Times have changed. It used to be that being a gamer was anything but cool. Being a gamer meant being an outsider, a geek, a nerd.
Despite that I’ve always been one to wear my hobby with pride. I didn’t hide the fact that I was a gamer. I carried my Warhammer rulebooks with me openly. I had Futhark Runes written on my denim jacket. I paid to import Games Workshop T-Shirts from the UK. I was never ashamed to be a gamer.
Today being into games doesn’t mean you have to be a pariah. Now being into gaming isn’t even just normal, it’s often considered cool. I’m still getting used to that. One of the benefits of this culture change is that it’s now easier than ever to fly your gamer geek flag.
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Why fly the flag?
You should never be ashamed of being into the things you love. Part of being a fan of a thing is celebrating that thing and letting the world know you love it. Sports fans have their jerseys and ball caps. Star Wars fans have, well everything, I’ve even seen Star Wars branded bananas. There’s no reason for tabletop gaming fans not to also celebrate their hobby in the same way.
Being proud of your hobby and showing it off is one thing but the main reason I like to fly my gamer flag is to silently signal other gamers. It’s a way of letting other hobbyists know that we have something in common. Now this could just lead to a polite nod to each other as we pass in the street but it could also lead to meeting up with an awesome new local gamer, someone you could end up playing games with for years. It might just lead to a new lifetime friendship.
You see someone wearing a Lanterns T-Shirt and you instantly know that person is into hobby board games. Lanterns is a great game but it’s not one that I would call mainstream in any way. You get on the bus and see someone with a Beholder Patch on their backpack and you know you’ve got an RPG fan in your midst. That woman in the D20 dress? You can bet she’s rolled some crits before.
Gamer merch is a great conversation starter and indicator saying: “Hey, I’m into a thing!” So fly that gamer flag and get out there and meet some new gamers.
T-Shirts have always been a big thing with fans. I grew up wearing band and concert shirts and that evolved into wearing geekier gamer shirts as my hobby swapped from music to games. If I’m not headed into work at a desk job I’m wearing a t-shirt with something geeky on it.
Most of my shirts come from a few online shops. ThinkGeek has a ton of awesome geeky shirts including some tied directly to gaming, like this awesome Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rules T-Shirt. I own quite a few of their shirts usually bought during a sale as their regular prices can be a bit high.
I have picked up even more shirts from Geeky Goodies than I have from ThinkGeek. Wearing my yellow cube, Cube Pusher T-shirt means I never have to argue with people about getting to play my favourite colour when we sit down to a game. I’m pretty sure their Board Game Mechanics shirt has even more mechanics on it than my Giant List of Board Game Mechanics. At some point I should sit down and compare the two.
One of the best things I ever bought at Origins was a Handy Haversack from Off World Designs. Besides being a great bag to carry around a con, with lots of room to hold games I want to play as well as new stuff I buy while walking the exhibit hall, it’s great for showing off my gamerness.
Every D&D fan knows about Heward’s Handy Haversack. I get more compliments on this bag than any other piece of gamer gear I own.
I’ve also got a Backpack of Holding from ThinkGeek. This bag is fantastic for RPG night. It fits a good chunk off RPG rulebooks and has plenty of pouches for things like dice, pencils, miniatures, etc.
The Backpack of Holding is what I use when heading to the local game store to play or run a game. It’s surprisingly comfortable and holds more than it looks like it does due to the way the top folds over. This is also what I wear at cons when I’m not planning on buying anything. The side pouches are perfect for holding a couple bottles of water and/or some small snacks.
While not as instantly recognizable as a piece of gamer gear, I’ve got to give a shout out to the Quiver from Quiver Time. The Quiver is an awesome piece of gamer luggage designed for carrying card games to and from game night. I had the chance to review a Quiver back in November and was extremely impressed. I now own two of them, one of which is soon to be filled with a bunch of KeyForge cards.
Put a pin in it!
While we were at Origins 2018 I discovered Pin Bazaar. This was a cool scavenger style hunt that ran through the entire con. You signed up at the customer service booth and revived a set of really nice metal pins. Then you hunted around the dealer hall for participating vendors, each of which had a branded pin with their company or game or mascot or whatever on it. Most of the companies were giving the pins away free with any purchase, some were selling them, others gave them away if you sat through a demo game. I thought it was very cool.
It also hooked me on collecting gaming related pins. Pins I could put on that haversack I was just talking about. Pins are something new for me, so I don’t have many yet but it’s something I’m going to be watching for at future cons.
Now if you can’t or don’t want to head to a con and search for pins yourself, I’ve also seen some really awesome pins on Etsy.
Patch it up!
I’ve personally got a couple of OSR RPG patches, both of which come from Thaddeus Moore who makes and sells them over social media. I really dig these though I’ve yet to take the time to actually attach them to anything. I plan on them going on my Backpack of Holding.
If you are looking for RPG patches of your own, I’m going to point to Etsy yet again. There’s a great selection over there covering a wide range of quality and prices.
Shout it out!
Besides wearing and carrying the gamer geek flag you can also just get out there and talk about it.
Is your Facebook feed all about your pets, kids and latest culinary creation? How about taking part in #WhatDidYouPlayMondays and once a week sharing what games you played the week previous? You don’t have to talk gaming all the time. Hey, even I don’t talk gaming all the the time. Just get it out there now and then.
Share a picture of your latest game on Instagram. Check in on FourSquare when you stop in at the FLGS. Connect your BoardGameGeek account to Twitter so that it shares to your feed whenever you log a play.
Shout it out all over social media. Hey folks, I’m a tabletop gamer and I’m proud of it.
What do you do to fly the tabletop gamer flag? Let us know in the comments!