A call for MMO missionaries. Or not.

There’s a particular breed of people I am very weary of. Not scared in a jumping-ship kind of way, but more like “Uh oh…” as I see them approach or worse, join conversation in a social circle I happen to find myself in. Call me biased; but to be completely free of pre-judice is to never learn from experience.

Whenever a sporty person approaches, I am on guard. You can usually tell from the way they are dressed in forceful business casual, their ever-glossy forehead or intolerably energized gait. Not to mention the well-trained shoulders and legs, of course. But before you get the wrong idea – I am all for physical exercise. Indeed, I am making conscious, well-loathed but conscious efforts to stay fit as I am growing older. I am also dreaming of the day that VR helmet and fullbody motion-sensor suit finally arrive, so I can plug them to my PC and play MMOs while having to go through mindbogglingly boring workout routines. If anyone ever tells you they enjoy their workout: be weary. Be very weary.

I am not talking fit people here, but sporty sporty. The ones that will always inevitably steer the conversation to their favorite subject. The ones who have “seen the light” and really think you should too as you receive their well-meant, unasked for dieting tips. You don’t want to be around them, you don’t want them in your clique – they’ll make you walk instead of taking the bus to the bar or bring raw carrots to a movies night. No, I don’t think we mix particularly well, MMO players and sporty people. And I’m not in any way suggesting the ‘overweight, asocial slob’-image here some media are eager to spread about video-gamers. But err….we invented the WoW treadmill, okay? You get my point.

So anyway, there is that 37ish co-worker of mine who fits the profile perfectly. She’s recently been pregnant and ever since (1 year ago now) she’s been talking about her workout, losing baby-fat and how it took her nine months to lose the dreaded last four pounds. She is also thin as a stick, but now she finally radiates inner peace (and cravings for mars bars). Fortunately, she is rarely in the office when I am and I am rarely joining the “lunch faction” that meets up around the kitchen table every day at 13.00.

Only last Friday…I did. It started out innocently, with a chat between myself and my British co-worker who usually works in London and is the only other person with a sense of humor (figures) in the entire company. I was just having a coffee with her, when sporty person came in to join us. Too late to plan for a quick escape route. Rats.

It took exactly 5 minutes for our conversation to go from holiday plans to running shoes. I have since been trying to reproduce the exact order of events but have failed miserably, twice. I don’t know how she worked “so, what brand of sports shoes are you using for running?” into our talk on bed&breakfasts and English cuisine, but I found myself in the lucky position to be asked that exact question. “Ummm….I don’t know”, I answered. “You do have running shoes, right?”, she persisted. Helplessly, I looked down on my two feet. I was wearing my black work shoes, a pair of semi-high heeled, no-name boots which is what I wear half of the year. I guess, I could run with those. For the rest of the time, I wear my comfy five-year old Adidas sneakers. That’s one myth about shoes and handbags dispelled for you.

“I have some shoes….sneakers.” I added. – “What type?”, says she – “The comfy one”, says I. The spotlight beaming at me from the interrogation lamp started to flicker. I could tell she was giving up, but I somewhat saved the situation by mentioning Adidas. At least I was not completely ignorant – too bad that didn’t stop her from educating us both on suitable sports shoes for city jogging for another 15 minutes. Just when I recovered my will to live and was about to mention how utterly moronic and counter-productive running on concrete in the middle of city traffic is for your health, the phone rang for her and she left. Annoying people always get the quick exits handed to them.

Where are the MMO missionaries?

That whole experience got me thinking on my way home later (when highly philosophical, mental monologue frequently occurs). I was trying to remember one single time in my life where somebody tried convincing me to play video games. Or for that matter, any situation where someone, a co-worker or other acquaintance might have picked up the topic in conversation, trying to engage others. Why are there no MMO missionaries? Besides the most obvious answer, that missionaries of any kind are in fact insufferable folk, really – but, where are the video game enthusiasts? Why are they nowhere to be heard, talking about their hobby, infusing others with their interest to the point of truculence?

It’s not a mainstream hobby, I get it. It’s not srs enough for boring work conversation. It’s still a little geeky. But really, how is the world ever going to be a better place without any of us talking about gaming? Do you want a planet ruled by business casual city-joggers?  


So, I’m making this official: from this day on, every week, I will at least once bring up the topic of video games outside this blog, to non-gamers. I will share my positive experiences and encourage others to give it a go sometime. If the topic isn’t going my way, I will make it. I will say things like “…our conference call line? Wait, ever heard about ventrilo? It’s a great, free voice comm tool for PC, people actually use it to play online games together. You know, WoW and stuff right? No? Well, let me tell you…”.

Easy. One recruit a week and soon enough, when I log on to the game in the evening, to unwind and recharge my batteries, I will be surrounded by co-workers. The excel-specialist that never shuts up, the guy with the golfball keyring……the city-jogger….


…I think I just remembered why we want no MMO missionaries!

“Keep it secret – keep it safe!”

Happy Monday to all of you out there, enjoying the peace of united geekdom at their PCs.


  1. If anyone ever tells you they enjoy their workout: be weary. Be very weary.
    I enjoy my workouts! =P

    Great post! Might I suggest one thing (sorry to break the wonderful tone and light-hearted flow):
    No, I don’t think we mix particularly well, MMO players and sporty people
    This has always boggled me. As I see it, sports and MMOs attract the same crowds. The only difference is the one is physically related, the other mental. But the same sense of comraderie, competition, challenge, progression…

    Granted, additional awkward conversations about an individual’s topic of choice (which always seems to be the same topic, mind you) are never fun. Replace sporty person with girl-who-won’t-shut-up-about-sitcom_35. Have I ever told you about this girl? Oh, now she’ll give your coworker a… (wait for it) …run for her money 😉

  2. Nice post. And an interesting social dilemma.

    I have a similar aversion to ‘sporty’ types; sometimes it feels like they are different species. In fact I grew up being the only cerebral-centric member of my family while the rest of them were outdoorsy, sporty, health fanatical, body-builders even! We regarded each other’s passions with some curiosity, but mostly disinterest. Once we all grew up, we learnt to respect and harness our respective strengths so my family will query me on technical advice and I will pick my personal trainer brother’s brain on nutritional and exercise advice (my theory is, if you exercise in the best way, you don’t have to do as much…).

    Around the work colleagues, as soon as I mention I’m a gamer, there is an initial interest in the fact that I’m a female gamer but there is no real interest in gaming unless they are a gamer themselves. Then the great conversations flow, but really, you’re preaching to the converted. I did actually have a conversation this week with a manager about my gaming but I got the increasingly common response…”oh hey, you should talk to my 20-something year old son, he’d understand.” Well gee, I’m thinking, thanks for even trying to understand. I’m never quite sure whether I’m supposed to feel hip and cool after comments like that or looked down upon.

    I think I’d make a terrible missionary (because I don’t much care for all those other species to be playing either) but I’m a terribly proud gamer and will continue to let them know.

  3. @Adam

    ….I worry about you! 😛
    Hehe, the thing is I grew up in a very unsporty family, I really do blame my parents for this. I know there’s that point where workout can give you all sorts of great feelings and happy pheromones and whatnot, but if you’ve never actually been there to catch the bug, it becomes increasingly hard with age. it’s a valley of misery before things become more fun. I envy anyone with a basic sporty condition he got since childhood.

    You’re quite right of course that many MMO gamers have a competetive mind, sense for teamplay etc. – hence also the term e-sports. as for the annoying talk about TV series, that can be quite as bad naturally – depending on tastes, anyway! 😉

    That is an interesting and no doubt at times difficult situation to grow up in; I grew up with a natural disdain for “physical virtues”, I would read and write and prefer going to the museum to the basketball court. only in recent years I’ve come to respect the ‘other side’ more and also strive for more balance within myself (frankly also because I have to now, damnit). but I think there will always be a rift between both worlds to some extent. I can’t help it that my greatest interests and passions are so sedative – and a life where I don’t follow my heart’s desires is not worth living. so, like you said, I still try to find ‘max benefit’ by doing effective workout, rather than long workout.

    “…but I’m a terribly proud gamer and will continue to let them know. “

    Amen to that. 🙂 I have nobody to chat about games at work either, but then I never hid that part of me from anybody, nor do I intend to. if anyone can admit to playing golf with a straight face, I can wear my gamer badge with pride!

  4. To me working out and playing sports are two different things although related. A person can get a workout playing sports, but a work out is not necesarily playing sports. I personally hate working out, but I love sports and everything about them. Until the last year I was a competitve sand valleyball player and I still love to play golf when time allows. I find sports and MMO’s to be similar in the competive nature as well as the comraderie that goes with both. On the other hand working out has always been something I have had to force myself to do. ( unfortunatly I haven’t been able to make myself do this for the last 6 months and am getting fatter lol) So I believe sports and MMO’ are a blast, but no, working out sucks and everytime I see someone running down the street I always wonder how they do it.

  5. Indeed, you’re quite right. and in this distinction lie both the similarities between gaming and sports, but also the difference between enjoying games but not necessarily workout / physical activity, unless it’s fun. I used to like team sports myself, I didn’t mind the workout there because it was “wrapped” in tactical play, competition etc.

    The focused workout now is just SO BORING! I’ve tried doing it while watching TV or listening to music etc. but it doesn’t quite work. I’m still looking for better ways to trick myself into it. 😛

  6. I actually enjoy my workouts too 🙂

    Running (haha) the risk of sounding like your co-worker, what got me really hooked was instructor-led activities like BodyPump, BodyCombat and other choreographed classes that had music I liked and were the same for 3 months so I actually learned the moves.

    Back on topic, I have to agree with Play above. If you mention gaming to people who don’t game you get that “does-not-compute”-look from them and you don’t really have grounds for a conversation.

    Funny, I still think of myself as a gamer although I haven’t played anything except WordFeud for six months 🙂

  7. Tessy! /wave
    I’m sure having an instructor around to push you is great help. I’m still not sure I would enjoy it though, haha!

    And being a gamer is not something you can lose just because you’re not currently playing many games! 🙂

  8. Workout is usually unable to keep my mind busy. That’s why it is boring. But real sports – competitive is better. If you accept the challenge and are not a victim of inferiority complexes it can be a lot of fun 😉

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