With little first-hand information or experience, non-gamers tend to rely on what they've seen in movies or TV shows, those caricatures that paint gamers with a uniformly unflattering brush. Many non-gamers are genuinely surprised to learn that not everyone who loves to play games is a Cheetos-stained slacker whose eyes have gone glassy from too many late nights in front of the monitor. This lack of understanding can lead to some annoying generalizations sure to send a gamer's eyes rolling skyward. "Besides people not understanding that video games are an advanced form of entertainment over idly watching TV, I also encounter several 'So do you go to Star Trek conventions too?' comments," says iTara PMS. It's certainly not the most offensive question a gamer has ever been asked, but it belies a basic lack of understanding. And so it is that we, as strangers in a strange land, are constantly asked to explain and justify our hobby, a requirement rarely placed on those who choose trips to the movies or pickup games of basketball as their pastimes of choice.

Non-gamers will stand, mouths agape, demanding to know how we can sleep at night spending "so much money on games." Upon overhearing Lou P Lou's description of her gaming weekend, a coworker asked her how she could justify the cost of videogames. "I asked her if she had any hobby that she spends money on, scrapbooking, reading, computers... anything. She admitted that she did. So, I explained to her that gaming is my hobby, an escape from the stress of working in ICU with critically ill patients all day. That I work for my money and if I decide to spend that money on gaming so be it. [But] no matter how I 'plead my case' they seem to think that I waste my money. Guess you have to be a gamer to understand."

Sadly, relatives aren't much more supportive. Though we might hope to at least enjoy some unconditional support and understanding from our families - they are, after all, stuck with us - they are sometimes the very people from which we earn the most scorn and criticism. It's a rare woman who doesn't feel pressure from her family to get married and have children, and when that doesn't happen, gaming makes a handy target for misplaced anger and disappointment. "My sister-in-law actually had the balls to ask me when I was going to grow up, and have a kid already," explains Xbox Betty. "When the family came to visit, and I was showing my brother Blazing Angels, she forcefully moved my niece away from the TV, explaining really loudly that her kids wouldn't grow up to play those 'terrible' video games and waste her life."

It's ironic that an activity that might open the doors of communication between a mother and her children - a shared love of gaming - oftentimes causes so many people to call her parenting skills into question. xSkx Nightstar's son is just 5 months old, but her family is already doubting her ability to raise him "properly" if she keeps on gaming. "I have had my family tell me that I can't play anything because it's 'not right for a mother or wife to play games with a child to raise.' Even [after] explaining that I don't play any games unless my son is asleep they still remain in that mindset. Many people will have their opinion on the 'traditional' way that women in general should not play ...but I won't change my outlook on gaming; I'm still going to play for years to come until I can't hold a controller anymore." Deanna the Geek faced similar flak from her mother: "My mother tells me I need to spend more time being a mother and housewife than playing games. 'Games are for kids,' she's always telling me."

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