Sunday, July 24, 2016
Coming Out of the (Gaming) Closet
When my wife was still my girlfriend, I was pretty open about all of my many geeky/nerdy leanings. At the time we met I was massively involved in an MMORPG called EVE Online. When I added 40K to the mix I don't think she really batted an eyelid. I eventually gave up on EVE as my then girlfriend was getting pretty fed up of hearing "sorry I'm late but I needed to dock/safespot before I could log off". Apparently 40K hasn't put her off marrying me though.
My family thinks I'm daft for playing toy soldiers at the age of 32. I remember my Mum not being thrilled with the hobby when I was in my early teens. She read some of the background and didn't think it was particularly age appropriate. Frankly she was probably right. She's either forgotten what the background is like or, more likely, think's it's more Kirsty's problem now we're married! Either way none of my family are really bothered that I play. My Dad winds me up sometimes about it but he's always been pretty impressed when I've shown him figures I've painted (obviously when such a rare thing actually happens). I still think that they're thinking at some point that I'll "grow out of it". I think the current most likely scenario in their heads is that when and if we have a second child, that'll be end of the hobby. I think Kirsty knows me well enough to know that isn't likely.
One of my friends from school is my most frequent opponent. Matt and I got back into 40K following a game "just to see what it's like now" before selling our stuff on eBay. I'd spent most of school trying to avoid telling people I played 40K since I thought it wouldn't help my already limited chances of getting a girlfriend. Mind you, I think me giving up in my teens had more to do with my friends all deciding it wasn't "cool" to play anymore than anything else. Still, it took me something like 10 years to get back into 40K again after my teenage opponents deserted me. The guys I'm still friends with from school are all fully aware that Matt and I play with toy soldiers but, apart from the odd dig, they really couldn't care less. We've even managed to get a couple of them interesting in X-wing at least. They see 40K as too much of a time and money sink (pretty spot on assessment really!).
So those closest to me generally couldn't care less about my hobby. It's strange then that until recently I didn't tell anyone I worked with. When I'm talking about coming out of the gaming closet this is what I mean. Until just after Double Trouble I hadn't liked anything on Facebook or joined any FB groups that had any relation to 40K. I didn't want any of my colleagues or wider circle of friends to know. When people at work asked about my plans for the weekend, I'd say something like "I'm going to see some friends in Nottingham/Stockport". Not a lie really but I really don't know why I felt I had to keep a massive part of my life a secret from them.
It's funny really. I'm pretty sure if they did a ranking of people at work who were the most geeky/nerdy I'd be pretty comfortably at the top. A physics degree, affinity for computers and general excitement about geeky stuff was enough to paint a picture for them. Why then did I not want them to know I played tabletop wargames? Perhaps it has a lot to do with what I perceive as the typical wargamer. Lacking social skills, unwashed, greasy, long hair and probably a beard. What load of crap! The vast majority of wargamers I've met over the years are totally "normal". I know some truly brilliant people thanks to this hobby. Most of whom come to my tournaments! I'm not going to pretend I haven't met some more errr interesting people over the years too but these represent the minority.
Well, recently I took the plunge and started to tell people more about my hobby. I don't think they were surprised for a second. What surprised me though was how many of them actually used to play or might even consider doing so now. I'm not daft enough to expect any of them to actually get into the hobby but they've been interested in some of the easier access games I've talked about e.g. Zombicide, X-wing, that sort of thing.
It's quite a good feeling really. Having everything out in the open. I'm not ashamed of my hobby. I never really have been. If there are any people out there who are still firmly in the closet I'd encourage you to break out and tell a few people. You never know, your next opponent might be sat next to you at work!
I'd love to hear everyone else's experiences of telling people about the hobby. Perhaps the rest of you haven't been so coy about it?