I Am A Gamer


I am a gamer. I spend my evenings and weekends holed up in cavernous basement rooms consulting sourcebooks and to-hit charts, or running around parks and community centers in full makeup and costume playing rock-paper-scissors at various intervals. I spend my paycheck or my allowance on the latest games and supplements and mounds of polyhedral dice which have a way of turning up in the oddest places around my house or apartment. I have hundreds of stories about games I have played and characters I have known, some of which are actually interesting and funny to other people. I am a gamer, and this is how I spend my free time.

I am a gamer. I spend my evenings and weekends holed up in cavernous basement rooms consulting sourcebooks and to-hit charts, or running around parks and community centers in full makeup and costume playing rock-paper-scissors at various intervals. I spend my paycheck or my allowance on the latest games and supplements and mounds of polyhedral dice which have a way of turning up in the oddest places around my house or apartment. I have hundreds of stories about games I have played and characters I have known, some of which are actually interesting and funny to other people. I am a gamer, and this is how I spend my free time.

I am a storyteller. I practice a dying art. But my stories are even better than ghost stories around a campfire, because they are completely interactive. My friends and I play Let's Pretend, just the way we used to as children-we become the intrepid hero, the plucky princess, the wise old man. They let people live another life and, in the process, discover things about themselves. So the tales I tell are always about Big Things: the fight between good and evil, a battle for the future of the world, the struggle against the darker side of one's own personality. I have things to say, and by God, I'm going to say them. I am a gamer, and I bring new (or simply forgotten) things to the world.

I am unique. I'm not necessarily smarter or better than the rest of the world, but I have a way of looking at things which gives me decided advantages. I would rather participate in the world that sit back and let it pass me by, even if the world in which I excel is an imaginary one of my own creation. So even when I'm not gaming, a part of my mind is always in the game, thinking about what I'll do next session, what past events have taught me, and how I can apply it to the real world. Some people call this foolish escapism. I call it creativity in action. I have strange and unique interests. My style, my behavior, and my manner don't fit the cultural norms. I am a gamer, and I possess qualities that few others have.

I am misunderstood. In the best-case scenario, people think me geeky and eccentric and tend to smile nervously and look around for the nearest exit when I begin to talk about my hobby. In the worst-case scenario, I am blamed for the rise of "satanic cults" and the moral decay of the nation by promoting violence, magic, and sin. I am suspected of being incapable of distinguishing fantasy from reality. I am accused of driving teenagers to suicide by encouraging them to become too attached to their characters. That last one makes me smile, because I know that in reality gamers actually have a suicide rate at least 300% below the national average. I am a gamer, and I understand perfectly why this is.

Because there was a time when I was awkward and shy and even (God forbid) nerdy. I knew all along that I was different from most people, and that truth turned me quiet and introverted, sure I would never fit in or find anyone like myself. But then a funny thing happened. I went to my first gaming session. Suddenly I found a whole room full of people like me, who never felt they were entirely part of this world. Naturally, we bonded, and I made my first real friends. But another funny thing happened while we played our game together. As my character learned how to interact with others and solve problems and fend for herself, so did I. I learned how to function in the society that had shunned me. I was happy again. I realized that I had a rare and special gift, and that it was my duty to use it to make my real life as desirable as the one in my imagination.

I am a gamer. I have something that most people lose before the age of ten-a sense of wonder. I'm always discovering new worlds through my game, so I'll never be too jaded to drop my jaw from time to time and allow myself to say, "Wow." I put magic and color back into a world that's too often content with bland mediocrity. I am a gamer, and I am not alone.

We are gamers. We are your children, your relatives, your friends, your co-workers. We're the smart but quiet girl on the school bus holding a dog-eared copy of The Hobbit; the man browsing the shelves of the science fiction section at B. Dalton, leafing through a Star Wars novel and muttering about how he could do better; the hard-working guy two cubicles over who always seems to be looking at something far away, something you can't see--yet. We create worlds together, and our lives are changed and improved by these things that we imagine. We know better than to say, "It's just a game"-not because we can't distinguish fantasy from reality (we do that quite well, believe you me), but because this game has helped us in ways we never though possible. We are gamers, and we have the power to change the world. Just wait. You'll see.

Very nicely put, but this almost sounds like an introduction to a large piece. Are you perhaps working on the Gamer's Manifesto? If you are, I promise my full support as long as I can continue to dominate and exploit the proletariat. :)

Nope, no gamer's manifesto yet, but I suppose anything is possible given time and grassroots support... (c;



Well said. Over the past couple of years, I've "come out of the closet" as a gamer (I'm 30 and I've been playing for 18 years). And you know what I found out? My "adult" friends -- you know, the ones that have wine cellars and BMWs -- they LOVE roleplaying. Sure, at first they probably thought I was a geek when I admitted that I not only was a gamer, I was a game designer.

But god bless them, they were my friends. They were willing to give gaming a try just because I said they might like it. And every single one of them has had a blast playing an RPG for the first time. A few of them have even become regular players in the weekly games.

Gaming is no longer this weird, outsider hobby of mine that I'm embarassed to talk about. I am creative, and social, and fun. I am a gamer. And I am proud.

ps - Gamerchick, you rock.

Beautiful article/free-verse poem there. It gave me that warm fuzzy feeling, because it's so true.

in the words of many thousands of Marines, the world over... I pay homage to your article thusly, Gamerchick:


Preach on, sister! This is the article that needs to be sent to Pat Pulling and her cronies, and everyone else out there out to paint role-playing as dangerous and satanic. You got the soul of a writer, girl, and damn if you don't use it!



woot! woot indeed.

Wow! That is all I can say! :-)

Indeed a work of art by one who practices the divine graces of the games. Perhaps you should take a break from game design and begin to work on writing a book - you'd be surprised at the market for books like this. In addition, try taking an overly-long campaign (10+ sessions) and making a short story (or long) out of it. I am currently working on compiling such a group, and I've gotten good reviews from everyone who's read it (gamer and not alike, just leave out all the statistic stuff, put it in realistic perspective, ie. "It's armor looked thick. I knew I couldn't pierce it, so I had to run. But how, I asked myself, could I get away? The Tarrasque never failed to catch it's prey...")

Good luck, and post if you go ahead and start writing these - if anyone has an interest in what I've written or has stories to tell they don't want to write themselves, E-mail me.

You know, upon reading this more closely, it resembles much of my life. We need help, they say. In addition, I must agree terribly well with the closing statement. This should be published as an account of a gamer's perspective: what's what.

( sigh ) Have you ever thought of making "gamer-motivational" tapes?

*beep* please turn to side B

I think I must recant. I said here quite often that I didn't have a clue about gaming and that I have little experience other than computer fantasy gaming. I must take that back.

Take what is said of being done around this site,(especially within this article!!) get rid of the dice and stat sheets, and make characters based on a specific universe (usually X-men or DBZ or some other movie/ video game/ comic series) and you would have a typical day and a half at James' house, where we would spend a whole weekend "in character" as you put it. Except at church. I'm not that reckless.

I must also say something else, gamerchick. There is another thing you have most adults lack-a good imagination. From the likes of us 'geeks' come C.S. Lewis, Douglas Adams, and Charles Dickens. And Edgar Allen Poe and Steven King, who will be thrown in for you of a more darker preference . From us who are 'nutcases' and 'nerds' come Gygax, and Tolkien. I would lose breath if I said all of us who are called 'childish' and what those who were supposedly insulted by that title have become.

Epiphanantly (Yes I know it's not a bloody word or spelled right who cares anyway though!!!) yours,


I'm not sure if I'd place us in the same or similar caste as those particular authors - though what the hell was Stephen King doing in that list?

In finding some kind of historical or cultural context to put gamers, I might place them in the context of tribal dancers, dancing the roles of various animals and hunters, and through the dance, telling a story in real time. Nothing so profound, but along the same lines.

I think it's both more elementary and more important than that, Nephandus. Gamers are those who use their imaginations in a structured way. They are storytellers, no more and no less. Their form may be "new" in one sense, but the idea of make-believe must surely be older than language itself.

As for the writers, I submit to you that King belongs on that list. He is a writer of enormous natural talent. The establishment may not think of his work as "literature," but that view is, in my opinion, utter hogwash. What did Dickens' contemporaries think of him, a writer of serial penny novels? Like King's, the quality of Dickens' writing varies radically. Sometimes his deadline-intensive structure worked in his favor, and sometimes it did not. Even Poe was not immune to harsh criticism for his "pulp" tendencies (have you read "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," for example?), and he was perhaps the finest classically trained editor in the history of the English language. One man's trash may be another man's treasure, but writers do not capture the attentions of wide and diverse audiences by accident. Please, give credit where credit is due.

First- you shouldn't insult and diminish the importance of tribal dance - which is very much about storytelling, and takes its place with all the kinds of storytelling that used to occur, and which still occur around the campfire.

The Western world and even much of the Old World, may have lost and forgotten that tradition for a while, but it doesn't mean that we should dismiss it when the same thing occurs in tribal cultures - to this day. Gaming, dancing, storytelling - they all are basically storytelling exercises where everyone is a teller, and nobody is strictly in the audience. It's participatory.

As an English MA - with a keen appreciation for pop authors - you don't have to explain to me the wonders of populist sentiments. I'll add Bram Stoker to your list, with his penny dreadfuls. And King has written several excellent books early in his career, as well as smattering of excellent short stories, Stand by Me, and Shawshank Redemption being some notable ones. I love The Shining, except for the Topiary chapter, where he blows the carefully constructed "is it real or not" tension.

But he's no Dickens, sorry. He is certainly prolific - I'll grant him that. Lots and lots of books and stories. But we see from the "Bachman books" (which didn't move when published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman), that the audience, after a point, was riding on the name rather than on the work.

"First- you shouldn't insult and diminish the importance of tribal dance..."

I'm not trying to insult or diminish anything. Sorry if it came across that way. Perhaps I should rephrase: the concept of "interactive storytelling" or "make-believe" is more familiar to most of us modern folk than the concept of tribal dance.

"But he's no Dickens, sorry."

Ultimately, I think it's a matter of opinion. If I grant you that King is not a genius of Dickens' stature, I have to wonder why you did not also complain about Douglas Adams and Gary Gygax. These guys have all produced some great work here and there, but are they towering, Dickensian geniuses? No, and I don't think it matters. I think Theo was simply listing famous and respected authors whose creative wellspring is not unlike the gamer's. In fact, we seem to agree that it is more or less the same.

There's no denying that King's name recognition has allowed him to coast through the latter part of his career. I still think he earned that name recognition, however, in the early works you cite (it's funny--the topiary scene scared the daylights out of me). When I read his more "serious" stuff such as _The Body_ (the novella that inspired the film _Stand by Me_), I wonder whether he wouldn't have received more credit for his abilities if he had been able to purge himself of his pulp instincts. The man draws memorable characters, and some of his writing shows real insight into human nature.

Yes, the Bachman books didn't sell because they weren't very good, just as _The Dark Half_ wouldn't have sold if no one knew it had been written by King. Personally, the Bachman books contain two of my favorite King novellas, _The Long Walk_ and _The Running Man_, which are admittedly pulpy but a great deal of fun to read.

Well, you are obviously a big Stephen King fan - and that's great. I'm also a fan of a couple several of his books and short stories - and unabashedly so. Doesn't mean I need to inflate his cultural importance to "make it ok".

I think there is an undercurrent of that in some of the comments about gaming as well. Some sort of embarassment and a desire for critical or cultural acceptance there that so far is not forthcoming, and so you offer it yourself and see how it sits, no?

It's ok, you know. I have a few former English MA friends, pompous as can be, who unabashedly read romance novels, chewing threw them like a bowl of peanuts. They have no pretensions about them. Me, I'm a gourmet hobby cook - but I still like a McDonald's burger now and then too, and I don't mind who knows it.

I don't really see how listing King among a number of other writers, some great, some merely good--or defending another poster's inclusion of his name on such a list--is inflating his cultural importance. Furthermore, there's a difference between claiming that someone is one of the greatest writers of all time, and opining that a certain writer is underrated by the literary establishment.

This may surprise you: I am not a rabid King fan, though I have read and enjoyed about half of his work. Someone asked me to list my favorite authors the other day, and King didn't even make the top twenty. But I do respect him, and as a would-be writer I admire the talent I see in certain passages of his work I've re-read in the recent past. If I sound as though I view the guy as one of the axes by which I judge all literature, then I've misstated my position.

I appreciate your benediction. No, I don't. :) I am neither ashamed of what I read nor of my gaming habit. It's a truism that gamers suffer from issues of self-esteem and desire for acceptance. But so do many writers and academicians, eh? That pomposity you mention: in many cases it is a self-defense mechanism attempting to compensate for one's own perception of deficiency in other areas, no? We gamers are not the only ones to have beaten up with the nerd stick, and we're not the only ones who turn to rationalization or the belittlement of others to make ourselves feel better about it.

If I'm trying to assuage myself about gaming by representing it as a culture-shaking phenomenon, I'm not doing so consciously. Gaming is something I do in my spare time because I love it.

"We gamers are not the only ones to have beaten up with the nerd stick"

This should say, "to have BEEN beaten up with the nerd stick." Argh.

wow...I think I've caused some havoc around here. Okay lemme see.....

1. Honestly, I haveonly seen one example of tribal dance. I was in 4th grade, and I didn't have a clue. Now I think that maybe that may be a much better comparison. But actually it maybe a more definitive lineage, or ancestry.

I threw in King and Poe for one reason. It's rather close to Halloween. Horror novels have been of consuming interest to me lately, mostly because of that.

In truth story telling has been around at least as long as religion. Even if one devoutly believes what is written in their religion, it is still, in a sense, literature. Whether fiction or fact, is, simply said, a matter of faith.

It seems to me that words have been put in my mouth. I think it's cuz i'm just a kid, and people never seem to take things at face value around here.

I'm not comparing these folks. I'm also not saying I have nay major admiration towards all of them. I was simply saying that all of these people had one common thread: a good imagination.

I have a nice story which I will post to this thread later, but I haven't the time. I need to shower and do my french homework.

Simply yours,

A theoligian, a psychiatrist and an engineer all went hunting on a trip together. (they were old buddies back in high school) They had all arrived at the cabin they were sharing, where another old friend, the owner, had left a note:

I'll be back in a few. forgot to get lunch. door's not locked. no thieves here in the middle of nowhere. bye!

So they went in and unpacked and noticed one thing in the center of the room. The stove was suspended about two feet of the ground, and supported by wire. They debated over why this was done.

The psychiatrist said:

"This is obviously because Ted (the hunter who owned the cabin) wishes to curl under the heat of the fire at night, because it subliminally reminds him of his mother's womb."

The engineer shook his head and said:

"No, Ted was actually thinking from an architectual standpoint. The central position allows for better heat dispersion. This allows for better use of fuel, and thusly costs less."

The theologian shrugged and said:

"Both of your points are astute, but there is a greater significance here. Hanging fire has always been a proof of great faith in a deity. The flame represnts the burning passion of the soul.

After half an hour of their debating, Ted walked in. They all asked him why his stove was in the air.

"I had alot of wire, and I ran out of pipe when I built the thing. Simple as that."

Simple as that...go figure.

Neph, you're an English Major.

Cocytus, I don't know much about you....but you aren't me.

That's the screw up here. I'm younger than you and think differently than you. Not better or worse, Just different. There's that story I promised you. And no, I didn't write this. It was used as a Lord's Supper devotional about three weeks ago. Bookaya.

Simply and perspectively yours,

Hey, don't be ashamed of provocative material on a BBS. I used to be an English major a decade ago, but not anymore.

Let's not make more of tribal dance than we do of gaming either, or of improve theater sports. I was simply raising the point that what gamers do isn't especially new or profound. Its role is similar to a wide range of creative participatory group activities that are enjoyed today, and throughout history.

Look, and I say this as a gamer, gaming is geeky. It's a bunch of people sitting around playing make believe and eating Cheezies. I understand the desire to make it acceptable, but that doesn't mean it's the cure for cancer either. That's all.

And Stephen King ain't no Shakespeare, dor those who are following that portion of the thread. He falls under the category of guilty pleasures, for the most part, with the occassional gem. There are times when academia is actually right, IMO of course.

How did I miss this article before? Wow, this is awesome. So true and moving and other things I can't seem to put into words. ::that from an english major, jeez:: Simply wonderful. Your articles are allways a pleasure to read.

::struggles with Mystic Assassin and tries to remove his hands from head::

Nooooo! Let go! Want... lips... firmly... attached... to... ass... Nooooo!

Fabulous article, Gamerchick. It is really something bordering on poetry -- in fact, I'd kinda like to read a bit of it at the next meeting of Midnight poets on campus at LA Tech, if'n you don't mind of course (not until after the holidays, obviously)? It kicks butt, seriously. I think this also hits at the whole sub-culture attached to alot of the people who game, though, since there really is a significant difference in the average things gamers do versus the average things that other folk do. I see alot of logophiles among the gamers at Tech, I see alot of otakus, I see alot of nerds and computer geeks (a title I proudly display and don't nor have ever considered an insult), and I see alot of people whose eyes seem somehow less glazed-over than those of folk who have never ventured into fantasy. My father has recently re-married and my new step-family is.... typical. It's shocking. I've never really been around folk who have no interest in fantasy, no interest in imagination, no interest in the power of the mind to transform the world -- and that too, opened up my eyes. It makes me appreciate all the more finding that dusty copy of the 1st edition D&D Player's Handbook back in '91, hiding under piles of "things to throw away" in a friend's garage. It transformed my life and the lives of those around me involved with it, in many important ways, and it continues to do so. Thank you for highlighting that Gamerchick, and to you and everyone, have a happy holiday, whichever one you happen to celebrate this time of year.


Is it just me or has Gamer Chick left Gamegrene? If so this is really sad. She is one insightful and interesting lady.

No she's still around...

She's usually writing, or working, doing something OTHER than hanging out in here all day like a dork.


I've never seen anything like this. I'm a gamer myself, but there are few others around me. Thanks for the encouragement, and keep writing! You're great!

Miss Gamerchick, I assume...

Your script does you honor, and I thank you
for making some of the few and far between have
a sense of pride in themselves and their hobbies.
May you always cherish you sense of wonder...