Nerd/Geek Triggers

Let me ask a philosophical question. Are Nerds born nerds? Are Geeks born geeks? (The discussion about the difference between the two will have to come at a later time) Are certain people destined to have an affinity for role playing games or SciFi and Fantasy fiction? Or is it simply an environmental factor that makes a young child or teen lean that way? Are the children of nerds destined to become nerds themselves? Or are there those that will become geeks and/or nerds, even if their parents actively try to influence them otherwise? You know what? It doesn’t matter really, because geeks and nerds exist, and as the title says, I’m here to talk about what triggers the descent. . . wait, I forgot, this is the 21st century, nerds and geeks aren’t looked down about any more, geek is chic. I’m here to talk about what triggers the ASCENT into the geek and nerd lifestyles.

Thundarr_Title_1Regardless of whether there were parental factors leading us along the path, we can’t obviously show our tendency to roll polyhedral dice when we are babies. There’s usually an age when a child begins to show an affinity for certain kinds of cartoons, not for the bright colors and uplifting vocal patterns, but for the stories, characters (robots and monsters) that go along with cartoons like Dungeons and Dragons, Robotech or Thundarr the Barbarian. I may have been influenced in the beginning by my parents, seeing as they took me at the early age of 6 to see Star Wars. I have distinct recollections of that experience, and the same goes for my first viewing of Star Trek the Motion Picture in 1979, but I can safely say that my earliest signs of my later geekness probably came when we first got cable TV, and Superstation TBS began running the English language version of the Japanese live action series Ambassador Magma. When I first saw it some time in 1978 or 79 it was called The Space Giants. I was 8 years old, and wow I thought that the idea of giant robots protecting the Earth from evil was AWESOME. I believe that was the first time I ever became a fan of a piece of science fiction media. I didn’t really know what I was yet, but I believe that may have been the ripple on the water that later became a tidal wave.

It wasn’t until a couple of years later, some time in the winter of 1982 that my predilection for the nerd arts really exploded. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was watching the movie Hawk the Slayer on rental VHS that opened the flood gates and set me on the path to being a full-on sci-fi watching, fantasy obsessed,Dungeons and Dragons playing, costume wearing, dice rolling NERD. Exhibit A:


Now I know what you’re thinking, that movie looks so BAD right? (Maybe it should be added to my Nostalgia Effect series), but after seeing this movie, my older brother Rich went out, almost that very week and purchased the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set, complete with dice and the module “B2 Keep on the Borderlands”. My brother’s first character was an elf named Crow, and my first character (and my primary character all the way up through AD&D 2nd edition) was a Cleric named Cornelius Agrippa. That was it, the switch had been thrown. From that point on I knew what I was and I loved it. I was a nerd, even if I didn’t like to advertise it to everyone. (I had to protect myself best I could from the ass clowns commonly known as bullies, but lets not get into that here.)

dragonlance-chronicles-01-dragons-of-autumn-twilightNow you may notice that I didn’t mention much about the plethora of books that may have been the triggers for many of the nerds and geeks of my age. Well, I wasn’t much of a book nerd. I got my geek on most from movies and television. The only reading I really did back in the day was rule books and game modules. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a few here and there, such as the three original Dragonlance books Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning. But my geek puppet strings were most often pulled by movies and TV.  And ever since that night we first watched Hawk the Slayer, it was just a long trail of nerdiness from that point on. Role playing games, tabletop miniature games, comic books, video games, bad sci-fi and fantasy b-movies, dressing up as starfleet officers, going to gaming conventions, comic book conventions, renaissance fairs….and beyond.


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