Can The World Learn From Geeks?


Pimpcron explains why 40k, comic, and gaming geeks do it right.

Everybody’s favorite fanboy, Pimpcron, is back this week with comments on our nerd culture. So set your phasers to “Disco” and turn off your Servitors, put down your Rules For Acquisition and get out of your TARDIS, tell those Reavers that you don’t feel like playing Holo-Chess so you can read my article. I could go on forever, but I have to get to the point some time. The Pimpcron really enjoys attending 40k events, fan conventions, and tournaments whenever I can. I enjoy attending a Star Trek Convention (Nerd!) with my wife each winter called Farpoint and we noticed something magical about our geek culture. There are some things that everyone in the world could learn from.

Nerd Culture Accepts Everyone

We were walking through the convention and literally saw every type of person you can imagine. There was every race, age, physically and mentally handicapped people, guys dressed like Princes Leia, women dressed like Boba Fett, very obese people, and very thin people. We saw people who looked like this was the one time of year that they leave their house, and we saw people that were down right social butterflies. I love going to these types of things because of all of the types of people you see.

You can literally just sit in a hallway and watch people as they walk by. There is a guy with facial piercings and a Batman gauge, there’s a woman in a handicapped scooter covered in Dr. Who stickers, there’s a white guy in a Flash shirt discussing the Tau Empire with a black guy in a Flash Gordon shirt. We even saw a stack of children disguised as a wobbly adult in a trench coat. Well, maybe one of those examples I made up. But what makes us accept each other in our strange culture?

We Are All Misfits

No matter where you come from, who you are, or what your age is, if you gravitate towards nerd culture you usually have something about you that makes you different. Some are physical differences, some are mental differences, but our brothers and sisters in the nerd community welcome us in open arms: and gladly argue about Who Shot First or which Captain was best. There are parts of us that wouldn’t be accepted in “regular” culture where they value things that are more superficial. I’m sure you can think of a number of groups that wouldn’t accept the average nerd. But that is where Geek culture shines: nearly all of us come from backgrounds where we have not been accepted or ostracized for “not fitting in” so we all take our strangeness as a given.

It’s like we all get together in our conventions and just say, “Okay, yeah, you’re weird and I’m weird, let’s get past that. So what are your interests?”

Being different is a foregone conclusion in our communities and that is pretty awesome if you compare that to the rest of society where so much of it revolves around fitting in. If we don’t judge people by their outward appearance, then what do we judge them on?

We Judge Character Differently

Instead of all of the external things we are judged on in the outside world, I’ve found that geeks judge each other based off of actions and ideas instead. Think about that for a second, isn’t that exactly what Dr. King wanted years ago? I’m not trying to be too mushy here, but if you have a large community of people all around the world who gladly accepts everyone’s physical differences and judges people off of their actions; that’s almost magical.

Nerds earn each other’s respect by being knowledgeable about a geek topic, or being good at playing one of our games. If you meet someone who is awesome with their tactics in 40k, that earns your respect. If someone starts spouting out fluff with accuracy or can do the math-hammer on the fly: that earns your respect. Something else about geek culture is pretty cool. . .

It Brings Us Together

A common interest in Nerd Culture gives us all common ground. Have you ever worked with someone and became friends with them even outside of work, but lost contact with them when one of you changed jobs or moved away? That’s because friendships need common ground to work. What about all of your school friends? Once you weren’t forced to sit next to each other each day, you didn’t have enough in common to stay in touch. Having common interests bridges all gaps. And it helps socially awkward people get a foothold in a socially-anxious setting, allowing them to participate and be more comfortable.

Think about all of the age gaps from the past? Many of us had parents or grandparents who simply did not understand what we were into. But as time goes by, all of us gamers are getting older and we will eventually be geek parents and geek grandparents. It’s kind of funny to think about how different the old people of the future will be. Covered in tattoos, arguing over Star Wars, and hopefully more accepting of what the younger generations are interested in. Unless our kids or grandkids want to play Eldar. That’s where I draw the line.

“Dad, I have to confess that I’ve been building an Eldar army in secret.”

“I have no son.”

So when I say that we accept each other, I mean strictly by physical appearance. Because then you turn down the dark road of people fighting over different opinions of fictional settings. But hey, it’s a start right?

~Think we’re on to something, or do we just get it all wrong in a different way?

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  • Tshiva keln

    Nice article, and true Pimpy C. I used to be one of those weird, mainstream “normal” people until I befriended a nerd. Never looked back! Geeks make better friends, and they have much more interesting hobbies than “normal” stuff like sex, football, and stabbing hobbos. Plus as you say we don’t fall out over silly things like race or bad personal hygiene; just the important things like who would win in a fight between Professor X and Stephen Hawking (assuming a ban on mutant powers and wheel chair scythes)

    • LeroyJenkinss

      I honestly thought I was going to get Rick rolled by clicking on this link. But alas it was another great article by pimpcron. Thanks man!

    • Luca Lacchini

      “Geeks make better friends” should be on stickers, t-shirts, banners, and school textbooks.

  • euansmith

    I enjoy the passion of the Nerdosphere. The way that a flame war can rage on for dozens of comments across a thread, with people valiantly arguing over the some point of lore or RAW vs RAI.

    I also enjoy the enthusiasm that people hold for their favourite corners of Geek Space; be it collecting dolls, rating superheroes one against another, trying to plug plot holes in TV shows and movies, obsessing over the merits of buffs and debuffs and DoT abilities in MMORGS, or anything of the other myriad nooks and crannies that people carve out for themselves.

    But I would extend this love to all obsessives (short of criminal practices), like trainspotters (and thrashers), footie fans, fashionistas, or anyone else who can feel a sense of joy from their enthusiasms.

    Of course, one has to draw a line somewhere…

    • orionburn

      “…or anyone else who can feel a sense of joy from their enthusiasms.”

      Except hipsters.

    • Pimpcron

      I agree. hearing someone talk passionately about an interest is really fun. I once heard from my (distant brother in law) all of the intricacies of bowling and the structure of the bowling ball, how they put different cores in them to spin different ways, etc. I was fascinated, and bowling isn’t an interest of mine.

  • orionburn

    For me I like that the age gap never seems to give anyone in our group any thought. While we don’t have any teenagers (currently) in our group our ages run from 20’s to 50s. Maybe it will start to get weird when I’m 85 and telling some holligan the horrors of dial-up interenet and how entire new continents were formed with Atari games of E.T. and old AOL cd-roms.

    • LeroyJenkinss

      when you’re 85 just walk in the store and tell the eldar to get of your lawn.

    • Luca Lacchini

      Likewise, we lack teens and people in their 20s. From early 30s to late 50s make up the majority of the group(s), be they dedicated to boardgames, roleplaying games, movies, comics, else.
      Luckily, there’s a new, promising generation that seems bred just for geekdom… if only they could stay away from touchscreens for more than 10 minutes. That stuff is absolute antithesis to focus and dedication.

      • orionburn

        I hope that the younger generation will get some technology burnout and revert to more tactile things. Our daughter graduated high school last year and towards the end she and her friends began to take interest in things like Poloraid cameras and record players. There’s something about physically owning/touching things.

      • euansmith

        Millennials, they are our future… well that came out sounding rather bleaker than I imagined.

    • Pimpcron

      My group ranges from 16-50-something

  • Spacefrisian

    Them Casuals dont understand the glory of Gloryhammer.

  • Skyweir

    You really think geek culture excepts everyone equally? You think women or queer people are treated well in gaming culture in general? Really?

    Some of the most judgmental people I have every met are so called”nerds” with a lot of influence in their community. Like most such cultures, nerd culture can be very insular and exclusive, and is often a literal (straight) boys club.

    In my experience, so called geek culture is not more or less inclusive than any other similar culture, the judgment is just slightly of from what society consider the norm. But if you fall outside it, you will not be any more welcome at you “friendly” local game store than most other places.

    • R. Fernandes

      hear hear! I’m a trans woman, and while I’ve met some wonderful folks in the nerd-o-sphere, I’ve also met some serious gatekeeper type folks. I love nerd culture, but we can work on our acceptance =)

      • Pimpcron

        I’m sure you have. But rude people are everywhere, I tend to feel like our community is at least a *tiny* but better than the society at large.

    • euansmith

      Thank you. It is illuminating to have a bit of light shone on to ones prejudices. It is probably just my CIS White Male Privilege that leads me to view Nerds in a rosy light, that and the local game shop is run by a Transsexual, and there used to be a transitioning youngest working at the comic shop, both of whom, from my limited persective appeared to be accepted for what they were; but then I was struck by the horrible realisation, that Gamers’ Gate was Nerds too.

    • Pimpcron

      Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I have never ran into that sort of thing. But it’s possible that nerds’ social awkwardness may come off as rude too. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. People who are shy often come off as rude.

  • benn grimm

    The world does learn from the geeks, whether it likes it or not, mainly because geeks are our best scientists, artists, teachers, engineers, mathematicians etc etc and because we gave the modern world culture which doesn’t involve either drunkenness, endless pretentiousness or running around a field after a ball. Not saying you can’t or won’t do those things as a geek doing geek things, just that they aren’t required.

    • euansmith

      Darn it! It’s not called, “…running around a field after a ball.” It is called Muggle Quidditch!

      • benn grimm

        What can I say? Not my area of expertise…;)

  • Robert Thornton-Kaye

    There is a downside Mr Cron.

    As so many geeks have higher than average levels of social anxiety, it is very hard to get a group of them together. Invite 1 and they’ll turn up. Invite 10 and you’ll get 3 or 4. Invite 40 and you’ll get 2 at best and a lot of crap excuses from everyone else.

    It shouldn’t be this way, but it causes so many of us to be lonely even when we know so many people we have lots in common with. It’s part of why I love hobbies like this as it breaks this rule, but it also saddens me that so many of us give in to our anxiety and hide from the world. We’re mostly smart and kind people as you say, so I encourage everyone who feels that tingle of insecurity to tell it to go f*** itself while you go outside and meet some humans.

    • Pimpcron

      All good points. But that’s why conventions and gaming stores are a great way for anxious people to get out and not be judged.

  • Commissar Molotov

    It’s a lot more acceptable now than it used to be. Way back when, playing RPG’s was greeted with disdain or maybe even veiled suspicions that you were a devil-worshiping deviant. Hell, just reading too much would get you picked on in school. I remember a comedian years ago marveling that pornography had gotten so publicly acceptable – “now I can leave my porn on the coffee table, but my D&D books are still stuffed under the mattress.”

    • euansmith

      You aren’t a devil worshiping deviant? Am I in the wrong place?

      • Commissar Molotov

        Shhhh, brother. Darkness is our mother, and deceit our father!

  • Jabberwokk

    Kirk is better than Picard.

    • Pimpcron

      HOW DARE YOU. Everyone knows that Sisko and Archer are the bombs. Both of them are my joint.

  • TDog

    All good points. Great article. I’d also say that nerds are better at being task- and goal-oriented, tend to have a more optimistic outlook on things, and will be better at coming up with plans than most other folks… all of these skills being somewhat important if you’re going to complete that dungeon crawl or figure your way through that game.

    Of course, mileage may vary. ;-D

  • Jim Cook

    We won.
    I remember when geek-while-existing would catch you a beating, and now, everyone publicly geeks out about something. It’s pretty cool, especially from that point of view.

  • Pimpcron

    What you didn’t see is my tentacle. But to be fair, it is a pretty normal tentacle.