Archive for the ‘Geekery’ tag
As much as I love my USB thumb drive — truly one of those gadgets I didn’t realize how much I needed until I got one — I’d love it that much more if it looked like this custom job some sicko put together. I could carry all of my important files and horrify my children at the same time! Score!
And yes, I’m aware it’s this sort of thing which will lead to A] no end of emotional/psychological trauma and/or B] no end of paternal embarrassment in my children by the time they’re teenagers.
(Thanks to -b for the link.)
At this very moment, danger waits for me. It waits for me in the tantalizing form of a blue and gold 48-pixel square on my desktop. And it’s taking everything I’ve got not to throw myself gleefully into that maw of death.
That’s right… I have the 10-day free trial of World of Warcraft installed and ready to go.
First, let me just say that I’ve honestly never been all that much into most MMORPGs, which strikes me as a little bit funny since I work for a company what makes ‘em.  But what I am a big fan of is Blizzard. I first got turned onto their games in college when some buddies of mine I worked with at the universtity newspaper hooked me on Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness. I’d never played any sort of networked video game before that (this was ’96 , so online games had been around for some time, but I was coming late to this particular party), so Warcraft 2 certainly had that novelty aspect going for it. But even past that, the game was just fun â€” the gameplay was addictive as hell and the game had a fantastic sense of humor to it. I even spent a long time playing through the single-player misssions â€” far more time than I’d spent playing any one video game before that.  And since then, every Blizzard game I’ve played has been top-notch.
All of that means I’ve been aching to give WOW a spin since well before the game launched, but because of the one-two punch of No Money – Gots Little Kids, I’ve just never had a chance to try it out. Even now, I just don’t have the friggn’ time to play any games, especially not one that I know will be as addictive as I have a feeling WOW is. When I do have some free time (and “free time” here is defined as “time solely to myself” and is considered separate from Quality Time With Beloved Family), I want to work on my writing and building my web empire. Playing video games doesn’t help me get any closer to achieving my goals.
But still… for ten days, it’s free, so I’ve gotta try it out.
I’m sure that WOW isn’t the best MMO ever, though it’s by far the most popular. But I think it will be quite good enough to suck me in and make me want to waste untold hours of my life immersed in its world. (By the way… is it considered “wasting time” if I’m enjoying what I’m doing? It’s not really wasted time if I’ve spent it making myself happy, right? I think that reaction must just be an ingrained guilt thing for me â€” it’s time I could’ve spent being productive rather than just playing a silly game. Feh.)
Anyway, I’m putting off starting the trial as long as I can because I’m only going to have those ten days â€” I don’t want to start it up if I’m going to be short on time for the next week-and-a-half. I know that no matter how much I might wind up enjoying the game, I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that I’ll be getting a monthly subscription, again because of that No Money – Gots Little Kids combo.
But still… for ten days, it’s free, so I’ve gotta try it out.
Y’know, if I’m lucky, the generic video card that’s in my computer won’t even be able to render the game very well and I’ll be saved (though WOW was supposedly designed specifically so that it would run just fine on lower-end computers). ‘Cause heaven forbid I leave myself to my own willpower to keep me from playing.
 I played quite a bit of City of Heroes during its first few months â€” hell, c’mon, it’s superheroes, of course I played the hell out of it. But I set myself an all-too-simple goal (I just wanted to fly) which I was able to accomplish at level 14. After that, I quickly lost interest in the game. And my wallet started wanting that fifteen bucks a month back.
 OMG OMG OMG ten years ago!! Gah!
 That record for most hours spent in a single game stood until 2000 – 2003, when I would amass an ungodly amount number of hours immersed in the original Unreal Tournament; I’m pretty confident that personal record of mine will never be broken again. For the sake of my marriage, I sure hope it won’t.
The Washington Post today detailed the rise of a “geek ghetto” in the Akihabara district of Tokyo–complete with waitresses dressed in anime-inspired costumes, enormous arcades and warehouses of manga. Says college student Shunsuke Yamagata:
“In Akihabara, we don’t need to be ashamed of who we are and what we like. We can feel comfortable because here, we outnumber everyone else.”
Well, yeah…you’ve found a place (or a place has been constructed for you) where you’ve gone from oppressed minority to loads-of-disposable-income majority. That’s one of the thing about the emergence of geek culture over the last ten years or so–advertisers have noticed what a desirable demographic we are. We tend to be passionate about our interests and frequently have well-paying jobs, meaning more cash to spend on those interests.
I’m not at all surprised that there’s something of a “geek ghetto” in Tokyo–if I had to pick one place on the planet where I’d expect that sort of thing, Tokyo likely would have been it. What I’ll be curious to see now is if a similar phenomenon occurs here in the U.S. Would it be too much to hope that it would happen in Boston?
Geek is entirely positive, as far as I’m concerned. To be a geek is to enjoy a self-awareness of one’s obsessions, but it’s more that, too: it’s to enjoy everything that goes with being a geek… There’s self-awareness that goes along with being a dork, but also a bit of embarrassment. At those moments when I haven’t quite fully absorbed the paradigm shift that goes along with celebrating geekiness, and I feel momentarily like a bit of a weirdo, dork does the trick… I can never be a nerd, in my glossary, however, because a nerd has absolutely no awareness of his or her nerdiness. If you think you’re a nerd, you are, by my definition, emphatically not one.
First time I read that, I thought “Yup, sure, OK.” But the more I thought about it, the less her definitions worked for me…especially after the discussion Brian and I had on the way to work this morning. I’m not saying that MaryAnn’s wrong because we all define our geekdom in our own ways–and anyways, it’s not her “geek” definition I have the problem with. It’s the other two.
(Might it be that I don’t disagree with her definition of “geek” because that definition is positive and I define myself as a geek? Could be. C’mon…would I have started up Moviegeekz and the rest of the Geekz Empire if I didn’t have positive associations with the word geek?)
To me a nerd is someone who’s way, way too far into knowledge, into schoolwork, into the minutae of their interest or pursuit. Their enthusiasm for getting their learn on always mystifies those not possessed of their same level of nerdiness–even nerds in different disciplines. Nerds also tend not to be quite as well-rounded as geeks (and yeah, I think most geeks are reasonably well-rounded…our interests might overlap each other, but we have many interests nonetheless).
I’d imagine most professioal scientists fall into the nerd category. By definition they have to be so excited by and knowledgable of their area of expertise that you could hang the nerd hat on them pretty easily. (Yes, crass generalization, I know, but that’s the nature of this kind of discussion, is it not?)
The nerds are the self-aware: they’re not good at dealing with or relating to non-nerds, but they usually know it. They’re usually self-aware enough to know to avoid certain kinds of people or certain kinds of situations. Think back to the 80s classic Revenge of the Nerds–those guys knew exactly how the rest of the world saw them. (And as my boy Brian pointed out this morning, that might have been the first movie to show the nerds not only winning the fight with the cool kids but to show nerds having sex. Inspirational stuff, that.)
Dorks, on the other hand, tend not to be smart enough to really be geeks or nerds. I’m not saying dorks are necessarily stupid, they might be decently smart in their own right, but they don’t have the laser focus of the nerd or the broader interests of the geek. More importantly, though, is the dork’s complete and total lack of social skills and the complete and total lack of self-awarness of that lack of social skill. Most dorks don’t know they’re dorks. Dorks are more than happy to try to talk to Krissi Hardbottom, Head Cheerleader, and don’t seem able to pick up the clues Krissi gives them indicating how little that conversation is appreciated (and by “clues,” I mean “mace”).
I’m going to break this down using one of the best TV shows of the late Nineties, the appropriately named “Freaks and Geeks.” (If you haven’t seen this show, go watch the DVD set. It’s second only to “Firefly” in my List of Goddamn Good TV Shows Which Were Fucked Over By Their Network and Cancelled Unfairly.) The show was based around two different groups of kids in a suburban Detroit high school: the “freaks” were the burnout friends of Lindsay Weir (the delectable Linda Cardellini) while the “geeks” were her brother Sam (John Francis Daley) and his two friends Neil and Bill.
Sam was a geek. He aspired to more than the ostracism and humiliation he regularly suffered as a freshman, and you could see that there was a cool person inside of Sam waiting to get out when he got older. (Hell, he even got to date a cheerleader for a little while, though that didn’t stick.) But that coolness was still a ways off when he was 13–Sam was all about science fiction and Dungeons and Dragons, just like his friends.
Neil was a nerd. His future as a dentist (a good nerd occupation) was pretty much lined up for him already. And Neil wasn’t the least big cool. He liked to pretend that he knew what girls liked and talked constantly about them, but inside he knew that it wasn’t going to happen for him. Neil likely would grow up to experience his thrills vicariously through Sam until he got to college.
But poor Bill was just a dork. He shared the same interests as Sam and Neil but he just wasn’t that bright and didn’t have the grasp on those interests that his friends did. And his interpersonal skills were so poor that even his friends could barely stand to be around him sometimes. I honestly have no idea what might have happened to Bill by the time he became an adult…he certainly didn’t seem to have any useful future in him.
So, with all due respect to MaryAnn, that’s my take on it. I was definitely a dork in middle school, eventually realized how pathetic I was and transitioned to nerddom in high school. And now I’m a geek. And you know at what point I officially graduated from nerd to geek? That’s right…when I started having sex.
The most excellent MaryAnn Johanson of Flick Filosopher fame (you really, really need to be reading her movie reviews–right after you read Moviegeekz, of course) has started a new blog devoted to discussing, dissecting and celebrating geek culture and philosophy. What’s it called? Suprisingly, Geek Philosophy.
I’m exactly one of the geeks that MaryAnn discusses in her inaugaral post, and I experienced almost exactly what she describes: shame and humiliation as a teenage geek, proud self-identification as an adult. Being a geek when I was young (especially the early fascination with computers) is a large reason why I have the great, well-paying job I do now. So I plan to read her new site avidly, and so should you–because chances are, if you’re reading this you’re quite possible a geek. (C’mon, who else really reads blogs other than geeks?)
Speaking of geeks, blogs and identity, all of this ties in very directly to a discussion raging on my boy -b’s blog. Is it fair to make assumptions about a person the first time you meet them based solely on the data you collect before they ever open their mouth? (More on this topic later, maybe.)