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How RPGs help me escape an introverted lifestyle

Friday, 11th July 2014 16:40 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

In this highly personal treatise, Stephany explains how RPGs can be an outlet for an introverted, reticent and downright shy woman who revels in exploring digital fantasy worlds.

lotro steph insert

Look at my horse, my horse is amazing.

I am a huge fan of fantasy. Always have been, always will be. You can blame my mother for handing me her worn out paperback of The Hobbit when I was nine years old. You can further blame my father for letting me read his collection of Conan books starting around 10 years old when I should have been reading The Wind in the Willows instead. Don’t even get me started on anything pertaining to Merlin, stories penned by McCaffrey or any other fantasy writer on the planet. I just enjoy it.

This love of fantasy also spilled over into movies, Dungeon & Dragons and eventually, video games. RPGs especially. There was, and still is, no other medium in which you can immerse yourself into the role of another person who is brave, strong, magical and thrives on dishing out deadly justice to evil-doers like goblins, orcs, Beholders or even worse creatures brought to life by creators. It’s rather awesome isn’t it?

But there is more to it than that: I am about to get extremely personal here – exposing my very soul as it were, so please be patient but mostly, please be kind. I am sure many of you can relate to some of what I am about to tell you.

I didn’t have many friends growing up. When I was nine years old, my family moved from the subdivision we lived in to a mile or so outside of town. Each home was on a one acre lot and the road, while long, only had around 17-20 houses on it, many spaced apart by farmland. The home we moved to had a cattle farm behind it with a scummy pond and there was a hay farm across the road. The only children close by were next door, and both were boys 3 and 5 years older than I was at the time. They weren’t interested in playing with me. They were only interested in shooting targets or the occasional frog at the pond with their BB-guns. Shooting frogs definitely didn’t want to make me play with them either.

I imagined myself the outcast hero saving the town and the woman he loved from the evil wizard in the tower; the deadly dragon hell-bent on burning everyone alive with its fiery breath. I was the hero. Everyone loved me.

Sure, I had friends at the private catholic school I went to, but other than the occasional slumber party, I only interacted with them during school hours. I wasn’t very close to many of the girls. Each one had a different “best friend” every week, and I had a hard time trying to decipher my role on any given day. Unlike a public school where there are many classes of the same grade, there was only one each for K-8, so each year, it was the same kids in each class and the dynamic changed radically upon the start of a new school year.

I had no siblings at the time, so my main interaction came from adults, and there were many in my house: both parents, my maternal grandparents, my uncle and occasionally my other uncle if he drank too much to drive home. Thank the stars it was a large house, and it amazes me even to this day how well we all functioned with only one bathroom to use between all these people.

Being as isolated as I was, I started immersing myself more and more into books. I imagined myself as the outcast hero saving the town and the woman he loved from the evil wizard in the tower; the deadly dragon hell-bent on burning everyone alive with its fiery breath. I was the hero. Everyone loved me. No longer an outsider, I was now the lauded hero of the townspeople, and in turn, I won the heart of the princess/lord’s daughter/milk maid. It was an amazing escape from a boring existence surrounded by adults in the country and fickle school children.

Upon reaching 12 years of age, my parents enrolled me in public school because I needed interaction with a larger peer group. I made new friends. Not many though. Four of those girls, now grown women with children and careers, I am still great friends with. Amazing. Still, I never felt I fit in with anyone completely. I was never one of the cool kids. I was never part of any clique (thank God).

Despite being painfully shy, I was nice to everyone. I never spoke to anyone that wasn’t close to me, unless I was spoken to, which caused many to think I was a snob. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I was just really, really insecure and shy. No matter a classmate’s social status, I would always return a “hi” or a “smile” in the hallway or in class. This definitely made none of the “cool kids” like me. You don’t speak to a “grit” (a poor person) lest you be labeled one yourself. I wasn’t poor. I wasn’t rich either. My father was a maintenance supervisor at a factory; my mother a loan officer at a bank; my grandfather and uncle trained horses; and my grandmother was a baby-sitter. Basically, we were a middle-class family. Nice house. Nice clothes. Nice cars. But nothing too extravagant. Even if we had been well-to-do, material things never help you out in the confidence department. It has to come within.

ulfric gets a lapdance02

Ulfric Stormcloak is stressed out and in need of a lap dance.

Few, if any, of the girls I hung out with were interested in Choose Your Own Adventure books, fantasy books and Nintendo, so the conversation never ventured in that direction. We’d discuss clothes, make-up, boys and the usual adolescent girl problems. But one group reveled in it as much as I did: the boys. This is probably one of the reasons I had – and still have – more male friends today than females. This is also the main reason why I never had many boyfriends through the course of my life. I was “too much like them” or the “really cool friend who liked Dungeon & Dragons, Nintendo, cars, beer, whiskey, cigars, Dune, and The Dark Tower books” as much as the rest of them. I was like an adopted little sister, and I was fine with that – at least I fit in someplace, and I was socially happy for once.

It was the same in college really. I had one friend I’d go to the local bars with to drink and dance. I am a completely different person when drinking. I’m outgoing, will do anything to get a laugh, and I love to dance and sing karaoke. I even sang in a couple bands in college. I had to get drunk to get on stage though – again, painfully shy. Liquid courage is a real thing. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

After college came adulthood. Most of my friends moved on to have families or took a job in an exciting city far, far away from Kentucky. I didn’t do either. I took menial jobs full of office politics, back-stabbing and sexist co-workers, and even waited tables just for the extra spending money to buy new D&D dice and Forgotten Realms novels. I still drank quite a bit. It was the only way for me to have the confidence I needed to be social. Always afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing: constantly afraid of ridicule or being seen as “a bitch” or “highfaluting” for exuding any confidence whatsoever.

I always wanted a PC. When one came into my life, I was hooked. I immersed myself into a world where I finally felt happy, accepted.

When I wasn’t drinking to kill my shyness, I was writing short fantasy stories for my friends on an old typewriter, and playing The Legend of Zelda games on NES and SNES consoles I bought at a pawn shop to replace the ones my Mom sold in a yard sale after her and my father divorced. PlayStation 2 had been out for a while, but I could not afford one. My father moved in the apartment next door to me after his second divorce, and after getting in a fight with his new girlfriend, now wife, over chatting online with other ladies, he gave me his Hewlett Packard PC.

I always wanted a PC after playing DOS games on a friend’s, and when one finally came into my life, I was hooked. It wasn’t the best rig on the planet. I was lucky to be able to run Sim Farm, Alice and Deer Avenger on it, but it provided me with the perfect place to be myself without worrying about face-to-face ridicule. There were so many fantasy chat rooms and fanfiction outlets to pour my love of the genre into. I immersed myself into a world where I finally felt happy, accepted. I finally belonged to something. Some of the people I met online during this period I still keep in touch with and consider friends to this day. Yes, you can be friends with people online, and care about them, even if you have never met. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

At some point during all of this, a friend of mine formed a band and wanted me to help with PR. Basically I sold shirts and chatted with people at the bar for them. Again, I had to be lit in order to accomplish my task. This is where I met my friend Ron Whitaker. I hope he forgives me for dropping his name. At the time, I was working on my mother’s horse farm, having grown tired of working in an office full of bitches (literally), and while it is never ideal to work for your parents – especially a mother who is never satisfied with anything you do no matter how hard you work or try – it was better than nothing.

Ron was working part time at FileFront and asked me if I wanted a job writing gaming news and doing a few reviews here and there. He too was an avid gamer like myself, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to turn my love for games into a career. I worked from home, so there was zero interaction with hateful people (or so I thought – see Dave’s goodbye post) and all I had to do, all day long, was play and write about video games.

The mountainous region of Rohan is deserted. Something evil’s afoot.

To do this, I had to get a decent PC. I picked out the parts, and Ron built it for me. Finally, I had a machine which would run Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate, Diablo, the Fallout series, and all sorts of other really cool RPGs. I was in heaven. During this time I bought my boyfriend, with whom I am still living with, an original Xbox for Christmas. The Xbox 360 had already come out, but we couldn’t afford one just yet. This was the bundle I told you about. This was also the day I purchased Morrowind for console because my PC would not run it very well. Some of the best RPGs in the world were finally at my finger tips. It was great. I had everything I wanted in order to continue immersing myself in a fantasy world where I slay evil doers and act the hero.

Ron also introduced me to MMOs. At first, I had zero interest in them. Why would a socially inept person like me want to play online with other people? What if I can’t get into a Guild? What if I screw up in a raid and they kick me out? What if they think I suck? Or I’m stupid? I refused at first, until he handed me a code for Lord of the Rings Online. He knew Tolkien was my Achilles Heel and that I would not, could not refuse.

In RPGs, I can escape. I can live out an exciting existence full of danger, adventure, excitement, and passion.

Seven years later I am still playing it. Granted, I have taken quite a long break. I have not logged in since January. My Guild, The Riders of Rohan, used to be one of the biggest on our server. It was a founding Kinship, and had its name long before the expansion Riders of Rohan came out. Most have moved on to other games, or life got in the way of playtime. I could have joined another Kinship, but I am loyal. To my own detriment sometimes. I still chat with our old Kinleader on occasion. He has a racing channel on Twitch which keeps him busy, but once in a blue moon we’ll hit each other up on Skype and shoot the shit. I consider him one of my best-friends. I love him dearly, actually. We tell each other everything. One day, I would love to meet the man and give him the biggest, longest hug ever.

I am a grown woman. I refuse to call myself an adult, not only because I don’t feel like one, but because emotionally, I’m not. I am still that shy, kindhearted, insecure little girl who grew up isolated surrounded by farmland. I am still isolated. I live on a farm which, once surrounded by cattle and horses, is now at the center of a massive cornfield. I can see nothing but 7-foot tall stalks no matter which window I look out of. I am still not one of the “cool kids”. When at a gaming convention, once the interviews and conferences are over for the day, I don’t go hang out with the other games writers at the W Hotel or whatever the hotspot is for that particular convention. I go back to my room with food and fizzy drinks and write up the day’s work until I fall asleep at my laptop.

Ask anyone I have met at those functions if I am outgoing or a party animal. Ask Sam. Ask Matt. I met both at GDC. Ask Brenna. I just hung out with her at the end of May when she came to Atlanta. I am not social in the real world, but when I am online, I am myself. This is the person you know: the one who delivers you the news; gushes about The Elder Scrolls and gets super excited over a cool-looking RPG.

This is why I continue to play RPGs. Skyrim has been out for ages. So has Morrowind, the Witcher, Dragon’s Age, WoW, LotRO, Torchlight, Diablo. I still fire those up. I can’t help myself.

skyrim-steph02

I’m Dragonborn, bitches.

I restarted Skyrim again recently. I can’ t stop playing. I am Areonwyn. I slay dragons, vampires, Cultists, bandits, skeevers, bears. I am Dragonborn. It was fortold I would be the savior of the Nords and restore their place of honor in Tamriel. I am the chosen one.

In LotRO, I am Morrethiel. Elven huntress raised by her eleven kin in Mirkwood when her mother was slain by orcs. Determined to avenge his spouse’s death, her father left Morrethiel in the care of his cousins, never to return. She has a twin sister raised by her mother’s family in Rivendell, but she hasn’t seen Gwuenhyar since their third summer. She had fallen in love with a man of Rohan, and not long after they had plight their troth, was killed during a Warg Rider attack. Now, her purpose in life is to rid Middle-earth of the orc menace. She will either die an honorable death in the process, or once the evil scum are vanquished, she will allow herself to pass. She will never take the ship bound for Valinor.

In RPGs, I can escape. I can create the character I wish to be. I can live out an exciting existence full of danger, adventure, excitement, and passion. Online, I am bold, creative, fun, and try my best to be funny. I interact with people; I laugh with them; I argue with them; I scold them when they are rude or unjust to people. I have fun.

In the real world, I am just Stephany. One day, that will be enough, but that is not this day.

In the real world, I am just Stephany. One day, that will be enough, but that is not this day. Until then, I’m satisfied with escaping through fantasy RPGs. As long as developers continue to make these games, I am fine with it. Don’t feel sorry for me; don’t label me as broken or pathetic. I am neither, but I promise, I am working really hard at becoming more confident. In fact, I think online games and RPGs have helped me immensely.

It’s getting better as time wears on. I owe so much to fantasy writers and game developers who love the genre as much as I do. I am sure many creatives felt the same as I did growing up, and this outsider mentality and love of fantasy eventually led to a banner career creating video games fans all over the world buy and love. They create a medium in which to escape the pressures of day to day life; they provide you with an outlet to be attractive, brave, strong.

To paraphrase the psychobabble of fictional self-help guru Stuart Smalley: RPGs create a world in which you are good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, people like you. And that’s okay. To hell with the real world. I’d take an RPG over it any day.

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44 Comments

  1. Armitage Shanks

    Oh god,wait for it…

    #1 3 months ago
  2. Luciferous

    @Armitage Shanks If you listen carefully you can hear him bashing out verbal billiage… it is coming!

    On topic, that was a fantastic read, Steph.

    #2 3 months ago
  3. Sylrissa

    Great article Steph!, I can relate to much of it myself.

    #3 3 months ago
  4. JonFE

    I’m pretty sure you’ve got more guts than you give yourself credit for, Steph! Keep your spirit up!!!

    #4 3 months ago
  5. TheWulf

    I can relate to that a lot.

    I loved fantasy back in the day, too; it was technically more science-fantasy, but that’s because nothing had a set genre and everything was awesome. Then it all devolved into set genres and things became a little bit more boring. What with the whole having no magic in sci-fi and vice versa.

    As for escapism, I can understand that. Yet my escapism tends to be more about diplomacy, philosophy, and just being a medical rockstar. I’m fucking weird. I know most people enjoy having to slay the beast in order to save the town, but I’d rather figure the beast out to see if we can save both the beast and the town, as I’m that kind of idealist. On a similar note, I’d rather arrest a criminal who’s stolen from me or done me wrong than see them slain.

    I remember I had a mod like that for Skyrim, which made me enjoy it a bit more for a while, I arrested a bunch of bandits. Thing is, though, is that the game is so designed around the concept of killing that it’s impossible to actually do anything other than that. So I’m not allowed to be Spider-Man in a fantasy setting — and maybe that’s part of my problem.

    I was always more into the romanticism of super heroes rather than just heroes. Batman, the knight who never slew a single opponent on the field of battle. I found myself inspired by that. As such, when I’m presented with people who’re to be saved, I wonder if I can save everyone, including the guilty party from themselves as they might not even be aware of their own transgressions.

    The dragons of Skyrim… I’d liked to have been able to talk them down. I had a few really good minutes with Paarthurnax, and those were spent talking about how he’d overcome his evil instincts, those pushing him towards self preservation regardless of the costs. The fight to resist these darker urges had changed him, he was a better person.

    And that got me to thinking — is any person really any better than that? I mean, given the power, a lot of people might do something equally as horrible as Alduin, if not more so, because the average person can be very motivated by greed and self interest. So I look at it this way — what’s the motivation to save a town, is it actually to perform the act of saving, or is it instead to enjoy being lauded and having praises heaped upon you by your own kind?

    I’ve spent a long time being introspective of human nature and my own motivations. I’ve found that I actually enjoy the act of saving, more than any praises or whatnot, and as such… I’d rather save everyone. The best result, the one where you truly win, is the one where no one dies. I’ve heard it said by those wiser than I am that the only way to win a war is to end it in a way that involves no one dying. I agree with that, that sentiments sparks something deep within me. It’s a romantic notion that I’d like to live up to — if not in reality, because we’re too flawed for that, then in fantasy.

    And that’s why I’m curious about why murderous escapism is so common. When I set aside Skyrim, I went inside my own head for a bit and just did things a different way, I reasoned a peace treaty with the dragons that would allow them the reverence and power they desired without upsetting the status quo. I was a diplomat, and my weapons were my words, silver tongue, and trickery, rather than fireballs, bows, and swords.

    It may be juvenile, so perhaps it’s something I’ve never grown out of, and perhaps I’m still so prone to childlike wonder that I can’t become so jaded by reality that my fantasies have to be the same as it. I don’t want to be just a hero, because anyone can be a hero. Regardless of the setting, I want to be a superhero, and if I can’t save everyone, I’m bloody well going to try anyway. It doesn’t feel right to do any other, not even in a fantasy.

    But then, like I said, I’m fucking weird. I’ve gotten that since day one. I know I’m not exactly the poster child for human normalcy, far from it, and I’ve never claimed to hold that title. Nor, really, have I wanted it. But I like being weird in this way as I find it fulfilling according to my own sense of ethics. I take pride in having fantasies about helping and healing.

    I guess there’s just a… killer instinct to human nature. There’s no better way I can put it. And I don’t have it. And this isn’t at all a soccer mom thing where I’m all about violence as a corruptive element, it’s more a ‘me’ thing where I long for stuff that isn’t so violent and only very rarely do I have a scrap thrown in my direction. It’s about longing for the third option. An option that isn’t ‘Kill them’ or ‘Let them kill me.’

    Not only that, but I find myself longing for expressions of fantasy which are more inclined towards puzzle, or investigation… exploring the ancient ruins of a long, lost civilisation and trying to wrap my mind around what they were all about. The Myst series was fantastic for that, especially Uru, which I felt was the ultimate expression of it as far as the Myst series is concerned.

    So I look for escapism, too. But I think it’s easier if you have that killer instinct and your fantasies are about solving problems with a fireball, sword, or bow. I’m not that lucky. That does nothing for me other than leave me feeling a little bit depressed. To bring up Skyrim again — dragons are such a romantic concept in and of themselves, giant creatures that roam the skies, each of them with so many stories of eras past. It’s like slaying a flying library.

    I can’t do it. I’m too romantically inclined toward the wonder of a dragon that it actually makes me sad to be forced to do it. I can’t. I’m a wuss, and I’m fucking weird.

    Dread Pirate Robins said in The Princess Bride of Inigo the Spaniard that slaying him would be like smashing a stained glass window.

    I kind of feel like that.

    But even when it’s something I don’t have a lot of wonder for, I dunno, it just doesn’t sit well with me and I just want option three. I want to be the hero, but I want to be the impossible hero. I want to be the one who never kills. I want to be the superhero. And I wish there were more games like that. Some puzzling, exploration, investigation, and non-lethal combat that leads to arrest.

    Given the right kind of world, though? I’m with you. I’d dump reality for a realm of adventure any day of the week. It’s just that my flavour of adventure is a little bit different than that of other people. I wonder if this is… well, I wonder if med students and philosophy students also have non-violent fantasy realities, or whether I’m really as alone with this as I think?

    I’ll never know, I guess.

    Thanks for the article, Steph.

    #5 3 months ago
  6. fearmonkey

    Stephany. This is a wonderful open and personal post and you sound like the kind of person I would have loved to have as a friend in HS. A girl that loves Dungeon and Dragons and Dune, I would have married you lol.

    I also grew up in the country, I grew up in WV, in some rural areas and in some urban areas, but never in a large town. Sometimes I had no neighborhood kids anywhere near me, and even when I did, many of those kids thought hunting and shooting small defenseless animals was fun, I was never that way.

    From reading our bio, you remind me alot of myself and have alot of the same background, You sound like a very cool individual, and I wish I would have had someone like you around to game with. I made alot of friends playing in bands but never had many friends into the scifi, gaming, and fantasy stuff I was into. My Dad was a big scifi/fantasy guy. I don’t know if you have ever read any of Jack Chalker’s novels (most are out of print), But I highly recommend you look into them, especially the Soul Rider, The Dancing Gods, and the four lords of the diamond series. he is a favorite of mine and many dont know about him.

    I still fire up Skyrim, Oblvion, Morrowind, and other RPG’s, it’s like visiting old friends. I’m the same way with movies and books though, once you spend time in a world, it’s nice to go back from time to time.

    Thank you for this lovely put your heart out there article! I think you sound like a very cool person, and I hope that others give you the respect you deserve for opening your heart out to us! :)

    #6 3 months ago
  7. Michael Ireland

    It’s great to see you wIting articles Steph. I approve of this, and totally support it. This is a great insight into what gaming can do for people, and how they affect and shape us in the unique way that only video games can.

    Although I can certainly understand the mentality that you talk about in this article, I’ve just never had the ability to use media as an escape, but I’m envious of those who can. I’m too analytical to lose myself in stuff like that I guess. Game for me is more like a study, a critique, something to examine and figure out.

    I think I speak for most people (and as your fiend) when I say this – Steph as Steph is more than enough. Steph is far more badass than any dragon slaying Nordic Dragonborn. I know you don’t need the validation, but there you go.

    #7 3 months ago
  8. TheWulf

    @2

    Because I actually speak passionately of things that matter to me rather than living a shallow, and ultimately hollow, pointless existence of mind-numbingly dull chit-chat, unmotivated cavorting, and witless posturing? Are you jealous? I’m sorry, but it sounds like you’re jealous. I’m sorry that you’re jealous.

    I do mean that. I hope you find yourself, some day. So you can actually be someone, and then you can have things to be passionate about, too.

    #8 3 months ago
  9. salarta

    Look at that horse.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv5woNs9WRE&feature=kp

    The talk of being the hero that wins the heart of various female characters kinda stresses, to me anyway, the need for heroines that have male love interests they rescue and protect. I think there’s a rise in that kind of story, and it was played with in part of Contrast to cool effect. It’s just notable to me that both male and female readers go through the prism of a male hero saving a female love interest as the most typical example.

    Outside that, I don’t have much I can say except that I sympathize with some of the content. I’m guessing a lot of people do. Hope the enjoyable games keep coming for you!

    #9 3 months ago
  10. polygem

    i have never been extremely extroverted, nor introverted. i have been in a lot of bands as a young man as a drummer or even as a singer and we performed shows at a decent size and toured all the time but i still would not call myself extroverted.

    i always had friends but i choose them very very carefully. i don´t have tons of them but the ones i have are close ones that i know for ages. i gain new ones too sometimes. most fade, some stay. i am not a big friend of the human being in general though tbh…and to tell the truth, most people annoy the hell out of me.

    i hate living in the big city these days :D too many people. i need to change that and i will soon.

    i love games as a form of escapism from this often very fucked up and sad world. i love it because it´s the best medium to clear your brain from the daily routine bs.

    i deeply hate how games are getting more and more commercialised, with ingame ads that totally kill the immersion, with my favourite plumber driving a mercedes benz these days.

    it just makes me sad. i am a pretty political guy if you will, at least i have some strong opinions. i have a hardcore background. it pisses me off when animal crossing exists in a happy meal. it makes me sad and angry. i can´t change that. i just want politics to stay out of videogames.

    i love games, deeply but they don´t make me feel like someone else, i wish they would…they “just” help me to get this mad world out of my head for a while. that´s a pretty big deal imo.
    .
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    that was an amazing read steph and a fucking brave move.

    you´re a cool kid and it looks like you have always been.

    the only thing that is important: carry your heart at the right spot. looks like you do that.

    #10 3 months ago
  11. OrbitMonkey

    Yes, well, thats nice dear… Cup of tea?

    *English reaction to genuine emotion.

    #11 3 months ago
  12. polygem

    @OrbitMonkey
    “luv” and “cuppa tea”

    #12 3 months ago
  13. Legendaryboss

    Steph is stepping up! I sign off on this as a very good article, because of how you perceive games.

    #13 3 months ago
  14. Clupula

    In all seriousness, does anyone actually read anything beyond the first sentence of any post TheWulf makes, at this point? I know he likes to make his posts as masturbatory as possible, but even he must realize at this point that he’s only writing for himself.

    Of course, considering the gist of his posts, I don’t think he desires any audience beyond himself.

    #14 3 months ago
  15. Legendaryboss

    Wait! Introverted? Dear god! Steph please tell me you didn’t listen to TheWulf’s essays?

    #15 3 months ago
  16. Gekidami

    @Legendaryboss
    Nah, she isnt blaming all of the worlds problems on the “extroverts” and banging about how stupid and inferior they are to her.

    #16 3 months ago
  17. Luciferous

    @TheWulf

    No, Wulf it isn’t that at all. I realised after reading several of your diatribes that you constantly bring up the same points and arguments and it got to the point where I would skip straight over what you had written, possibly missing something of worth.

    The worrying thing is that you knew I was inferring you with that comment, it means that on some level you know that you’re waffling on and on and confusing that with passion. There is a time and a place where your writing wouldn’t get so much snark from the community, or in some cases outright ignored – A comments section isn’t it. If your views had come about due to a dialogue between you and others it would be much more palatable.

    Do you have a blog or some other outlet for the obvious will and desire you have to write? Do you manage to contain your unbridled passion elsewhere and write commentary that makes a point without spilling over in to unnecessary paragraphs?

    Many a time have I read a short snippet of news here, maybe a few hundred words or less, and gotten to the comments to discover you’ve managed to term a few sentences in to something close to a thousand words of well meaning but ultimately rubbish sentiment.

    I realise that in this reply I am falling in to the trap you so wilfully wallow, and in doing so detracting from the heartfelt and brilliant piece that Steph has written. It takes guts to expose herself in such a way and I applaud her for it.

    Engage people in the comments, don’t soapbox at them.

    #17 3 months ago
  18. salarta

    @Legendaryboss I don’t see what TheWulf has to do with anything here, but Steph did respond to TheWulf on one occasion. I think for good reason in that case. I’m not saying much more than that because it’s not the point of this article.

    #18 3 months ago
  19. Legendaryboss

    @18
    Oh its just the wording i noticed, no biggie tho.

    #19 3 months ago
  20. DarkElfa

    Oh Steph, you had me “my horse is amazing”. Good to learn more about you, thanks for sharing.

    #20 3 months ago
  21. OrbitMonkey

    @polygem, Also “treacle” & “brew”

    :)

    #21 3 months ago
  22. asbrand

    Wow, it took a lot of guts (and whisky i presume) to write something like this. I can understand your point of view because i’m quite the same person. To bad that i can’t find anyone with whom I would shared my interests. I always feel like i’m alone even in a crowd of people.

    #22 3 months ago
  23. salarta

    @asbrand The internet makes these things a lot easier to share. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, just easier.

    #23 3 months ago
  24. budoshi

    “”don’t feel sorry for me; don’t label me as broken or pathetic”"

    what!? hell no , you are awesome for been like that, why wouldnt you be?its not for everyone to be the popular kid or the life of a party and so on, and its ok , and if i may say i find that quite interesting. i wish my girl was more like you in a way to be honest, the love and the fantasy and such .
    Lying in my cough beside her playing an rpg on a rainy day? check.

    #24 3 months ago
  25. xbenblasterx

    Boy did I enjoy this an excellent read found it very life affirming! I can relate to so much in this article, especially preferring to spend my downtime in at the Sleeping Giant Inn (Whiterun Inn) rather than some night club.

    An i’m so glad to see especially in the comments section that there are plenty of folk just like me! Ironically scheduling myself to RPG’s and Fantasy worlds can feel lonely and I still want to interact with people, but people whom I’m comfortable with… ya’ know fellow Dragonborns, which Is why it’s always great to find communities such as these!

    #25 3 months ago
  26. Redh3lix

    Fantastic read Stephany, although I found it a little sad you seek gaming (and alcohol) as an outlet to be yourself. I learn’t a long time ago “not to give a **** what other people think of me, because, I don’t think of them at all”.

    I’m 40 years of age now. Gaming is a fantastic experience, never been happier with my wife and little shi…. lovely kids, and still school “newbs” daily :) ****in’ lovin life and I’ll die with a mouse in my left hand and a console pad in my right (Sony one probably, **** Microsoft!)

    #26 3 months ago
  27. ManuOtaku

    Great article steph, like you iam also a very introverted person, but i do like to have a lot of empathy with people, trying to be very funny, and with an ongoing attitude.

    I did Grew up with games, anime, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, etc, all the otaku/nerdy stuff, when i was younger i related a lot with sinjy from evangelion, i saw a lot of me in him. And like you i find great friends based on those likings, and here in this site i consider a lot of posters and staff friends. Keep writing great stuff, with a little bit of your soul, because your soul/heart is worthy to be seeing, is beautifull.

    #27 3 months ago
  28. Game Hunter

    Great article, Steph.you know,I wish that I marry a girl just like you.a game fanboy is incomplete without a fangirl partner imo. I want a girl who when we meet back at home after work tells me instantly: “hey honey,let’s continue playing X game for the rest of the day”instead of “hey honey,let’s go shopping all night long”because in that case I have to bring a handheld console with me everytime.

    #28 3 months ago
  29. Darkfield

    @Stephany Oh wow, I always held you in high regards Steph but this just made me respect you even more. I can relate to that, a lot. Where I live, Iran, when I grew up even though I was a city dweller, the capital city in fact, boys of my age had no concept of what does role-playing game means. It was also hard for me because all my friends had different interests. Until highschool I didn’t have many friends, specially not from the school, I had nothing in common with those boys, I can barely remember those days because I never had substantial and important memories. I had friends in the neighborhood and we just played football all day long in the street annoying the heck out of every adult in the neighborhood. Occasionally we’d go out and play arcades in a local club but that was all the social interaction I had with them. Play football and go home.
    We were also middle class. I was not a privileged brat but my parents knew me and my brother didn’t have many friends, we were each other’s best friend and arch nemesis. But from Atari 2600 to Playstation 2, they bought us every console we wanted and I’m grateful for their efforts to make us happy. Funny thing is from early on the moment I saw River Raid and Space Invaders I knew that I’m gonna playing video games the rest of my life. Me and my brother we loved playing video games, and occasionally a rivalry that ended in bitter struggles of power. We also loved some adventure board games that were a lot like role-playing games, one in particular was the Secret of the Jungle (راز جنگل) it was awesome, going around a jungle, fighting mobs and discovering loots, that was first we came across the RPGs.
    You see pen and paper rpgs didn’t exist here. I had no concept of what D&D is, een to this date I never played a PnP RPG because absolutely no one around me knew anything about them and internet wasn’t in our country until I was in highschool. In fact I was introduced to the real RPG games in the highschool. Were I finally had a PC that could run games, I think it was in the late 90’s, I was 15 back then. Suddenly my world became bigger with games like fallout on my hands I rarely had time for anything else. My brother was enjoying himself on our consoles all by himself and our little brother was no challenge to his rule at the age of 3, nor to mine.
    In highschool, I found a new place to hang out, before internet became public, there was an underground network called BBS that we used to connect to through Windows Terminal via dialup. There was terminal role-playing game, text-base called the Legend of the Red Dragon or T-LORD we loved to play. It was the first semi online multiplayer experience I ever had. It was pure text and no visuals but it was awesome back then. I found friends with similar interest to mine on those terminals, who eventually became my real life friends and one in particular my best friend. There my role-playing experience got bigger and bigger, we would go to each other’s house for lan-slumber-party, all we needed was a small space to assemble our heavy PCs and a switch to play Neverwinter Nights, Diablo II and Dungeon Siege together.
    It was the perfect escapism, it is the perfect escapism from a reality so boring that it might have been unbearable for me to endure without it. I always disliked the people I had to interact with outside of my circle of interest, resented at times. Because we had nothing in common and the situation bored me immensely. But while playing RPGs be it alone or with others, I got to be this cool character, all powerful and magnificent going around the world and committing to rid the world of all that is sinister and vile, there was just nothing like it.
    You said you were never the cool kid, but you are Steph, you’re the coolest of kids. To me it’s as coolest as someone can get, pursuing the fantastical worlds of magic and awe.

    #29 3 months ago
  30. Darkfield

    @Darkfield blasted edit button, where re you, I need a bloody ‘enter’ in between my paragraphs! :|

    #30 3 months ago
  31. TD_Monstrous69

    A fantastic read Steph, as it’s one I can relate to a bit, being a shy person who didn’t have too many friends growing up. Although, I played more sports games, GTA, and Mortal Kombat growing up than anything else. It’s only been within the last 3 yrs. that a love for the fantasy genre has really set in with games like The Witcher series and Skyrim, and the TV series Game of Thrones (makes me want to read the books). Keep up the great work Steph, look forward to reading your next article.

    #31 3 months ago
  32. DarkElfa

    @Darkfield I love reading your posts man, you should be a professional.

    #32 3 months ago
  33. Game Hunter

    @Darkfield lol interesting, I never thought you were one of my countrymen.سلام هم وطن

    #33 3 months ago
  34. Game Hunter

    @Darkfield you had good games on your hands.ask every casual Iranian gamer what they’ve played most in their lives and they’ll tell you one of these(which is lame that they can’t play better than these)
    1.Counter Strike 1.6(ffs they don’t even bother upgrading to Global Offensive )
    2.PES(with this kind of love you would expect that Team Melli would play better than this)
    3.WoW(typical MMO)
    It’s a pity though because of our abysmal internet bandwidth and pay per GB services we can’t get our hands on great games like Warframe, Guild Wars,SWTOR (although this one is banned for Iran anyway).I signed up for Warframe last year and still can’t play it because of the internet speed.variety in gaming tastes are rare here.so Congrats,buddy,because your gaming has been full of variety.

    #34 3 months ago
  35. Darkfield

    @DarkElfa :D Thanks man, that means a lot.

    @Game Hunter well that isn’t bad so to speak, I played all those, WoW and CS were and are my favorites. Played WoW for 7 years had a pretty good run too. I really love MMORPGs, it’s a lot of fun hanging out with like minded people for a change. I played many MMOs from Knight Online and Acheron Calls to ESO and WildStar. SWTOR was a really special experience, it made me fall in love with Star Wars franchise and made me go through some of its novels too. Pity, I always despised EA for blocking us, I was paying customer had to play it through vpns and proxies. That eventually died when our lovely government decided to add restriction to some specific ports used by VPN connections.

    #35 3 months ago
  36. Game Hunter

    @Darkfield seems your ADSL is much more decent than mine.what’s your ISP?Shatel site tells that they offer unlimited traffic for 27K tomans per month starting with 128kbps,so I guess that’s the ISP to go for online games.although my friend says that they’ll limit the download capacity even in free hours which is from 2 until 7am(fuckers know people are atsleep in that hours and can’t use the free download )

    #36 3 months ago
  37. Darkfield

    @Game Hunter firstly shatel is garbage, secondly not good at all. it’s been Datak ever since they started their ADSL business. Playing everything with +270ms latency isn’t exactly ideal you know.

    #37 3 months ago
  38. Clupula

    I do remember how much I miss having a girlfriend who was into RPG’s. In my case, it was JRPG’s, as my last two girlfriends (keep in mind, I usually stay single for years at a time, so my last monogamous relationship was in 2009) were hugely into them.

    I remember living with one of my ex’s, a very extroverted fetish model. When one of us would be playing, say, Shadow Hearts: Covenant or Suikoden III, the other would go on the laptop with headphones on, so we wouldn’t get spoiled if the other one was ahead in the game. And if it was something that the other of us had played, there was something really sweet about the way we’d avoid spoilers and have long talks about what we did and didn’t like about the games. I still get happy when I think of her putting on a little kid voice during Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne when she’d blend the demons together, saying, “I wanna squish the monsters!”

    Oddly, the only game we ever disagreed on was Xenosaga, which she got really bored with very quickly. That was especially odd since she loved Xenogears.

    #38 3 months ago
  39. Stephany Nunneley

    I just wanted to take moment to thank each and every one of you for all the kind words regarding this piece. The fact that so many of you can relate to this, makes me feel less alone and “silly” over the whole situation.

    It’s not easy exposing your heart and soul (at least not for me), and especially not on the Internet. While it scared me to death submitting it to Matt, it was cathartic and something I felt I needed to write.

    I promise, as I have gotten older, such feelings have dissipated – but not completely. It gets better. Just really, really slowly.

    Also, I rarely touch a drink anymore. Two Magners and I am down for the count :D

    All joking aside, again, thank you so much for your words of encouragement; thinly veiled marriage proposals; sharing your own stories; and for letting me know there are people out there like me than I imagined.

    xxxooo You guys rock! <3 <3 <3

    #39 3 months ago
  40. salarta

    @Stephany Nunneley Exposing your heart and soul is never easy, it’s why it’s possible for people to make a career out of it with writing and art and other forms of expression. It takes a lot of effort and trust to put such things out there.

    “thinly veiled marriage proposals”

    Damnit, I’m going to have to get a bigger neon sign next time! Maybe outside your boyfriend’s window wasn’t the best place either. Anyway, enjoy your games!

    #40 3 months ago
  41. Saxon_says

    You have saved me from loads of villains over the course…. Plus you’re so damn genuine the world (this AND rl) are f*#€ing lucky to have you.

    This was beautiful. Like your *ahem* arabian….

    Needless to say you are my personal hero.

    #41 3 months ago
  42. Winged Nazgul

    An Introverted lifestyle is nothing that needs escaping from. Do yourself a favor and Google Susan Cain for her TED talk video or her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

    #42 3 months ago
  43. Brenna Hillier

    Isn’t this a wonderful piece? Steph captures something I think resonates for many of us.

    For the record, Steph has been an absolute rock for me throughout my time at VG247. She says she’s not a party animal and whatever, but she’s one of the funniest and warmest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Hanging out with her is wonderful fun online and in meat space. She’s an absolute treasure and we couldn’t go on without her; I’m super glad she would rather sit at home swapping jokes with me and Pat than work in a boring office.

    #43 3 months ago
  44. Darkfield

    @Brenna Hillier In all seriousness we need an event planned for hanging out online in a space we’re all comfortable with every once in a while. Like a free 2 play MMORPG going out in groups and do stuff, it’s gonna be cool. There are number of games out there that can let us do that for free and quite simple games like Rift and Conan Unchained which are accessible and easy for everyone to get onboard. We can be fun too ye know. :D

    #44 3 months ago

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