Nerd Guy of the Month
Meet Matt, an RPG Nerd
Interview by Terra Olsen
What are you nerdy for?
I’m basically a big geek who likes many different activities. I like movies, especially science fiction, fantasy and superhero movies. I’m a huge nerd for the Tolkien movies. I like to read different types of books, mostly fantasy and/or magic realism. My favorite authors are Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman and Jim Butcher. My undergraduate degree is in Cultural Anthropology, so I love to read about different cultures and anything to do with anthropology. Growing up in the Northwest, I also like to spend time in the outdoors – mostly camping and fly-fishing. And finally, I’m really nerdy for role playing games. I tend to collect them and have several book shelves full of various genres of RPGs.
How did you discover RPGs?
Back in 1981, when I was 11 years old, my cousin introduced me to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. And while I now play many different types of RPGs and board games, D&D continues to be my “nerd of choice.”
Well, when I was in high school, I hung out with a bunch of great guys and we listening to a lot of heavy metal/punk rock and played D&D. We were your stereotypical “liberal arts nerds.” We were all into music, art and/or theater. When I reached my mid 20s, I stopped playing RPGs. I was working a couple of different jobs and just didn’t have the time. It wasn’t until my mid 30s that I got back into role-playing games. My son, who was 11 at the time, showed an interest in them. So I decided to form a D&D group. Living in a college town, it wasn’t hard to find new players. Besides my son, our first player was my buddy Sean. Sean became my fellow “Geek In Arms.” Eight years later, Sean and I are still playing RPGs and board games with a group of folks about every two weeks.
How have RPGs impacted your life? How do you incorporate them into your life?
For me, RPGs have become my “Poker Night.” Every two weeks, I get together with a great bunch of people, eat good food, talk about geeky stuff such as movies or comic books, and kill orcs.
For me personally, it offers a little escapism. My graduate degree is in social work and, with my day job, I typically deal with some pretty crazy stuff. I read this article once in Psychology Today that basically stated that with an increasingly uncontrollable structured society, movies, books and games offer us some form of control in our daily lives.
I also feel that there is this cultural piece to RPGs that relates to the art of storytelling. All cultures love to hear stories – it is a distinctive part of what it means to be human. In our American culture, we typically receive our storytelling through movies, books or television. Like the storytellers of old, RPGs gives us the chance to become involved with the storytelling process. And they take it a step further because it is a collaborative event where everybody is both the listener and teller.
Where do you want to take role playing in the future?
For now, I like where I’m at. Recently, I took a stab at World Building and created a post- apocalyptic campaign setting that is heavily influenced by Dark Sun (a Wizards of the Coast setting) and utilizes the Pathfinder mechanic (a “cleaned up” version of the 3.5 edition of D&D). I’m having a blast with that.
Eventually, when I have more time (I am currently working at three jobs), I would like to possibly run some games with the kids at my church. As I stated above, I really do think RPGs can be a really positive influence. They teach teamwork, foster social interactions, and cultivate the imagination. I feel that they have had a great influence on my son and myself.
What would you say to those who assume RPGs are for males only?
This is probably one of biggest current myths about RPGs. Certainly, in the 80s you did not see that many females playing RPGs. However, nowadays, there are many female gamers. I went to PaizoCon this summer and I was able to play in some awesome games with some great gamer girls. And Paizo’s CEO is a woman (Lisa Stevens) who also happens to be a lifelong tabletop gamer!
And than there’s the other stereotype that RPGs are just for those socially awkward males who live in their parents basement. That’s not true either. Through the RPG website, ENWorld.org, I have ran into lawyers, doctors, and sports enthusiasts (Jocks!) who also like to play RPGs. ENWorld is a great place to find out about groups and players in your neighborhood.
I have a ton of favorite memories, but the ones that frequently stand out the most, involve my son’s characters. You see, there have been many times that his characters have died. And they usually die in hilarious ways. For example, he had this awesome half-drow (dark elf) character that “accidentally” fell over the side of a ship and drowned. The party was able to recover his body, go ashore to this tiny island and enlist the help of the only inhabitant – a druid. When the druid “reincarnated” my son’s character, he came back as a kobold (a little obnoxious reptilian creatures). Needless to say, my son retired that character and immediately wrote up a new character. For many games after that, we joked about how his reincarnated kobold went on to become a famous leader and King of the Kobolds! Okay… well, I guess you had to be there 🙂
Thanks for interviewing me for your website. It has been an honor! And, once again I would like to emphasize that RPGs can be enjoyed by anyone – both men and women alike. And they encompass just about every known genre. Not only fantasy, but science fiction, horror, mystery, steampunk, western, pulp fiction, etc. (I even played in an Inception style RPG once). So, on that next rainy weekend, grab some dice & books, roll up some characters and create some fantastic stories with your friends!
Matt Ramsey is an overworked social worker who currently works at three different jobs doing a myriad of social work-y activities that would take waaaay too long to explain. In addition, to his professional passion, he is also a die hard and life long geek. If he and his buddy Sean can figure out how to make a living at it, they would buy a green van, get a Great Dane and travel about solving supernatural mysteries.
Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about them.