geek3sep2008[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

In the last 12 months, I have attended three conventions, Paizocon UK, Dragonmeet and Conception 2011. In the next 12 months I will be attending even more, and I wish I had time to go attend them all!

The reason? Gamers are some of the coolest people on the planet.

It is very common to be mocked pretty much everywhere and by pretty much anyone who’s not a gamer when we “come out of the gaming closet”. People think of us as pariahs, weirdoes, saddos and many other names, just because we like to sit around a table and enjoy a game (or twenty!). How many of them “wise people” have ever played a game?… probably not many.

Yesterday I went back to work, and it was not long before someone who’ll remain nameless, made a not-so-funny remark about the type of people who play games. Unfortunately I had to contain my emotions and just tell that person that wearing a football t-shirt doesn’t really entitles him to mock my favourite hobby.

Quite frankly, I was livid. Which is why I wanted to post this article.

Now, before I go any further, I will define “cool” a little bit. Cool is not only what people look like, but what people “are” as people, not as an image.

Let’s face it, very few of us are trendy or a member of the “fashionistas” club. We like wearing lose t-shirts, out of fashioned trousers, long leather coats, long and thin pony-tails, some of the weirdest shoes you’ll ever see, beards any fantasy setting dwarf would be proud of…

Most of us don’t look cool. And you know what? Who gives a monkeys!

Although there are idiots everywhere and our gaming collective is no exception, we are an absolutely amazing bunch, and some of the coolest people on this planet.

At my arrival at Paizocon UK, both the organisers and the people made me feel welcome within minutes. Before I got to Dragonmeet this year, I started a conversation with Chris, from the Super Happy Fun Show, in the tube and before knowing him at all. At Conception, I shared a house with one man I knew only a little beforehand, and two complete strangers I’ve never seen before, and I can safely say I have gained three friends for life. Since I started this magazine, I have been impressed and amazed by the kindness and generosity of more people than I can remember, and although not everyone has been kind or generous, everyone has been honest and genuine.

In my time as a gamer, I have met doctors, historians, medievalists, scientists, programmers, psychologists, philosophers, artists, shop assistants, designers, writers, janitors, unemployed, rich, poor and many others I am forgetting. None of them has ever rejected another gamer’s company, no matter how different that gamer was.

At Conception I saw people leaving tables unattended while they went to buy food. Their rucksacks, bags, dice, books and even an iPad remained untouched until they came back. I challenge you to leave your iPad unattended at another type of event!

We are not obsessed with the latest celebrity, the latest breast implants or the latest multi-millionaire wedding happening in any seedy and, let’s face it, rather pointless tabloid. We don’t have to look at other people’s lives to fill ours with amazing experiences. Very few of us don’t have someone we can call upon and play a game and enjoy good company. No, my friends, not many of us are pariahs, weirdoes, saddos or many other names.

Wait until the first impression has left with its poor judgement, and start unveiling the depths of any gamer. You’re likely to find people who are sensitive, clever, witty, kind, friendly, imaginative…

I don’t know you, but I think that’s the coolest way to be cool.