I don’t really consider myself a gamer. Don’t get me wrong; I love games. I just don’t play them very often. I’ll pull out Risk or Settlers of Catan once in a while, but as much as I enjoy them, they usually sit on the shelf. It’s the same with computer and console games. They’re a lot of fun, but they don’t usually hold my attention for more than a few days. I’ve tried lots of PC games, and I have a Playstation 2 as well, but it’s always the same story. There are other things that need to be done, and other interests I want to pursue. Also, I have a short attention span.
Network-based games just scare me. I’ve tried World of Warcraft, and it’s certainly cool, but I have no desire to pay a subscription fee for something in which I’ll likely lose interest. Fees notwithstanding, I’m just a little unnerved by the prospect of interacting with random strangers on the internet. It just gives me a weird feeling. I’d rather explore virtual worlds on my own, thanks very much.
Then there are tabletop role-playing games. I must confess, I like these a lot. Particularly Dungeons and Dragons. I have a whole box of books from the 3.0 and 3.5 era, and they’re beautifully designed and packaged. They’re definitely keepers. I also have a whack of the miniature figures that started coming out a few years back, but I gave up hope of ever collecting them all, so I stopped buying them.
As much as I love it, however, I don’t play D&D often. It’s actually been several years since I’ve played any tabletop RPG at all. And that’s too bad. There was a group of us who used to meet weekly or bi-weekly for a year or so there, but it became spotty. And I’ve studiously avoided joining any gaming clubs because of my major lament in the whole gaming/fandom arena:
It’s damnably hard to find people with social skills.
I will return to this statement. For now, please lower your virtual flame-thrower and hear me out. I’m not done yet.
First off, let me say uncategorically that I consider myself a geek. I’m into computers, science-fiction, fantasy, comics, superheroes, and—to a certain extent—gaming. I’m all about pop-culture references, and I know how to put memory chips and expansion cards into PCs. I also enjoy playing around with such things as HTML, PHP, Perl, and Unix shell scripts. I have all the qualifications. All I need is a membership card.
I am also well-mannered, well-spoken, clean, and hygenic. I shave every day, and I like to dress reasonably well. I’m a good listener, and I don’t foist my opinions upon others, leaving my words hanging in the air like so much fresh meat in an abbatoir.
No, villagers. Put down the pitchforks. We’re not there yet.
I took computer science in university, which was my first exposure to geekdom. I won’t go so far as to say it was traumatizing, but it certainly planted a template in my head for what geeks looked, sounded, and acted like. That template stayed with me for a long time.
I later attended a few Star Trek conventions and even ran a Star Trek club for a while. This served to cement the geek template in my head. It was lodged in there but good. To this day, the thought of a group of computer science science students watching Star Trek can give me the shakes.
Those torches won’t be necessary. We’re almost bringing this puppy home.
I’ll refrain from describing my geek template in detail. I’ve implied enough to have many of you foaming at the mouth already.
Thankfully, the world is changing. Geekdom is in. It’s part of the collective consciousness. It’s everywhere.
Just look at The Big Bang Theory, one of the most popular shows on the air. It’s a smart, funny, razor-sharp show about geeks. And everybody watches it. Your sister watches it. Your postman watches it. Your dog groomer probably watches it. Because it’s good. And it’s frickin’ hilarious.
I’m not sure whether Big Bang Theory has helped to bring geekdom into our zeitgeist or whether the movement was already afoot, and it was simply the right time for a show like that to come along. Regardless, geeks are cooler now than they ever were.
They’re also smart (which was actually never in question). Geeks have known for a long time that science-fiction, fantasy, and paranormal television shows and movies can be really good. Take, for example, Babylon 5, which, to my mind, was some of the best storytelling ever put on the small screen. At the time, it was a geek show, just like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which aired around the same time (the mid 1990s).
Not too many years later, something shifted. And that something was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was a geek show with mass appeal. It changed the landscape and made the world see how great a genre show could be. Buffy paved the way for Firefly, easily the best show that never got a chance. Both shows used their premise as a starting point, but it was the writing and the characters that gave them their heart and soul.
Good stories is good stories.
Another case in point is the reimagined Battlestar Galactica of 2004. This is a science-fiction show, no question. But it’s also some of the best writing, acting, and drama that ever aired. Its viewer base expanded well beyond the die-hard fans and science-fiction afficionados. It had a much broader appeal.
Genre entertainment is coming out of the closet.
And, while I do occasionally flash to that image of the typical geek—the unkempt, unshaven guy in the sweaty t-shirt wolfing down pizza—that template I mentioned is starting to come loose, and I’m beginning to see that geeks are everywhere.
And that’s a good thing. Because geeks rule.
Today’s guest post is by Faltarego, a writer and a closet geek.