Gamer Geek Advisory - Nerd Bullies Need Not Apply

It's not about how long you've been playing or how much you know. There is no criteria to liking what you want - and more people should realize that.

It used to be that the nerd bully was the one who picked on the nerds - for their owl-eye glasses, their pocket protectors, and their Spider-Man lunchbox. This was the stereotype that walked around in a letter jacket with a posse of brainless yes-men and cheerleader girlfriend, who tripped you in the cafeteria and flushed your head behind the gym teacher's back.

Nowadays, this stereotype still walks the halls of William McKinley High your average teenage movie high school, but has been largely supplanted with a new sort of nerd bully.

Now it's the nerds who do the bullying.

What was once a badge of shame is now the highest achievement left to unlock.

There has been a lot of talk lately (yes, even on GameSkinny!) about gender and the perception and criteria of what allows you to be worthy of the title of Geek, Nerd, or Gamer. When did the social outcast become the star of the show?

More to the point: when did that start becoming synonymous with being arrogant, elitist, and self-important?

“For a group of guys who claim they spent most of their lives being bullied, you can be real jerks." -- Penny, The Big Bang Theory

Maybe nerd is the new cool. But like the uber-jock stereotype nightmare of yore, 'cool' comes perfectly packaged in a whole new bundle of insecurities and the deep-seated need to place boundaries around their little world and proclaim what is and what isn't... and more importantly, who is and who isn't.

These are people who try way too hard to control and to overpower - often humiliating and belittling others just to make themselves feel good. This is the textbook definition of a bully, and it's becoming linked with every filthy Internet cesspit that rises up and condescends against anything that threatens their subculture.

And you know why?

At heart, because they're scared it's no longer theirs. And they've been there too long, and loved it too hard to let it become someone else's.

What makes you a real gamer?

Take gaming.

What nebulous sense of achievement allows you access to that awe-inspiring title, gamer? What makes you count as one of us? Is it your Gamerscore? The number of games you play? The kind of games that you play? The possession of a Y chromosome?

The 'Fake Gamer Girl' accusation is a subset of this larger issue (and will probably be covered in a later, separate piece), but ignore the gender issues in the above Facebook screen capture - and you still recognize the argument. Gender does not change the fact that people in general are so quick to delineate who and what are allowed 'to count'.

And so these people come up with post hoc generalities and excuses to justify their suspicions and their scorn. Oracle of Geek Goddess, an adult cosplay website, puts it best:

  • You only like it now that it’s popular (Translation: You haven’t liked it for long enough, so you can’t possibly really like it… or me)
  • You are just looking for attention (Translation: You are too pretty to really like it... or me).
  • You haven’t spent enough time engrossed in the fandom (Translation: You've been out doing other things... like having fun with people... not me)
  • You haven’t suffered like me (Translation: You are too “cool” or “mainstream” and must have belonged to the group that... teased me. )

Sometimes it just needs to be said - when you do this, and when you defend this kind of behavior, you're not protecting your subculture... you're poisoning it.

The way you choose to live your life should not be impacted by whether or not others who possess inferior gear or who clock fewer hours than you in DOTA 2 identify the same way. They're not going to steal your lunch money anymore. They're just going to play Farmville and like it.

Is that so bad?

Featured Columnist

Avid PC gamer and long-time console lover. I enjoy sneaking, stealing everything not nailed down, and shooting zombies in the face. I'm also a cat.

Published Aug. 18th 2017
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    I would like to add this-

    I believe a lot of the bullying of which you speak is more digital than in the old days. Back then, the jocks picked on the nerds and they did it face-to-face in school. I'm not sure we'll see the geeks picking on other kids in school for not being "geeky enough." That's a new phenomenon due to the Internet and the anonymity that goes along with it.

    I'm willing to bet that these so-called bullies wouldn't have the nuts to bully anyone in real life, which makes them infinitely less threatening in my eyes. I'm always surprised when people take things so seriously online; when you encounter hostility and stupidity, it's depressing, but it shouldn't be damaging to your self-esteem. That comment listed in this article is fully anonymous. The person has no clue to whom he or she is talking, so why should I take it personally? He or she doesn't know me. Never will. Just a clueless attention whore, of which there are many online.

    Lastly, from a psychological standpoint, I think a lot of the new "nerd bullying" stems from a general lack of self-esteem and an intrinsic desire to be part of something. As the nerds always used to be the outcasts, they stuck to their own little cliques almost exclusively. They were VERY careful about who they let into their worlds. They just weren't vocal about it. Now that being a geek is trendy, they can be more vocal about it...but they still don't have the necessary gumption to do anything in reality.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    I actually would disagree. It's pretty common for girls especially to be harassed and 'quizzed' on their knowledge at cons. Hell, I encountered this a couple of times at a party; I wasn't an official 'geek' until I'd answered each question correctly, and then I was acceptable.

    So they have the gall (not the nuts) to make this a public, face-to-face thing and I promise it happens in schools and online on social networks like Facebook, where you aren't anonymous at all.

    And once people start killing themselves because of the stuff flying around on the Internet, maybe the problem is that people aren't taking it seriously enough.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Not that I want to be insensitive but if you're considering killing yourself based on what someone said to you online, you have deeper issues; my guess is your self-esteem is in the toilet, for one. Those who have grown up pay little mind to anonymous hostility.

    And in regards to your party, they were only brave enough to question you because of the mob mentality. If they weren't surrounded by like-minded people, and they just bumped into you on the sidewalk somewhere, there's no chance they would've had the necessary confidence to do that. They lack self-confidence themselves, which is why they have to quiz you, so they can feel superior to somebody.

    All of it is adolescent baloney. The Internet has stunted developmental growth; everyone acts like children and the worst part is, people take such behavior seriously. Taking it more seriously only enables. Dismissing it as the childish behavior it is renders it ineffective.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    I don't know if I agree with that. I've been told straight up that my costume is inaccurate and that I should go read my source material again by multiple people on their own. It's not just mob mentality, it is simply that if you don't think someone belongs, you will belittle them.

    Also, you'd be surprised. You say you'd have to have deeper issues - well, many people do. A lot of them make video games, funny that. I think this is a really good read on that line of thought if you have the time:

    For the rest, I agree. It is adolescent, but that doesn't change the fact that adults do that about everything. Snooty, elitist behavior is not new in adult society, and never will be whether the topic is fine wine or Mario Party.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    No, adolescent behavior will never go away and sadly, it exists in adulthood as well. But that's from a societal standpoint; the way to combat it is to simply be mature and ignore it.

    And I know people have a lot of issues. That's also unfortunate...the key is finding the source of those issues.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    Excellent article Stephanie! You've stated everything I've thought and shared.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Great read. I don't have much to add, as this post sums up a lot of my own internal dialogue. (Hahaha)

    All very valid points and all ones I agree with. Looking forward to the next piece about women 'n' what-not.

    I like reading opinions that are like my own, but articulated well. :)
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    I agree 100%!
  • Tantric989
    I think the Youtube comment sums up exactly what the problem is. You're not a gamer if you like this, this, and this game, you must like this, this, and this game. WTF? I haven't played Zelda in years (Ocarina of Time was the last Zelda game before I moved on to PC) and I've never bought a Pokemon game in my life. On the flip side, I have a Steam account with 250+ titles and tens of thousands of hours played between them. Does that mean I'm not a gamer?

    I mean, two of those titles are Nintendo exclusives, they could have just come out and said "real gamers have Wii's and nobody else counts," and that would sound ridiculous, right? Yet that's exactly what they're saying.

    Ultimately, I don't care if you have a free steam account and your only game titles are DOTA 2 and TF2. You're still a "gamer," in the sense that you play games. There's no arbitrary assessment or test that you need to pass. No one goes to a concert and bitches about the people that don't own every single CD, and nobody goes to a sports game and would bitch about the "fans" that couldn't recite the teams win/loss ratio between 1975-1980. In short, gamers, Y U DO DIS?
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    Very well put!

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