Gamer Classification Week Part 2: Geeks, Nerds, Dorks, or “Others?”
Welcome to Gamer Classification Week! This week, Jacob and Diane are providing a 5-part series on the categorizations related to gamers and gaming. Understanding these many aspects of gaming is essential to helping you understand games, gamers, and the information with which we collide. Today, Diane provides a look at how gamers are viewed – what a bunch of nerds! See Part 1: Casual, Hardcore, and Professional Gamers.
Do you consider yourself a gamer, or at least a geek, nerd, or dork? If you’re unsure, I have a simple test for you: go to the ThinkGeek and browse. Do you like anything you see? If so, you probably have gamer/geek potential. (Personally, I love ThinkGeek’s Tech Jewelry page – but I’m a stylin’ kinda geek, and I think the idea of wearing a broken image necklace is beyond hilarious. But that’s me.)
Gamers as well as similar people who might be called nerds, geeks, or dorks have been marginalized for years. My dad, who passed away in 2010 at the young age of 67, was an original. He carried pens in his (plaid) shirt pocket, spent entire weekends fixing $10 radios because he thought it was fun, built PCs from parts, and worked in the computer industry from the early 1960s until he retired. He really didn’t care what anybody thought of him for doing these things, which a trait I picked up from him. But people who didn’t understand him just dismissed his activities (and even his work!) saying, “Oh, he’s a nerd, so that’s what he does.” I think he was the best male role model a girl could have: be yourself, and enjoy it!
As a result, I am a happy and proud nerd. But, despite this positive influence, others have made me suffer for it. For example, a “popular kid” called me a “dork” in 7th grade gym class, and then threw a basketball at the back of my head so hard that I almost fainted. As a result, I’ll see black spots in my line of vision for the rest of my life. Yeah, really popular stuff there.
On a happier note, think about the “nerds” in the Revenge of the Nerds films: people with weird hair, bad fashion sense, no social skills, or just plain… different. People made fun of them and bullied them. But what happens in the end? They always win! (This scene from the first film, in which they used computers and other technologies to make relatively danceable 80s music at a talent show, is timelessly epic.)
What else are we known for, stereotypically? Let’s see: we stay up all night and sleep all day, consume three food groups (sugar, caffeine, and fat), and… play games. Right? Maybe.
Geekdom has become mainstream, but it also has taken on a different angle over time. We’ve equated nerd/geekdom with being intelligent, completing work on time, and using today’s technical conveniences. People say, “I’m such a nerd. I’m always on my iPhone.” Sometimes I want to reply, “Not necessarily. That thing came in a beautifully designed package from a shining white store, and if you open it up, it will void the warranty.” Computer stores used to be true geek sanctuaries: they had all kinds of parts and interesting accessories, dusty shelves, concrete floors, random items like Star Wars mouse pads, and last year’s games on clearance.
Now, computers are mainstream no-brainers, and I’ve been complaining for years that everyone sold out. You can take a computer home in a little box from a Big Box store, and then you download almost everything you need online. Remember, though, that geeks made the circuits that run your computer, the code that makes YouTube possible, and the databases that store your Facebook profile. (Yes, there are multiple databases that store your Facebook profile. Don’t ask.) If you want to see how real geeks buy technology, see Newegg 0r Fry’s, and the truly brave can visit here in person for an old-school experience.
To be fair, there are other types of geeks/nerds/dorks. For example, I know several “humanities nerds” (my term): people who can recite a wide range of literature or recall the composer upon hearing the first two lines of an obscure piece of classical music (as well as the composer’s birth and death dates and places). These types don’t tend to game as much, however, so while they’re really important voices in the geeks’ chorus, they don’t factor in quite as much to the conversation on this blog.
Where does this leave us? I’m not sure. Geeks and nerds and dorks are so varied that it’s difficult to classify us. Just look at the cast of characters in Revenge of the Nerds, and you can only come to one conclusion: they’re all different, but they’re also all loveable in some way… just like every person alive today.
And we shall inherit the Earth.
Gamers are geeks, nerds, and/or dorks… but why is that bad, who cares, and aren’t you one too?
Ding! You’ve leveled up! Please see your local librarian for training.
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