Monday, June 13, 2005

In my Tribe

You know, I was not always this cool.

I was not always this peak,this pinnacle, this... Summit of coolness you see before you.

I was not always the Quisatz Haderach of Gamers. I had to learn. I had to strive. I had to grow. I had to become.

In high school I was universally reviled and hated. I feared my families lineage would die out from neglect.

Not only was I a gimp. I was the King of Gimps.

We live in an interesting time. For the first time in human history. Geeks seem to have created a place for themselves that is well nigh unassailable. Some credit computers and the information age for this, but I say it has been a long time coming. The existence of the phrase "Geek Chic" is proof positive that we have arrived and have claimed a social niche for ourselves that other must come to and deal with. Can't program the VCR? Ask the Geeks. Can't figure out the network systems? Hire the Geeks. Don't know anything about Hong Kong action cinema and don't want to appear behind the times? Seek out the lorekeepers of the Geeks! Everybody is geeky in some way or another and for the first time in human history it seems like this is becoming an accepted fact.

We have a leg up that most people don't realize. Even many among our tribe miss it's true significance... We have each other. I have met more and more interesting people from carrying a copy of Vampire to read on the city bus than many people have in a lifetime of singles lines,bar-hopping, and computer dating. We have games that allow us to come together as a community and share interesting ideas and laugh with one another and maybe even learn to share with one another. Game can also teach us how to act and to interact with one another. If you think of it and you practice it,Gaming can be the best way to learn social skills that many of our tribe seem uncomfortable with. The wish to be someone else stems from a desire to be better than we ARE.

To illustrate my point, let me ask you this; Have you ever wanted to play a character who was a much bigger dork than you are? Most people want nothing more than to play someone "Like me, only cooler." It takes a while to figure stuff like this out but it seems like as gamers get older they tend to get cooler. So there is hope for us all.

Here are a few tips that I have learned in the way of social skills from gaming and being a gamer:

1) When the subject of Gaming up, especially when dealing with the straights, the best thing to do is clam up. When they ask, say simply that you play role playing games. If they ask what that is DO NOT SAY; " You know,like Dungeons and Dragons."

Sadly AD&D has marked all of us as a bunch of overweight Geeks in somebody's basement who MAY just be satan-worshipping gimps in Xena t-shirts. It is an unpleasant brush with which to be painted. Mainly because we are definitely more than that. And I fully believe that gaming offers something for everybody.

When asked this is what I tell them:

"It's a little like improv theater. I and a few friend get together and one takes on the role of the game master. He creates a situation and plays all the minor characters while the rest of us play the major characters in an ongoing story. The Improv part come in because you never know what the others are going to do and there are a few random elements that can add to the mix. Get the right people and it can be a lot of fun."

And then I clam up.

If that sounds at all interesting to them, they'll ask me more and more. If they are not, they will not and I won't run the risk of boring the tits off of them with long incoherent stories of half remembered campaigns which will mean nothing to them. a friend and I were literally followed across the U.K. campus by some yotz who could not shut up about a Battletech game of his (a game neither of us played) it was more scary and unsettling than anything else. It gave me an insight into how the straights see us sometimes.

We all have this tendency to want involve others and that's not a bad thing. I believe gaming is an extremely enriching thing to have in one's life. But at the slightest sign of interest in another, we tend to leap on that with both feet. And it can be frightening to others. For what it worth. I've also found that this a good tip for dealing with the opposite sex.

Tease em a little, do a Huck Finn, tell them "oh, I'm sure you wouldn't be interested." let them get it out of you. You might create a convert.

2) It is very hard to look uncool in black but it is possible to overdo it. Gamers often have a problem with overdoing it especially when it come to the arena of personal style. I find that the best coloration to effect at times is camouflage. By this, I do not mean camo pants. I mean it is possible to look like a straight,get hired by straights, get laid by straights, get married to straights, and thus fulfill our destiny as global conquerors. How else will we propagate the Geek Species? How else can we infiltrate their corporations and governments in order to corrupt them from the inside? Tongue piercings are nice and all, but nobody on the board at Microsoft has one, know what I mean?

Yeah I know it sucks. The world shouldn't be based on appearances but it is. And to fly in the face of that...Well there's a fine line between courage and stupidity. Me personally, I need to take better care of my teeth, and lay off the Doritos, but I wash every day, I clean up well, and I'm at least trying to find the balance between dull-enough-to-pass and freakish.

Do you have to wear a 3-piece and a tie? Well, maybe. But even then it's possible to give off certain signs to the clueful. On occasion, I've worn a suit out in public and some have even complemented on my unusual tie-tack...Which is actually my Vampire Clan Tremere pin. People who ask me what it is get no real answer but those who have come up to me and look at my tie tack and smile without saying anything, well I know those people are my brothers and sisters.

Personally, I only wear The Vampire T-shirt when I want to fly the flag proudly, like maybe at a con.

Crytpo-geek...That's me baby.

3) Gamers as a whole are very tolerant. Reading a lot of Sci-fi and fantasy will do that for you.Gamers are more likely to end up yelling at one another over whether a particular game system sucks or not than they are over politics,religion,race,creed,color, or sexual orientation. Sadly not all people have this advantage. I'm thinking mostly of religious nuts who have nothing better to do than down us for our hobby. Here are some things that have worked for me.

a) "Satan worshiper? Man are you behind the times. Everybody knows that all gamers worship Zagoris the Chicken God!"

b) "Don't you Fundies have better things to do? Like killing all the Jews and Muslims."

c) "Why can't you be little constructive. I'm sure there are homeless people who would like some food and a place to stay."

Actually, don't use any of what I just said. These are words spoken in anger and anger merely begets anger. It feels good to say them but it doesn't change a thing.(Bad Reverend! No biscuit!)

If you find one that is willing to talk to you (and some do.) Respect his viewpoint, try to see it his way. Bone up on the religious text in question so you can discourse knowledgeably. Invite them to observe one of your games if they are willing, (just be certain it's not the week you plan to run your "Satan takes over the world" game.) You may not change their minds but you might just earn their respect and you might show them that demon worship is not what's going on. Again, Get them to look at it as improv theater and they might just shift.

When they are talking AT you, be polite, give them nothing,say little for them to go off of, and walk away. There is nothing to be done. Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.

Granted, the problem is a lot worse when the fundies in question are your parents but all I can tell you about that is get out off their house as fast as you can. If you haven't reached your majority (which is different from state to state) they can have you put into a home or something. Sad,fucked-up,but true.

To use an AD&D metaphor, Priests and clerics base their power and their life on YOU being wrong about everything you think you know about things. It is in their self interest to convert you.

4) It is important to learn how to suppress the spaz response.


" Well, I realize I was driving too fast officer but I HAD to get home cuz I just heard that they are offering the Trailer of the new Star Wars movie..."

One of the elements of cool is very simply this; Do not get overly excited (actually that's impossible, do not APPEAR overly excited.) This goes for good things and bad things too. Every person has at least one person in their life that they turn to when the fecal material impacts the air conditioning unit. This is because that person is at least able to appear,if not actually be, calm in a crisis. That person is cool.

This is an infectious phenomena and it cuts both ways. Cool people tend to bring out the cool in others. Hysterical people tend to bring out the hysteria in others. Gooby people tend to bring out the goob in all of us.

it's like Sex. When you find yourself getting overly excited think of things that turn you off like Baseball. C-span,and the like.

If anybody has any other tips or suggestions I would certainly love to hear them. Although I can't promise that I'll post them here.

I am always willing to be educated

Sono Finito


At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Acid Reign said...

.....You can get the kids to understand pretty easily. Just tell 'em it's like "Final Fantasy," except you keep track of your character on paper, and one person takes the place of the Playstation.



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