What is it about this hobby that attracts the biggest losers I've ever seen in my life? Well, a few of those emo/goth/artsy kids are worse, but that's debatable. At least some of the girls are hot. There aren't any hot chicks who play rpgs and 90% of the guys look like they rolled out of Revenge of the Nerds, but without any of the drive and intelligence. Living in their mom's basement, working at Wal-mart at 35, no car, endless internet porn, Canadian girlfriend they've never met but talk to on IM every night and abysmal hygiene. Personality type: horrid. Shouting at you, never talking. Interactions are impossible unless you have limitless patience and/or an iPod cranked to 11. Consumed with gaming...no other hobbies, aspirations, goals or intent other than to get their half-orc barbarian to 9th level and rape the princess. Or perhaps have their elf maiden with a 20 charisma raped. Whichever.
Are you a roleplayer? Do my statements piss you off? I surely hope they do because, while hyperbole to some degree, they accurately reflect the perception others have of this hobby. I don't think I've ever actually told anyone directly what it is I do every other Saturday afternoon. Usually I say it's a poker game or something. The stigma attached to to playing rpgs is a very real thing. The breaking point for me in any relationship with a girl is when I decide to let them in on my secret. Some of my ex-girlfriends have never known about my rpg obsession, but a few have, and while it didn't cause any major issues, there were a few times that I felt seriously embarassed given their reaction. Talking about the game in public is a no-no, and even in semi-private situations the make up of the group determines if rpgs are discussed.
Some of you might say that I shouldn't sucumb to society's views on what is acceptable. I've thought about this at length, and it's not so much the hobby itself as the people who engage in it that causes the problem. I do not want to be associated with the most visual and vocal members of the rpg community, mostly because they're losers. Even though all the members of my gaming group have jobs, went to college, take showers, have girlfriends/are married, etc., the perception on the outside is that somehow we are all flawed individuals by virtue of playing the same game as the people I described earlier.
We play at a gaming store, sometimes at an individual's house, depending on circumstances. At the store, I would estimate that 90% of the people playing outside of my group fit the profile of "loser". Striking up a conversation with any of these guys is a wasted effort, as their social skills are non-existent. Fat, ugly, smelly, stupid and a laundry list of other unacceptable traits come to mind. Definitely not the kind of people I'd want to make friends with. As the rooms are first-come, frequently we are at odds with other groups. Invariably, they are rude and obnoxious, rarely allowing us to take a couple chairs (not in use) or even acknowledge our existence with more than a distracted, haughty glance. The females, when even present (I'd estimate maybe one-in-twenty, if that), are hideous excuses for women. Seriously. I've read on the internet how some guys have met their wives playing rpgs, but I can say in all the years I've gamed, I've met exactly two attractive girls and they were both weirdo goth chicks who played Vampire and are probably in a methadone clinic right now.
The perception is greater than the reality in this case. The gaming store houses the finest of the dregs, but I am friends with plenty of well adjusted people who enjoy playing rpgs. Half of them I did not even know played except by chance when they came to my apartment and saw a bookshelf with AD&D books. The comment was usually something like, "Hey, I used to play that." I'd invite them to a game and their interest would be renewed. Would any of these people ever want to play an rpg after entering a gaming store and seeing the loud, boisterous crowd, reeking of BO? No way in hell, and who would expect them to? If I wanted to play rpgs, went to a gaming store and only saw Neo-Nazis playing, I'd probably think the hobby was verboten for anyone who wasn't a radical racist. In the same sense, normal people probably think the hobby is only for smelly nerds. Couple this with the idea that games are for kids and anyone over 25 with a job, a mortgage and a wife will find something else to do like hang out at Hooters and watch football.
The whole point of this post is merely to point out that roleplayers themselves are killing the hobby. The perception is that roleplayers are losers with no lives, and no matter how many blog posts anyone makes that perception is not going to change until someone "normal" goes out in public and has a gaming session. We all need to start making our games public, decrying the losers for what they really are, how they've hurt the hobby, and make a serious effort to stress that the game is fun. It wouldn't hurt to have a bunch of hot chicks playing, either. Everything I've read leads me to believe that D&D was taking off and becoming a serious contender against the likes of board games and card games, but the whole "D&D is evil!" crusade in the early 80s pretty much nipped that in the bud. The hobby has a few million players, probably, and while new people start playing all the time, there is never any real push to bring it into the mainstream. Just like indie music idiots want exclusivity, so too do I think that the majority of roleplayers want rpgs to be exclusive. That doesn't make any sense to me at all. The hobby is dying and it needs reviving. All the in-fighting between fragmented groups, the "old school vs. new school" debates, the pure hate toward 4th edition D&D and WotC...all these things do nothing more than segment the hobby further and push people away who might otherwise enjoy the game. It's really pissing me off.