Geek is the New Cool

Roleplaying and board games reviews, podcasts, videos and interviews

geek3sep2008[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

In the last 12 months, I have attended three conventions, Paizocon UK, Dragonmeet and Conception 2011. In the next 12 months I will be attending even more, and I wish I had time to go attend them all!

The reason? Gamers are some of the coolest people on the planet.

It is very common to be mocked pretty much everywhere and by pretty much anyone who’s not a gamer when we “come out of the gaming closet”. People think of us as pariahs, weirdoes, saddos and many other names, just because we like to sit around a table and enjoy a game (or twenty!). How many of them “wise people” have ever played a game?… probably not many.

Yesterday I went back to work, and it was not long before someone who’ll remain nameless, made a not-so-funny remark about the type of people who play games. Unfortunately I had to contain my emotions and just tell that person that wearing a football t-shirt doesn’t really entitles him to mock my favourite hobby.

Quite frankly, I was livid. Which is why I wanted to post this article.

Now, before I go any further, I will define “cool” a little bit. Cool is not only what people look like, but what people “are” as people, not as an image.

Let’s face it, very few of us are trendy or a member of the “fashionistas” club. We like wearing lose t-shirts, out of fashioned trousers, long leather coats, long and thin pony-tails, some of the weirdest shoes you’ll ever see, beards any fantasy setting dwarf would be proud of…

Most of us don’t look cool. And you know what? Who gives a monkeys!

Although there are idiots everywhere and our gaming collective is no exception, we are an absolutely amazing bunch, and some of the coolest people on this planet.

At my arrival at Paizocon UK, both the organisers and the people made me feel welcome within minutes. Before I got to Dragonmeet this year, I started a conversation with Chris, from the Super Happy Fun Show, in the tube and before knowing him at all. At Conception, I shared a house with one man I knew only a little beforehand, and two complete strangers I’ve never seen before, and I can safely say I have gained three friends for life. Since I started this magazine, I have been impressed and amazed by the kindness and generosity of more people than I can remember, and although not everyone has been kind or generous, everyone has been honest and genuine.

In my time as a gamer, I have met doctors, historians, medievalists, scientists, programmers, psychologists, philosophers, artists, shop assistants, designers, writers, janitors, unemployed, rich, poor and many others I am forgetting. None of them has ever rejected another gamer’s company, no matter how different that gamer was.

At Conception I saw people leaving tables unattended while they went to buy food. Their rucksacks, bags, dice, books and even an iPad remained untouched until they came back. I challenge you to leave your iPad unattended at another type of event!

We are not obsessed with the latest celebrity, the latest breast implants or the latest multi-millionaire wedding happening in any seedy and, let’s face it, rather pointless tabloid. We don’t have to look at other people’s lives to fill ours with amazing experiences. Very few of us don’t have someone we can call upon and play a game and enjoy good company. No, my friends, not many of us are pariahs, weirdoes, saddos or many other names.

Wait until the first impression has left with its poor judgement, and start unveiling the depths of any gamer. You’re likely to find people who are sensitive, clever, witty, kind, friendly, imaginative…

I don’t know you, but I think that’s the coolest way to be cool.


5 Responses

  1. I believe that there are good people and bad people in all walks of life. However, having a passion that you share with a group of people will make it much easier to associate and get along with those people, and may be why you feel more comfortable around other gamers.

  2. Good call.

    The “footy” fan and his tribal allegiances do nothing but irritate me, It’s the macho herd mentality writ large. They’re presence pervades all male cultural media and frankly the beautiful game as evidenced by the antics of two of it’s biggest media stars is a misnomer.

    I remember visiting SALUTE at the Excel Centre a few years ago for the first time since it moved from Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall and wondered if we were in the right place as the Centre was packed with thousands of sporty types registering for the the London Marathon replete with reebok goody bags. Gradually as we got nearer to the unit that SALUTE occupied the dress code began changing to a more familiar black rock t-shirt and combats and the whole hall got gradually darker, I felt much more at home and much less intimidated.

  3. Gamers are the best!
    I talked my brother-in-law, who a NASCAR lovin’, redneck, car nut , to Gen Con a few years ago. He didn’t get into the gaming part of it, but he loved the dealer’s room and all the costumes. He has no desire to ever go back, but he did say that it was the nicest bunch of people he had ever seen. He showed up in his sleeveless redneck t-shirt and thought that he’d be given a lot of crap for showing how redneck he was. Instead he found that not only did anyone notice he was “different”, but they just accepted him as he was. Given that there were so many crammed into a single area, he could not get over how polite and friendly everyone was.
    Considering how quickly message boards can descend into flame wars you would think that gamers are a bunch of whiny, hateful jerks. So it is a bit amazing that in person, most gamers are exactly the kind of people you want to be friends with.

  4. Peter Darby says:

    I have a mantra, which is essentially “F*ck Cool”.

    “Cool” is the enemy of enthusiasm. “Cool” is sneering at those who are “uncool”.

    I had a friend who ran a game shop, spent weekends in historical re-enactment societies and with a morris troupe, yet derided people who dressed up as Klingons at conventions as being “a bit sad.” Deary me.

    When I see folks in the office enthused by football, I know that I’m missing out on a source of enjoyment that they have, and that’s my loss, but so what? (I don’t believe in organised sport, I support Leyton Orient). “Your fun is not my fun” is a lesson that takes many people too long to learn. The fact is, the most fanatical football supporter I know is also a fanatical collector of all things WH40K and 2000 AD, and occassionally makes noises about starting a call of cthulhu game.

    But yeah, I just hate the word cool, as it inspires memories of judgemental, sneering bastards.

    I prefer awesome. Most gamers are awesome folks, as long as we remember the words of St Wil of Wheaton “Don’t be a dick”.

  5. DId you read ?
    I didn’t like the end of article, but I like his understanding of growing up geek.
    Time is on your side, we’re all becoming gamers – though dressing up as a Klingon will maintain your outsider status.

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