So You Want to be a Geek

Fine, nobody wants to be a geek, except those of us who are already geeks and need a way to feel proud about that (God bless you, Internet, for giving us that way!). But maybe you want to hang out with geeks? Understand what's going on at Comic Con? Date a geek?

Stop laughing. It happens.

Consider this an unofficial, non-exhaustive primer on the things you should know to understand the geek world...or at least to be able to visit our world without falling asleep or cringing all the time.

Please understand that the term "geek" is very broad (and yet completely distinct from "nerd"--we'll have that conversation later). The following list will help you with the most common breed: the sci-fi/fantasy geek. Although geek types frequently overlap, this list will not be as helpful with computer geeks, techno-geeks, math geeks, physics-and-other-hard-science geeks, history geeks, or any other form of "useful" geekery.

1. Watch the original Star Wars trilogy. Original theater edition is preferable, if you can find it.
         a) Although you are not required to have an opinion on the matter, know what it means that Han shot first.

2. Familiarize yourself with some form of Star Trek. Preferably TOS (the Original Series) or TNG (the Next Generation).
         a) You are not required to watch more than one episode or movie, but you should be able to recognize (by name or face) at least 3 crew members.
         b) Watching the new Star Trek movie is acceptable (because it's awesome), but assume that conversations about Kirk, Spock, etc. are speaking of the original series, unless otherwise specified. If you, for example, say, "Spock and Uhura are so hot together" without specifying the context, you will be known for a fraud.
         c) Actually, just avoid stating opinions in general.

3. Know your comic book superheroes:
         a) The origin stories of Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man.
         b) The identifying powers/features of the aforementioned superheroes, as well as: Wolverine, Cyclops, the Incredible Hulk, Punisher, each of the Fantastic Four.
         c) Although you should see Nolan's new Batman movies (again: awesome), do not assume the original Batman ever trained as a ninja. Though he should have.

4. Watch or read the entirety of LORD OF THE RINGS. Reading is preferable but, dude, it's 1,000+ pages. We understand.

5. Watch every episode of Firefly. (NOTE: This may no longer be relevant in 5-10 years, but for today's geek it is a necessity).

6. Know what anime is.
         a) Know the difference between "anime" (Japanese animation, which includes many different styles) and "anime-style" (non-Japanese animation that looks like it).
         b) Know the difference between dubbed and subbed.
         c) Never, under any circumstances, assume or imply that because something is animated, it is for children.

7. Watch one or more of the following, preferably subbed:
         a) Neon Genesis: Evangelion
         b) Vision of Escaflowne
         c) Cowboy Bebop
         d) Naruto (one season is acceptable)
         e) Dragonball Z (the cartoon, not the live action movie; one season is acceptable)
         f) Any film by Hayao Miyazaki (e.g. Laputa, Nausicaa, Porco Rosso, My Neighbor Totoro, etc.)
         g) Avatar: the Last Airbender (this is not anime, but I think it counts)

8. Play one of the following RPGs for at least one hour:
         a) Dungeons & Dragons
         b) World of Warcraft
         c) Any Final Fantasy game

9. Know the following terms:
         a) Saving throw
         b) Red shirt (from Star Trek)
         c) Orc
         d) d20
         e) Klingon
         f) Mech or Mecha
         g) Skynet
         h) XP
         i) Grok
         j) Holodeck

10. Memorize some obscure piece of trivia related to any of previous items. Example: "Did you know Neil Gaiman wrote the English dialog for Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke?" (true story).

I know that seems like a lot of work, but nobody said being a geek (even an honorary one) was easy.

Also understand there are many, MANY things that could adequately replace items on this list. If my fellow geeks were to make similar lists, they would all be different and would include things even I'm not familiar with.

So to you: Do you know everything on this list? What would you add/replace for someone who wanted to understand the geek world?


Ishta Mercurio said...

I think there should be some requirement in there to own some paraphernalia. A Star trek uniform or communicator pin, Lord of the Rings action figures, etc. It's not necessary to own everything, but every true geek has something stashed away somewhere. Preferably in a prominent location within the home or office. Another facet of geekdom is the compulsion to advertise it.

Hepius said...

Dude, there's no way that kid in the picture has an AC of 6. That's the equivalent of ring mail.

Now, of course, we can't see his wrists, so he could be wearing bracers of defense AC6.

Or the binky could be enchanted, but that would be a non-standard magic item. Maybe his mom is a lvl 12 magic user?

Emmet said...

To clarify, are geek and fan-boy positions on ST and SW different, or would they represent geek subculture? Aside from the new movie and whatever the series was with seven of 9, I have a general disinterest/dislike for ST. That said, Shatner is the shiz.

I'm good on everything except 7. D&E and 8. I might argue these are more "new school" geek requirements. I offer for substitution a familiarity and appreciation for the original Tron, Akira, and Willow. I think my connection to strategy board games counterbalances my failures in 8. If you refuse this I'll sick Leroyyyy Jennnnkins on you.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

My anime powers are weak, but I compensate for it with a disturbing knowledge of ST and SW (and yes, paraphenalia).

But where are the books? (besides LOTR) I guess you can be a slam down geek without reading, but it seems like a disturbance in the force to have Geeks who haven't read Heinlein or Asimov. Or perhaps I am dating myself.

cookie said...

Personally, I prefer subbing when I watch anime.
I would also suggest reading the manga to those series. Like a book, the manga is usually better.

Myrna Foster said...

I've never seen Firefly, but I can check off the others. I'm with Susan though. To date a fantasy geek, you'll need to read some fantasy. Just ask my husband how many fantasy series he's read since he married me. I can't remember if the first one I handed him was The Lord of the Rings or The Belgariad, but he's been reading along with me ever since.

Victoria Dixon said...

Myrna, Firefly is a must-see. Watch and enjoy. And yes, they are speaking Mandarin in places. Don't let it throw you. ;D I've tried to avoid RPGs because I'm sure I'll get addicted, but otherwise I reek of Geekdom. LOL The one thing I'd recommend that you alluded to, but I think there needs to be a stronger recommendation is having read at least one of the Sandman graphic novels. You can be allowed to substitute Marvelman or Watchman (preferably the comic/graphic novel) as you really need to understand about Neil Gaiman and/or Alan Moore.

Nick said...

Matt, the AC thing is probably a difference between the old THACO and the new ATT vs DEF system (I dealt with THACO in early video games, but have only done the newer style in PnP D&D).

I also prefer subs to dubs. There are a few high-quality dubs out there, but for the most part the original voices are so much better that I can't stand the dubs. Of course, I'm biased as a decent Japanese Speaker, since dubs usually lose quite a bit in the translations.

Nick said...

It's interesting to compare the old-school with the new-school. I've definitely had my own bouts of annoyance at what is or isn't considered geeky/nerdy, but I think in the end it's about accepting the old with the new, because it really boils down to what's "cool" and old-school was new-school at one point. I think geek/nerdness would become stale without invention, or at least innovation.

Adam Heine said...

Wow, I am ashamed. I meant to say subbed, but mistyped. I submit myself to the mercy of the Geek Tribunal. I am not worthy.

Adam Heine said...

You guys are right about the books. But while there are many important books to read, I was trying to think of representative things that geeks commonly reference in conversation. LOTR was all I could think of.

Re: the baby's AC, I think Nick's right. It looks like 3rd edition D&D to me. In 3e, base AC is at 10, then the baby has another -4 for his low dexterity. Then again, he should have an additional +2 for being Tiny size. Maybe that's counteracted for his being relatively immobile or something.

Hepius said...

2nd edition D+D FTW!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Gosh, I only have a little work to do in order to pass this geek test. Scary.


fairyhedgehog said...

I know a worrying number of things on the list, including an even more worrying number of things that I was there for the first time around (the original Star Wars trillogy, the original Star Trek...)

I start to fall down when you get to comic books, and anime is beyond me.

Does playing Minecraft count for anything? (or does that make me a nerd?)

Adam Heine said...

Minecraft TOTALLY counts :-)

jjdebenedictis said...

Off-topic, but oh my stars, look! A sky pirate ship!

(I thought of you as soon as I saw it. :) )

Adam Heine said...

Just so everyone knows, I have a standing rule (as of now) that pirates and airships are NEVER off-topic.

And OH MY GOSH! It's like a Mobius ship! I can't figure out how that thing would even fly AND I DON'T CARE.

K. Marie Criddle said...

I....I....can't....stop....laughing. I quizzed my husband on all of this and he failed so so miserably. Now I know--after five years--where exactly to start.

Adam, you've done us all a great service.

Paul said...

I think someone may have mentioned it in the comments, but knowing what THAC0 is will definitely help your cred as well.

And a person should always have an experience from either an RPG or MMORPG that can be related in times of need :)

Meg said...

I feel like there should be extra credit for Doctor Who knowledge. It's major geekdom in Britain and is on the rise in America.

Ah, subbed anime. I remember when the world was new and I had to buy fan-subbed VHS over the internet. Not to mention the only place to buy manga was the anime store.

Adam Heine said...

@Meg: I agree about Doctor Who. I haven't seen any yet, but I've heard enough that it's just about reached critical geek mass.

When I started my anime habit, there was very little internet. Our "dealer" borrowed stacks and stacks of tapes fan-subbed by our college's anime fan club. His dorm room was walled with them.

Matthew MacNish said...

How in the H do I know only one of the Miyazaki films you mention? I could have sworn I'd seem them all. Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, Howl's, Kiki's, Ponyo ...

... apparently not.