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Dissecting Words - Geek and Gamer

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I've often pondered the significance of the titles "gamer" and "geek". To most of my friends and colleagues, and our core J!NX fans, these monikers are a badge of honor, titles almost earned through a genuine, lifelong dedication to our culture. We sling them about with pride. Even with many of these interests being commonplace, the OG gamers and geeks can maintain the same grassroots feeling we might get when we find out that a band that WE knew about first just hit the mainstream.

I am ever curious on this topic, and I've broached it with many people, asking them what these words mean to them. I've noticed some interesting sentiments that continue to surface. For example:

  Me: "Are you a gamer?"
  Them: "No"
  Me:"Oh, so you don't play video games?"
  Them: "Oh no, I love video games, but I'm not a 'gamer'."
  Me: "Interesting... *squints eyes thoughtfully and chews on pen*"

The same applies for the label "geek". I grew up on computers and video games, programming at age 8. A quarter will always mean something special to me. 90% of the books I have read contain at least one dragon or halberd. The passion I felt for these things was peripheral to the mainstream. I was a geek, and that also meant I was a nerd. Cut to 2009. You may think that the word "geek" had evolved both in today's media and on a social level. You would think that it means to be truly passionate about interests that are typically based on intelligence and/or technology. Right? Wrong. The word still means something completely different depending entirely on the person you ask. Based on factors such as age, hometown, childhood interests, or social circle, you may hear descriptions that vary on a broad spectrum. The most common difference in opinion relates to the degree to which you get into this stuff. Some people are just too timid to claim to be a geek, afraid that they can't "back it up", so to speak.

To anyone significantly young, this culture is not even a specific thing to belong to. This culture is just integrated into everyone's life. I think Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade) nailed it when he said this regarding his son: "It's not 'gaming' culture for him, it's just regular culture."

I'm sure the conceptions and stereotypes will continue to morph, perhaps even dissolve. However, while they exist, they provide me with a strong sense of belonging and community. By my definition, a geek is a (rad) individual that pursues their interests with genuine passion, proudly and confidently standing behind those interests regardless of any negative stereotypical stigma. A gamer is simply someone that loves video games and makes them part of their life, regardless of their actual skill level or talent (fortunately for me).

We rank ourselves and our peers in this culture by number of toys, intelligence, memorized Monty Python script, trivia retention, technical prowess, high scores, position in line on opening night, and in general the amplitude of your passion. But I think that even those that don't score high can still have access to these glorious honorifics if they are genuine in their use.