I've been gaming for most of my life. What that means is that I started gaming when trying to talk about it was bound to get you in trouble. You know, like back in the day:
"What's this...'D&D' thing you're doing?"
"It's Dungeons & Dragons - it's a kind of shared storytelling, where the players get to be the heroes of the story and the referee is in charge of the story setting."
"Um, sure. That sounds... (pick one or more:) like its for kids/satanic/a complete waste of time/etc."
...which was about as close as I had gotten to explaining it all in a thumbnail to outsiders. But I've never really gotten past the sense that talking about it marks me as different, less socially adept, yeah, a nerd. All of which is funny, since I have little difficulty talking about being bisexual or multiracial or really a whole bunch of things that might be more problematic. It's just another coming out process, right?
It's made even more weird by the fact that the nerds have won, big-time, in the culture wars. So what's holding me back from talking about it, especially when Stephen Colbert, Vin Diesel, Tim Duncan, heck, even Judi Dench are all D&D players? I'm still pondering this. As a younger friend of mine pointed out the other day, "The burning issue for your generation of science fiction fans is feeling socially not accepted. But that's not the issue for younger fans."
Of course, none of this has prevented me from reading a RPG book in public. Or talking to people about it - or even getting people excited about it as something new to them.
Guess I should dig up a few rulebooks and go outside and play.