Saturday, 20 September 2008

044 Secret Shame

Just a few passing thoughts today, as I'm stuck back at home instead of partying hard at an old mate's wedding in Birmingham. Bah! - damn public transport. Damn you, Dr. Beeching.

How proudly do you embrace your hobby? Are you an upright member of a local group of die-hard fanatics, wearing your heart (or your aquila) on your sleeve? Or are you the guy who slips his copy of White Dwarf inside a copy of The Sun simply to make the buying of it somehow more socially acceptable, like some sleazy old man in a 1970s newsagent's?

Personally, I'm nearer the latter camp, although I do take the precaution of having White Dork delivered these days.

I don't know why the shame burns so strongly. I'm successful in my career, a pillar of the community and happily married to someone who doesn't speak Klingon. At 28, I don't still live in my childhood home, I've mastered basic personal hygiene, and I've never owned any 'Buffy' why am I so ashamed? - No offence, Inner Geek, but I just cannot seem to publicly embrace my Inner Geek.

It probably doesn't help that the only 'gaming community' I have is online. Other than that, it's two good mates who - like me - live very busy lives and live them very far away. And one of them got married a few hours ago, so we'll see what the future holds for him!

The few people who know of my Secret Shame are pretty good about it, really, but I daren't tell any of my new colleagues yet (I even covered my painting tray in The Shed the other day in case one of them who was popping round happened to glance in). Why? - What am I afraid of? It's not like I'm trying to impress anyone, or trying to pull. Obviously I don't tell the kids. Imagine my shock when one of the eagle-eyed little tykes spotted me at Games Day last weekend (luckily I don't teach him, but it'll be interesting to see if he asks me about it at any point...: "Er...I was there to...uh...keep my mate company..." - Really?

Seriously: I told my work friends that I was off to Birmingham for a "pre-wedding get-together". By no means a lie, but I did omit to mention the geektastic location of our "get-together".

So - you lot all seem fairly confident in your geekiness: I'm intrigued. Can anyone shed any light on this one, please? Just for fun...!

- Drax*

*Not my real name.


  1. I'm the same as you i'm afraid, around 10pm I tell my housemates that i'm knackered and lock the door of my bedroom, then out come the paints, unfinished models etc and I start to paint. I even go so far as to put a pillow by the door to block any light coming out so people do think i'm asleep. It's pretty tragic I know but when one of my housemates is known as "Racist Dan" then it's easy to see why I don't want to come out of the minature wargaming closet as of yet.

  2. Mate, it's good to see university life hasn't changed much - right down to racist housemates!

    Thanks for popping by, and be grateful that our secret shame is at least a quiet one - it could so easily have been bell-ringing...

    - Drax

  3. It's just a hobby... I can't hide my stuff these days, my latest project covers a full half of the floor in the workroom so anyone who comes by asks, "What's that?"

    I usually don't go in depth other than to say, "It's my hobby, I'm building a model."

    But hiding it? I'll usually tuck some of the gross looking stuff away so my younger daughter doesn't leaf through it and end up with mightmares but other than that.

    My wife and daughter actually call it "little men."

  4. Ron: Everyone I know calls it "playing with Toy soldiers"...

    we like to head insults off at the pass... by admitting we're nerds we usually get off lightly. :)

    I don't really get any serious abuse anyway, but being 6'2 and 220 odd lbs of muscle and bone can't hurt can it?

    I'm pretty open about the hobby and whatnot, I Figure that if people are small minded enough to think it's weird or whatever, they usually aren't worth a crap themselves anyway!

    On the coach up to gameday, our driver started out thinking we were a bunch of weirdo nerds, and by the end she understood it and admited we weren't all that bad.

    hence, there is nothing to be ashamed of. I think getting all over excited over a bunch of sweaty men chasing a pigs bladder around a field is far more sad personally.

  5. As a fellow teacher I share Drax's shame... I have let the school Warhammer club know that I 'used' to play and alway's put in dumb adult question like... "hmmm a dreadnought, what does that do!" But being surrounded by children I call myself a geek with pride, but I still keep the hobby secret. I believe this is due to the fact that 'my' hobby is very different from 'their' hobby.

    On a slightly different note I watched 'Ronin' last night and noted that Jean Reno friend (Drax from Moonraker) collected models of Samurai and built dioramas. This amazed me as modelling is a massive hobby and yet it rarely appears in films. The only other one I can think of is 'chitty chitty bang bang'(which is barely a film).

    Great point Drax. My wife calls you lot my geek girlfriends and likes to sniff the spray paint. She is eight and 3/4 months pregnant and mad. My daughter likes to chew them. I think that your problem is a common one Drax and that soon you will find fellow gamers. Don't hold your breath though.

  6. Drax my friend, you may note that my blog is the "Inner" geek. It's the outlet for my hidden hobby. Now that it has it's own space in the new place, it's not hiding very well. I've impressed two cable guys and some of my girlfriends relative with my work already. In fact, in my house we don't call the local 'Games Workshop' store, it's the 'Geek Store'. I guess that's one thing I enjoy about visiting the local 'Geek Store', I feel like I'm not alone in the hobby... and of course when I'm online all you wonderful folks!

    Oh and Devilin, if you ever watch that Will Smith movie, "Enemy of the State" there is a scene in his house where there are White Dwarf magazines on the coffee table. Practically famous GW is!

  7. I think I am the one that should be ashamed.... Because I am not "geek" enough, my own boyfriend (that inner geek chap) won't even put me in his blogroll...Sniff sniff.
    I do not think there is anything wrong with the hobbie... seriously you "geeks" are actually some of the best people I know... who knows maybe I will become a "poser geek" just to have this sense of community!!!

  8. I recently got back into the hobby now in adulthood, and was pretty open at work. I did, however, get a lot of stick for it but was defended by a colleague of mine who admitted to going to Trekkie conferences in uniform.
    This kind of mitigated my shame, but no one could really take the piss out of her because she said "It's just escapism."

    It was really good to see someone sum up my hobby so well. Some days I really can't deal with working in the financial sector during a recession. Some days I can't deal with being the father of a beautiful 6 month old girl. I can however deal with painting tiny little detailed glyphs onto an ork, or defeat a small number of space marines.

    My wife teases my like crazy: "Why don't you go and play with your space machines?" she'll ask in a kiddy voice.

  9. From reading these comments I think I have it quite good!
    My fiance gives me her ideas on how I should model my next squad, and actually knows as much about the history as any worthy 40k fan. She even picks me up the latest copy of White Dwarf on her way back from work. As for teasing in the work place it was actually an old manager of mine that got me back in to the hobby, so that fell in to place nicely. I think the 'geekiest' aspect of our hobby is that people seem to think we play with the models by holding them and literally making shooting noises to kill eachother, like the old plastic cowboy models we all no doubt have stashed somewhere. Little do they know the game is played with dice, templates and is actually very interesting to learn.
    But like I said, I actually think I have it easy!

  10. Wow! WHat a response - thanks, guys and gals!

    I like Sam B's point about the smallmindedness of others - fair one, and I'd do well to remember that I know;

    Devilin: I practically could have written that first paragraph myself. Been there and done it. Part of my 'persona' with the kids is that I'm a geeky English teacher, and I wear that well, but I just can't bring myself to go into the gritty details.

    And I'm pleased to discover a Drax in Moonraker - thanks. Remind me to watch Enemy of the State next (Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang is a great film - won't hear a word against it)!

    ...And Monkieboi: You're right. It is just escapism. Thanks for the reminder.

    Maybe the new job is a chance to be a little more open. Thanks for the thoughts, all!

    - Drax.

  11. Hey Drax, hit a nerve here! Socially, modeling gets a bad rep because anyone who hasn't tries it sees it as toy soldiers... however what is the difference between my collection and a collection of stamps, or classic cars, of football memorabilia. There are several aspects to GW gaming I love and admire:

    a) Collecting. Face it, we're blokes. Part of being a bloke (whether geek or grrr) is the collection of stuff. Vehicle parts, pub quiz random facts or football stats. Men are attracted to stats and collecting...

    b) Painting and modeling. Ok, so many disparage this, but this is an awesome 'assessable' creative output. You don't have to be the greatest artist going produce beautiful models - there's real pride in this and a creativity for kids that's lacking elsewhere. Plus, its really relaxing - calming in fact.

    c) Gaming. You don't here many people saying 'Uhh ... chess, god that's sooo stupid!' do you now? Most of the western world can't play chess. They can't 'get their head around it' - my father, although bemused by the game, rationalises it as 'giant, painted chess match' and he's right! The stats, points, percentages, tactics and math that we use, compute and exploit are valuable and difficult tools that are rarely stressed as much as on the board.

    d) The downside. A small part of me creeps in from my teenage years of closet geekdom every time I creep past the entrance to a GW store. Like drama clubs and D&D, GW attracts a certain sort of 'overcompensated' geek. Someone who has to brag continuously about his LARPing ability with a latex sword. You will always find them, doing 'velociraptor impressions' at parties and using our hobby to compensate for actually having a life.

    Your trekkie friend was right - this is escapism. Unfortunately, some people have purely 'escaped' and now use it as their sole source of conversation... sad really.

    I just spent half the week working with a 'serious' electrician who is the biggest batman fan I ever met. He complains how much the comics cost... I pointed out that I loaned them from the library for free. He looked at me aghast and said 'Oh no, you gotta own them..." tell me the difference.

    I want another hellhound, or maybe a demolisher, or a basalisk... Oh choices choices...

  12. Oh and toy soldier also appear in the James Bond film - the Living Daylights.

  13. I think suneoken has a point about those over-compensating geeks.

    The only thing I find truely embarrassing is when one of my friends, or the missus, pops in to GW to watch me play a game or whatever, and the worlds worst nerd is right there banging on about how there are no Uruk-Hai in Mordor! (You think I'm joking, but this is a actually a real life situation).

  14. Yeah, sam-b, I'm not ashamed of gaming, I'm ashamed of gamers :p...

    Also, a friend of mine works with youth, and he says he's yet to meet a kid who isn't geeky. Everyone is a geek about something, it just depends whether what you're into is cool or not, as to whether or not you get branded as a nerd.

    When people find out that I've worked as a session musician, they're usually really interested, however they have the same glazed over look when I describe my 1973 Fender Jazz Bass, as when I try to explain the difference between Warhammer and World of Warcraft.

  15. A 73 you say? Sounds mighty cool.

    Not a bassist myself so I just got one of the squire custom jazz reissues for when I'm doing demos or whatever.

    Surprisingly tolerable it is too.

  16. and there we go again... geeking about something else.

  17. I love playing devil's advocate.

  18. I tend to go back and forth. Most of my coworkers know, as sometimes I'll have vanity models(ones I don't use in any army, just painted 'cause they rule) displayed about my desk. If anyone asks, I preach their awesome-ness. Most just think my fervor is humorous. Some get excited themselves, and repeatedly inquire as to recent battles, and even some of those take up the hobby themselves.

    ...but then for all my Nerd-core pride, when I walk into the local gaming store, I turn into the introvert. The guys in there are nuts. They stalk around the mall in mock army-file led by an employee carrying the Collector's Edition held aloft like a bible. He would lead the group in chants like so:

    There were lots of orky bombers in the air!
    There were lots of orky bombers in the air!
    There were lots of orky bombers
    There were lots of orky bombers
    There were lots of orky bombers in the air!

    The Imperial Navy shot them down.
    The Imperial Navy shot them down.
    The Imperial Navy
    The Imperial Navy
    The Imperial Navy shot them down.

    and so on. I tend to shy away from them. ...and I'm not making this up. They scare me.

  19. I think that often times wargamers feel some sort of shame because they are attempting to avoid a negative stigma: that of the fanboy. So often, people ridicule what they do not understand or have no inclination to understand. In other words, people (not just wargamers)are afraid of being negatively stereotyped because it's easier for people to quickly categorize something than attempt to understand anything that's foreign to them.

    As for myself, I try to share a little bit of my hobby with my friends and classmates, even if they don't understand the full brunt of it. Most of the time, I just get the standard "I don't see how you have that kind of patience, I don't think I could ever do that" response. I've actually yet to receive a blatantly negative response.

    The thing I had to realize when dealing with the first rumblings of inner shame is that other people's opinions of your hobby is not necessarily their opinion of you. One of my classmates can't understand why I do this for the life of him, but we're still good friends. I tend to present the hobby as something that I just do because I think that it's cool and it gives me an artistic outlet. Ultimately, it's a hobby not unlike any other, such as watching football, or writing short stories, etc. The only difference is that mine takes more time than some other hobbies, but I believe that you up getting more out of it personally than many other activities.

  20. This post really struck a cord with me, i recently got back into the hobby roughly 10 years after i quit. Very different now since when your 16 being a bit geeky wasn't such a problem.

    Now i barely told anyone - two people at work (one of them only because he caught me making an army list after hours)my girlfriend (who enjoys the painting/modeling idea's) and my brother who is more geeky than me (He made a chess set from Highelf/Chaos models)

    I plan to move in with a friend in the next few months, would anyone have any suggestions on how to broach the subject of gaming with him?

  21. Hey, Dubs,

    I took a decade-or-so out too, and once back in I was surprised how much better (albeit WAY more pricey) it is now. Hope you find that too!

    As for the new flatmate? No real tips from me, I'm afraid, but I wouldn't open with "Mind if I use your room this weekend? Only it's bigger than mine and I've got 7 mates coming round for a 6000 point Apocalypse death match. Wanna play?"!

    Just a thought...

    - Drax.

  22. Thanks Drax, like the blog - been looking at this one and few others along with Bell of lost souls for ideas about armies. Settling with space marines (seems easy to start with until i find my feet)and orcs&Gobbo's for Fantasy due to commedy value!

    Yeah i think that might be a bit much for him, may just let it come up in conversation when he notcies them.

  23. Oh Drax! I'm SO surprised you feel that way, you're one of the most confident people I know!
    I presume you don't mind me pitching in even though I have a different geekdom?
    Honestly, I don't think you need to hide it. Ppl aren't going to turn on you cos you like modelling. True, they might laugh at you, but if they do that maliciously then they're idiots and need to be dropped.
    I've (eventually) got round to letting ppl know I read comics, which for ages I hid from work ppl due to secret shame, then decided fuck it, I want to spend Friday lunchtimes reading my new purchases. (That and my excitable squeaking at getting action figures delivered means I can't really hide it!)
    Quit lying about it, come out and be proud!
    I like reading your blog, I don't understand a lot of it, but I find specialist sites and the dedication that goes into this stuff really interesting.
    You said:
    "I've never owned any 'Buffy' merchandise"
    That's a very sensible thing to do, because most of it's shit. I've only seen one figure which looked like the cast member, the rest are just awful. If you buy merchandise then buy good quality stuff.
    Btw, do you speak Klingon?!

  24. WOW! Thanks again for all your comments, guys, especially those who've not visited bfore: welcome!

    This has been a fascinating thread, and I've some news for you - eespecially in the light of Saranga's kind words:

    I'm a Head of Year (US: Dean of Students for Freshman year maybe?) at work, and in my assembly today, I thought I'd share with my yeargroup some people I admire and why. These included Stephen Hawking, MLK Jr, Gary Lineker (a very 'clean' soccer player), and my dad. Now, as a wild card, and just to raise a bit of a giggle at my expense, I threw in Gary Gygax (D&D creator) too, with - as with the others - a picture.

    So far so good: I said, "I won't tell you who this chap is and why I admire him, but if anyone wants to find out and let me know, there'll be a prize in it for you."

    Imagine, then, my surprise and subsequent mirth when a child innocently (and a little confusedly) asked me "Sir, is it...Gary Glitter?"

    I almost wet myself at how monumentally inappropriate it would have been for me to tell 150 fourteen year-olds how much I admire a convicted paedophile*! And the worst thing? - They actually look rather similar!

    Maybe this is what comes of making my shame public...but it's too late. I've decided, and the ball's already rolling!

    "Hi everyone. My name's Drax and I have a problem...!"

    Have a good evening, all.

    - Drax

    *To my US readers: apologies. Glitter was a 70s glam-rock legend over here who in the last decade found out and imprisoned, both in the UK and (more recently) Thailand. Probably not worth doing an internet search on!

  25. And no - I don't speak Klingon. Never been a Trekkie. I quite liked Next Generation, but as it was always on at dinner time growing up, I couldn't watch it.

    So there! Miss you guys tons, and we've found a crackin' pressie for you and the Crispy One...

    - Drax

  26. Star Trek is awesome. Mostly for Voyager.
    So, did you explain who Gary Gygax is then?
    Oh, I was speaking to Ginge and he'll be able to make it back for the beer festival on the last weekend make sure you conincide your visiting dates..

  27. Saranga:

    A few of the kids did work out who he was. Geeks!

    Sadly, we don't know if we'll be able to make it up to Naarch, beer fest or otherwise, but we'll let you know. Kate's still Stateside at the moment, anyway.

    And poor, poor Tom is off the beer. Doctor's orders. For at least ten years and possibly for life! - I don't think Tom and Faye'll make it either...

    - Drax.

  28. 40 year old virgin has miniatures in it. Thats how a friend of mine understood what I was into.... 40 year old virgin... what a bad connection to the game.

  29. I remember when I was accosted by a number of my fellows concerning the hobby. They are all "guy's guys" football, submarines, and generally irritating, but fun nevertheless.

    "Dude, that hobby is for geeks, wimps, and virgins."

    My reply as I sat across the table with a smirk on my face:

    "Oh? Hmm. I have the income to dispose of."

    THAT usually immediately gets any woman's attention that might be sitting at the table. Women love men who 1. have dispoable income and 2. are not afraid to spend it on "pretty things." Want to impress a woman at a bar with a solid line? Tell her you are a painter or sculptor. I have gained more women's confidence by honestly telling them exactly what I do using paints, brushes, and simple thought. Dextrous hands, attention to detail, flair for perception...guys, it is a way better draw than "I'm a downhill skier."

    I continued....

    "Bill Gates is a geek. And he basically won the Who-Can-Get-To-The-Top-Of-Societal-Income contest amongst a host of other geeks. How many jocks got that high? Not many I can name. Pass the soda."

    "The ancient Samurai we see in films often collected flowers and painted. Were they dorks then? Maybe, but they were also capable of slicing you in half quicker than you can blink. Painting, modeling, and such pastimes as collecting flowers teaches the mind to focus all on the specific purpose while considering its parameters. I bet I can wield a katana better than you lot."

    *One nod, one or two smiles*

    "For that matter, I've known more members of the armed forces that have been wargamers than you guys could ever hope to and no one thinks of soldiers as wimps, right?"

    *A few nods*

    I continued further....

    "Neil Armstrong. Astronaut. First Man on the Moon."

    "So? Are you saying he collected little toy soldiers when he was 40?"



    "Go check it out if you don't believe me."

    The rest of the guys got up and walked to go to the Internet to try to gather information and prove me wrong. I believe if memory serves, they got engrossed on a page of baseball video games.

    Of course, I had no proof Neil Armstrong ever collected toy soldiers.

    Neil Armstrong may never have even heard of miniatures wargaming.

    But that wasn't the point.

    While they all took off and left their girlfriends behind, I enjoined them all into a very good series of conversations concerning art, philosophy, the appeal of wargaming, and what other things I do with my "disposable income." I am still well thought of.

    So if or when any of them break up, who do you suppose is likely to get a call from the gal who wants to try someone a tad more interesting?

    You betcha.

    Remember this story the next time you get sand in your face from a "real man."

  30. It's an old post but I had to comment.

    For me, there's no hiding the hobby, one because I enjoy it, and if someone doesn't like that, it's there problem not mine. Also, because I've got so much stuff, I wouldn't have a chance in hell of hiding it.

    Luckily, most of my friends are pretty cool about it, normally because I can keep their kids busy for hours making scenery.

    Anyway, to the point, I have a friend who wargames with our group but his day job is as a genuine porn star, I'm not joking, it's his living. Something he said to me once always makes me laugh.

    "I'll tell anyone I'm pornstar, but I won't tell them I'm a gamer, they might think I'm weird"

    Think that about sums it up - lol.

  31. I was just reminded of this old post. A brief update:

    1) The blog has led to me playing in a (small) tournament (with 'Tsini')
    2) The blog has enabled me to meet other nice people like Col. Gravis and Suneokun, and I got to play against the latter (it was a pleasure just to ogle Gravis's army!)
    3) I now have a car so it's easier to travel in order to get a game in
    4) I now have a baby daughter so it's harder to travel in order to get a game in...
    5) The lad I met at Games Day 08 won Silver 'Young Blood' that year. He got Bronze in '09. He alone knows my worth.

    - Chris.

  32. Hey, Dudes.

    I've been enjoying Suneokun's latest post:

    And I know this post was over two years ago now, but I figured I'd update:

    1) I've now joined a club which is - against my expectations -fantastically friendly, welcoming and subtle...
    2) The club is in a pub cellar out of the school's catchment area;
    3) Two colleagues and my assistant at work now know about my shame
    4) I've roundly given up on White Dwarf and haven't bought it for months, so that's not a problem any more.

    Tomorrow, I plan to take my 14 month old daughter with me to the local Warcgaming shindig ('Plymouth at War'). Ostensibly, it's to give Mrs. Drax a break from her, but really we all know she's just the latest Neophyte recruit for the Emperor's Cause!


Thanks for taking the time to comment!