Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Why Nerds Shouldn't Be Like Everyone Else...

Down the years, I’ve watched and been part of various groups of gamers, of all stripes. I was always amazed at the amount of tribal attitudes and the amount of bullies in many of those groups.

The common pattern seemed to be one or two people being singled out at a given time and, either being excluded, tormented or just picked on. This might go on for a few months and then, someone else would be the target. It was always funny however that in every group a small cadre always managed to avoid the ‘treatment’, by allying themselves with the biggest, oldest or most cuttingly sarcastic  within the group.

I have seen this form first perspective and externally, and what is really amazing is that in some instances, it continues into adulthood.

Mark Barrowcliffe wrote a rather mundane book, but, when it came down to capturing the essence of social outcasts turning inwards to vent fury and rage, which they couldn’t hope to inflict on those whom they themselves were scared of. He illustrated perfectly the puerile vindictiveness which pervaded within his own group. But, that could have been pretty much any group, anywhere, at any time in the history of gaming.

I remember how in Sheffield, one of the groups I was part of, were passed masters at the art of isolating and hunting like a pack. The ringleaders were all about my own age, and as youth is wont to do, they believed they were witty and in some way above the rest of their peers because they had the ear of local gaming store staff. Oh how they made sure that their own backs were covered by making sure they sowed dissent, destroyed the feelings and confidence of others and generally bullied people in a round robin vendetta of petty vindictiveness.

I guess they felt emboldened and empowered, rather than the dysfunctional little boys they were at home. They bragged of how one day they would be ‘somebody’ and you know, quite a few people believed them.

I had a few run-ins with them, but to be brutally honest, even back then I knew how to sell, and so, I made myself content with squeezing every penny I could out of them without any remorse. Yes, they had their fun and thought that I didn’t know about their snideness, but believe me, I was well plugged in and set myself ‘sales targets’ which were raised as they came up with some new ‘wheeze’.

Luckily, I gamed 6 days per week at 7 locations, with 7 groups, and so, I was inoculated somewhat as most of the groups I played with were made up of older gamers, who didn’t go in for that kind of thing.

These days, I really try to avoid game stores, because invariably there will be some overweight, overripe beardy git with a god complex in there, giving a kid some crap. And alas, I am very likely to at the very least make a nasty fucking comment.

I am ashamed to say that when I had my own store, I emulated those who were the ‘store gods’ when I was a kid. I am not going to pretend that this was a good thing; it wasn’t and I was a proper little Hitler, treating those who displeased me with cruelty and derision. I could have broken the cycle, but like the abused hostage, I developed a Stockholm Syndrome-like approach .

Yes, I was a cunt of the first order…

When I crashed and burned the store, I had two years of very, very deep trauma, during which time I reevaluated myself. I raised a family, concentrated on the things which mattered and generally got on with life in the real world, until such a time having raised our daughter and found myself able to face a few ghosts down.

In 2014/15 I was diagnosed with a form of PTSD which, during psychoanalysis was identified as rooted in my experiences as a kid and the SWS debacle. The latter was simply a trigger for the symptoms to merge full-on; the real kernel of malign emotional dysfunction was caused by how the ‘gods’ and ‘in crowd’ of my youth made me feel at a time when emotional plasticity was such that the effects of such behaviour imprinted on me and gave rise to a habitual paranoia and anxiety which, in turn led to narcissism as a coping mechanism, which simply got me into more trouble.

The end result of the counselling and psychoanalysis is that I was taught to say how I felt and frankly, not give a fuck about how others felt. That was their problem and not mine.

At first, this made me uncomfortable conceptually, but when you sit back and look at it, it makes sense. After all, why should I suppress my feelings to protect those of others? Of course it does go both ways., and I have to accept that others may and indeed will take a similar approach. It makes for discomfort, but, when you get used to it, the faux political correctness can be dispensed with. You may recall last year that an individual who frequents my blog (of his own free will of course) made a a few remarks about my mental health; I suppose, to shut me up, embarrass me and make me feel insignificant. That was his right, but for my part I did not make snide remarks in return. I laughed in his metaphorical face and decided to give my analyst’s advice a real road test. It made me realise that the guy who was giving me a hard time a couple of years back (picking up where he left off in 1986) was himself a bullied narcissist - Oh the irony.

You see, he like others and like myself was possibly a victim of people like I was, and he is. And that cycle needs to be broken.

In a similar vein, you may also remember that I had a few choice words to say about the type of twat whom, at wargames shows, pushes kids and women out of the way at trade stands and bring and buys. They too need to be stood up to. True, some of them may just pop you on the nose and you could possibly do unto him ( I know I could)  and all that, but instead, perhaps, if they do take exception to a sharp word of censure or (god forbid), resort to physical bullying, laugh at the, and do it loudly, there and then.

One trader who, about 20 years ago, at Vapnartak, decided that my wife’s tits were more important than her historical knowledge, has ever since been sniggered at and boycotted, his notoriety spreading like ripples on a pond. Then there’s ‘Mr Touchy Feely’ - but that is another story.

Nobody is perfect, but perhaps before we open our mouths, we should look at what we are going to say, think about why, and see if we can avoid perpetuating the cyclical posturing that in all probability is a result of a crappy experience as a kid. It’s probably why you became a gamer rather than an athlete and so, why spend your time and energy in picking on those who, are just like you, if you’d stop pretending you weren’t the nerd you really are.


  1. Unfortunately, it seems that in many walks of life some people can't help but make victims of other people. An interesting post.

  2. I think what is more disturbing, is how the victims can often become like those who make their lives miserable, and thereby perpetuate the cycle. Even worse there are some who really seem to get off on it.

    There is a cure...

  3. I know that regrettably, when I was at school, I did join in on a small number of occasions. At the time, I didn't really think about it, but shortly after leaving school I realised that it was because as an outsider myself, I didn't want to be the one that was picked on. I lacked self-confidence due to having acute psoriasis (still do, but now under control).
    I became depressed and suffered huge social anxiety for several years. Needless to say that this led to a great deal of critical self-reflection. Nowadays, I'm more than happy to stand up for people who can't, or won't themselves. I've come to a point in my life where I really don't care what people think of me.

  4. It's a very treacherous path. Whilst there is always a tendency to hit back, the fact that we as gamers take on the rules of generals, makes us all liable to have superiority complexes, and the easiest targets are those as vulnerable as ourselves.

    For me, that was an eye opening revelation.


Leave your praise and vitriolic commentary here...