The Secret Society
I really, really need to get better about making notes on where I see a post that makes me think of a particular subject. This is already the third or fourth time I’ve been inspired by another’s post, and yet I cannot for the life of me find who it was. Their topic was on having to hide what they do during their leisure hours from their coworkers. If anyone can provide me with a link, I’d be very grateful to add it to this post. No more of this unflattering begging from me, though. On to the topic at hand.
That blogger was right on the money. I’ve worked for years and years to hide what I do in my free time from my coworkers. It’s worse for me than just playing computer games (WoW mostly nowadays), of course; I also play (gasp) pen and paper (PnP) role playing games (RPGs). The combination of these two ultra-nerdy activities has brought me much grief throughout my life, and I have no desire to either continue being griefed or feeling the need to defend my free-time activities to people I work with who otherwise respect me.
Once, in New York City, a fellow teacher (the “moody” art teacher archetype) mentioned to me (since I ran the chess and scrabble club) that some of our students wanted to start an RPG club. I strongly advised her against it, as sometimes things that come out during games can, out of context (or even in context sometimes) be very inappropriate material for a classroom. I didn’t think it would be a good idea for any teacher to open themselves up to the type of professional danger that might occur if, for example, a student thought it would be clever to murder, maim, or rape another character in the game (none of those would fly in any of the games I played in, by the way). Luckily, she took my advice, but during the conversation it became obvious that I played PnP RPGs (see why I showed you the abbreviations up there?) myself.
Before the end of the day, everyone in the school knew about my hobby (it was admittedly a very small school of only about 14 or 16 teachers). Then everyone was asking me questions about it which I had no desire to answer. No one was rude, condescending, or judgmental, at least overtly. It was, however, extremely annoying to have to constantly answer the most basic questions about playing games to a group of people that had played games as kids and seemingly forgotten why they did it. It occurred to me then that playing these kinds of games, games that are not fully socially acceptable, was like being in a secret society, and that news of it should never get out.
I think defining WoW playing as a secret society is not much of an exaggeration. For one, we have our own secret cant (a set of vocabulary associated with a particular activity). We can casually drop “aggro,” “dps,” “lolz,” flasked up,” “farm,” and words like that into non-WoW situations (“Oh man, I just aggro’d my boss.”) We have secret clubhouses (vent servers). We have meetings at hard-to-reach locations where we practice ritual movements (raid encounters). We have subgroups (guilds), each having their own traditions, be they /gkicking, naked dungeons, hogger raids (RIP), RPing guild parties (I went to a guild wedding – the TOONS got married…), or whatever else is out there.
So I enjoy my free time activity at home and keep it totally hidden at work.
Some will disagree with this decision, and they should. Different players from different backgrounds have had wildly different experiences with being “outted” as a “game-player.” Also, society becomes more and more accepting of these games, so it becomes easier to talk about them in “mixed” company. That said, I’ve stayed tight-lipped and super-secret ever since that one occasion in New York.
It’s not that I’m ashamed that I play them; I’m not. I discuss them freely when people are genuinely interested. However, the zoo-like exhibit of a “gamer” feels like uncomfortable scrutiny, even judgment, and, frankly, I’m judged enough without having this extra heap added. Or maybe I am ashamed; perhaps some part of my pseudo-Christian upbringing and the hellish time I had in school with my peers marked me deeper than I can see. Who knows?
At any rate, enjoy the game as you see fit. But remember, for me, the first rule of WoW is that there is no WoW. The second rule of WoW… well you get the message.