When I say Dungeons and Dragons, what is your first thought?

Do you imagine a handful of gawky-looking boys sitting in their mothers' basements? Are they wearing capes and running around pretending to defeat invisible enemies? Are these players social outcasts? Do they appear to you as the utmost bottom of the totem pole?

Not too long ago, society perceived nerds and gamers as outcasts. For whatever reason, mentally diving into a fantasy world and taking on a fictional identity while sitting around a table with a group of friends was treated as atypical when it seems not too different from reading a novel written from a first person point of view. Even in its best media representation, Dungeons and Dragons is treated as a hobby of misfits. Take the relevent episode in the second season of Community for example. In this episode, the main characters feign an interest in tabletop role-playing in order to help a character referred to as "Fat Neil" fit in. Yes, it was really nice of the Community squad to befriend Neil, but having every media representation of a role-player be someone with poor social skills and no friends gets a little old.

The negative stigma surrounding tabletop role-players, gamers, comic book fans, etc. is gradually fading, but our idea of what types of people partake in these activities is still relatively close-minded. Confession: I play Dungeons and Dragon. I am, by social standards at least, a relatively normal college student. I study hard, I hang out with friends, and I go to parties. Nothing about my college experience is unusual except that I'm a member of a RPG party.

When I talk to people about my hobby, I feel the need to immediately defend it. How ridiculous is that? It's like saying "oh yeah, this weekend I read the new Harry Potter book in one sitting BUT I PROMISE I'M NOT WEIRD" or similar to "I love playing baseball and have such a passion for the sport that I spend a couple of nights a month doing nothing but watching or reading about baseball, sorry if that makes you uncomfortable." Obviously, I know those analogies aren't exact, but the message is still there. Truly, all D&D is is a game played verbally. Rather than moving, you talk through your actions and role dice to determine your success. If anything, it's more impressive than any other board game or video game simply due to the amount of effort the party creator or "dungeon master" puts into the storyline.

I like to take part in a narrative crafted by someone who spent hours working to create something for a party of people to enjoy and I don't think that should make me weird.