I bring it up right now because in the process of naming one of our kittens, “Lumie” (you’ll get that if you play The Secret World) I got thinking about the ways I bring my gaming and other geeky hobbies into the rest of my life.
To be clear, I don’t think that’s something only fans of geeky things do. Everybody has hobbies, and when you’re passionate about a hobby, of course that passion is going to affect other things in your life. While I plan on going through TSW NPC’s to name animals, other folks might name them after football players or actors. Where I used a Labyrinth-themed nametag when I worked at Blockbuster Video, other employees themed theirs with other movies.
I find it interesting when adult friends of mine act as if geeky hobbies are something that must be hidden. Even after moving away from a larger city and back into my small, Midwest hometown, I still haven’t run into a real life version of the adult “jock” or “cheerleader” mocking me for my hobbies. I expect that, like most stereotypes, relatively few people actually fit our assumptions about them. I also think it may be due to how I present myself, and my interests.
For one thing, I don’t present anything as a shameful secret. I love gaming, I love reading, I love running around Renaissance festivals; so when I talk about those hobbies I tend to be enthusiastic. I also understand that not everyone is interested in the same things I am, so I try to make sure I’m not making anyone else feel stupid or going on at too great a length. If I’m not super interested in a half-hour-long breakdown of last night’s hockey game, it’s only fair that I don’t subject others to a detailed explanation of last night’s raid. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk about it AT ALL, just that I show some restraint.
I also respect when others have hobbies that I’m not interested in. There are a lot of folks in my area who hunt, which is something I’ve never had much interest in. (Though firing ranges are awesome, for the record.) Despite not having a whole lot of interest in the hobby itself, I can and do have interest in other people having hobbies they love. Besides that, I consider it a give and take situation – if I expect folks to respect my interests, I’ve got to be willing to respect theirs as well. It can be a little too easy to get into a habit of insulting folks with different interests than our own, implying that they must not be bright enough to have better taste. If you approach someone from that standpoint, however, you’re not making it easy for them to want to show any interest in what you enjoy.
Another thing that I think is important, is being able to see past differences and talk about the things I do have in common with folks who don’t have much interest in my hobbies. When I worked at a pet food store, not many of my coworkers were super familiar with the Extra Life charity fundraiser I participate in. However, they did understand wanting to do something to help a great cause (Children’s Miracle Network in this case) so we could talk about that aspect. Many folks at my last factory job had never played an MMO, but they do understand the enjoyment of hanging out with friends to do something fun. In the case of the factory job, they were also super excited to introduce me to another MMO player who worked there, and at least one was legitimately curious what I found so much fun about the game I’d mentioned.
Perhaps it also helps that I don’t think too deeply on labels when I’m talking to people. I have no problem identifying as a geek or a gamer, but labels like that are only a part of who I am. I approach people as myself first, my hobbies second. I also try to meet people at that same level – which means NOT assuming that woman over there is a stereotype who only likes shopping or that the guy over there is obviously so into cars that we could never have a conversation. Making assumptions about other people and/or trying to confine yourself to a specific label both get in the way of actually getting to know a PERSON.
Having a sense of humor tends to help, as well. I remember at one job, a few of the managers would tease me by asking if I was tired because I was up too late gaming. I suppose I could have gotten mad about that…but I realized it was no different than teasing someone for always being out late due to any other hobby. Friendly teasing does NOT automatically translate into folks trying to be jerks. There are always going to be jerks out there, but jumping into being immediately defensive is not always the best plan.
It’s quite possible that there are folks who think I’m a little bit odd, or who never have understood why I have the hobbies I do. (Try explaining livestreaming to someone who doesn’t game and doesn’t watch any shows online!) but that’s not a terrible thing. There are plenty of folks that I don’t get why they like what they do – heck, I know folks who legitimately love the Twilight series. It’s still possible to have a mutual respect for each other, and to meet together across what we do have in common. It might sound cliché and like an after school special, but showing others respect and interest in their hobbies is still a good way to get the same back in return. And who knows? You might pique their interest enough to get them involved – and if not, well…no one is stopping me when I suggest that “Emma” is a lovely name for a cat!
I live in the American Midwest with a black lab mix named Loki, three cats, and a chinchilla. I’m in my 30’s, and I’ve enjoyed reading, writing, gaming, and assorted geeky pursuits my entire life. I’m a panelist on Beyond the Veil, a regular guest on a few non-Holosuite livestreams, and have a gaming/writing blog over at www.lfgryph.com.
Other than writing and gaming, I’ve worked at a few different Renaissance Festivals and I used to be on a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast in the Twin Cities.
I love otters, ST:TNG, D&D, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and setting zombies on fire. My Twitter is @darkgryphon42 if you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing.