“Geek Culture” has really taken off in recent years, and its popularity is really starting to blur the lines between what is geek and what is gamer. Like preppy kids wearing skate shoes, it’s no longer easy to pick out the devoted gamers from the Angry Birds playing wannabes.
Sure…..both are gamers, in their own ways, and I’m not putting down Angry Birds at all. That sh*’t’s addicting, yo. But there is a really big gap between talking pig crushing strategies with your mom and debating to the death which old school rpg was the best – of. all. time. Untangling the intricacies of indie vs. AAA, arguing 8 bit vs. 3D realism, listening to 13 year old call each other gay on Xbox LIVE – these are the sides of gaming that casual partakes don’t see….or understand.
The huge shift that occurred when geek made the epic shift from ridiculed to adored was a huge thing – and it’s great for gamers. Sure, it had to happen eventually, because there are just as many gamers as not. But when pop culture caught up to the reality, it made games seem accessible to a lot more people. And that’s great! Everybody from senior citizens to senior executives are gaming now, and the money that generates has created a lot of opportunity for every gamer. Even more so, it has caused a blending of gamer and geek that is at times puzzling. A geek can be a gamer, and a gamer can definitely be a geek – but do they have to be both?
As a friend recently pointed out, Comic Con is almost as much about games as it is about comics now. How did that happen? Companies are releasing news, developers are showing games, and all the big names in gaming have a booth….at a comic book convention. It has been such a gradual shift that many haven’t truly noticed, but it carries with it the assumption that gamers and geeks are one in the same thing. And, in a way, it’s true. A lot of gamers love comics. But many do not, and I’m sure there are plenty of comic book fans who long for the days when every booth held comicy goodness.
TV shows are being re-done. Games are getting comic, movie, and even novel crossovers. Clever tshirts abound. For sure, the blending of all things geek has brought more exposure to things like Dr. Who, the Walking Dead comics, even indie games. But it has also taken the pressure off, in many ways. Why come up with a new idea when you can just milk all things classically geek? And why work on innovation in games when you can just boil everything down to the multiplayer FPS everyone seemingly wants?
With so many newcomers in gaming, it should be a time when companies take risks. The larger pool of revenue is out there, and there are so many different gamers to appeal to. But everyone seems to want to appeal to the stereotypical geek. But are we geeks or gamers? I can adore Firefly, play MtG two nights a week, and read every Forgotten Realms novel there is – but that doesn’t mean my gaming has to be geek too.
Even if we are gamers *and* geeks, a little separation would definitely help boost innovation and lessen the stagnation that seems to be happening with recent game releases. Stop shoving us all into the same hipster-style holiday release box, and give us some variety already. We are geeks. We are gamers. But it is *not* the same thing. If you need us, we’ll be in our mom’s basements playing our old Genesis games.