By Greg DeLacy
I consider myself a pretty average person. I am a father and husband, and work an 8-5 job. I like to play sports and work out regularly. I watch the popular TV shows, like music and go out for the occasional beers with friends. I care about what I look like when I go out, I groom and splash on the cologne and dress fashionably. Socially speaking, I certainly fit into the “normal” category.
Recently my wife and I happened upon an IHOP restaurant during midweek. As we entered, I noticed a large number of college students at the IHOP. I then realized we were close to the local Community College and thus the reason for the high numbers. We were sat behind two young men (18 to 20 if I had to guess). Neither my wife nor I had paid much attention to them as we passed by. We sat, received our menus and this is where our experience took a turn for the funny.
My wife sat with her back to the two men, and I had a clear look at the larger of the two. He was the picture of the stereo typical video gamer according to the media. He was clearly overweight, and dressed in a stained shirt that looked like it was worn 3 days straight. He wore a beard (if you want to call it that) that resembled a thin strap protruding down from under his barrette(did I mention the barrette?) and under his double chin. The whole picture taken in just made me think of those countless makeover shows you see on TV these days.
Is it mean that I am focusing on his looks? I will be honest, yes it is. I shouldn’t judge one by his looks and exterior dress, but as first impressions go it wasn’t a terribly flattering look. Shallow it may be, and un-popular amongst my gaming peers for sure, but your looks and how you attend to your outward image is a cruel, important reality.
So right about now I am sure you are wondering what is funny about this story. Certainly a poorly dressed college scrub is not comedic genius. And you are right. His image was just the tip of the ice berg because then we both overheard him. It wasn’t: “What are you getting for lunch?” It wasn’t: “What did you get on your term paper?” It was simply; “Take that Sucka!”.
My wife gave me a curious glance, and I returned it in kind. Again we heard; “Take that, and that sucka!” Then we heard; “You are no match for my 5 headed Hydra”. At that point I recalled the cards all spread out on their table as we passed by. I had taken them for regular cards on first glance, but clearly they were a card game like Magic the Gathering. He continued to act out their “battle” for the duration of our meal. And when I say “act out” I do indeed mean act out, including sound effects. We both fought back laughter several times during his public performance.
Then he began talking about Halo 2 glitches and my wife looked at me and said, “Don’t you play Halo?” with a sly glance. Right then and there I felt myself shrink and realize he was my peer. My inner laughter almost turned to shame. Was I like that? It was a hard question to face to be honest. And in many ways the answer to the question was yes. When it came to gaming we were part of the same world.
So, what if anything could I or you take away from this luncheon encounter? The shallow answer is to be aware of your appearance and social norms. We as gamers have always struggled with an image that the regular media has stamped us with: Geeky, under achievers who live at home with mom and have no real social accepted behaviors. Reality is far from that stereo type as we are athletes, business professionals, parents and notably normal on a whole. This reality unfortunately is not a widely shared view. So it’s upon us to correct the social stigma by being vigilant about ourselves. Fortunately that is not my lesson. My lesson, and hopefully yours too, is one of acceptance. We (gamers) are also geeks, nerds and introverts. We are all these things and more and yes we are the norm. I may be normal to most, but I am that guy at the table playing the card game as well and that is OK.