Sep 012009
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Back when I went to high school, nerds, geeks and dweebs were anyone who played videogames. Own a Nintendo? Nerd! Liked “Lord of the Rings?” Nerd! Then, a glorious thing happened. My childhood shame started to become cool.

Peter Jackson, director of “The Lord of the Rings,” gets a large share of the credit, both for his excellent movies and for his military restraint. The standing army of armed Orcs he had parked in New Zealand during filming outnumbered the military personnel there. And don’t tell me that, “Sauron seizes control of New Zealand” would not have been the coolest headline ever.

Of late, World of Warcraft gets a large bit of credit. With more than 11.5 million active monthly subscribers, they’re pretty much printing money. Whether the game is considered a healthy hobby or not, it’s definitely made Azeroth and Orcs into household names.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re not a “nerd,” you probably know someone who is, and their opinion might be important to you. They could employ you. They could have access to your fridge. You could even, like my unsuspecting fiancée, end up marrying one. Shh, she thinks I’m cool.

For years, nerds had to develop an ability to talk about sports they knew nothing about to avoid offending others. Now, non-nerds need to learn the same skill with gaming.

Likewise, there are millions of new-found nerdlings skittering about. A whole world of clickable magic and sedentary adventure has been found, but unlike us true, old school nerds, they aren’t yet aware of how to explain that they spent all weekend pretending to decapitate dragons without their mimed sword swipes striking innocent bystanders.

Never fear! Like those cool vampire stories where someone is half-monster, half man, I am half-nerd, half man, and can help bridge the gap of communication between both worlds! Although I think perhaps my choice of metaphor may push me firmly into the “all-nerd” category. Nevertheless!

Non-nerds, you must understand that, by the standards of the ’80s, you are probably a nerd. Played Halo? Like Harry Potter? Videogames and books, my nerdy friend.

There’s no set stereotype today — a nerd is a sliding scale kind of thing. Sure, you’ve played Halo, but not one of those stupid RPGs from Japan. People who play those things are nerds. Of course, to those people, it’s not playing Final Fantasy XXXIV (number exaggerated to ensure joke is still hyperbolic by press time). It’s playing World of Warcraft that makes you a real nerd. Etc, etc, down the nerdy slide.

Nerds, there’s just one word for you that you must learn to love and respect: context. This is the golden rule for human interaction: You must have context.

If you are lounging about with coworkers and out of nowhere you ask, “Have you collected all the Severed Bloody Heads that drop while slaughtering the Dirtville peasants?” you have left context behind, but thankfully know to collect Severed Heads. Those things are delicious.

Also keep in mind that, without proper context, no one cares about the color, ability or rarity of your latest Magical WonderSword. It’s just random number babble: +100 to hit, +500 to damage, +100 percent chance to confuse anyone you talk to.

So, non-nerds, accept that some peoples’ hobbies are just that: weird little hobbies, not anything to be worried about. And nerds, remember, if it drops from a corpse, pick it up and stew it.

As a side note, the CSU Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, an organization of CSU nerds who are interested in tabletop gaming, is meeting new people out on the Plaza today (or inside if it rains or the hated ‘daystar’ has driven us into shade). Feel free to drop by.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior undeclared major with a physical and mathematical sciences interest. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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