Around the Watering Hole
As any gamer knows, discussing our passion around people who have no idea of the themes or games we play, can be a funny or potentially offending experience. For me, at work, it can often be rather hilarious. I work in the US Federal Government circles, where it’s easy to assume a lack of odd. In actuality, things like the following happen.
I’ve been roleplaying a MUSH that is of the Amber genre, with its multi-worlds concept. It is mainly, in Amber, a medieval theme with some constraints on the laws of physics and magic. My character is in the midst of plotting the assassination of another character who is mystical and potentially dangerous. I’d just had another character pretty much tip off my plans in a public in-character setting, and was in a bit of a bind about how to proceed with the killing.
Naturally, I turned to my usual lunchtime work crowd. Names have been changed to protect the strange.
My friend, Julia, is into World of Warcraft, and is no stranger to the games I play. She is rather avid in hearing about how I manage to even survive in-character, so I began running the problem past her at lunch. Joe, who works in counter-narcotics, Freida, another computer support person, and Adella, an FBI agent, all began listening in in wonder as I described possibly needing to “use the troops I have to take out their Embassy.”
I know, right?
Some people need a lot of explaining to put such comments and enthusiastic planning to kill someone in the proper perspective. Gamers, I think, tend to talk to other gamers in the same language, assuming the other has the proper basis of knowledge and they just run with it. Mundanes listening in have no context. I run into the same problem with the IT world; two techs talking about computers sound about as comprehensible to non-computer people as dolphins clicking away nearby. It also isn’t as if gamers add qualifiers a lot as we talk. We don’t say “so on the game I…”, we roll on with “So I drew my sword and sliced his head off.” When one comments to a guild mate in the crowded elevator “thanks for helping me gack that demon last night”, it should not draw undue staring. Surely it’s obvious we don’t mean really real. Right?
Surprisingly, the onlookers copped onto what was going on and got pretty enthusiastic, once I’d outlined the problem to them. They’re a very sharp group, with a lot of experience and interests to draw from, just the sort of people you’d feel safe steering your country’s foreign policy.
Joe: Can’t you just catapult a cow into their well?
Me: I don’t have time to start a plague.
Joe: How about rats?
Freida: On fire. Wait, how was the plague started?
Adella and Joe: Fleas on rats.
Joe: Napalm rats, on fire. Very classy and effective.
Freida: Can’t you send in a woman and lure him out of the castle and then kill him?
Me: He knows I’m coming, so I don’t know that he’d trot out after a chick, knowing I’m out there to cut his head off.
Freida: Maybe if she had really big boobies?
Joe: I think we’re definitely onto something with the rats.
A Marine who sits down about then: What are you people talking about?
Joe: Ann needs to kill a magic guy in a hurry.
Adella: It’s for a game.
Marine: This is out of my depth.
The rats solution was popular, even if it wouldn’t work on the game. Eventually, it was agreed that if rats, on fire, were going to be flung through the air, then the soundtrack should definitely be Wagner. I did actually get a decent plan to proceed with the plot from the discussion, but mostly from Julia, the other gamer.
I really do think the mundanes exceeded the weirdness of anything I could have done just talking about gaming in front of them. The whole discussion makes me wonder about running a game with them. Anyone else ever sprung gaming on the unsuspecting, especially at work?