We’ve all been there.

A big formal event, like a wedding or a party where you don’t know anybody there- these are the prime set-ups for getting, “The Look”.  Someone comes up to you and asks who you are, what you like to do, about your job, etc. Then as you get into talking about your love of video games, “That Look” comes across their face. Eyebrows displaying surprise and confusion, eyes either squinting or extra alert, and a bizarre, tight –lipped smile-frown hybrid. This is just the look I get. Results may vary.

The Look often worsens when you mention you are a serious retro gamer. It’s usually at this point when I realize I am completely out of my element and I should be put on quiet mode to escape, but that’s where the escape plan fails. Chances are, if you are truly getting “That Look”, you are surrounded by people you don’t know, and chances are they’ll mosey on over to you eventually. There is no escape.

I have found that this often leads to two different reactions:

Give in to the most popular conversation at hand,

yes, that's a Mean Girls joke... That's how little I care about politics.

I voted for Regina George because she got hit by a bus.

Or….

 

Nervously blab on about your gaming niche.

This… Yeah, this sort of happened.

In a few weeks while I am home for winter break, I’ll be at my step brother’s big engagement party with over 30 people. Most likely I will be stuck in that awkward place with few people I know. To better prepare for the approaching awkward, I’ve pieced together a conversation survival guide I thought I’d share with you.

 

Strategy 1: The Fishhook

This one is pretty easy to pull off if you have the random party-goer talk first. Ask them about music or movies, or what types of stories they like. From there, find a link of connections to slowly reel the person toward a game in which you might find common interest. For example, Someone might mention that they like 60’s Go-Go music, or Pop Art. From there, steer the conversation like this:

60’s music –> Composer (Ken Woodman)–> Rhythm Games–> Space channel 5

Once you’ve reeled them in by their own interests,  there’s a good chance party guy/girl will be more willing to listen about games, be they hipsters or bro-types alike. If they still give you “That Look”, go get some punch or something and release your catch into the sea.

 

Strategy 2:  Lookit me, lookit me, lookit- Oh, this old thing?

This one is a bit of a risk, especially in more formal situations like a wedding, but if it ends up working you’ll most likely draw in the people most compatible to your gaming geekiness. First, smuggle in a game handheld. A Gameboy, Neo-Geo Pocket, Game Gear, something less common or something on the older side.  Next, find a space where people are hanging about, but is not too crowded.  Pull out the handheld and start playing by yourself, but within plain view of the rest of the crowd. With a little luck, you’ll draw the attention of the people curious about gaming and drive away the ones who don’t know the difference between Diablo and Duck Hunt. An old handheld is a much better conversation piece when it is seen in action.

But in the end, if they feel old video games are weird or stupid, leave the party alone. Let them all argue over which of them are hispters and which ones aren’t. (PROTIP: If people are actually arguing this amongst themselves, then they are all hipsters and it is probably best to look for conversations somewhere else.)

Love that you’re a retro-gamer. Self-esteem is good.

NEXT TIME: 3 more survival strategies and thoughts on sharing games you love.