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.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Show Me The MonQee

He’s met some top talent, been through twenty-two episodes of adventures and has had every part of his anatomy scribbled on… hey, hey he’s the MonQee, and he’s finally come to rest in the art toy cabinet at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore.

In addition to the host of names from the previous MonQee post, a thank you to the kings of UK space opera, Neal Asher and Alastair Reynolds. And a huge thank you, too, to Terry Pratchett himself for his approval for and support of the project: the fact that his email arrived on my birthday had to be a coincidence!

The MonQee Project is now live here. This completely unique piece of urban vinyl will be auctioned through MissionFish on eBay as part of the Forbidden Planet’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations. To find out more: watch this space!

All proceeds, of course, go to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. The MonQee, we hope, will go to a very good home – he deserves nothing less.