There was a dark age not so long ago, in a galaxy relatively nearby, when nerds like me were thought to hold a burdened and stigmatised role in society. High school movies were not concerned with the likes of the mathlete, and although Star Wars was considered to be a massive phenomenon in my parent’s day, to become a fully-fledged fanboy was a step too far in social terms.
Then an ominous wave of the first proud geeks emerged in the mid-2000s. People started ironically making references to Pokemon long after its SM:TV heyday. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy brought the previously fragmented and divided nerd masses in our droves to the cinemas to be united under the White Hand of Saruman, and from there we marched upon popular society’s equivalent of Helm’s Deep like so many Uruk Hai. The economic power of the geek-as-consumer was realised. Think about it. Geeks are loyal to their interests and have the disposable income to invest in their hobbies – they don’t spend loads of money on parties that they aren’t invited to (and probably wouldn’t enjoy anyway).
The recent run of highly successful Batman movies are just the culmination of the string of modern comic hero movies that have been coming out of the big studios. Need I say more than The Avengers to prove that the geek industry is alive and kicking? And it’s not just the movies. When the big videogame franchises release their latest game or when a new console hits the market, the hype and furor that surrounds it eclipses that of almost any other medium. The most notable such event in recent times was the release of the Elder Scrolls game Skyrim, which is practically a household name to anyone with a current generation games console (which is a lot of people, might I add). But one could ask: why this didn’t happen before? Surely there’s always been this latent nerd market?
One answer is society’s shift towards improving telecommunications, including the rise of super fast internet and smartphones. Giving the traditionally shunned geek the ability to connect and unite with other geeks has been mentioned as a reason before. But as well as this, the general arena of society has moved with Facebook and Twitter to the realm of cyberspace – where the geek rules supreme.
Whatever the reason for the rise of the geeks, I for one want to thank the stalwart geeks of yesteryear who bought Gamecubes and comic books before they were cool, and to thank those of you who are relatively new to the nerd scene for making that big leap to our side, and making our loving, if often dysfunctional family, that much bigger.