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    I love comics and computer games, and because of my interests and my friends I am constantly coming in contact with those who embody the stereotypical image of the D&D-type campaign gamers. I do not understand them at all. They are unbelievably offensive in their actions and their behavior. It’s amazing that someone has not beaten them to within an inch of their lives with a hardbound copy of “Miss Manners”.

    If anyone plays here (I’m certain there are some, as we’ve all rolled the dice a time or two), I am assuming that you are one of those that likes to play but are like my boyfriend and his circle of D&D friends: Socially-oriented, family-type people who just happen to also enjoy role-playing, and not those portrayed in this piece. But the stereotype exists and it is both well-deserved and nasty, and this is a composite piece on several events that have happened in a few gamer stores over the past few months.

    ************************************************** *****

    “A little thing like you don’t need minotaurs.”

    It’s Saturday, I’m in a game shop, and somehow I’ve grown a forty-three-year-old boil on my left shoulder. He stinks of old pizza, he’s wearing a wedding ring, and he keeps trying to bump his crotch against my leg.

    “I keep tellin’ you, get the elf ladies. Don’t you like elf ladies? You see Lord of the Rings? Here’s one on a unicorn.”

    I’ve already run three laps around the store trying to circle away from him and haven’t otherwise acknowledged his existence. Based on his deft handling of women, I suppose that he thinks I’m smitten as I have neither chucked my hot chocolate on him, nor screamed and run off with my hands waving frantically like Kermit the Frog announcing the evening’s guest.

    My choices aren’t good. It’s customer appreciation day and I can either leave the store and sacrifice forty bucks of free merchandise or knee the guy in the groin and never be allowed back. He appears to be a friend of the manager’s and I’m betting he’ll stick around until closing, lending aid to the female customers of his choice. I’ve been waiting for another woman over the age of twenty to come in since if I ditched him on the defenseless little girls reading through the Ranma series at the counter I’d be committing a mortal sin. Some part of my brain yammering for a fight wants to ask him what his DC challenge rating is for moving out of his parents’ basement.

    “Tell ya what. Put those back and let me pick ‘em out for you.”

    Moving from New York to North Carolina has been a real culture shock. The suitable old joke that I’d be shocked to find culture applies, but there is a nightlife if you know where to look for it. Unfortunately, living with two teachers and a police officer means that the household usually falls into bed at around ten, leaving me to crawl the walls until the day’s caffeine has dissipated. Being a hardcore Dungeons and Dragons fanatic as well as an art teacher, one of my roommates paints the little pewter miniatures that they use in table campaigns. One night with time to kill I started painting. Now, I’m incredibly hooked. Painting these things is similar to zen meditation - You have to focus and relax at the same time to paint a statue the size of a nickel so perfectly that it seems a full-sized toy when photographed. For example, take a look at this picture:

    The statuette in this picture is less than two inches long and an inch high, if that, and most assuredly not one of mine. It’s a real art and I’m entranced by the whole process. The only problem is, of course, that I’m now dependent on the gamer community for its resources. Usually, there’s no challenge popping into the local gamer store for a quick browse and some paint. As long as you stay out of the store on weekend afternoons and evenings when the games are being run, it’s a fast and easy process. But if you dare brave the store during these times…

    My main problem with the average table gamer is they have no social graces. None whatsoever. I’d like to be proven wrong as my boyfriend and several friends are gamers and they are extremely open, intelligent people who shatter the stereotype of reclusive and inept jerks squatting in a dank basement, shrieking out the names of fake deities while slugging back Mountain Dew and fistfuls of Cheetos. Maybe they ARE the average… maybe the gamer who acts like they missed a crucial rung on Darwin’s ladder is just the vocal minority. But until I meet more gamers who are also able to function within a non-game-oriented culture, I’m sticking with the stereotype. Every time I go into a game store I have some viciously negative experience that keeps convincing me that the norm is dead-on-balls accurate. I turn to collect money from someone and a kid swipes an item I’ve already paid for off of the counter. The clerk tells me that I can’t open a $3 miniature until my card has been run through the machine because he can’t be sure that I have enough money in my account to cover it (A valid point, perhaps, but one that sounds a bit off when delivered by saying “Stop it. We don’t want to lose money on you” to a regular customer who drops $50 or more a week.). A box of new releases comes in and the menfolk crowd around the counter ogling, then literally yank it away and cover it with their bodies to hide it from view when I come over to look. And don’t forget the Boob Factor, which apparently suggests to all male comers that if I enter a store alone than I’ve made a public announcement that all men regardless of age should either try to pick me up or should talk in very simple words so the icky estrogen doesn’t hinder important information from reaching my underdeveloped brain.

    Like my shadow, who has finally meandered away. He’s waddled to the rear of the store to complain loudly to his manager friend about meeting a “cold bitch” somewhere. Gee, I wonder if I’m meant to overhear? At least now I can look at the items on the lower racks without denim in my ear.

    Now, miniatures in hand, it’s time to run the gauntlet. As I mentioned, it’s customer appreciation day and the store is packed with gamers taking advantage of the sales. The counter has a long line and is three people deep with college-age kids wearing rancid oilcloth. Being told I’m a fool while fending off a pelvic region is bad enough, but this is the part I really hate – You cannot be in the proximity of a gamer without entering into their world. The second you enter into what a gamer perceives as their personal space, even if it’s as simple as standing in a line behind them, they assume the right to either talk to you as they would an old friend or confront you over some imagined slight. The first is just confusing, the latter incredibly insulting: If I saw a ninety-three-year-old woman buying a crate of Aqualube and eagerly thumbing through a Playboy from 1983 featuring “Dynasty’s” fully nude Joan Collins, damned right I’d be calling my friends and relatives once out of the store but I’d never question her right to buy them, and never directly to her face. This is inevitably what happens in line at a game store, where your purchasing preferences are everyone else’s business. And even the clerks take part in a jolly bout of customer criticism, which is just ludicrous. Doesn’t your livelihood depend on taking my money? Why do you want to discourage this?

    For once, it looks like they don’t much care what I’m buying. Instead, they are focused on the gentleman in front of me recite facts and figures from some world I’ve never heard of. I pick up one of the Ranmas, lean on the counter and tune out, ever so often inching my way up in line.

    Suddenly a finger stabs down onto my book and the gentleman in front of me looks me straight in the eyes. He says, very intently: “I know more about weapons than anyone else in this store.”

    I show empty hands and back up a step, saying something banal like “No problems here.”

    Oh yes, stupid me. I forgot this was one of my best friends and he was just starting conversation. The gaggle of gamers LOSES it, some of them laughing so hard that they choke and gag. The clerk doubles over. Ha ha, I laugh, Yes, yes, good joke. The kindly gentleman explains that he is an expert on arms and armor in Whereverville, then pulls back his coat to show a heavy knife. You know the type, the brushed steel variety that is sold at Renaissance faires. He then makes eye contact again and in a low voice says, “If that had been a threat, you would know it.”

    Now, knives are like underwear. If you’re the typical run-of-the-mill underwear-wearing individual, you put it on in the morning and forget about it. If you consciously think about your underwear during the day, something has gone wrong and your underwear is in need of attention. People who go around flashing their underwear in public are likely to go to jail for an indeterminate period of time. Which is why the Benchmade Balisong in my waistband remains covered by my shirt and I make a nicely impressed “Ooooh” sound for the benefit of my new best friend. I’m up next in line and I cannot WAIT to get out of here. I don’t care if my boyfriend needs to work next customer appreciation day - I’m digging him out of that classroom and using him as full-bodied gamer deodorant.

    Now I’m finally at the clerk, I’m finally paying, and I’m so close to leaving that I’m practically out the door. I’ve planned to run across the street for a sushi lunch and by now I’m really, REALLY looking forward to curling up with a novel, some hot tea, and an eel special roll. Which is why when the gentleman with the iron skewer loudly announces to his friends that they should go eat at this same restaurant that I shake my head and quietly sigh. At which time – and I swear this happened – the clerk looks at me and shouts “You got a problem with the Japanese?” The gaggle of gamers starts accosting me about racism and one of them said: “I knew it. She’s wearing leather.” Great. So in addition to being an ice queen and a coward, I am also a racist and a black leather jacket is apparently the new covert symbol of the KKK.

    I really hate gamers.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. evaine's Avatar
      evaine -
      I'm female and I've been a gamer for almost 20 years. I have to say, after several similar encounters in other gaming stores I won't willingly go into a new gaming store. I'll either stick to my original gaming store, which I've been going to for close to 20 years, or I'll order online. Thank you, internet!
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