I have to admit; sometimes table top RPGs are hard to explain. Video games had a much smoother transition; they were always out there amongst the masses; and there was no shame in playing Asteroids or Missle Command in your local bar or bowling alley. RPGs, especially in the 80’s if you’re familiar, were often demonized like heavy metal as being “detrimental to the youth”, etc with manuals full of witches, vampires and demons (which are all in vogue nowadays). Heck, they even had a mind-controlled Tom Hanks being corrupted by the evil RPG in some TV special (for those of the uninitiated bent, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazes_and_Monsters ). It’s very hard even nowadays to shake the “dysfunctional nerd in the basement” stereotype (which I will sometimes unashamedly exploit myself).

Because RPG’s are such an insular experience amongst friends, misconceptions about them abound. I think even with the emergence of the “nerd culture” nowadays, telling someone you play an RPG (most will probably assume you mean an MMO not the old fashioned tabletop variety) will most times be greeted with a range of blank, confused or even pitying stares. Some gamers might then feel a bit coy about the subject, feeling they have to secret away their hobby like some sort of insidious cult.

In my younger days I’m ashamed to admit I was still sensitive on the subject myself, although not enough to read the “Eberron” manual on the train to work (I still love that setting). Someone sitting next to me inquired about the book, and my knee-jerk reaction was to put it away immediately and mumble something about “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith to the fellow suit next to me. He told me that it looked like a D&D book, which I admitted it to being. His face lit up and he told me how he had enjoyed playing as a kid and inquired about the current rules (3.5 I think at that point). We had a nice little chat about the subject (sorry no more bend bars/lift gates). My own personal sense of furtiveness lifted a bit that day.

I’m always glad to see the old RPG get good press. Gary Gygax on the Simpsons was fantastic (rest in peace, my friend). So here’s to holding your head up high and being proud of a creative and intelligent hobby. But if you want to avoid wading through those waters altogether with the uninitiated, use my wife’s trick and tell them you play cards on Friday night.