my bard has a thaco -2 dragon skin

8/31/11

Perhaps some of you already know about Alyssa Bereznak, a writer for Gizmodo who went on two dates with a nice-seeming guy on OKCupid, then returned home to destroy his character online because he happened to be a world champion at “Magic: The Gathering”. Internet reaction was swift (as internet reactions tend to be) with headlines like Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Date Alyssa Bereznak, written by women, no less. Even Gizmodo Australia berated their own co-worker.

This is a remarkable turn of events, if you have any memory of childhood occurring before about 1985, when dissing someone for being a dork was not only unremarkable, it was mandatory. The worm has finally turned, and the geek has indeed inherited the earth, when the whole internet turns against a girl for disdaining fantasy role-playing gamers.

I’m glad I’m here to see it, and enjoy it while I’m still young enough to remember the humiliation I endured at the hands of similarly close-minded yahoos (next stop: absolution for ham radio enthusiasts?) But I think the outrage is slightly misplaced.

First off, Alyssa Bereznak is a chick, and we still expect our women to be less judgmental and more accepting of the weirdoes among us – which has no doubt amped up the criticism of her. Yes, a man would have also gotten a ton of shit for writing something like this, but when a woman does it, we see it as… I dunno, a betrayal of some sort.

I’ve also read a few online defenses of “Magic: The Gathering”, as if Bereznak would have behaved differently if she’d known how cool it really was. My own interaction with MTG was limited to several days at the wifi/arcade/gaming center in Jasper, Georgia circa 2002, where Salem and I would check our email and play Galaga.

MTGgarruk.jpg

Were some of the players morbidly obese and wearing oversize rayon print T’s with wizards on them? Sure. Was the gameplay oddly quiet and arcane? Yep. But were there a bunch of normal teenagers in there, even a couple of girls, escaping their parents and having fun? Fuck yes.

It’s not Bereznak’s criticism of the game that I find most reprehensible, nor her general shallowness of character. For me, it’s her closing statement:

for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Gawker Media employees and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.

Two things about this. First off, he didn’t “go after” two Gawker Media employees, he merely selected two people with similar interests who ended up working for the same corporate parent company. And believe me, I was a world-class cad with seemingly no moral compass, but even the nicest guy in the world can look predatory if he is observed in the act of dating.

Secondly – and worstly – and neither of those are actual words – this is just another example of a person not living her life for life’s sake. It’s all just part of the package she presents to the social media world. She doesn’t have inner monologues or meaningful experiences, she only has Events to be Shared Later for Social Currency.

People turn to games like “Magic: The Gathering” because they’re missing a magical part of themselves they used to indulge – the lush, anything-goes dreamscapes my daughter lives in right now. I did the same thing with Dungeons & Dragons, and I do it now while inventing stories for our job.

This woman’s crime isn’t that she’s mean-spirited, or that she doesn’t “get” gamers. Her crime is a failure of imagination, a failure to sense greatness. Diving into someone’s else’s passions, no matter how weird they might seem, never fails to stoke your own. This woman is worse than mean; she’s boring.

0 thoughts on “my bard has a thaco -2 dragon skin

  1. CM

    Gosh, that essay was more boring than I expected. She didn’t savage him too much. I didn’t actually learn much about the him. Girls could be writing essays about much worse men. Like the guy I met who said “I actually drive a lot better when I’m drunk,” the numerous guys who savaged most of their past online dates as being “too fat,” the one who said he was unable to ever leave Manhattan even for a day trip (he’s not just a Sex and the City episode; he really exists), etc. This guy sounds like a prince.

    Reply
  2. Anne

    Revenge of the nerds: priceless. Although I find myself asking, Must every social misstep find its way online these days?
    In better news: Late yesterday our power came back on. First time since Sunday at 7 pm when Irene blew down a zillion trees in Rhode Island. Now I can waste time on Facebook!
    Or maybe I’ll go back to reading books by flashlight and looking at the starry skies before an early bedtime. You never know.

    Reply
  3. Jason Savage

    love the last line, and would add that she’s lazy. it’s low-hanging fruit and a tired old cliche. hasn’t been funny since the Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, and he even he was actually sort of a dick and deserving of scorn sometimes, not actually a really nice guy with dorkish tendencies.

    Reply
  4. kent

    The root of all cruelty is moral blindness. One doesn’t see other people as deserving the same respect and care one expects for oneself.
    I used to browse dating sites, not for companionship, but for the lulz. This stopped being funny when I realized the quiet desperation and vulnerability of the people who throw their hats in that ring.
    So someone’s chunky, and a little too into Robert Jordan medievalist fantasies? That might not be your dream date, but it takes a lot of chutzpah to think you’re any prize yourself.
    The thing about being a geek — even now, don’t fool yourself that we’re all rockstars now — is that you’re not the prettiest or the sexiest. You have plenty of time to find things to geek out over because you’re excluded from the mating rituals of the attractive. Being a geek teaches you humility, and any pride you feel is for your mastery of whatever it is you’re geeky about.
    Remember Psalm 37: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
    They’ll do it sitting in circles with their Pokemon cards and Settlers of Catan boards.

    Reply
  5. Neva

    This guy will have the last laugh when he’s a multimillionaire CEO and she’s still trying to live down her snarky, bitchy persona she put out there on the web. Truth is this guy’s probably going to get a lot of women from true empathy over this girl’s attitude.
    My experience is people who are hyperfocused and have real hobbies and interests have way more potential than some apathetic person who just wants to flip channels on the tv and eat junk food all day.

    Reply
  6. amy a

    online dating is one of the bravest things i’ve ever done. i always think that if there’re no sparks on a date, at least maybe i’ll meet someone interesting or a new friend.
    it’s a pity this chick failed to see that possibility. i’m glad so many folks are coming to this guy’s defense. and i don’t know: this guy could *actually* be an asshole (like CM says, we don’t learn all that much about him from the article), but for now at least, he looks like superman. Or clark kent, rather.

    Reply

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