There is all this talk about the concept of the “fake geek girl” — essentially geek culture’s way of othering women by presuming they can’t possibly really be into geeky things for any reason aside from the attention. It’s a ridiculous thought that people could create an identity for themselves simply to gain the attention of the opposite sex. And while I don’t personally do anything just to attract wanted attention, sometimes I feel like I’m undeserving of calling myself a geek at all.
Me, dressed up as a Warcraft Night Elf for Halloween 2009
Here’s the part where I admit a bunch of things that risk making me seem “less cool” in the circles that I frequent. I’ve only seen one of the Star Wars movies (the oldest one) and I don’t really like anything related to space. I got bored halfway through watching Firefly. I find superheroes to be boring and though I was forced to watch some of the movies I didn’t enjoy any of them (Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, etc). I’ve never liked comic books, and my few attempts to get into them ended up with me wasting money on things I barely touched. I never finished A Song of Ice and Fire (I stopped after book 3). I have only finished two Neil Gaiman books, Coraline & The Graveyard Book. I’ve never read most of the sci-fi and fantasy classics (Lovecraft, Dune, 2001, Lord of the Rings). Most TV shows that ‘geeks’ are into are shows that I’ve never watched or haven’t been able to get into such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Supernatural, Arrested Development, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Alias, Fringe, etc. and I can’t seem to enjoy anime no matter how much I try.
In the videogame world, my experience is also pretty limited. Growing up I only played console games, and typically it was games in the Mario, Donkey Kong Country, Zelda, or Sonic series’. I didn’t get into PC games heavily until discovering EverQuest, which introduced me to the world of MMOs. Since then I’ve played just about every MMO released since 1999, but still my PC and console gaming experience is severely limited. I never finished Mass Effect, I never finished Dragon Age. I didn’t play any of the Fallout games. I’ve never played the first two Bioshock games. I never finished Portal 1 and never played Portal 2. I’ve never played a Half-Life or Halo game. I never played Age of Empires, or Civilization. My videogame knowledge is vast in that I read about these games and know about these games, but I’ve never found the time or desire to actually play them. I’ve never done cosplay and have no interest in it. I’ve only played D&D a couple times and the campaigns died after one or two sessions. I have very little roleplaying skills, I can’t write fiction piece,
My experience in games has been pretty limited too. Once I found MMOs, they stole the bulk of my attention from 1999 to 2009. I dabbled a bit in games like Oblivion, Black & White, Warcraft III, and The Sims. Mostly, though, I played EverQuest, EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft, and every other MMO. I lead guilds, blogged about MMOs for many years, even traveled across the country to meet people I’d met in videogames.
I can’t help but feel like I’m faking it when I say I am a geek. Though I’m obsessed with videogame culture, I make games for a living, I helped start this very website, I attend GDC every year, consider myself pretty knowledgeable about industry trends, love Game of Thrones and select other fantasy worlds, I’m learning to code….there are just so many people who are geekier than me and seem so accomplished in what they’ve read, watched, and played. I could be unemployed for 10 years and I’d never catch up on all the fandom pieces that I have missed. I am perpetually behind and feel inferior as a result.
I know that I’m not really faking anything as I’m pretty up front with the holes in my experience, but sometimes I feel that I shouldn’t even call myself a geek because I’m missing so much ‘critical geekdom’. It feels like geek culture is a competitive and not-inclusive space with invisible hierarchies. Does anyone else ever have this feeling?