Friday, May 11, 2012

No Thank You: Geek Culture

The phrase "Geek Culture" lives in a special place in my heart. A seething, angry and dark place full of hatred. In fact, I hate all of the negative words associated with the culture such as nerd, dork etc. I do not embrace it as a badge of honor or as some backwards way to get back at "the man." When confronted with accusations of geekery I am the first and usually loudest to respond. My original gaming blog was titled "Orcs and Dorks," and it took some time to realize why I hated the name.

I... We are not geeks, nerds or dorks. While I sometimes use the word gamer, I don't need a label to tell the world who I am. I am so much more than the hobbies I participate in. If I was forced to label myself I would say that I am a hard worker, a dedicated husband, a good friend, an artist and a player of games. Only when we sit around the table -dice in hand- do I become the GM. The Game Master; a title in my eyes, not a label.

I bring this up because of recent observations out in the real world. I talk about gaming anywhere, and to anyone. I love to convert the skeptical or the naysayers into supporters and players. We've got so many people hooked on games at work that it's a regular topic of conversation. If we aren't talking about Pathfinder, we're playing Kittens in a Blender at lunch and when we aren't doing that, we're playing trivia. It's a nice feeling to walk into the break room and hear a sixty year old master plumber or electrician hopefully ask, "Hey are you guys doing trivia today?" I don't sit and look at the 'cool table' in the lunch room, wishing I was there. I run the cool table.

Today's game, circa 1984.

I worry that the embrace of the so called geek culture is just a trend - and trends change with time. Fantasy and sci-fi might be popular teefury shirts topics right now, but who's to say how long that will last? Dr. Who and Game of Thrones will eventually run their course. Harry Potter has been dethroned and Skyrim will eventually take that final arrow to the... never mind.

Take heart though. This post isn't some message of anger and impending doom. Just my opinion and some advice. Don't keep your hobbies hidden away in the metaphorical dungeon. Embrace them, talk about them and ask other people if they would be interested. In my experience table top gaming is not very friendly to newcomers, or people who are interested but don't know where to start. It's hard to start playing D&D if you've never played it before and sometimes a friendly face makes all the difference. If you play in a game/hobby shop and see some lone guy or gal wandering around, glancing at the tables invite them over! Use Craigslist, Meetup or even Facebook to link up with other gamers. And while I've never been a fan of trends and bandwagons, I'll be damned if I don't use Game of Thrones as a jumping point to get people into gaming.

 Behipster's head may just explode from irony overload.

I often fantasize about owning a game shop - and during those daydreams I don't imagine it filled with the stereotypical nerds we've come to expect from TV; but people of all races, ages, genders and social circles. Entertainment that is open to everyone and no one has to keep it as a secret hobby or describe it as "that one nerdy thing I do." When I look at the folks I game with I don't see gamers, I see friends and not one of them fits into the mold of a geek.

I'm currently planning a series of "First Timers" games to run in a few months time. Pre-written games with premade and easy to understand character sheets for folks who have never played before. A casual rpg experience just for the fun of playing and I'm happy to say that I've already received lots of interest from prospective players. My goal is not to start a new group, I've got more than enough games on my plate at the moment. My goal is to spark interest and encourage others to start their own gaming circles.

An early photo of Jeff.

I would like to finish this up by talking about a friend of mine. Really he is the reason behind this post in the first place. Jeff is a coworker and friend who is from a generation far older than myself. I'm not exactly sure how old, the lab hasn't sent back the carbon dating reports yet. Jeff is by no means a table top game player, although he does love trivia. If I mentioned gaming a year ago it's something he would laugh at and poke fun of; but today on my way out the door something surprising happened. I told him to have a good weekend and he wished me the same but followed it up with, "I heard you have a big game this weekend, have fun!" 

I mark that up as a victory in my book.

p.s. On a side note, if someone does give you grief about gaming, stand up for yourself! You can always ask them how many hours they waste in front of Modern Warfare 3.


  1. I disagree with your stance on geek. I like geek. Its not a badge of honor at all, its just a descriptor. It's lost its venom since the 80's. It's no worse then jock or something like that. There were times when I tried to re-define it, but in truth the shear success of 'geek culture' has won the day. Avengers is on track to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time. Twenty years ago, it was unthinkable. The war has been fought, and we won. For all that its worth...

    As for your other point, I totally agree with putting your games out there. I do more gaming in situations where there are more non-gamers then gamers. I love putting it out there. I do think there's a caveat to it though, it takes the right game with the right crowd. That can be tricky.

    1. We'd have to agree to disagree on it then. I guess it's something that varies depending on the individual. I've never imagined myself as a geek, regardless of it's previous or current connotations, so I may look at it differently.

      I enjoyed Avengers. I was really happy that it wasn't "The Iron Man and Friends Show." And while it has blasted it's way into the spotlight, the same old stereotypes exist right unde...

      Bah, I realized I wrote a wall of text here and there was no reason to, so i erased it!. I'm sure you get my meaning and I understand yours too. Tomato, Tomahhto.

      Thanks a ton for the comment!

  2. This post was very impactful. Labels suck. I think everyone doesn't want to be stereotyped into a certain classification. Thanks for your post. It was very inspiring.