Over the years, many people have taken the word "Dungeons and Dragons" and "Gamer" in a number of negative ways. It is a sad sad thing, cause I can assure you that the visual idea that either of these two terms are the norm, let alone the common stereotype that fits EVERYONE.
After the jump, you'll find that there are a lot of resources out there that enable people from all walks of life to get together and have a good time, with some examples of people who have done this to great effect!
To start things off, I'd like to point out that Gaming isn't just exclusive to the "cave dwellers" of old. Many people admittedly use the world of Gaming, be it over the Massively Multiplayer Online avenue, or through the table top medium, as an avenue of escape, of relaxation, and simply being social.
It is my firm belief though that many people neglect the tabletop more than it truly deserves. As many people are becoming more familiar with, you've got many many many games that can be easily shared with other people for a very fun time. For those who are turning YouTube into their regular dose of Television, then these such people won't find it too hard to find the wonderful world of TableTop, put together by some of the greatest gaming personalities to hit the World Wide Web.
The biggest thing to keep in mind here is this: "Gaming" doesn't need to be a negative term. "Role Playing" doesn't need to be a negative term. Instead, we can look at it as something very enjoyable, a social interaction that a small group of people can enjoy, and provides an ample opportunity for many people to explore their creative sides.
The really nice thing about this is that it doesn't just have to be stuck at the "cave," instead it can be easily put together using one's laptop, enough money to pay for a reliable internet connection, and a very supportive and cooperative group of people interested in enjoying a good story and good times. One of the really great resources out there right now to foster ANY kind of Role Play Game (regardless if you prefer Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, GURPS, or Mutants and Masterminds) you can easily get a hold of software to bring you all together for the cost of your bandwidth and time.
Say hello to MapTools, a very user friendly and easy to work with java-based open-sourced software. It is free because it is put together by a group of people who really enjoy the hobby of Role Playing. They made the software as open and customizable as anyone could imagine, and depending on who you talk to, is much more reliable and more stable on a wider range of computers than the likes of OpenRPG or TraipseRPG.
Regardless of your choice of software, if you are new to the scene and want to get a taste of what it is like, you can check out any RPG style podcast. The one I've been following consistently as of late has been VigilancePress's (Their official site can be found here) podcast and their play-through episodes in their Beacon City campaign setting.
And let us say you don't have access to many of the books that are popular in the current scheme of things. There are a TON of resources out there for those who are interested, and one of the best places to start is any collection of SRD, or System Reference Document. SRD's have been in circulation for a while, and are updated regularly by the community when relating to gaming systems that are under the OGL (or the Open Gaming Licence), allowing for the core components of the system to be open for people to use and distribute as long as credit is given to those who started it.
Just do a search for your favorite system followed by "SRD" in your search engine of choice, and have a look through. Though, there is a lot of work that goes into each of these systems, and having a physical book handy (or even a searchable PDF) makes the experience a LOT more pleasant for those involved.
So have a look, have some fun, and above all else, try to be social! We are all in this for the fun and enjoyment of each other's company. So the question is now this! What has been something you've seen or heard of that you may have questioned, but otherwise were very curious about (in regards to gaming at the table/virtual table?)? Also, for those who have tried the virtual tabletop, how have you managed most of your gaming needs? In some cases many don't even need the Virtual Tabletop. How as it enhanced your experience with these situations?