Pop culture shouldn’t ruin geek culture

Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0. Attribution JaseCurtis at flickr.com

1998. It was the renaissance of gaming. StarCraft, Unreal, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro the Dragon, Half-Life, Ocarina of Time, Sonic Adventure and, most importantly, Pokemon were all released that year.

That same year, video games were blessed with a great leap of technology and computing, from eight-bit pixels to realistic rendering of 3D models that no one had seen before, and the blooming industry fueled the hopes and dreams of gamers around the world. I was one of them.

As long as I can remember, I have always been “that kid” who stayed inside on warm, sunny Saturdays to indulge in pressing buttons and saving the princess.

All of a sudden, geeks are being treated as cultural icons, and it’s now cool to become one of them.

I was so fascinated by the fact that inside my small television there’s a virtual representation of myself, and because of the fact that in cyberspace anything was possible. It accepted my imagination by any stretch, and each time I laid my hands on new games, the technology behind them expanded my horizons. If transition from 2D to 3D and miniaturization of games to the size of pockets were made possible before robot maids and flying cars, what could come next? I was thrilled by the capability of computing and what the future of technological progress holds.

As I grew up, I learned that there were so many other people who also found the beauty in gaming culture. And as I would come to find out, we were collectively put in the same social group. We were geeks.

Now I understand that there’s a dispute over the clear definition of “geeks” and “nerds.” Some say geeks are individuals with extreme enthusiasm towards certain things and nerds are ones with interest in intellect; others say vice versa. But they agree that underlying trait of the two is the same: social impairment, or easily put, weirdness. For the longest time, playing video games made you a geek, and being a geek means you’re not fun. And geeks were often alienated by the rest.

Yet it has all changed so quickly. All of a sudden, geeks are being treated as cultural icons, and it’s now cool to become one of them. No longer is playing video games or liking math and science looked down upon, but rather, it is admired. Once a stupid hobby for anti-social losers, video games are now one of the most influential digital media in the world.

But as games gained a great deal of attention and respect, they began to suffer from groupthink. A number of individuals today assert their false love towards games in hopes that they could fit in the crowd of geeks.

I watch the Spike’s Video Game Awards every year, and it never ceases to disappoint me. It’s an extravaganza that glorifies the gaming by featuring celebrities and high-budget promotions. I see no passion or appreciation for video games from any of the staff, producers or audience. It’s simply a show made for viewership, and from a genuine fan perspective, this is a heinous insult.

In game, I’m always my pure, dreamy eight-year-old self.

So next time you do what you believe you love doing, think why. I hope that you can easily overload the doubters with origins and stories of your passion because otherwise you might be danced around by the norms of society. Nevertheless, video games have come a long way, and they continue to move forward today. The excitement never changes, and in game, I’m always my pure, dreamy eight-year-old self.

So my fellow gamers, rejoice. This is our time.