Friday night I went to a couple of game stores in the area with some of my IRL friends. A couple of the guys over at Save or Die Radio started up a newbie D&D gaming night for a few of us who have never really had a chance to try out D&D - and it's an absolute blast. I love it, and I'm incredibly grateful that someone finally gave me a chance to try it out. Which brings me to my point.
Why are so many gamers such complete jerks to newbies?
I've always had a problem with this, but it didn't really come into the forefront until one of the employees at one of the gaming stores we went to was a complete ass to me, because he hates 4th edition D&D, and we're playing it. If you don't know what 4th ed. is, it's the newest edition of D&D - and it's like a very watered down, simplified version of D&D. It's a lot easier to make a character, and, truth be told, it's a lot like playing WoW, honestly. Which a lot of D&Ders absolutely hate. I get that - it's a big change from 3rd edition, and people don't always like change. Think of it like the stat streamlining coming in WoW - for the people who enjoy the difficulty, enjoy the effort needed, they feel robbed of what they loved of the game. It doesn't make you an elitist jerk to enjoy the more complicated aspects of a game.
The thing is, you don't have to stop playing 3rd edition just because 4th is now available. A lot of people have chosen not to. But what's great about 4e is that it is a lot easier to learn if you're new.
Which I suppose is why gamer store asshat scoffed at us when we mentioned that. With powerful hand gestures, he made it quite clear to me that he didn't give a damn about whether or not the new edition made it easier for new folks to join the world of D&D - for all he cared, they could go jump off a cliff, right? For many gamers, it seems like some kind of exclusive, elitist circle. As someone who is in the Academia world IRL, let me just tell you that this attitude makes me absolutely sick.
I had this problem all through my childhood/adolescence years. Had I asked any of my friends at any point in time, all the way up through college, if they were interested in trying out D&D, I would have been absolutely ridiculed, and probably found myself with fewer friends. D&D isn't sexy, didn't you know? 16 year old girls are supposed to be sexy - not hanging out with the freaks and geeks playing Magic or D&D in the cafeteria.
I don't know if it was because I was female or because I always lived in pretty snooty areas, but for all my interest in RPGs, I was completely in the closet about it - because all I ever heard about it in my environment was how lame, geeky, and loserish it was.
And then I met my fiance, and all of his friends were gamers, and it was suddenly okay to be a little geeky. Suddenly, no one thought anything of it if you would prefer to paint minis with some friends on Saturday night than to go get trashed at a bar. Yet even then, it took 4 years to get invited to the gaming table for myself. I listened to all their conversations eagerly, but was still scared to ask if I could join. That fear was a combination of being a female, and someone who didn't know how D&D worked. All the gamer guys were... well.. guys. It was their thing, and I really didn't want to intrude - or humiliate myself and embarass them by asking.
WoW was how I was able to carefully nudge myself in, though it was never my motive. I've mentioned before that I started in computer RPGs. I've been playing them for nearly 20 years - but I always played solo games. Until World of Warcraft, I never played RPGs with anyone else. I had no one else to play with. But in WoW, you meet other people to play with. All the fiance's gamer friends were playing WoW, eventually we all wound up on the same server, started gaming together, and the rest is history. And then one of the guys decided to take advantage of the watered-down-ness of 4th ed, and offer up a gaming night for a couple of us slightly outside the hardcore gamer circle who wanted to try it. But it still took 4 years for me, and many many more for one or two of the others in our newbie group.
So why is that? Why is it when I walk into a PvP battleground, to try and learn how to PvP, I'm yelled at for being a noob? No one gives suggestions, or offers to help. I just get told l2play, and go home. Why do I see people trying to learn not to stand in fires in raids and PuGs get ridiculed? How exactly does one learn to play, if they are ostracized for needing to learn? For being new? For not knowing the ropes yet? At least in WoW, being a chick doesn't matter and doesn't prevent you from gaming - because no one belives you're a chick anyway.
Why are so many gamers so exclusive? If you want to D&D, but you play WoW, prepare yourself for the criticism. There's like an unspoken scale of gamer geekiness - the low ends of the scale make fun of the higher ends for being "way more of a loser, way geekier", and the high ends of the scale won't let the lower ends in to learn how to play. World of Warcraft Players -> New D&Ders -> Old D&Ders -> LARPers
I think the answer to that question lies in the problem itself. It's a defense mechanism, if you will. Fellow gamers build a protective bubble around themselves, not letting too many people in, and avoiding those outside. Maybe it's because they are so used to being given crap for enjoying a game.
There was always the gamer cafeteria table - Middle School. High School. And even University. That's right - I remember in the dining hall at my University, there was a giant group of tables full of gamers who were there all day long, holding down the fort while others were in classes, playing Magic, playing WoW on their laptops, even playing with some minis. And everyone gawked at the geek table. I never ate in the Dining Hall without hearing the people around me comment about what losers those gamers were - and I was always too shy to sit at the gaming table and ask if someone wanted to remind me the rules of Magic.
What irritates the hell out of me, is that when people find out I play WoW now, I can almost always predict their reactions. Half of the guys will say "Ah, okay." The other half will say "Really?! Me too!" or wistfully "Man, I used to play. What kind of toon?". And almost every single girl will stare at me unpleasantly, and stifle laughter. Even my oldest friends find it strange, and tease me affectionately.
Knitting as a hobby? Okay. Scrapbooking? Sure. Bicycling? Hey that's cool. Gaming? OMG WHAT A GEEK.
There's a reason why so many of my healing guides are directed towards the new healer who is completely lost. Because I sympathize with you folks. I was once a brand new healer myself - and I got sick of people saying "l2play" without telling me how to learn. I'm a new D&Der, and I get pissed off when people scoff at me playing 4th edition. To every new player who finds this blog - you are always welcome here. You can ask any question, no matter how ridiculously stupid you may think it is. As long as you show interest instead of ridicule, I am more than happy to give you any help I can.
For the record, I also enjoy classic literature, Latin poetry, debating Russian History (why yes, you CAN debate history), and waxing poetic on theology, psychology, and philosophy. Those used to be my hobbies. But I was never able to find a companion to discuss those topics with who was not an elitist prick. Hobbies are much more fun with companions.