An Etiquette Lesson for Gamers
Gamers love to talk about their weird, hilarious, cunningly-created, wackily paradoxical RPG characters. Gamers also wonder why they can't make friends outside the gaming community. Gamers rarely wonder if these two things are linked.
Lords and ladies of the card table, they are indeed linked.
The truth is, no one wants to hear about your characters. No one wants an annotated list of all of the special abilities your catperson/Drow ranger/thief/monk has. No one wants a ten-minute description of the astounding hugeness of his crossbow. No one cares how wacky and paradoxical your totally unique character is because guess what--EVERY GODDAMN RPG CHARACTER IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE GODDAMN UNIVERSE HAS SOME KIND OF CLEVER GIMMICK! Your character is NOTHING! SPECIAL! AT ALL! He is different in exactly the same cute and cunning way that every other character is different!
And guess what--your amazingly special character says NOTHING WHATSOEVER ABOUT YOU! That's right! So you thought up a fifteen-year-old necromancer who has a 20-die demon as a familiar and fights with a laser beam so he won't waste any blood. How very powerful! How very clever! And how very much it doesn't reflect upon you! Maybe you'd be cool if you were a fifteen-year-old necromancer with a demon who followed you around and a laser beam powerful enough to use as a weapon--well, actually, what a psycho you'd be--but the truth is, you're a gamer. You're a guy/gal who can tell an eight-sided die from a ten-sided die by sight. You can calculate THAC0 in your head. No character you create will change the fact that these are essential parts of your daily skill set. And blithering about your characters will only highlight the difference between the fantasy and the cold, hard, sad reality.
So why, you ask, do people listen with fascination when I talk about my characters? There are two possibilities:
A) You are talking to fellow gamers. They are listening to you because it gives them credits which they can then cash in to make you listen while they blither about their own characters.
B) You are talking to a mundane. What you take to be fascination is actually the result of a secret discipline known only to mundanes. This discipline is called "politeness." An advanced student of "politeness" can appear to be listening intently and asking intelligent questions while their mental faculties are almost entirely tied up with fantasies of plunging a fork into your head. However, certain subtle signs give away even the most "polite" mundane:
- Glazing of the eyes.
- Answering in monosyllables.
- Refusing to take even the most tempting conversational bait.
- Repeatedly drifting off-topic into topics not even vaguely related to gaming.
- Looking away and sighing deeply.
- Attempting to call other mundanes into the conversation.
- Dropping subtle insults into the conversation.
If the person you are speaking with exhibits any of these symptoms, they may be bored. The solution is to SHUT THE HELL UP AND LET THEM SPEAK FOR ONCE. If you follow this simple guideline, you too may someday have a non-gamer for a friend!