I am a sucker for a good cause. We have something like 25 RSPCA tea towels simply because I could never say no to saving the wee animals. I was like a modern day Mylune, obsessed with saving critters without ever actually doing any of the work. No kitchen needs that many tea towels!
I like to consider myself a bit of a geek, but I know I am not “hard core”. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to demand you recite the alphabet in Klingon if you just so happen to be wearing a Star Trek shirt, and I certainly don’t pass judgement on others if they know less about my pet subject than I do. That’s just silly! We are all into different things, and I shall prove it by yanking open my closet and dragging out the deepest, darkest skeletons any self-professed geek could ever hide.
Jen over at EPBOT has sparked some intriguing conversation with her response to this video where Felicia Day (The Guild, Geek and Sundry) makes some observations about the label, “Geek”. Both ladies ponder whether or not we need to come up with a new word for geek, as the current one is becoming so monetized and diverse that we run the risk of diluting it so much that it loses that sense of community. Of course, others feel that by trying to add qualifiers to the word, we risk worsening the stale and obnoxious ‘fake geek girl’ argument, and I feel both are valid points. However, it was the following quote that really struck a chord with me:
Why does that matter? Because the geek identity is something that draws us together, and (ideally) lets us know we’re among friends. You may be into Anime and I may be into Steampunk, but we share this common thread of experience: of loving something even when it’s unpopular, of being ridiculed or excluded for it, and of not letting other people’s judgement dim our passions, but rather fuel them. THAT, to me, is what being a geek is all about.”
I can only dream of such a Eutopia.
The Games Shop
Last weekend a new store opened here in Alice Springs. My husband and I were insanely excited for the opening; our local hobby store back home was a key meeting place for many of our friends. In fact, it was in part through that gaming store that Disconcur and I were re-acquainted. The store offered a decent variety of geekdom considering the size of the town; and as a result RPGers, gamers, Anime fans and movie buffs alike could all find a reason to be there. It brought an interesting mix of people and the variety of stock meant that even partners and kids could find something of interest if they tagged along for a visit. Long story short, it rocked and I was ridiculously excited about the prospect of having the same thing here.
Sadly, the shop here did not live up to my expectations. At least, not yet, anyhow. While I am proud to identify as a geek, I felt like I was the wrong kind of geek to get any enjoyment out of my stay: My Magic: The Gathering deck is about a thousand years old, my fling with a Dark Eldar army failed to get me interested in table top war gaming, and I have an irrational hatred of board games. My time in the store was spent smiling politely and trying to keep our son entertained while people chatted with my husband about War Machine and Magic: The Gathering. For the first time in a very, very long time, I felt out of place in a space where I should have felt right at home.
I need to stress that this is no fault of the shop itself: it’s called Battlements, for crying out loud! That alone should have made it pretty clear that this store is catering to a niche. My point is that my love of World of Warcraft may be equal to their love of Magic: The Gathering or Warhammer, but there was nothing in that store that could act like a bridge between hobbies and spark a conversation. I walked out of that shop empty handed and a little doubtful over the identity I have chosen for myself. Can I be considered a ‘real’ geek when I only play MMO’s? Should I perhaps have worn one of my various ThinkGeek shirts even though they don’t quite fit right, or force myself to be more active with Magic: The Gathering even though I only like a casual game here and there? Is it even worth the effort when there was no real interest in inclusiveness in the first place? Bah.
So much for the geek label drawing us together.
Back on Track
I agree 100% with Jen’s statement that as geeks we share a common thread of experience, even if our interests are different. I am sure many of the people in the shop that day have had a hard time in the past finding others to play Magic with, just as I am having a hard time to finding, well, anyone who enjoys MMO’s and tolerates children. Both interests are definitely not mainstream, and I myself have copped my fair share of mockery for playing “silly games”, just as Warhammer players get mocked for “playing with dolls”. However, I am not sure if that connection is enough to forge new friendships offline. How do you even bring that up? “Oh, hey, I see you’re playing a game that the majority of society thinks is rubbish. Me too! Wanna grab a cup of coffee and bitch about how lame people are some time?“. Erm, yeah, I can’t seeing that going over too well at all.
I think it will just take time; eventually people down at the shop will come to that we do have things in common without me resorting to shirts that make me look like a Teletubby. I just don’t think that saying, “I’m a geek!” is enough to bridge the gap.
What do you think about identifying as a geek? Does being open about your interest make it easier or harder to break in to new social circles? Share your stories in the comments below.
My husband has been nagging at me to try the tabletop miniature wargame, Warhammer 40,000, for about as long as I have known him. I did not see the appeal of setting up small armies of 28mm models on a table, rolling a handful of die and then whipping out the measuring tape to see if they have hit the oppositions models. I mean, really? Yawn. The only aspect which even slightly appealed to me was the construction and painting of the models. Still, that interest in painting can be better applied to other, less expensive hobbies, and I managed to stubbornly resist his attempts for six years.
FROM HATER TO DARK ELDAR
In the end it was a team effort to break down that oh so amazing defence I had. A friend of my husbands sold him a few armies for dirt cheap: there goes the cost defence. Another suggested I could do something similar to Warhammer Joey and document my learning experience: oooh, website content! In the end it was my husband saying that he had only been asking me to play for all these years so we could do something together that didn’t involve a computer. D’aww! How could I resist that?
After a few beers and a really, really abridged break down of each faction and what armies husband dearest had spare, I decided throw in my lot with the Dark Eldar; quite possibly the most messed up race anyone could pick, let alone a girl.
From the Warhammer 40,000 Dark Eldar Codex:
This is the tale of evil incarnate. The Dark Eldar epitomise everything that is wanton and cruel about the ancient race from which they descend. Fiercely intellegent and devious to a fault, these piratical raiders revel in pain, for feeding upon the suffering of others is the only way they can stave off the slow death of their own souls.
So far I’ve only managed to read about ten pages into their codex and lore wise, I am happy with my decision. They remind me of the Wraith from Stargate: Atlantis, albiet a lot more twisted.
We had our first painting night on Friday, and it was surprisingly a lot of fun. We invited a few friends over who are also big into war gaming, making sure that it was late enough that all our kids were in bed, that there was a snack platter on the table and that here was room in the fridge for beer. Conversation was lively, although
some most of the Warhammer talk was way over this novice’s head. However, one guest did share with me the Dark Eldar Tactica – 6th Edition thread on Warseer which looks to be a more informative resource than this damned Codex.
So, what paint scheme am I rolling with, I hear you wonder? Well, uh, yeah. Originally I was hoping for black with a deep purple trim and maroon outline. What I ended up with, though, is another matter…
Now, I should stress that he is NOT FINISHED. Granted, I’m not really sure what I was thinking when I started him, but I’m pretty sure that this was not the intended outcome. I might lay off the bourbon next painting night, lest my fearsome army of sadistic killers end up looking like something out of Ben 10.