I am conversational in geek. I can sit in on most conversations and follow along. I don't understand all the references, but I know enough to keep up and can even throw out a few insider geek basics to keep things moving if I have to. (4.0 sucks! Han totally shot first. All your base are belong to us.) I can explain the rules of Munchkin. I know never to go into battle wearing a red shirt. I wrote an in-depth look at Magic players and threw a pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) geeky birthday party. I even invented Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey TARDIS Punch. But I am not a geek.
I have been privileged to spend a lot of time with geeks and observing geeks. I had some wonderful high school friends and college friends that let me into their world, but what really cinched my cross-cultural experience is that I married in. Yup, my husband is a full-out geek with special interests in space and time travel. So my house is full of lightsabers, sonic screwdrivers, dice with all number of sides and extended special edition DVD sets of just about every sci-fi series ever. Most of his Christmas list comes off of ThinkGeek. I spend a couple Sundays a month as a D&D widow or sometimes a Skyrim widow and I've sat through many long dinner conversations rehashing Star Trek plot holes. I don't always get it, but I must say I find it interesting.
- We knew how to get the cafe ready for Gen Con.
You see, I love geeks. I spent three years working at a coffee shop on the Circle and so I saw every conference come through town, multiple times. Anyone who works a customer service job downtown will tell you that while conferences are great for the economy of our city, they suck for the baristas. Lots of people who know nothing about the city mob your shop in large groups, creating long lines. Then they spend ten minutes holding up the line to stare at your menu board and ask you to explain everything on the menu, no matter how self-evident. ("What's a...hot...chocolate?" *face palm*) They get rude and upset because the lines are long and they don't tip. But I always looked forward to Gen Con. They were by far my favorite conference. Even though it is one of the largest conferences that comes through Indianapolis, they are patient in long lines, cheery even. You got the occasional Stormtrooper or Master Chief. They said please and thank you and even gave tips. (Sometimes they tipped in dice as well as cash, which was kind of cool.) And they had the best t-shirts.
- My husband on his way to Gen Con last year. Note the bow tie made of dice.
My husband defines a geek as someone who is unashamedly interested in something. You see, a lot of people have interests, hobbies, passions that they hide from the world, shove in a corner of their basement, because they don't want to risk what everyone might think about them. Geeks, on the other hand, wear it loud, wear it proud. (Literally, oftentimes, with those afore-mentioned awesome t-shirts.) They collect action figures on their desk, cover their walls in Mario decals and get dressed up on the weekends and pretend to battle orcs and they don't mind if you know. In fact, they are happy to tell you, explain what orcs are and invite you to come out with them next weekend.
Geeks are unique in that they have a healthy-level of self-acceptance despite generally being thought of as crazy by the rest of the world and they are very accepting. That is why, I think, that many of my friends growing up were geeks. I was weird and they were weird. We weren't the same kind of weird, but they were happy to let me join in and they shared their weirdness with me.
Once you start hanging out with geeks, you notice something very quickly about them: they are all incredibly creative. They become so fascinated by worlds and characters, be they created by George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, J.R.R. Tolkien or themselves, they seek to know them in every detail, they defend their characteristics in hypothetical situations and feel supremely betrayed when key details are changed. (or sometimes not so key details) Geeks create stories and art with intricate detail. They have a unique sense of humor and fill a good portion of the internet with quirky web comics and YouTube videos. They are a huge market force with all the clever geek paraphernalia you can find online. They are inventors and artists.
I don't think many people appreciate that about geek culture and that is why this weekend I will be your ambassador to the geeks at the best four games in gaming. Yes, I am going to be at Gen Con this year covering all the creative outputs to be found there. I will be posting daily summaries right here on Sky Blue, but you can also follow me on Twitter to get updates in real-time. (or Sky Blue's Facebook and Twitter) I'm looking forward to finding some surprises, but I can tell you right now I am already signed up for a nice slew of stuff including A Capella Gaming with the el33ts and some sci-fi drinking songs with Marc Gunn. I'm going to enjoy an evening of improv comedy with Dorks in Dungeons and take in some NerdCore rap (yup, it's a thing) with Professor Shyguy. There is a huge film festival happening all four days and I am definitely gonna go see SXSW entrant Zero Charisma. And of course I will be there for the costume parade.
Maybe you are a geek and so you know what I'm talking about or maybe you've never thought geek culture was worth paying attention to. I hope to show you the depth of creativity that these folks have to offer because the truth is, geeks are cool.