- [In this article, Mister Raroo takes a look at the assumptions that are not only made about gamers, but that gamers themselves make Along the way he manages to discuss a potential murderer that frequents the library, a "bear" meet-up at Disneyland, discussing games with a UPS delivery driver, and more!]

Never Judge a Book…

While using a phrase like “never judge a book by its cover” to begin an article is fairly corny, I thought maybe it was apt since I work in a public library. When people visit the library, they often make assumptions about me that aren’t necessarily true.

I’ll be asked if I’m a volunteer (no, I’m a paid employee), if I sit around reading books all day (sorry, I wish I had the time to do that!), and why I would pick such a boring job (it’s actually pretty interesting and sometimes even exciting).

-I often make assumptions about library patrons, too, usually based upon their looks, the materials they check out, and the habits they display. One of my favorite patrons is a man I like to call The Killer. He lacks any type of computer literacy, so he’ll ask me to “do a Google” and “download everything” about particular homicides.

I usually just print out four or five news stories, tell him that’s everything I can find, collect the 15 cents per page for the print-outs, and bid him farewell as he wanders off to find an empty seat and study the information.

The Killer is a tall, intimidating older man with a grizzled beard and a booming voice. He looks like he’d have no trouble overpowering his potential victims. Though he’s always pleasant, there is an air of urgency in his requests. I like to assume that he is checking up on the homicides he’s committed, seeing how close the police are to catching him. Most likely, The Killer isn’t actually a murderer, but it’s fun to believe he is. Just in case, I always make sure to be polite to him so that I don’t become his next victim!

Making assumptions about people is something we all do, at least to some extent. The reason it is so important to make a good first impression, for example, is because people will judge and assume things based upon those first few moments. Even though we might make assumptions that aren’t true, that doesn’t stop us from being influenced by them.

During World War II my wife’s grandparents, despite being American citizens, were sent to the Japanese internment camps because the assumption was made that their Japanese ancestry made them a threat (although my wife’s family tree does potentially trace back to a clan of ninjas, so look out, America!).

Mister Raroo Apparently Likes Sports and Guys!

-Making assumptions based on appearance is not only something that we all do, but it is something that we all are subjected to as well. In terms of my physical appearance, I definitely fall into the “guy” category. I’m tall, beefy, have a shaved head, and spout a beard on my chin. I’m the type of person people address as “bro,” “dude,” or “man.”

People always figure I must be a sports junkie and I’m constantly asked questions like, “Hey, who’s gonna win the game tomorrow?” It’s usually easier to just tell people what they want to hear so I normally just fake it, giving a quick response and smile. “I think the Chargers have a good chance of winning.” Really, though, I don’t care much about sports.

Oddly enough, I’ve also been mistaken as being gay from time to time. A couple of my coworkers, both of whom are gay, say that my physical appearance coupled with the fact that I’m a pretty emotionally sensitive person cause me to give off a definite “bear vibe.” Bears, for the uninitiated, are a subculture within the homosexual community of men who are larger, hairier, masculine, and generally look kind of like me! I’ve been hit on and flirted with more than a few times by men who probably assumed I was a bear.

A couple months ago when my niece Autumn and I were at Disneyland, there was some type of official bear meet-up. We saw groups of burly looking guys wearing red t-shirts all throughout the park. At one point when we were in line, there was one particularly big fellow standing behind us. My niece leaned over and whispered, “Don’t look now, but that grizzly is checking you out!” I actually felt pretty attractive at that moment, to be honest!

Games For Bros, Dudes, and Men

Gamers are no stranger to assumptions being made about them. Even though video games have become an increasingly accepted and mainstream form of entertainment in recent years, non-gamers still make assumptions that anyone into video games is most likely a geek with no social skills who sits around all day starting mindlessly at a screen while pushing buttons on a controller.

Though that might describe a small percentage of gamers (and if that’s you, go get some fresh air already!), most of us aren’t like that. We pursue an education, hold down jobs, fall in love, create works of art, raise families, pay taxes, and make positive contributions to the world around us. In short, nobody should assume gamers are any different from other members of society… but they do. And, even within our own subculture, we make assumptions about one another

A few weeks ago when my Xbox 360 was being returned from Microsoft’s Repair Center, I had a conversation with the UPS driver. He knew what was in the box and asked, “So, how many times have you had to send your 360 back?” When I told him it was my second, he laughed and informed me he’d sent his back four times and was afraid his 360 was on the verge of having yet another Red Ring of Death meltdown soon.

-Before the driver left, he inquired to what I thought of Grand Theft Auto IV. “Hey bro, it’s pretty sick, huh?” I actually have very little interest in the game, but for the sake of being polite and to get the driver on his way, I just gave a canned response. “Yeah, it’s pretty impressive.” He gave me a “fist pound” then hopped in his truck and sped off to make his next delivery.

I didn’t lie to the UPS driver. I truthfully do think Grand Theft Auto IV is very remarkable on many levels, but it’s just not really the type of game that appeals to me. Still, from the driver’s viewpoint, it makes sense to assume that I’d be into GTA IV: I’m an adult gamer, I own a 360, everyone seems to be excited about GTA IV, and, as explained earlier, I look like a “guy.”

Of course, it’s stereotypical to assume that looking like a “guy” means I’d like games such as Grand Theft Auto IV, but that’s the reality of it. Gamers come in all shapes and sizes, but there are certain types of individuals who, on the surface at least, look like they spend their gaming time playing “guy” titles like Madden, Call of Duty, or Grand Theft Auto.

I happened to drive through a shopping center during a time when there were people lining up for a midnight release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and let me tell you, most of the line consisted of “guys.”

Usually when people find out I like games, they assume I strictly play “guy” games. But, as the old saying goes, looks can be deceiving. When it comes to gaming, my tastes don’t really match my looks. My favorite types of games are often the cute and family-friendly ones with catchy music, bright visuals, and an overall warm, fuzzy presentation. That’s not to say I don’t ever play violent or mature games, but on the whole it’s safe to say I’m in the camp that prefers blue skies in the games they play.

There Are More to Video Games Than Just Video Games

It’s very rare if someone asks me if I like movies, books, or music. Instead, they ask what kind of movies, books, or music I like. Yet, when people find out I like video games, they assume that means I like every all video games. To these types of individuals, a video game is a video game is a video game. Yet, for those of us who are gamers, we know that as with all other forms of media and artistic creation, there exists a multitude of genres available to players.

-In fact, having different tastes in games can sometimes lead to an inability to relate to one another amongst gamers. For example, I have a coworker who likes games, but he pretty much sticks to sports games, which I rarely play.

When I tell him about a lot of the games I like, I can see his eyes gloss over as his interest wanes. If I were to discuss the newest NBA Live he’d most likely be all ears, but when I talk about Geometry Wars Galaxies or Game Center CX: Arino's Challenge it’s like I’m speaking a foreign language to him.

And, as anyone who’s ever visited a video game message board on the Web can attest to, the wide variety of video games can cause arguments and, in some cases, all out wars between posters. Most hardcore gamers have favorite genres, companies, and developers, and message board posters will sometimes go out of their way to prove the supremacy of their beloved tastes as opposed to those of the people not in agreement with them.

Things can get plenty ugly, but it just goes to show how passionate gamers are about their hobby. If all video games were the same to gamers, there would be nothing to argue about. In this sense, these types of arguments are a testament to the diversity that exits in video games.

As video games become more accepted and popular as a mainstream form of entertainment, I am confident that the misassumptions about video games and their players will become less common. There will always be people who just don’t understand and will clump videogames into one big group, but that happens with all forms of entertainment and art.

To some individuals I might just be seen as a sports-loving bear who sits on his sofa all day long playing generic video games. However, I have a feeling that before long people won’t just be asking me if I like games, but instead they’ll be asking me what types of games I’m into and be anxious to discuss how their favorite genres and developers are superior to mine.

[Mister Raroo is a happy husband, proud father, full-time public library employee, and active gamer. He currently lives in El Cajon, CA with his family and many pets. You may reach Mister Raroo at mister.raroo@gmail.com.]