Web Geeks (and Geek Studies) in the News

I recently had a nice conversation with Carolyn Johnson for a Boston Globe piece on ROFLCon and internet fame, “Web celebs consider their role: Internet ‘geeks’ gain niche in mainstream culture.” (Thanks again to Dan for sending along the link. As before, he remains my source for articles that quote me.)

The focus in this piece is on how the internet has enabled culture to develop in niches, where people can feel comfortable about reveling in the things they might have otherwise hidden. As one interviewee notes, “Until I launched my company in January, I always kept this part of my life—Internet, humor, in the closet. […] I had no real purpose except to meet kindred spirits.”

It’s more for non-geek audiences, so there won’t be many surprises here for most of you readers. I will say, though, that I found it more respectful than many other newspaper convention pieces (which have a nasty habit of sounding patronizing about the attendees).

Also consider checking out The Weekly Dig‘s ROFLCon-themed issue, available for download online, complete with headlines written in LOLcat/AOL-speak. If nothing else, you may find it kind of funny to see articles that ostensibly have nothing to do with geek culture get so thoroughly web-ified.

Sexism and Misogyny in Geek Culture

I wrote a post yesterday exploring how girls and women identify themselves or get identified as geeks. In the course of doing that, I thought it was important to point out some of the sexist and misogynistic behaviors that seem unfortunately somewhat common in some geeky circles. That post spawned some very interesting comments, but I was concerned that we were going down a different avenue of conversation, focused more on why male geeks mistreat female geeks than on how female geek identity is formed. I hope nobody minds too much that I figured that conversation deserves its own post.

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How People Explain Female Geeks

A question that comes up a lot in the course of my research and blogging, both implicitly and explicitly, is why geek culture is typically described and understood as a male phenomenon, and why female involvement needs some sort of special explanation. This has been on my mind a lot lately for a few reasons, not least of which being the articles that occasionally cross my screen.

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Links and Thoughts on Geek Conventions

I’ve been working on a really long links post in short fits and spurts over the last few days, realizing part way through that some of these links are thematically similar enough that they might as well be their own posts. Yesterday we got geek typologies; today, links and comments on conventions; and later this week, some links on geek fashion and on being a geeky woman.

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What Type(s) of Geek Are You?

You may have seen a certain graphic making the rounds on the geek blogs lately. It’s Wired‘s Geekster Handbook, a Field Guide to the Nerd Underground,” describing six different kinds of geeks based on their interests and some (affectionately mocked) stereotypes. The list includes fanboys, music geeks, gamers, gadget guys, hackers, and otaku, perhaps hitting the major media of geek culture in broad swaths (and throwing in one so hip and mainstream that I doubt it would’ve made this list ten to fifteen years ago).

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Locating Aesthetics Between Various Game Appeals

John Rose recently wrote an article for Gamasutra titled “Fewer Mechanics, Better Game,” a look at what makes games not just enjoyable, but objectively identified as good. I found the article thoughtful and interesting. I also (almost) completely disagree with it. It fits neatly into the recent posts I’ve been doing on game narratives, appeals, and play styles, so I thought I’d take a moment to analyze another person’s perspective and explain how our opinions differ.

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The Multiple Appeals of Gaming

In our discussion about what we should call heavily story-oriented games, we got to talking about what the different appeals of video game play may be. I encourage you to go join in that discussion if you haven’t yet, as I’d love your input on what to call “narrative games.” For now, though, I came across an interesting illustration of the different appeals that games have, and I thought it was worth sharing separately.

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A “Narrative Game” By Any Other Name?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how I want to talk about a certain subset of video games, but I don’t have precise enough terminology to do so. I’ve decided to enlist you, the bright minds of the internet, in helping to figure out a phrase for what I want to discuss.

A number of theorists and writers working in game studies have attempted to describe the shared formal properties of “games” under the assumption that Tetris and Mass Effect (for example) represent not just the same physical medium, but the same artistic form, and therefore share the same sorts of appeals. The more I write about the latter, story-oriented sort of game, however, the more I find that assumptions about the former, rules-oriented sort of game sometimes get in the way. In some ways, Tetris has about as much in common with Mass Effect as a Sudoku puzzle book has in common with a sci-fi novel. Technically, each pair belongs to a shared “medium,” but more in terms of technology and ancestry than in terms of formal conventions and aesthetic aims.

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