Monday, March 14, 2011

Embracing our inner geeks

"Embrace your inner geek".

I suppose you recognize it? It comes from Blizzard's mission statement about their eight core values, principles and beliefs they claim are reflected in employees' decisions and actions every day.

I've always loved those core values, and specifically this one.

"Embrace your inner geek".

Don't hide him. Don't feel ashamed over him. Don't question him or cover him in excuses and explanations. Just embrace him and be proud! You don't necessarily have to go mainstream, adjusting to what is socially accepted and considered be The Road to Success. Not in this world, where geekery is allowed and even encouraged.

The geeks at Blizzard
I was reminded of this as I read the first round of questions and answers to the developers at Blizzard.

Among a bunch of other more or less predictable question, with equally predictable answers, this one stood out to me:

"What is your favorite escape/distraction when you aren't working on WoW?"

To answer the question, they made a poll to the entire development team and picked out "the most interesting, unusual and potentially terrifying responses".

It's a long list, which actually includes a few not-so-geeky answers, such as baking bread, blending smoothies and playing hockey. I guess they need a variety in the staff, including some non-nerds who can give the perspective they need for a mass market.

But some of the replies were outspokenly geeky. Among my favorites were: "building my own 3D printer" and "attempting to turn my living room into a live action scene from Tron using blacklights, stencils and a helluva lot of paint". I also liked "building Star Wars Lego sets" and "trying to control my computer using brainwaves and an EEG reader" (are we supposed to actually believe this?) "Work on my Jaina/Varian fanfic" is something I would consider rather geeky as well.

However: the price for being the biggest geek will probably go to the guy (or possibly girl, but as far as I know of there aren't many women in the development team) who answered. "Playing "WoW". Good grief. You work full day thinking about nothing but World of Warcraft. And then you go home and play it. It takes a true nerd to do such a thing. (Or possibly someone looking for a raise, says the cynic.)

Geeky stuff I do
If I go to myself, what geeky things do I do apart from playing World of Warcraft? I suppose running a blog entirely devoted to this game for more than three years would be considered a bit odd in the eyes of most normal people. Or when I dress up in fantasy clothes, dancing to music that went out of fashion hundreds of years ago. Anyone who wears mantle in public has come out as a geek, I'd say.

The geekiest activity I've ever committed myself to was probably my years as an active member of the science fiction Fandom about 25 years ago, which I've described further in a nostalgic post. Those were the days when I didn't blog, but made fanzines on a mimeograph, which had a personality and life of its own. Most of us were about as geeky as you could be. I still see some of those people and to be honest, I think we haven't quite moved on to the world of normality.

Those stripes never quite leave you, do they? Even if we cover them with a thick layer of Important Things such as having a family and a career, at core there's still an inner geek, waiting for the right moment to let himself be heard.

Have you embraced your inner geek? Do you consider yourself a nerd, and if so, in what way? Are you proud and open about it or is it something you're doing in your closet?

It's confession time! Share your most geeky sides with the rest of us. Free drinks to all you geeks tonight!


Anonymous said...

And I thought I was geeky for being into things like saltwater fish tanks and photography!

FrankO said...

i'm happy to see that some of my own pastimes are shared by blizzard employees! i like to cook & bake bread, and i definitely love learning about, crafting & drinking old-time cocktails. i've done a bit of canning, and most recently i'm learning how to make cheese. i never really considered these things GEEKY, but i guess they are. everyone has hobbies!

Aeven said...

"trying to control my computer using brainwaves and an EEG reader" (are we supposed to actually believe this?)

Well, I've got a friend that spends his day job developing software to do something very similar -

So yeah, I can easily imagine someone (especially someone with a hardware background) playing around with this sort of thing :-)

Tesh said...

Geeks rule the world. No shame in that.

As for me, I blog about game design. And art. And writing. And math.

For fun, I design games and figure out ways to better teach my kids math.

If I had it to do over, I'd be working in the astrophysics world. And still designing games for fun...

Syl said...

Geekdom ftw! =D

besides gaming, I guess I've always been a poetry geek, if there's such a thing; I even spent time in workshops on creative writing and took part in poetry slams and clubs. apparently that's weird to some people.

apart from that I'm a geek in all ways u can associate with rpgs or mmos; there be fantasy books, collecting game soundtrack or concept art. :)
what i never found to be my thing though were things like live action roleplay or pen&paper (although I like board games). but the whole being "in character" stuff really marks my personal limit - maybe because I don't like acting.

Jen said...

I'm a SF/F book nerd... and a grammar/style nerd! Which are both lucrative hobbies, since they got me jobs at some point in time.

(And, fwiw, my friends who work at Blizzard do come home and play WoW all night :P)

Mhorgrim said...

Hmm...I am thinking ther eis nothing Geeky about what everyone does. It all seems like you guys are normal, intelligent and thoughtful folks. *Snorts* Who am I kidding???? I play WoW, look at MMO news, read sci fi/fantasy books. In my younger days I would sit and read White wolf Gaming books while drinking wine in a dark restaurant @_@. I grew up on PnP Roleplaying games.

I also like writing fan fic of the mmo's I play. None have the storyline heroes directly involved as I prefer my own heroes.

Uuummm... yup I do geeky stuff.

Nube said...

Wainting outside of the store on sunday morning, waiting for my Pokemon White copy. Does that counts, or is it just wrong?

Klepsacovic said...

I just started a Star Wars tabletop RPG with a couple friends. I was at their house helping with physics homework. We also played Magic and complained a bit about MMOs. The last of which is more or less the subject of a blog I've been writing for about three years.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous: Sounds fairly normal to me, although I guess it depends a bit on your level of obsession. If you're just deeply enough into it I reckon saltwater fish tanks can be perceived as somewhat geeky.

@FrankO: Well, those hobbies belonged to the less geeky interests in that list if you ask me. But again, it depends on how deep you're into it.

@Aeven:That is SO cool!

@Tesh: yeah, it's wonderful to see so many aparent geeks being managers/owners/founders of some of the most successful companies in the world.

@Tesh: My first dream job was to become an astronaut and for the longest I hesitated between being an astronomist or an archeologist. I became neither. But the geek within me still long for the stars.

@Syl: I suppose a deep interest of poetry can appear somewhat geeky. Or at least odd.

@Jen: you have the geekiest friends! Cool.

@Mhorgrim: Sounds like sound hobbies to me. But then I'm pretty geekish in my mindset.

@Nube: That's the spirit! Have another one! Cheers!

@Klepsacovic: Sounds like a lovely night to me. Probably quite geeky to someone watching from the outside.

Anonymous said...

So many things...
I make little clay hearthstones and give to my WoW friends to use as paperweights or whatever.
I watch Dr. Who over and over again.
I have completely covered my cubicle walls with pictures of Star Wars, Charlie the Unicorn, the Stay Puft marshmallow man, the Muppets, Futurama, etc, etc.
I still rickroll people every chance I get.
I read fantasy books.
But mostly I just talk about WoW, blog about WoW, wear tshirts that say "I am the hot night elf you met online", put WoW bumper stickers on my car.
Total geek.

Redbeard said...

@Klepsakovic: Which edition? Just curious.

@Larisa: Hoo boy. For us long time geeks, there's always D&D and video games (like Atari 2600 video games) for starters. There's SF&F books, boardgames, shortwave/amateur radio, and all sorts of other activities.

Although I have to be honest, right now sleep seems like a geeky activity!

Apple said...

I roleplay on, or I used to (I've dropped down recently, just due to real life). I write fanfiction. I perform full Broadway musicals for my dog if I'm home alone. I am literally in the middle of a Doctor Who/World of Warcraft crossover fanfic. I have a whole bookshelf full of sci-fi and fantasy books, and it's not big enough to hold all of them. My very favourite book series (The Codex Alera) was written when the author (Jim Butcher) was dared by a friend to write something combining Romans and Pokemon, and that makes the books EVEN BETTER to me. I use terms of endearment from a fake fantasy language with my girlfriend.

I'm a huge geek, and proud of it.

Anonymous said...

Stained glass

Klepsacovic said...

@Redbeard: I don't know; I'm pretty new to D&D-type stuff. We spent a really long time figuring out our characters, thanks to trying to sneak in some Jedi powers for our scoundrels and being informed that the birth of the Empire is a really, really bad time to be level three and a target to Jedi hunters.

Unknown said...

I grew up on scifi and pen and paper RPG's, been always a sucker for fiction. I have a collection of extinct p&p RPGs in our bookshelf, much to my wife's annoyance (she loves me for what I am, though, so I can't be all that rotten).

But for other geeky things than reading and playing and watching a movie every now and then? Not much. My 'real' hobby is dog sports, which is considered pretty conventional, but believe me: the people in those circles are usually as much into fantasy/scifi and geeks than me.

On the other hand, I never thought any of this to be 'geeky', not even during the time I spent with the local scifi people.

It was normal for me, shame on others who shunned it.

C out

Sean said...

I only wish I'd turned my geekiness into more profit earlier in my life. A goblin I am not, but I proudly call myself a geek. I love reading and SC-FI/Fantasy will always be my favorite genre. I've read all (12 iirc) volumes of The History of Middle Earth and I've collected the first 3 volumes of The Eye of the World series in trade paperback.

I enjoy building new computers and upgrading my current ones. I have boxes of cables, spare PCI cards, motherboards, processor fans, power supplies and a couple of empty cases laying around.

I love to read WoW blogs and cooking blogs.

These are the things I'm doing when I'm not either; working, playing WoW, or spending time with my daughter.

Kierbuu said...

US politics geek. Not just the kind that knows a few big politicians or has a pet cause, but the kind that really gets into this stuff the way others do for football or Star Wars. The type that knows at what stage or passing (or getting killed) hundreds of bills are at. Knows all nearly elected member of the national government and high level appointed officials by memory (and by what district they come from). Heck, the type that can spell government correctly without spell check or a dictionary.

We even get our own name... Wonks.

Chadrassa said...

Hmmm, let me think... writing and betaing fanfiction in a handful of fandoms, have been an admin at a fanfiction message board for a few years, going to Startrek conventions (costumed, of course), worldbuilding and creating conlangs. In between I dabbled a little bit in p&p rpgs but never really got quite hooked for the longest time (I think because I had so much other stuff to do).

Kammler said...

Given the state of today's educational system, only the Geeks will have the imagination and intelligence to rebuild our culture in a post-apocalyptic world.

Long live, er, US!

Sthenno said...

1. In order to calculate the precise value of critical hit rating relative to spell power during TBC for Smite priests I solved an infinite markov chain that included 17th degree polynomials by hand - despite knowing that Smite was never going to be viable for anything. Of course this was after deriving a method for solving infinite markov chains because I hadn't used them in so long.

2. My friends and I used to tabletop roleplay with a homebrew system. I personally wrote over 200 pages of rules for it.

3. One day a conversation with my girlfriend casually turned towards the idea of getting married. The next day I read the Marriage Act online. It is relevant to note that I am not a lawyer. It turns out she read the Marriage Act as well. Not surprisingly, we are now married.

FrankO said...

@Larísa - well, i'm still new to cheese-making, but i can already tell that there is a DEEP level of geekery possible. temperatures, humidity levels, hacking wine refrigerators to function as a "cheese cave"... on and on. and that's not even touching the processes and materials needed to make cheese itself. baking is the same way. i think any hobby has the potential for high geekery. that's what makes them fun!

Larísa said...

An additional example of my geekiness: I’m the owner of a 30-volume edition of every single drawing Carl Bark ever made. Including commentary, a ton of articles, letters and whatnot. It looks like an encyclopedia in my shelf and was published in 2 000 copies. I jumped on a subscription as soon as the opportunity showed. I doubt many normal people would do that.

@Worldofelfi: Clay hearthstones! That is geeky. Cheers!

@Redbeard: sleep is for the weak.

@Apple: Yay!

@Copra: No matter how deep you dive into dog sports, I don’t think it ever can be perceived as geeky to be honest.

I’ve never considered geek a bad word. I’m geeky in some aspects. But not always. I go to the gym, I have a non-geeky job and appear pretty normal in many situations.

@Sean: Sounds like a lovely, geeky existence.

@Kierbuu:Wow. You’re the red shirt guy of US politics!

@Chadrassa: Full fledged geek, no doubt. Welcome!

@Kammler: We bring hope to the world.

@Sthenno: I have no idea of what the first point meant but it sounds impressive!
And I totally loved point 3! That’s true romance! You were obviously meant for each other!

Anonymous said...

Well we talked about this Larisa. I completely reject my inner geek when I'm with others.


Phaedra said...

Besides playing and reading about video games, I read (more like devour) fantasy novels, shojo manga, and various graphic novels, watch geeky TV shows (Mythbusters, Top Chef, Being Human, SyFy movies, etc), am somewhat of a movie snob (proud of the fact that I have still yet to see Titanic), go to museums with my husband, discuss Greek mythology in depth with my husband, hang out at my local cheese shop, attend microbrew festivals (total beer snob), and knit.