Muradin's Musings has a great post today about being an adult trying to survive the real world with the WoW gaming stigma. I got several paragraphs into my response before I realized it was probably a bit much enthusiasm for a comment. So how do you deal with nerd stigma?
If I am going to talk about my hobbies or how I spend my free time, I make sure the less-nerdy ones get first treatment. I read. I bake. I write. I love fantasy. (Oh, and I play some video games.)
I hide my shame by lumping WoW in as "one of the games I play." People make assumptions, thinking I'm talking about the Wii or the Playstation, and I let them. And if they press me to talk about games, I talk about doing Yoga on the Wii Fit, or playing Mario Kart, or... you know. Anything but World of Warcraft.
And why should I be so ashamed? The average American household has a television on for 6 hours and 47 minutes every day. HowstuffWorks suggests that MMORPG players spend a lot less time watching television and about 20 hours a week logged in. Why is vegging out on the couch for hours on end better than raiding?
I have a coworker who spends about as much time playing facebook games as I do playing WoW. For some bizarre reason, it's acceptable for her to talk about needing to check to see how her pumpkins in Farmville are doing, but I can't wonder aloud if my gems sold yet. (Don't get me started on how much time people spend on facebook and twitter!)
Janyaa questions if hiding our passion for MMORPGs is reinforcing the negative stigma. I personally don't see any good coming from telling my boss or my dad I play WoW. Blizzard tried to get me to connect Enlynn to facebook, but I still think it's way too soon.
Check out this post by MMO Fallout on game stigma.
There is hope, though. A writer I follow, Janice Hardy at The Other Side of the Story, did a guest post for Grinding to Valhalla where she talks (with no shame!) about being a gamer and relating it to her career. I was delighted to read her article and find out that a successful professional I respect plays the same games I do! I think the gamers in creative industries will, slowly, open the doors for the rest of the world. Yes, writers are expected to be quirky, but I'll take all the positive MMO press I can get!
I think there will be a day, someday, where MMORPGs get the same treatment as television, Mafia Wars, and even the time-sink we call social media. I would love to come out of the (gaming) closet, but I'm not ready to yet, nor do I think the world is ready to embrace us.
Oh yeah, and cheers to women gamers over 30! I never want to lose my sense of play!
So, how do you handle you handle the nerd stigma?