Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why I'm a Closet Gamer

JB over at B/X Blackrazor wrote a post entitled Embracing My Inner Nerd. It got me thinking about my origins as a gamer and I posted a quick response to it. I want to expand on my thoughts here.

I have always felt a certain amount shame about being a role-player. The first feedback I received about D&D (I started with Holmes Basic) was from my older brother. I was 11, he was in high school and I looked up to him as younger brothers are wont to do. His reaction, and I remember it verbatim, was this:

"Only fags play D&D"

I didn't respond the first time he said it. I was 11, it was 1979 and I only had the vaguest idea of what this really meant. What I did know was that it was a bad thing. Living in conservative towns, in a semi-conservative family I had only heard this term used in a negative way. He made me feel as if I were doing something wrong.

Later when he repeated it I pointed out that I wasn't gay an thus his generalization was invalid. He did stop saying it but the damage was done. He had made me feel shame about playing a game. Not enough to stop me from playing but enough that I essentially became a closet gamer. In junior high and high school I only played with a select few and didn't discuss it to others. When I went to university I didn't play at all. I actually didn't see much of a gaming presence on campus though. This was mid-to-late '80s so I don't know if it was the times or the campus. My wife didn't know about my role-playing for a long time. She knew I liked computer games and board games but not RPGs. It wasn't until about 2000 that I became interested again when GURPS caught my attention. A couple of years ago my son became old enough to play and we do so when we can. However, I still don't talk about it with others. And feel embarrassed when the subject comes up. My brother's ignorant statement effected damaged my psyche in a long term manner.

Please don't take this as an anti-gay screed. As I grew, matured and experienced the world a bit, my viewpoint changed. Now I would react to a jibe like that by shaking my head and telling the person he is intolerant and bigoted. However, in my youth, my brother's statement wounded me and changed my view of rpgs. In a way I still feel a bit embarrassed by role-playing in a knee-jerk type of way. And I am still a closet gamer. i hope not to pass my scars onto my son.


  1. Say it loud, I'm a gamer and I'm proud!

  2. I can always come by your house and pound on your brother if you want. :)