Thursday, 29 May 2008

Reclaim the Geek

Merriam-Webster defines ‘Geek’ in the following way: -

1: A carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
2: A person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
3 An enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity

In a long proud geek grrl career, I’ve not yet seen something’s head bitten off as proof of geek credibility – but I’ve seen almost everything else. From role-players and re-enactors to readers and writers, from techies and twitterers to the new cult of ‘geek chic’, the term has come to encompass a swath of archetypes. The geek really has inherited the earth; he (and she) should be stabbed by the stigma of the term no longer.

After EasterCon, I did wonder where the kids had gone; was concerned the geek community was spiralling slowly outwards to the galaxy’s edges. Yet at Salute, I found them – younger ones, mainly, playing tabletop games while Dad used the excuse to ogle military figures his missus would never let him buy. Intrigued by the ratio of ‘size of Dad’ to ‘need for DPM’, I was delighted to see that Geek 101 still fires the kids’ imaginations and has them passionate and jumping.

At the London Expo, I saw where they go next: they progress from war- and board-games to online shared gaming environments, to savvy and street-smart manga and anime. These are exciting words, worlds to recreate as they meet up. Their costumes may be terrifying (and their sword-play worse!) but that’s not the point – their fire and creativity is growing, and has an outlet. They revel.

Then comes the age of realisation: understanding that the game is over and it’s time to take your fantasies and grow up; to look forwards. At the Bristol Comic Con, I was touched to see one guy present his portfolio – and get offered the job he’d always dreamed of. His lessons counted and gave him a future.

Sadly, we can’t all be that lucky – but I have been, in my own way, and there are many people in my twitterstream who’ve taken an apprenticeship as fanboy or gamer and used the new webwork of social media to help spin it into a highly successful career. And with my new Mac sitting shiny-white on my desktop, I too am creaking open the doors of the contemporary Geek Clique.

In an interview with the Guardian in December 2003, entitled ‘We’re All Nerds Now’, Peter Jackson talked about the rise of Geek Chic. Blossoming then, it’s had five years to gain momentum and influence.

This is not about being a ‘weed’, ‘nerd’ or ‘bore’ – this is a life choice.

It’s time to reclaim the geek.

8 comments:

Kat said...

Nice post! I like your little green geek too!

Chris Hambly said...

I made a similar argument some time ago over here:

Geeks

Ian Kath said...

If your not a geek in something your not passionate in anything.
Maintaining cars, bobbin lace or building computers is all geekdome.
Get with what motivates you feel the urge and live life to the fullest. Release the inner geek even if it's whittling a twig but never, never not do what your here for.
Release the inner GEEK... :)

TackyParker said...

Huzzah for the geek pride movement!

Danacea said...

Thanks guys for your support for my flag-waving - it's time to take the 'geek' name and give a good hard rebranding :)

Rowan Stanfield said...

Most people I know are geeky about something (music, photography, cars, woodworking, food...) - so I don't see why gamers and techies should lay sole claim to the title!

The very term 'geek' seems to imply some sort of counter-culture that no longer really exists in a world where technology and materials for 'geeky' hobbies are so accessible. Perhaps it's time we came up with a name for that small minority of non-obsessive, un-geeky types instead...

Danacea said...

Nice point, Ro! The terms 'geek' and 'nerd' seem to have separated out - the former now being smart, streetwise and stylish and also meaning passionate, as both you and Ian have pointed out. As the boundaries of 'geek' have expanded, so 'nerd' seems to be slipping in underneath it!

alan p said...

Its interesting - 10 years ago "Geek" was synonymous with "you are so not going to get laid", and now its almost (almost) sexy.

What happened?