Friday, 8 July 2011

D&D and you & me and us & them...

Uch - I've been trying the watch The Dungeon Masters because I really don't *get* D&D.  Himself and his long term friends are ALL gamers, who have their roots in table-top and I've had other friends who played D&D in their youth (or not so youth).  I guess, because my first exposure to any sort of RPG was WoW where everything is really taken care of for you, I get boggled by the concept of, well, having to do all this work yourself.  I'm so used to it being given to me in pixel form, I'm thrown by the idea of sitting round a table, with pen, paper and dice and figuring it out. 

Leaving aside my inexperience and lack of imagination for a moment, I think D&D still has its uber-geek image.  Whether that translates into kudos or horror is probably a personal opinion.  I know that when I moved in with Himself and went to move an ottoman out of the way, I nearly wrenched my back - said ottoman was stuffed to the gills with D&D manuals and assorted other RPG stuff.  Gods, those manuals are heavy!  I remember when he eventually got over his embarrassment enough to show me his briefcase thing which contained his  D&D figurines (all lovingly hand painted) and being really quite amazed by the detail in them.  All this stuff is hidden away, mind you.  I made some comment about making a display case for the figurines and he nearly died at the thought, and put the case away... I'm not even sure I know where it's currently residing. 

Now Himself is a proper grown-up (as I've mentioned before) and has a Proper Job.  His gamer friends are also well-adjusted; they're in Proper Jobs, with long-term relationships, children, some are even quite easy on the eye *giggles*.  I.e. they're pretty much at the opposite end of the scale from the D&D stereotype, living in his parents' basement and existing off Doritos.  But they still refer to their gaming in code, "alligator wrestling" being a favourite, and when some of us went out for our pre-wedding dinner, there was some comment made about being "amongst friends" which was clearly code for "can we talk about gaming now?"

These are not the type of people portrayed in The Dungeon Masters.  I have to say, at this point, that Love Film (via the tv) decided to have a hissy fit mid-way through, but I've seen just over an hour of it.  Would you like to pick a gamer stereotype, because I'm pretty certain that one of the three main characters will fit into it...   The substance of the film consists of following three GMs, in both their gaming and non-gaming lives.  Two of the GMs are male, one female.  Their usage of D&D to escape from their real lives is a stick that you're beaten with from early on.  The fact that they're all portrayed (rightly or wrongly - it's all in the edit after all) as being fairly dysfunctional doesn't help one iota. 

Much is made of Elizabeth's habit of covering herself in dark body make-up (she RPs a Drow (I'm sure D&D folk know what that is) elf.)  She discusses her inability to make relationships work ("my last boyfriend used to blow me off to raid Molten Core") but also says that she's either asleep or online.  She wants a boyfriend who doesn't spend all his life in Azeroth but doesn't seem to be comfortable going out and meeting people IRL, in a non-gaming sense.  This in itself is odd, as she's clearly adored by the male gamers she GMs for. 

Richard appears to devise incredibly intricate campaigns and then send all the characters to their destruction.  One such example appeared to have lasted years and the players didn't seem to have really come to terms with all the time and energy they'd put into their creations being wiped out, on what appeared to be a whim of his.  In a similar vein, he explains how he left his first wife and step-children without telling them anything, "I asked her to drive me to the airport and when I got out the car, I said "I hope you have your keys because I'm not coming back" *shrug*"

Scott is writing a book.  His wife appears to be the breadwinner and holding everything together.  They don't seem happy - there are uncomfortable snippets where it's apparent that she'd rather he was actually contributing to their life, in a 'normal' way. 

It's just all a bit saddening really.  Whilst I accept that gaming can be away to escape from RL (and I've been guilty of it on at least one occasion) I wish that they'd made more effort to give the film a balanced view.  If you met Himself, or any of his friends you'd *never* think they gamed.  I've stopped being offended by people being amazed and telling me I'm not the "type", when I 'fess up to my hobby.  I still enjoy (kinda - depending on my mood) the look on people's faces when they find out that Himself and I met, not just online in the dating sense (like 'normal' people do) but online in an MMORPG.

I guess I dislike stereotypes and 'documentaries' such as this one just doesn't do any of us any favours.  Or do they?  Daughter has blazed  a trail through her school by being so utterly unapologetic about being an "emo" and a "geek", responding to teasing and taunts with a "yes...and?" comment.  To the point that she's gained popularity (notoriety?) with her peers - she hates this mind you, raging that if, all of a sudden she's "cool" and her "look" is being emulated, what does this leave her with?  "Do I need to dye my hair blond now, wear mini-skirts and cover myself in make-up to STOP being cool???"  She's finally accepted that she needs to wear specs (she's ragingly astigmatic) and has proper geek girl glasses, with heavy black rims.  Fully expecting grief for this, she returned home today looking bemused, "Everyone says my glasses are really cool and they want ones like them *deep sigh*" and much as we tell her that by being able to be "different" and stand up for herself so effectively, she's giving others the courage to be who they want to be, she's still anti-cool.  So here's the question:  do we want gaming etc to be viewed as cool or are we happy with our geek image?

And that's me done for the weekend - happy Friday folks, see you on Monday :)


  1. Well, allow me to drop my nerd cred out before preceding. You know how you talk about those "easy on the eyes" guys that don't live in the parent's basement? Yea. I'm the opposite of that. (Okay, I live with my folks because I can't afford a place to stay AND pay off student loans at the same time with my crappy bookstore job). I am exactly what people think of when you say "Nerd" most of the time. (With a slightly less condemning attitude. No "Worse movie ever" comments from me, thank you.) And while sometimes thinking about my station in life is enough to drive me to thoughts of suicide, I am for the most part, content for the brief moment.

    With that out of the way, allow me to say this. There is very clearly a dividing line between a "cool geek" and a "Ew! It's a geek!" and it has little to do with being a geek. It has mostly to do with other determining factors such as appearance, confidence, and attitude. If you are a self-confident geek with a devil may care attitude, chances are you stand the chance of being a "cool geek". If you are an attractive geek, ditto. If you are a shy, unnatractive geek (/raises hand) then chances are you'll have to really work hard to become a "cool geek". I have obtained that status apparently to some people, and it was because I'm much more confident around people once I get to know them and then whaddyaknow now I'm a "cool geek" to them.

    I guess what I'm saying is that being a "geek/nerd" is not really a socially determining factor as much as a simple descriptor now. Much like the age old image of "jocks" and "preps", it's become diluted or so at least my experience has shown that.

    So do we want gaming to be "cool"? Heck, I don't care. I gave up that fight back when the Playstation came out and permanently shifted the limelight on who was a "gamer" at that point. (Granted, still a sore point. It's a browncoats thing.) What I learned from that is that it's always better to just be happy than worry about being "cool" or "anti-cool". Do I enjoy watching children's television and playing D&D once a week? Yes. Well then, get to it!

    (In before "Of course you don't care if something is cool or not, you're one of gross nerds." :P )

  2. Ok - so you're young enough to be paying off student loans (implying you have a degree) and you have my dream job. Bah >.> And obvious apologies if I've caused offence (I can't figure out if I have - I hope I haven't!!)

    This: "I guess what I'm saying is that being a "geek/nerd" is not really a socially determining factor as much as a simple descriptor now" is something that I hadn't ever considered but it's a bloody good point and one which I will ponder on further.

    "'s always better to just be happy than worry about being "cool" or "anti-cool". Agree totally and completely. Also one of the things I have (force) fed Daughter. Hopefully one opf the reasons why she's currently wearing a "cool geek" badge as opposed to the other one.

    For my part, I'm not cool either. I'm 30-something, curvy (as a euphamism for 'needs to eat a LOT less chocolate and acquaint herself with the concept (and action) of exercise, rather than Betty Boop curvy) but dammit, I'm bloody happy (most of the time, when I'm not it's nothing do to with how I look!) I have hair that permanently needs a cut and have recently forked over a lot of cash to the optician for not one, not two but three pairs of glasses (ok, one pair of sunnies) so I'm old enough to need both close up and long distance specs...

    Bollocks to apperances - rawr! :)

    On a serious note - thank you for you comment - it means alot when people take time to read, digest and respond!

  3. I couldn't reply in a comment - you inspired me to write an entire blog post on this! Okay, so a lot of it's about my being a geek - but it's a kind of background to my answer, and was great fun going back over all the stuff I've done!

  4. Oh - looking forward to reading it!

  5. :) Hi. This is Elizabeth, the girl in the doc.

    Just an FYI, I'm nothing like the documentary. It was edited and slanted; and I've given several interviews about it. I'm actually quite normal for the most part-- they decided that making it look like I live in costume was the best way to edit things.

    I'd give more detail but I don't feel like getting into it too much. I'm pretty findable on the internet, and it's pretty easy to see that what they portrayed isn't me. Yes, I LARP, and yeah, I did play a dark elf-- but not for the reasons it said in the doc (they actually blended my explanation for "tell us what drow are so the people who don't know understand" and "why do you play a dark elf" together). :P

    At any rate, nice review. I dislike the film entirely and regret being a part of it.

  6. Hi Elizabeth

    Firstly, thank you for the comment! After my momentary panic (how the hell did she track down my tiny corner of the interwebz?) And after a quick re-read of the post I'm calmer :)

    I can totally believe that you were edited in a certain way - in fact I'd go so far as to assume that's true of everyone featured. My only experience of how edits can work was when I helped a friend with her 'documentary' that was a final piece of work for her degree. She sent me two discs, one which was the 'actual' documentary, and another which was an unkind edit. After I'd stopped crying (I kid you not) I pored over it and realised that yes, I had said all that, but it was so out of context and warped that it was no longer recognisable as how I saw 'me'. I try to not only bear that in mind when I watch 'reality' tv, but also lecture my children on it. However, I seemed to have removed my critical glasses when I watched the film...

    I'm sorry you regret taking part in it though. I didn't have any objections to the film per se, as my post said, my issue was more with the slanted portrayal of people, it's that whole "gamers are weird/pitiable" vibe that I dislike!

    Anyway, thanks again for giving your point of view on the whole thing, it really is appreciated!

    Pilf x