WARNING: WALLS OF TEXT INCOMING, NO PICTURES. I would still highly suggest reading it if you are the following though: a gamer, a hardcore fan of anything geeky, a casual fan of anything, a girl, a guy, or a martian.
In the past articles I’ve written, there was a lot of cursing, filled with gifs and plenty of attempts at humor, but in this particular article I wanted to address something a bit more serious. Funny enough, we’ll be talking the opposite of serious, and talking about casual fans. Something I’ve never understood is why people turn their backs on others that are truly trying to learn a new hobby or enter a new fandom. For example, when someone says they are huge Marvel fans, that can mean so many different things. You have huge long boxes of classic Marvel comics? Awesome, more power to you, I’d love to hang out and read them. Oh, I’m not cool enough because I just started collecting floppy issues after the reboot? Fuck you too bro. And yet, somehow it gets worse, because these people who only just started collecting feel the need for that validation and turn others who only watch the Marvel movies away.
There are people who are Marvel fans that only watch the movies that come out in theaters, and they get excluded and considered casual fans. But what is wrong with being a casual fan? Why can’t they also be considered Marvel fans? Are they on your level of knowledge of the Marvel 616(The main marvel timeline)? Probably not, but why do these hardcore fans feel the need to shun and turn away these casual fans? Why is it necessary to create this hierarchy? It isn’t. I hang out with a bunch of people who don’t read comic books, but they love to ask me questions when we go watch the movies. How close to the book is it? What’s going to happen in the sequel? What does the infinity gauntlet do? What’s your beef with Iron Man 3? Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman? And I love answering them, and they see how excited I get by explaining a badass story, and sometimes it inspires them to read about it.
Listen. I’m not saying it’s absolutely necessary for you to become friends with everyone and teach them from square one, but why would you discourage them from learning more? This applies to many subjects, but I want to specifically address nerdy and geeky things. As a community, I honestly feel that far too often we are pots calling kettles black. My first experience with this particular issue was back when I was attempting to be come a pro Super Smash Bros. Brawl player. I studied that game daily, analyzing frame data, reading forums constantly, and attending tournaments to hone my craft. Brawl players were frequently looked down upon and constantly made fun of in the forums for playing a game that was “too simple” and just a poorly designed game. Do you want to know by who though? Super Smash Bros. Melee players. Seriously. The Smash community is about as grass roots as it comes when it comes to competitive gaming, 98% of the tournaments thrown are thrown by members of the community, and yet somehow they decide that they are prideful and arrogant enough to turn away the support of the younger sibling game. That’s not to say Brawl players are excused, they were just as bad, calling the predecessor an ancient game that was dying. Remember, this is a game that has struggled to stay sponsored by any competitive gaming circuit, such as MLG, eSports, etc. I won’t say I haven’t gotten into these flame wars on forums and arguments in person over things of this nature, I have, but I’ve come to realize how ridiculous it is. What’s even funnier about this, is that Smash as a game has consistently been made fun of by the FGC(Fighting Game Community) for being a game for kids and not a true fighting game like Street Fighter, Tekken, or Mortal Kombat etc.
So after having known what it’s like to be made fun of for playing Smash Bros, they divide themselves further by creating these walls determined by generations (64/Melee/Brawl) instead of supporting each other. It truly is trivial in the grand scheme of things. When they could just as easily unite under what brought them to the scene, their love for Smash games. This is ridiculous. This is why I’m writing this, as a community, the geek/nerd population needs to be more supportive and nurturing.
During EVOLUTION 2013, which is the largest fighting game tournament in the world, Melee peaked and had the highest views on a live stream ever for a fighting game at 120,000 views, what did the melee fans in the stream do? They decided to make fun of the FGC and talk about how superior their fanbase was. This is laughable. Why? I’m as big a Smash fan as their is, but if anyone truly believes that all 120,000 of those viewers were solely there for Melee, you are highly mistaken. The event just before Melee, King of Fighters, already had roughly 100,000 viewers, and when the event ended many left, but it was still left with about 90,000 or so viewers waiting through the game transition. Maybe, had Melee been proud of their views, but thanked the FGC and EVO for boosting them back into mainstream relevance, they’d actually have added more fans to the community. There were plenty of FGC players/important members who were vocal about their support for Melee and I salute them. People like Michael ‘IFC Yipes’ Mendoza, James Chen, and Justin Wong were all clear, they were excited to see some Melee. However, many Melee stream monsters decided to take this chance and do the opposite. Again spurning any support that came from others that already weren’t a part of the Melee community.
What am I asking for? I’m asking that you don’t condemn new fans, that you encourage them. That feeling of belonging to that fandom/group/forum/crew/community/whatever you’re in, it feels good doesn’t it? Why won’t you allow someone else to share in that? I promise you, they won’t take your shine from you, and you might in fact make a new fan and a person to geek with. That feeling you get when you meet someone who shares your fandom? Multiply it by 5, that’s the feeling when you create a new geek. For people who have been made fun of all our lives growing up, why are we so quick to do the same to others at our first chance. Why can’t we see that we can prevent what happened to us, by allowing more inclusion?
I want to tell you a story about a friend of mine, she helps run the comic book store I pick up my books from, The Laughing Ogre. I haven’t asked her if I it were ok to write about her, so I’ll use a fake name, DD(She absolutely loves Daredevil). I have the absolute utmost respect for DD, because I can’t imagine what it’s like being a girl who is into comic books. She’s told me a number of stories, and it’s either guys are drooling all over her for being a geek girl and not getting to know her as a person, or calling her a fake geek who just sells comic books as a job and doesn’t really read them. Let me tell you something, her pull list(the number of comics you get per week) would put all three of the guys at Nerd Swole to shame. Combined. She doesn’t read comic books to prove anyone wrong, she doesn’t do it for anyone else, she does it because she enjoys comic books.
I remember when DD first asked me and the NerdSwole guys to hang out with her and her friends outside of the comic book store, and why it took so long. Its because we were going through a bit of a screening. She explained to us that it’s difficult to find friends that just treat her like a person, and not like a fake fan or just were absolutely enamored with the fact that she read comic books. I honestly can’t imagine what that is like, constantly feeling like people are making you prove yourself. After placing decently at a couple of tournaments I was recognized as a player, and didn’t really have to prove that I loved the game. DD, still gets her fair share of jerks though, and despite all of that mistreatment, she still made me feel super welcome when I first started reading comic books. I honestly admire her composure and strength to not just lump all geek guys together with the jerks who called her fake. And as a side note, for a community that is largely male and wants more female attention, we sure aren’t doing our best to even the ratio.
So listen, I know I talked mainly about video games and comic books, but those are the communities I’m familiar with, and I know this is something that is prevalent in all communities because others have talked to me about it. This is why I’m making a call to the geek community, if we truly want to grow as a community, a geek, and really as a person, we should be accepting of all levels of geekiness. There is no reason to question whether or not someone is geeky enough, if they truly aren’t passionate about the subject they’ll find themselves uninterested soon enough when you begin to argue how about who would win in a fight between Green Arrow and Ron Weasely. I truly believe that if we’re more inclusive and welcoming as a whole it will be better overall. People who use geekdom as a mask to attract others or just want to fit in but don’t really care about the fandom will eventually just weed themselves out from just not caring about the subject. With a strong community, amazing things are possible, look at the near cancellation of the show Community and how it is constantly brought back from the dead by it’s endearing fans, they even got a guy who was fired back on the show. Seriously, think about that. So encourage, don’t shun. Create communities not hierarchies. Raise geeks not walls.
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