Because I work in an extraordinarily normal setting, in a building with extraordinarily normal business-people (white males aged 25 to 50, white females aged 20 to 35), I had to make up my mind early about whether or not I was going to mention that I was working on a book ... considering the content of that book. If we want to talk about conservative central regarding whether or not anyone around role-plays, well, they've heard of it. Some of their kids do. They don't really get it. For them, particularly the higher-status types, 'role-play' is that thing you do where a team of people on retreat try to cross a mock stream in the foyer of the company's hotel through cooperation. It isn't what people would call 'a good time.'
My decision was do more than admit what I was doing, but to deliberately call attention to it. If I'm asked by someone, "How are you doing" - that absolutely everybody asks - I tell them, straight out. Full title, all the content, etc., as if they're going to understand what I'm saying. And I get some interesting responses.
The first group absolutely has no idea what I'm talking about. They've never heard of role-playing, they don't know what a 'player' is, much less a DM or D&D. This people are utterly, completely clueless, and it is really quite marvelous that they still exist. Incidentally, they also tend to be among the better paid lower-level executives in the 20-30 age range. These are people who went straight from the prom-planning committee and fraternities/sororities into business school and employment with daddy/mommy's brother/friend/ex-college roommate. There's no table at Las Vegas that gives odds on role-playing, so these people don't know what it is. Real pity, though, as these people also have a lot of money that is virtually worthless to them.
The second group includes the largest portion - they've heard of role-playing, most often D&D, on television or other media. About it, they know nothing. Their eyes show a tiny bit of fear as you talk, as they are completely clueless and anyone knowing something they don't know is a bit upsetting. Understand, these are sheltered, sheltered people. They don't go to clubs, they have families, mostly with kids in the infant to ten range, and their lives are mostly taken up with school, events, holidays and social clubs to which they belong. Anything outside that zone of comfort tends to upset them, which explains why things like extra taxes and pet registrations give them the night tremors. I must admit, I take a sort of pleasure in going on with them a bit over-long as they're taking pains to be polite, but one hopes they might someday meet someone, or have a child someday, that will also play, and they will remember I'm out here and that I am the master. So goes networking.
The third group is more interesting. Not only have they heard of gaming, they've actually seen it. They haven't played, and they know just enough to know that it is something I ought to be ashamed of. That's even better to see in their eyes than fear. Once again, they're polite (though a little more abrupt, because they've been haranged before by role-players), and every once in awhile they'll ask something like, "So, do you talk about various games, that kind of thing?" I have to love that, since then I can launch into the fact that no, no games, but an in-depth evaluation of how to obtain emotional responses from groups of people through dramatic presentation, reading people as you do so, dealing with stress among large groups and how otherwise to handle groups to encourage them to feel motivated and interested, etc. That usually gets a sort of glazed-eye response, followed by quick excuses and a need to get away from the 'crazy person,' that being me. It must be remembered, if I were writing an advanced account of the Ghibelline-Guelph conflicts in Florence and Tuscany circa 14th-15th centuries, the response would be about the same. The same rule applies - these people might meet someone who plays.
Now, the fourth group used to play. And conversations there go as expected, depending on what game they used to play and how much they remember. Usually not much. In six months of talking straight with business people, I've met exactly one fellow like this. He's in IT.
The fifth group should be people who are playing now, but there are no people I've met who are playing now. That doesn't mean they don't exist ... I can only speak for the monkey sphere that's closest to me, some 150, perhaps 200 people, who run across my path now and them in some capacity or other.
This is why occasionally on the blog I make some point about people being largely ignorant about role-playing. I doubt there are more than two or three dozen people in my entire building, of about 4,000, who have ever played DDO or even Warhammer ... these people have money, and they spend their weekends skiing, playing golf, drinking heavily, etc. They don't videogame. I know this because when in a media discussion, about the media, or about the state of the media industry comes up, it is very plain that no one has a clue. It's quite profound to see. Yes, there are people in the world who do not know that video-games are a big deal. A rather frightening number of people, actually. Who have money, and who have control over a LOT of money.
Food for thought.
I intend to go on telling people what I'm doing. Every kind of person. I can't build a market by relying only upon the market someone else built.