The USS Quad Damage


This post is about two things. One, the assertion that nerds are now somehow more popular. The second is about video games as mass media. They're related.

This morning I was watching Sunrise and they were going to have a segment on how "geek is the new chic". Incidentally, the words "Geek" and "Chic" have appeared together a lot. An awful lot. I first read it in Hyper magazine when I was like 12 or something, so I don't see how people still think it's clever. Anyway, I thought it was a little odd how they would say nerds are cool. I thought I'd write them a little letter to show them how wrong they were.
Dear Sunrise n00bs,
I haev read that j00 think geeks aer t3h sh1t. I just wanetd to write in to say that it's about tiem someone noticed my ubermicro. I hope I will get more girls now. It could make LFG mean a hwole new thing.

Your friend,
Upon writing this fictional letter in my mind while sipping my morning tea (not morning tea, but actual tea in the morning, for breakfast), I came upon a realisation. They weren't talking about geeks at all. Geeks weren't, aren't, and will never be attractive. They're the kind of person that make women have to compete with a machine. The kind where a fictional universe takes preference to the real one. The kind of person who takes great care of the keyboard he uses, but not really about what he wears.

No. We're not talking about someone who knows how to hack their mobile, we're talking about someone who knows what the internet is. Someone who knows how to fix a printer. We know them as n00bs. These guys probably have normal lives. Drugs, booze, fast cars, whatever it is normal people are supposed to be doing, these guys are doing it. The only difference is that they admit to having an "obsession" with something nerdy, something tinkery. They may even have an iPod or something.

Their tinkering, however, goes about as far as looking up some hack on the internet and doing it themselves. It's a cut-and-paste lifestyle, at least from a geek's perspective. This is how they manage to find the time to stay well-adjusted. Normal people are none the wiser. How could they be? They need the "geek" to operate Google (or probably whereis, but you know, who really cares). These are the same people who would rip off LAME and make a root-kit for Sony. Apparently they even wrote usenet articles to the effect of "We don't know what we're doing, can someone write us / point us to some code we can rip off."

Real physical women will be sleeping with them. They will not be sleeping with us.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure you've all got plenty nice girlfriends or wives or whatever, but they tolerate the geek, they don't have sex with it. They have sex with some other you, which is somewhat bearable. Whether that other you is real or entirely in their head, I'm not so sure. But that's another issue for another day.

Let's move on to the second point. Video games now are being made for Jocks. They're dumb games with great graphics and big budgets made for sexy consoles by Sony and Microsoft. I don't know if we should call them video games. Let's call them "interactive entertainment" and we'll just keep the derogatory undertones between us. So IE is basically boring. It's the same old game made a little nicer looking and with more flash. Gamers are suckers, so we'll probably buy it, but we probably won't play it for long. Driving games, skateboarding games, football games (pick your code), are all a dime a dozen now. Even GTA-style games are so prevalent that I doubt any gamer cares anymore. They're the "action movie" genre of video games. Great for "normal people" but gamers don't really give a shit.

Increasing numbers of friends of mine (those having been sucked in by WoW recently enough to have talked to me in the near past) have expressed their desire to buy only old, tested games, or games with lower requirements. They're excited about the Nintendo Revolution being able to play the old games from the old consoles. I find it hard to keep myself from getting hopeful about the Revolution. A big part of me wants it to be an actual Revolution in console gaming. I'm hoping they'll sell the system at a profit, and that's how they'll be making money, so they'll be releasing free dev-kits to anyone who wants one, and they'll use easy to write media so the geeks can write their own games.

I can dream, right?

So in the end game, we all dream of a better future for us, as geeks. It's not there. It's a pipe dream, a thought experiment. Life is how it is, and we're better than everyone else anyway. I'm sure Paulo will have thoughts, since I mentioned women...