If you know me personally, I know what youíre thinkingÖ if I had an inner nerd I havenít been hiding him very well. After punching you in the stomach for calling me a nerd, Iíd probably agree with you. Yes, everyone I socialize with knows I play video games, read comics, and can quote random movies off the cuff for devastating effects. But in the last few years Iíve noticed that this part of me, the part that knows the powers and backgrounds to every member of the X-Men and has a favorite Ghostbuster (itís Egon, in case you were curious) is not the social outcast to keep under wraps I once thought it to be. As Patton Oswalt recently opined, everyone is a nerd now to some degree. We almost all have a favorite show that we devote ourselves to every season, or a favorite movie or book series that weíll hit a midnight showing or store opening for. But while the line between nerds and your ordinary fan has grayed, it isnít gone. I know this, because I can look down and see it.
Itís nearly a year since I came to the realization that Iím just a regular guy with hobbies instead of being a hardcore follower of anything. I came to that conclusion last year at the first PAX East. Much of the time spent that weekend was surrounded by people who cared more about their hobby than I had cared about anything in my life. There were people in plate mail armor, a girl who had devoted her entire day to act out as the zombie witch from Left 4 Dead, and guys walking around dressed as Ash from Pokemon, their girlfriends wearing yellow dresses and Pikachu ears. I was in jeans and hoodie. These people live their hobbies, I live around mine. For a time wandering the halls, I felt like I didnít belong to a group I had long identified with. Maybe there is a finite amount of love and attention you can give to personal interestsÖ perhaps all the time I spend on biking, the Boston Red Sox, and politics they had otherwise spent entirely on gaming and nerd culture. They honed their interests, while I diversified. By the end of last yearís PAX I had come to accept that I wasnít the nerd I thought I was, but that didnít mean I wasnít welcome. We were all there for the same thing, we loved this hobby.
I received my three day badge for this yearís PAX East in the mail today, and while Iím really looking forward to it, I remember how I felt about last yearís event. PAX is a second home for a good deal of the people who attend it, for me itís just a fun place to go every year. In a few weeks Iíll be again surrounded by people who love gaming more than I ever could, and instead of wasting a day wandering around dealing with identity issues Iím going to have a great time with people who love the same things I doÖ even if they may love them more. read