Are you in the RPG closet?

Here’s a question for the role-playing game community: Do you hide your hobby from your non-gamer friends / colleagues?

Friends who play games – well, obviously they know that you play D&D or Pathfinder or whatever might be your RPG of choice since you probably play alongside them.  Close family members (those who live with you) will almost certainly know as well.  But what about friends or family members whom you don’t see regularly?  What about colleagues at school or at work?

I work for a large financial services company, and I’m a well-respected, somewhat senior person.  I manage a team of nine employees.  Personally, I’ve never discussed my RPG hobby with any of my colleagues.  It’s entirely possible that some of them play RPGs, though I doubt it.  Would it ruin my career to talk about it?  Probably not, though I’m sure it might affect some of their opinions of me.  I already get gentle ribbing about the fact that I’m in a bowling league, and no non-bowler has the mistaken impression that bowling involves devil worship (well, at least I don’t think so).

I try to be a very open, honest person, which makes me feel a little bad about myself for not talking to colleagues about my gaming.  I’m not that close to these people – I’m not friends with them on Facebook, for instance.  But I would definitely feel weird knowing that they thought of me as a guy who plays D&D, let alone a guy who blogs about it.

What’s your experience?  Do your co-workers know you enjoy role-playing games, particularly if you work in an industry that might look unfavorably on such a hobby? Is it wrong to essentially hide your hobby from casual acquaintances like these?

11 thoughts on “Are you in the RPG closet?

  1. I regularly brought RPG books to my workplaces for casual reading. At one point, I was seated at an outdoor table with “Mage: the Ascension” for company at lunch. One of my co-workers asked if I was reading a “Dungeon Master’s Guide”. He showed the kind of mocking grin known all too well by gamers who encounter folk with wide-open mouths and clamped-shut minds. I got one sentence into the explanation before he walked away, laughing derisively and dismissively shaking his head.
    I have yet to be blessed with a job at a company where the other employees balance “professionalism” with enjoyment of non-“popular” hobbies, but eagerly await the experience…

  2. I’m actually pretty open about the fact that I enjoy roleplay games. In fact, since I link my blog posts to facebbok and twitter, in just a few clicks I think the entire world could figure it out… those who couldn’t aren’t really trying hard at all.

  3. I’ve never told anyone at my work which is a bit strange for me, as I’m open about everything else. I’m happy to talk about video games, movies, and writing openly, even though I get some gentle teasing about being boring.

    D&D just seems like a whole different thing, somehow. It’s seen as juvenile and even pathetic. I know I wouldn’t be ostracized or anything if I were open about that hobby, but I don’t want my co-workers’ perception of me to go from “shy but sweet” to “weird-o social recluse.”

    But… my silence continues to perpetuate the stereotype that the only people who play RPGs are unwashed losers, and that if no one ever “comes out” that perception will never be challenged and hopefully changed. This seems kind of lose-lose to me.

  4. I’m fairly close-mouthed about my hobbies with most people I talk to, describing them as “tabletop games” at most. It’s easier than getting into what RPGs are, or the “Oh, like Dungeons & Dragons,” “Ish, sort of” exchange.

    As I warm up to someone, I’ll become less guarded, perhaps even mentioning, “Oh, I’m busy that night role-playing,” but that’s a long way down the road.

  5. I treat it the same as anything else – if it comes up naturally then I talk about it.

    I’ve gotten good and bad feedback because of it – just like anything else. I’ve had a couple of co-workers invite my wife and me over for normal boardgame nights (Catan anyone?) and a couple mocking comments as well. I have yet to have co-workers over for RPG nights… I’m doubtful of that front.

  6. I think some of it depends on what area you are in. I am in a very conservative state in which anything strange is … bad. I’ve been accused of being a Satanist and killing cats because I play D&D, a couple of times. People in my dorm in college would deface my door because I had a Werewolf: The Apocalypse poster on it. However, it doesn’t stop me from being completely open about it, mostly because I like flaunting being different and having an unusual hobby. I can understand if people do keep it secret, but I wouldn’t and don’t. The more it’s pushed into secrecy, the more it’ll continue to be labeled as evil or Satanic or whatever.

  7. Thank you everyone for your comments on this topic! I’ve left it as the first post on my blog longer than I usually would, just because I was interested in seeing everyone’s thoughts.

    From what I’ve seen here and on EN World, it looks like lots of people do in fact keep their gaming somewhat quiet at work. I’ve actually mentioned it to one person in passing now. Maybe I’ll be un-closeted eventually!

  8. How did I miss this post when it first came out?

    I’m in a number-crunching profession, but even so, it’s mostly me and older women (rawr, cougars! LOL), so it doesn’t come up. When it does, I say that I’m a “gamer” – I play lots of games, like board games, roleplaying games, video games, etc.

    When I’m at conferences or meetings, I can play on the number-crunching to jokingly admit that I’m a “geek”; with that framework, I’ve found it easier to admit to roleplaying when the situation called for it.

    I do have one woman at my office who is a gamer chick (because of her ex-boyfriend). She and I know each other’s ‘dirty little secret’, though I don’t think we take any special pains to hide it from anyone else. I mean, I like reality television, and isn’t THAT more embarrassing than D&D? :o)

  9. I’m definitely in the closet when it comes to rpgs. Discussing this could destroy my career as people won’t take me seriously given the type of work that I do and as manager for a group of people. Even being just a regular console gamer has its consequences and I got rid of my console games to be more focused on my career.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be a full proud card-carrying gamer and preach the Gospel of Gaming to everyone, but I realize that there are consequences for being too geekish or being unpopular geekish, so into the closet I went and haven’t come out since. When my coworkers ask me what I did on my weekends, I just answer, “Hung out with some friends.”

  10. I am really embraced about telling people about it. Even to people i consider being close friends but belonging to a different social circle. But this might have to do with me being pretty new to D&D’ing. I have only had a couple of sessions and always with the same other two people. So far i am loving it, but its like loving watching flames…That is one of the last things you wan’t to blurt out (but everyone can enjoy a campfire…hypocrites)

    So far I am enjoying your blog. Seems like a good place to start when learning the DM trade. (or the D&D in general)

    • I’m glad to hear that you’re okay talking to people about it! It took me a little while to get to that point, but I was happy when I finally did. Good for you!

      Michael the OnlineDM

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