.

And third, it gives me the freedom to be myself. I don't have to pretend an interest in sport or TV, I can just say, "No, I was playing a game". I don't have to conceal my books under magazines, or whatever it is closet gamers do with the evidence that surrounds them. I did, admittedly, balk at reading the Book of Erotic Fantasy on the train, but that's a different reason.

I don't mind people thinking I'm weird. I feel it's something of an advantage, at times, mostly due to the above-mentioned freedom, but also because it prevents them from impinging on my mental space with TV and sports and cars and so forth. And sometimes they do approach me on gaming things, most often with questions about whether such-and-such a game is suitable for a child, or if this videogame works on that console, or the like. It's pleasing to be able to help people with stuff like that.

People's reactions are usually mild fascination for a day or two, and then it just becomes background. I'm a gamer, that bloke over there is a curry fanatic, that woman can tell a Syrah from a Shiraz blindfolded, and yer man in the corner there is barred from every betting shop in the city because he hasn't lost a soccer bet since 1992. I get more stick for liking folk metal than gaming, really - and I wear those t-shirts too.

Posted by Drew Shiel at January 12, 2012 12:58 PM

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