Why do people stigmatize nerd culture?

I am listening to a discussion on LARP right now. While the individuals doing the actual interview and calling in to the interview are rather interesting and are highly respectful to those who take part in LARP. However, I am very frustrated with some of the comments on the interview. I understand that they come from the uninformed and from those who refuse to live with open minds, but it is rather insulting and frustrating.

  • LARPing? like al of this hipster Williamsburg culture and the characters it attracts is just plain creepy…
  • Americans fought and died in wars so we could have a class of “adults” 18-28 that could play games for ~1000 hours a year or so, but I digress.
  • I don’t LARP because I live real life.
  • Really, these are adults? And we wonder why the rest of the world looks at us like we’re a bunch of children. We can thank the never wanna grow up Boomers. !
  • Why don’t we skip the LARP crap and call it what it really is: theater geeks indulging in one of their scary hobbies.
  • What ever happened to throwing around a football or playing some softball in the park? Want role-playing? Try covering seond base.
  • Okay, let me temper my last remark. Nothing wrong with an adult occasionally slipping into a costume and acting out – the issue with these LARPrs and others who play a lot of role playing games – it starts to become their persona. These alternative characters and the games start to swallow up the reality of lifee and become the be all in these peoples live, where they atart to view reality thru their characters..

Source for the interview and the comments listed above.

Personally, I find this comments insulting, degrading, and close-minded. Yes, it is obvious that they come from the uninformed who are basing decisions off their limited knowledge of one or two individuals, but in all seriousness, why would people say some of these things?

I know that I should not be asking this. I know that a large portion of me already knows why they say these things. On one hand, people fear what they do not understand and rather than trying to understand it, it is much easier to distance yourself from that fear. On another hand, it is very reminiscent of the bullying that is found in schools all across the country. “I don’t know anything about that person, but I know that they can’t look me or anyone else in the eye. Must be a scaredy-cat!” Rather than asking for an explanation, people assign their own feelings and beliefs and move on, far from the wiser or better informed.

The fact remains that LARP is a highly useful and highly helpful too for any individuals. It has far more benefits than the supposed cons listed by the uninformed.

Roleplaying is nothing new. Schools teach through roleplaying games at times, using them to provide students with an insight into how various individuals have lived and the interactions with each other. They are useful in history classes, literature classes, and any class where you are trying to get a better understanding of the individuals that you are studying and learning about. Many teachers have used roleplaying games to help individuals work through social situations. It is a way to practice various social responses so that people can see and learn about what is acceptable and what is not.

What about our children? No one questions when they go outside and play their own roleplaying games? Were they called roleplaying games at the time? No. Most people just said they were playing pretend or playing make-believe. They became whatever character they wanted, used whatever costuming they could think of, and ran around interacting in a world of their own creation. We never stopped a child from doing this. In fact, we encouraged it. It fostered their creative thinking skills as well as their imagination. It was a crucial skill to helping children prepare for and do well in elementary school.

Then there are those who roleplay for a living. You  have anyone involved in theatre or film making is a part of roleplaying. We don’t look down on actors for their work. We often praise and idolize them for it. If we ever criticize an actor, we criticize the fame getting to their head, but not their profession. We, in fact, applaud them when they can successfully utilize the Stanislavski method (which asks actors to truly become the character, even if the character is a sociopath) or how dedicated they are to try and live life like their character. When Adrian Brody prepared for his role in the pianist, he dieted like crazy, cut off his connections to friends and family, and spent hours a day practicing piano. All to better understand his character. Instead of telling him there was a problem with this, we praised him for his dedication.

Then there are numerous Roleplaying games that people praise and enjoy. Both board games and video games. Settler’s of Cattan is praised for it’s nation building and trading. People spend hours roleplaying in first person shooters and various other video games and enjoying their ability to play it.

Yet, when it comes to table top roleplaying games or LARP, people are referred to as freaks, unhealthy, unable to live in reality, etc.

This feels like a serious double standard to me.

We encourage roleplaying in school to help people better understand people and social interactions, but people who use a LARP for this reason are crazy. We encourage roleplaying in children because it helps critical thinking and won’t acknowledge that it does the same for adults. We praise actors who get incredibly involved in their characters and chastise LARPers who even think about doing so. We encourage people to buy violent roleplaying games and find those who get involved in possibly non-violent LARPs (yes they exist) as insane.

Seems to me like people need to get informed. If they’re going to claim that LARP is bad, then so is roleplaying in any form. But if they’re going to claim roleplaying is good, then they need to accept that LARP is far from evil or making its players crazy. Cut the double standard and chose a line of thinking, but make your line of thinking consistent.


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