Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Alexis the D&D Player

There's a fellow at work who has been moderately damaged by the knowledge that I play D&D. It's not the sort of thing I hide, not any more than I would hide watching sports or going weekend skiing ... but its very strange the effect the game has on people. It isn't as those this fellow harasses me or anything, but he is occasionally inclined to refer to me as "Alexis the D&D Player" in a context having nothing to do with D&D or even weekend activities. This is the sort of thing that happens. It's very unlikely that he would refer to me as "Alexis the skiier" or "Alexis the hockey watcher."

It's clear the thing is on the fellow's mind. He isn't a D&D player, he's never played, his entire conception of the game was being dimly aware that other people in his high school played the game, and that they were a bit 'odd' (he's told me this). So he automatically grafts his one impression of the game onto me. But frankly, I don't care.

It is interesting that he remembers these others from high school (which for him, was twelve or fourteen years ago) enough to make the association at all. That goes to show what a visible influence gamers have. "I have no idea what those people are doing over there, but they're sitting around a table rolling dice, shouting at one another and one of them seems to spend much more time talking than the others."

Does it not seem strange that this is such extraordinary behavior that people are inclined to remember it for years and years afterwards, even though they have never actually known anything about the game other than having someone else say, "those people are playing D&D." Why should anyone but a player remember it? What does that say about other people and their innate fear of sitting around tables talking? And why is it that the mystery of what the game actually includes produces such a intense reaction in people when they meet someone who actually knows something about that game?

Is it even a mystery they care about? This fellow hasn't asked me any questions about the game, so I must presume he thinks he knows something about it, even though clearly he hasn't any idea, enough that he either believes he doesn't need to know more, or perhaps that he is afraid of what I might tell him. Perhaps we're gutting kittens in the dark of the moon or taking turns to go to the toilet in order to fellate one another. I suppose in someone else's imagination, anything is possible.

I don't bother to correct the fellow, or ask him to stop doing this ... that is, calling me by my 'title' as player of a game he doesn't understand. I know this sort of thing is rampantly common, and I know that's why many people don't say that they play the game - which probably increases the mystery and in turn the level of anxiety in some people as to just what happens during a game. The whole thing probably results from a game that's too complicated to pick up in watching for five minutes, and so virtually everyone who chances to hear five minutes of the game being played within earshot is driven to flee the area immediately or else risk being pulled into some body-snatcher pod and reproduced as a walking plant.

Anything's possible.

Changing the subject utterly for just a moment, this next statement being the real reason for writing this post apart from the fact that I felt the need to mumble a bunch of platitudes that really do not apply to anything ... I have decided to take the month of November off. I mean, OFF. I'm going to suspend the online campaign, all my offline campaigns, and all posting on this blog for 30 days. I may work a bit on D&D, but I mostly want to find some time to do some writing and perhaps regain a little of my sanity in a world gone crazy. Being forced off my feet for a few days, to lay on a sofa and rest watching movies and sleeping intermittently, I'm a bit more concious of being plugged in than usual. A vacation would begin with being unplugged ... so I think I will. Unplug.

I trust you'll all find something else to read.


Matt Judge said...

D&D grabbed ahold of me from late middle school through high school. At that time in my young life, my position in the social hierarchy was very central to my identity, and I and the people I gamed with shared a number of traits that singled us out as a tribe. D&D, like our music and fashion sense, very much signified our position in the social hierarchy. I tend to think it's not the actual content of the clothes, music, or the game that differentiated us. Rather, it was us claiming ownership of those things that gave them meaning to those outside the tribe. Were we like normal people who did not game, then gaming would seem like a normal activity.

With that formative experience in place, it's very easy for me to understand myself as a gamer in a world that perceives gaming in a certain way, and I very much understand why non gamers view my gaming as they do. It's not an intellectual gulf between us. The game is associated with a status. I have no issue with that except to the extent it becomes a liability in my getting along in the world. AT my workplace, I prefer to be perceived a certain way, and I know that my gaming, or playing in a metal band for that matter, does not play to my favor in that regard. I don't want the interaction you're having with your coworker, so I don't bring it up.

I do think it's bad form for your coworker to make a thing of your gaming. It's impolite to single people out for that kind of attention unless it expresses support, interest, or enthusiasm.

Jomo Rising said...

November off eh? Is it nanowrimo time?

Vlad Malkav said...

I'm going to miss your insights dearly.

Granted, I'll have more time for my own thought-seeing ; I have some gameplay and game-rythm drawbacks to overcome.

Have as good a time as you can ! I'll have a toast to your hollidays ^^ (Would have prefered to invite you for a drink, but my budget doesn't have a "one ocean away" line).

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