Friday 3 September 2010

Poll: Are you a closet gamer?

It's time for another "getting to know you" poll. With the readership and Followers of this blog increasing I thought I'd pose another question that will not only help me understand who you are but is also a subject I have a keen interest in. The poll can be found on the Right of this column and comments or discussion can be left below.

For many years I kept my 'gamer' persona strictly private and out of the public domain. Back in those heady days when I thought I might have a glittering career before me I decided coming out about my hobby might prove damaging to my job opportunities. Now I'm older, tireder, considerably more cynical and don't give a huff what my colleges think of my hobbies. To steal (and mangle) a well used slogan "I'm a gamer, and I'm Proud". So my question to my readers is simply this: Do you keep your Roleplaying/Wargaming/Painting interests a secret from your work colleges?

If, like me, you have a blog or other social site about your hobby then the cat is well and truly out of the bag, but many gamers I know keep their hobby interests segregated from their work life. I guess if your a high ranking Civil Servant, a High Court Judge or CEO of a big multinational, letting on about your 'little metal men' probably won't do your image much good in the shallow culture we live today. But for the majority of average people do our hobby interests really have that much of an impact on career opportunities?

I took a conscious decision not to hide my hobbies from view when I started getting involved in online forums and game network sites. I knew that the Internet would 'blow my cover' and I took some time to really think about the impact this might have on my career. In the end I concluded the answer to that questions was "next to none" and decided to stop hiding my hobby like an embarrassingly illness. That's not to say I publicise my interests. I don't turn up to meetings and say "My name is Lee Hadley and I paint toy soldiers..." and I don't have an "I brake for Kobolds" bumper sticker on my car. But now and again the subject comes up and I no longer hide my interests. Has it damaged my reputation? I don't think so. I've had promotions and pay rises since I 'came out' and most people I talk to seem to be genuinely interested in my hobby. I've even discovered a few closet gamers in the company, although I'd never reveal this fact unless they felt comfortable about it.

The silly thing is our hobby isn't something to be embarrassed about. Thanks to my hobby I have a keen interest in History and Art and have developed skills in Photography, Computing, Painting and Writing. Put like that our hobby is a bona fide asset on any CV.


  1. I voted No.
    Like you won't turn up at a place and saying "I am Hein and paint toy soldiers and play games". But if in a conversation the subject comes up OF what kind of hobby's i have i won't be embarrassed to tell what my hobby's are. It is a hobby just as for a lot of people fishing is a hobby.

  2. Like so many other things in my life, I don't hide my gaming at work, it just doesn't come up.

  3. I take a "don't ask, don't tell" stance. Although I have been asked on occasion. Usually in a "I bet you played D&D and stuff as a youth, huh?" and I do answer, yes, and that I still do.

  4. I never make a secret of it if it ever comes up, but it's not the sort of thing commonly dropped into normal conversation. I've never found the hobby embarrassing, just some of the weirdos who are involved . . .


  5. Yes, I've definately kept it back from work colleagues, or at least edited what I do for their consumption. It was also very, very low on the list of things I mentioned to women while I was recently single (the fact I'm not now single is in part due to that subterfuge, though we have had that conversation since!).

    I do however use it on my CV and job applications as some of what I've done in the hobby supports job applications, so I don't entirely hide it...

  6. The subject of gaming doesn't really come up, but I have a few of my coworkers friended on FB and I post pics of my minis all the time.

  7. I have no problems talking about my hobby and I'm pretty open with it.I guess at 42 I just really don't give darn what others think anymore.Most take it as a matter of course and many have even expressed interest in what I do.


  8. At one time I was a hard drinking, skirt chasing hell raiser or as my wife says "a drunk and a womanizer" and my coworkers thought I was crazy. My gaming hobby never really came up. Then the Doctor gave me the "Quit drinking or Die speach" and you may call me a quitter but I did. I quit drinking, got married, started a family and really jumped back into the hobby and my coworkers REALLY though I had gone over the edge. Too much hell raising and I was crazy, painting toy soldiers meant I was Insane. I got ribbed some about the hobby but explained it to them with "Would you rather me paint toy soldiers or be on top of a tall building with a high powered rifle, looking to do some good?"
    It might not have convinced them I was sane but it did stop them from making any sudden movements around me and they avoided entering within arms reach of me. So good all around.

  9. Hmm...

    By and large I keep my hobby secret. I'm a secondary school English teacher and as such I know that if the secret gets out then I won't be able to get rid of nerdy, needy year 7 boys who want to bore me for hours about why Ultramarines are the Bestest Ever.

    I'm not just being cynical either: I know this from experience, as at my last school I ran the D&D club - mostly DM-ing for the kids. Great fun, but some of them really could get annoyingly clingy annoyingly quickly.

    After I've known them long enough and have guaged their geekiness for myself, I'll sometimes let's easier if they visit me at home, because if they see my shed (maybe if we're having a barbeque) it becomes obvious rather quickly. And as you know it takes one to know one! An English dept colleague got very excited and demanded to see some more, as he 'used to do it as a teenager'. Luckily for him, he's stayed out of it in adulthood.

    In my last school (after 4 years of gradual and gentle probing) I actually managed to have a couple of games with colleagues - great!

    HOWEVER, I'm slowly coming out. I generally stick to my alias in most things blog-related, as the kids google-search teachers' names from time-to-time, and I'd rather avoid the disclosure that way.

    As an interesting aside (if anyone's still reading through this catharsis) at GW Games Day 2008 (my first September in my current school)
    I was walking around with mates when I heard "Hello Sir!". Turns out it was one of my nice lads; 14 at the time. Luckily for me he's shy about his hobby too, so my secret's safe with him.

    That, and if he ever blabs I'll tell his whole year group in assembly that he's a Golden Demon winner. Which he is.


    Scary, huh?

    - Drax
    (not my real name)

  10. I keep my hobby quiet even though I work for a media company where many members of staff have unusual hobbies. I am a little shy and I guess that is what keeps me from spreading the word. That said, in my other life as an amateur archaeologist I met a potential new gamer at an archaeo-osteology course. We'll be playing some Romans vs Celts stuff in the very near future, so speaking up about my hobby at that meeting turned out to be a good thing to do.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Both links in your last comment don't work.

  13. Well the Poll has closed and it was by far the most popular that I have run on this site. 81 people responded and the results were clear. 33% hide their hobby from work and colleges while a resounding 66% do not. This has been a fascinating discussion, both here and on The Miniatures Page and on the Lead Adventure Forum

    Thanks to everyone that has contributed. Clearly us gamers are a confident bunch on the whole, but there is still some stigma to overcome

  14. Currently I don't find work an issue (small indepenadant firm with 3 employees inc. myself and proprietor, and we all know each other pretty well). I used to do locum work within the profession and met several colleagues that way. I tended not to flaunt what I did, but once when I left a copy of White Dwarf out after my break by mistake, a colleague spotted it and an instant rapport and friendship was made with a revealed fellow gamer, who had to that point just been another colleague in a shirt and tie. Gamers are out there, hiding in the community and under your nose, you just have to winkle them out!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always try to reply as soon as I can, so why not pop back later and continue the conversation. In the meantime, keep rolling high!