I live in a military town. I game with military guys. On any given night you’ll hear chatter about A1Cs and SrAs and complaints about the BAH, and I’ll be sitting there nodding like the Goodburger guy. I always thought it was a bit obnoxious, and whenever it comes up I’ll invariably find myself responding with my best Gimli impression (Speak words we can all understand!). But then, as I was writing one these blog posts and hyperlinking to some TV Tropes page or 1d4chan in-joke, it occurred to me that I am also that guy. I mean, I just referenced a line from a 16 year old fantasy movie. And if you find yourself thinking, Well yeah. But it’s freaking LOTR,  remember that not everyone has an annual Lord of the Rings viewing party.

One of the very first things I wrote for this comic was the “about” page. There you can still read the following:

If you don’t know the Tomb of Horrors from a 10-foot pole, don’t worry! We’ll do our best to explain the geeky inside jokes as we go along.

I worry sometimes that we’ve fallen down on that measure. If you aren’t a gamer, I don’t think this will ever be your favorite comic. We’re still trying though, and I think that’s important. Much like the games we play, the micro cultures we build require a lot of specialized knowledge. You pick that up over time. The nature of hit points and Vancian magic and the phrase Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards… It seems second nature after a while, but there’s a danger in assuming that it’s common knowledge. Acronyms and gamer slang are fun. They give us a sense of belonging and of hard-earned specialized knowledge. They also happen to save a lot of keystrokes. But if you’re in mixed company with non-gamers, they can also become an unintentional barrier to entry.

The way we talk about our favorite games has the potential to bring people into the hobby or drive them away. So don’t be a gatekeeper. Be an ambassador. That sense of welcome and of community is what makes this hobby great.