Tuesday, October 26, 2010

one of the games i play

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?


  1. Being a geek means I don't have a lot in common with people in my area. The geeks in this particular area are either teenage boys or sci-fi people, neither of which hold anything for my 20-something fantasy loving self.

    With that said, playing WoW never really comes up in general conversation. I post things like major achivements to my wall on facebook, so they know I play, my parents have bought me time cards for Christmas when I was jobless (let's not talk about the irony there), and I like to be proud that I am a gamer. I could take my $15 and go hang out at a bar or whatever it is, but that's not my scene and that is how I tell it to people who ask why I spend money playing a game.

    I dislike the idea that people can veg watching TV for hours but talking to people and interacting in WoW (essentially being social and learning priceless social skills) is not.

    So...basically...I wave my geek flag high and I fly it proud.

    And as a sociologist, I plan on illustrating the social nature and skills that WoW players maintain. Someday...someday.

  2. lol- There is so much I can relate to in this post! Especially the part where you say everything else that you're interested in first and then mayyybeee mention, "Oh yeah, and I play *cough* games."

    Blizzard has said there are 12million people playing WoW now. Even accounting for inflated numbers, that's more than the population of London! It would be nice if social perceptions would catch up to modern times a bit.

  3. Tarinae - I think its funny that there's even an argument for us wasting money on WoW. 15 bucks is like, 2 drinks in a city. Hmm... enough liquor to get tipsy or a month's entertainment?

    Janyaa - I've always wondered about that. There must be a lot of geeks still hiding in the gaming closet!