Why Nerds Like Games

This was my third year at GenCon, an annual convention where thousands play board games, role playing games, miniatures games, etc. Most attendees are, well, nerds. Mostly male too. Now perhaps nerds are more likely than others to attend a convention on a hobby they like. But nerds probably also just like games more than other folks. Why is that?

A game is a kind of story, and most games have some story element. Abstract games, not in some recognizable way like something real, are less popular. In general, stories let us signal our abilities to read social situations, and also the heroes we admire, villains we dislike, etc. Since nerds are, in essence, folks with low natural social skills (relative to their other skills), you might think nerds would favor movies & TV over games, as movies don’t require one to be as social. And among games you might think they’d prefer games with less social interaction. But you’d be wrong on both counts. Why?

One explanation is that nerds want to show off their non-social skills, and so require social games so that there are others who can observe their impressive performance. But nerds seem to prefer more social interaction in their games than having a mere audience requires.

Another explanation is that while nerds like to socialize, they are terrified of making social mistakes. This explains why they tend to avoid eye-contact – it is too easy to make the wrong eye contacts. Games let nerds interact socially, yet avoid mistakes via well-defined rules, and a social norm that all legal moves are “fair game.” Role-playing has less well-defined rules, but the norm there is that social mistakes are to be blamed on characters, not players.

An third explanation is hinted at by the fact that we use the word “game” to refer both to “fun/frivolous” and to “seriously selfishly strategic.” While social norms usually forbid overt strategic selfishness in social behavior, such strategic selfishness is allowed in games. So when we advise someone to be strategically selfish in an important real situation, we tell them to “game it.” This overt strategy feature of games lets people use games to signal to others a capacity for being strategically selfish in real social situations. The game subtext is “don’t mess with me because I’m paying attention and know how to retaliate.” This helps explains why nerds especially like social games.

Any other explanations to consider?

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  • Chip

    With my own experience in mind (and a bit of thought to my training in economics), another (possible) explanation arose.

    High strategy games take practice, and typically one arrives at the ability to play games that require an extensive foundation of knowledge through long hours spent acquiring, building and developing his or her skill. Nerds do that, since their competing options for social interactions are less than the typical person — personally or socially imposed. Games get boring after greater exposure (how many 28-year-olds still enjoy 10 games of tic-tac-toe in a row?), so new and more complex rules need to be developed. And since this complexity adds to both the maturity level necessary to play and the commitment to learning all the rules and nuances, children and typical adults don’t frequent gaming conferences as much as nerds [similar to your third option].

    Furthermore, though nerds may have just as many friend-hours in a day, they most likely narrow their exposure to certain groups, especially those who play to their strengths and not their weaknesses (don’t we all do the same?). So as iron sharpens iron, so one nerd sharpens another… or something like that.

    The typical lay person, while he or she may thoroughly enjoy games, would be totally lost by many of the games nerds play. He or she has invested many hours diversifying his or her skills, rather than specializing as the nerd has.

    This socio-divide leads to reinforced social norms that nerds play games and that normal people are more social, when the reality is that nerds and typical non-nerd may be just as social but place a different value on the split between diversity and specialization.

    Just another suggestion…

    • gwern

      Do they take a lot of practice? I don’t doubt that at the pinnacles of competitive _Settlers of Catan_ play the players have spent a great deal of time practicing, but a lot of the games that geeks favor seem to be quite pick-upable given intelligence and a general familiarity with strategy games.

      Take for example _Fluxx_ – very popular among geeks, but a game which you can pick up and play a respectable game your first time (at least, for the programmers I’ve played with).

  • Oscar Cunningham

    This post doesn’t answer your question, but it adds another data point, of a social game that nerds do badly at. At least I did badly at it as a single nerd against many non-nerds. If anyone can give me some tips on playing this type of game in future they would be much appreciated.

    I recently found myself playing the game “War on Terror”, which is essentially a world conquest game like Risk, only with a satirical edge. I was very confused while playing this game (and was very bad at it), because it had social features that I wasn’t expecting. I’ll detail some of the interesting ones:

    1. The game allows some players to join together to act as “terrorists”. At the end of a game we played one player had a choice of joining the terrorists, which would have given the terrorists a joint win between them. It was clear that if the did not then another (non-terrorist) player would win. They chose not to join the terrorists. They voluntarily lost, just to avoid the social connotations of an arbitrary label. If anyone reading this finds themselves playing, I would tell them to constantly brand themselves as the good guys. “We’re not terrorists, we’re freedom fighters!”

    2. The game allows players to pass secret messages to each other, forming alliances if they wish. I assumed that people would form and keep their alliances only when an alliance was game-theoretically stable (and thus few alliances would form). Instead, many alliances formed. One player refused to make a winning move simply to honour an alliance. I didn’t make an alliances in the game, but I realised afterwards that if I had made one and then broken it that would have damaged my real-world credibility. Playing board games can do real world damage. Your ability to precommit is useful, don’t give it up for a board game.

    3. In a section of the rules called “Strategy Tips” it is written:

    There’s an unwritten rule that the first player to turn terrorist has a greater share of a terrorist win than the
    other players, but really that’s not true.

    That’s right. In the rule book, it specifies a rule while claiming that that rule isn’t written in the rule book. It then specifies that the rule doesn’t hold. The best I could do when another player tried to use this to claim a greater fraction of the win was to glare at them.

    4. The winning conditions are at the very end of the rule book. This seems totally perverse to me. The game makers made a very well balanced game, it has value beyond the satirical point that it’s making. And yet they only just included the most important part of the rules. I guess it’s obvious in context that the winning conditions are something like “conquer the world”, but it would be nice to read the rules while knowing what it is you are trying to achieve.
    Before we started playing, a friend read out the rules, since some of the people playing hadn’t read them beforehand. When he had covered the basic rules he stopped and said that we could start playing at this point, and pick up the more complex rules as we went along. I seemed to be the only one who cared that he expected people to play a game they didn’t know how to win. My advice to would be winners is: Don’t play the story, play the game.

    • “but I realised afterwards that if I had made one and then broken it that would have damaged my real-world credibility. Playing board games can do real world damage. ”

      Don’t ever play “Diplomacy.” 🙂

      • Doug S.

        There are some games that should only be played with either very close friends or people you’re never going to see again.

    • I once had a very nerdy friend who knew game theory very well. He was fanatical both about not breaking alliances in Risk, and punishing those who did, to the point of continuing the punishment into future games. He was a very effective Risk player.

  • RE: The 3rd explanation

    Perhaps it’s not about signaling capacity to be strategically selfish, but a substitute to less consciously calculated acts of social dominance. Since nerds don’t have such good social skills, it’s harder for them to assert social dominance in the ways non-nerds usually do it. By playing games, nerds get to do their requisite social one-upping anyway.

    • Brian S.

      This gets my vote

  • Nick Walker

    This is similar to Veblen’s distinction between consumption in leisure versus goods, with leisure hard to signal to observers and goods easy to signal to observers. Games are leisure, which is hard to signal, so nerds seek venues to signal their ability.

  • Did these games (board, roleplaying, video) start out as attractive to nerds, or did they become associated with them after their creation?

    Board games like chess and go have existed for a long time, and while I’ll acknowledge they are different in many ways to modern games, I don’t think they’ve always been considered the purview of the low-socially skilled. (Correct me if wrong, but I think chess and go used to be things only done by the very high status?) So at some point, that connection was made.

    • Miguel Madeira

      Well, there we have again a problem with the definition of “nerd” – if we define “nerd” as “intelligent but social reclusive person”, I suppose that enthusiasts of cheese always had a bit of these reputation.

      You say that “chess and go used to be things only done by the very high status”, but there is no contradiction between being an “intelligent but social reclusive person” and being “very high status”, perhaps much the opposite for many societies in history (it was being very outgoing and indiscriminately sociable that was considered a thing for peasants and commoners).

      Of course, we can adopt a definition of “nerd” that has also “low status” as a defining criteria, but I think that this does not make much sense (after all, by these criteria, the same person, with the same personality and intersts, can be a “nerd” in some social context and not be a “nerd” in others).

  • Gil

    How about:

    * Nerds are quite sociable at nerd conventions because their social skills are now roughly average there. Nerds are sociable towards other nerds because they might actually treated with mutual respect rather than the disdain of the outside world with the occasional wedgie.

    * Nerds favour games and other deemed juvenile activities because they contain little-to-no risk. Being a gangster is harmless fun in a game but will see you send the rest of life in jail if you fail. Smashing into fellow drivers in a racing game is funny but potential deadly in real life. A woman will out with you in a video game as soon as you get the prerequisites but no real life woman would touch you with a ten foot barge pole. And so forth . . .

  • Patrick L

    What’d you do at Gencon Robin?

    • Yeah right, thought about that as well. With this line “Most attendees are, well, nerds. Mostly male too” does this simply mean he’s one of them?

      Been playing World of Warcraft for how many years now and I assure you I’m not a “NERD”. I buy WoW account and sell some items I no longer need on game, I find gaming as a business. I still have a life, I get to manage my tiime to socialize with other people.

  • I think “why are nerds gamers?” is in general an ill-formed question, because there isn’t really just one kind of nerd, or one kind of gamer. Some not-terribly-systematic examples:

    Video games with very good mechanisms for letting players compete against each other in fast-paced contests (such as the Halo games) tend to be very popular with guys, even ones who wouldn’t generally be considered nerdy. Chalk up the appeal to male competitiveness. I really don’t think the appeal is much different than that of darts or Foosball.

    Video games designed for solo play have little to do with social anything, and seem to get their appeal from making the player feel successful based on doing tasks of some difficulty, but where there is little real chance of failure. To varying degrees, they appeal to our desire for status mainly by awarding fictitious status. The desire to be able to tell your friends “I conquered the game on Very Hard” is part of the motivation, but it’s secondary.

    Games with large rule books appeal to people who like puzzling things out. I fall into this category, but my little brother is an even better example. He’s considering going to law school “because law involves going through rule books, looking for loopholes.” He’s also the type who tries to win arguments by any dirty trick necessary.

    And playing table top roleplaying games (like Dungeons and Dragons) with actors is another story entirely.

    As a final example of how there are many different types of gamers: I suspect gaming conventions are also another story entirely, but I wouldn’t know, because for all my nerd/gamer credentials, I’ve never been to one.

  • RJB

    I wonder if the question is backward? According to Wikipedia, “Nerd is a term that refers to a person who avidly pursues intellectual activities, technical or scientific endeavors, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests, rather than engaging in more social or conventional activities. It often carries a derogatory connotation or stereotype. The nerd may be awkward, shy and unattractive.[1] Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers, or will tend to associate with like-minded people.”

    There are a lot of nerds who don’t like games–they are too busy working on their dissertations, building something in their garage, or avidly pursuing some other intellectual or scientific endeavor.

    But if you go to a game convention, you are liable to see mostly people who are avidly pursuing one particular intellectual and scientific endeavor: computer gaming. Avid gamers are nerds nearly by definition.

  • Shmuel

    games have explicit rules and no real stakes.

    the “real” social world has no rules and high stakes.

    games are safe.

    • lemmy caution

      This is a good point.

  • Brandon Reinhart

    Games have a social stigma associated with them. Nerds, already suffering under a stigma, are more likely to try out games as a form of entertainment, as the additional stigma does little harm to their overall social status. Nerds discover games are fun and continue to play. Games have their own community which helps offset the additional stigma.

    Perhaps more non-nerds would play games — realize they are fun — if they weren’t afraid of the associated stigma (which might not then exist).

    I notice that non-nerds often play games like Monopoly that nerds consider to be un-fun and poorly designed. It seems to me that games like Monopoly have risen out of the stigma through ubiquity. I also suspect that bad, un-fun non-stigma games like Monopoly are one reason why many people think that games might not be fun.

    I work in the video games industry. I think the stigma associated with games is still present there, but less pervasive as it used to be and more easily banished by other apparent social behavior.

    I also notice that nerds tend to be identified by their lowest status bearing identifiable behavior set. I.e.: if you are a linux coder and a gamer you are a gamer. If you are a gamer and a larper you are a larper. If you are a larper and a furry you are a furry. Nerds have their own social status hierarchy that reflects the larger status signaling game.

  • >you might think nerds would favor movies & TV over games, as movies don’t require one to be as social. And among games you might think they’d prefer games with less social interaction. But you’d be wrong on both counts

    Whats the source of this assertion? It’s not obvious to me that nerdy TV and movies (Star Wars, Star Trek, anime), and nerdy non-social games (japanese RPGs) aren’t preferred over social games.

  • Ryan S

    In addition to agreeing with some of the comments above, I’d point out that while the majority of games commercially produced probably have some sort of story, non-story-based games can’t really be said to be less popular – consider Tetris, Bejewelled, Solitaire, Chess, Go, most multiplayer videogames, etc.

  • Chris Chang

    Nerds like well-defined systems more than most people. Many nerds also prefer the “meritocratic” psychic rewards offered by games over the more capricious real world, especially since the latter places emphasis on social skills nerds tend to lack.

    • Gil

      This would seem to suggest nerds can’t think “laterally” which is to say “think outside the square”. Maybe this is why nerds are bad in social situation – social problems aren’t obvious and contain neat rules and those who are good at it have so-called “counter-intuitive thinking”.

    • gwern

      This spin would seem to predict that nerds/geeks would prefer semi-structured forms of social interaction. Clubs would seem to fit the bill perfectly. Are clubs over-populated with nerds/geeks?

    • Miguel Madeira

      A way of testing this theory was to see if nerds like “adventure games” more, less or the same than general population; if they prefer well-defined systems and this is the reason for their interest in games, they will not like “adventure games” very much, because these games don’t have much of “well-defined system” (usually each puzzle is completely different from the former).

      However I doubt that “nerds like well-defined systems more than most people”: at least, according to Myers-Brigs personality theory, 54% of the population are “Judgers”, but only 39% [2.1/(2.1+3.3)] of INTs. Then, if we equate being “Judger” with “liking well-defined systems” and being “INTx” with being “nerd”, we can conclude that nerds like well-defined systems LESS than most people.

  • “Games let nerds interact socially, yet avoid mistakes via well-defined rules…”

    This is correct. In general, nerds are better than normals at thinking consciously, while normals are better than nerds at thinking intuitively. Almost the entirety of human civilization is the product of conscious (i.e. nerdy) thinking. If such thinking never arose, we would be forced to have this conversation in a cave by a fire as opposed to online, with most participants located in modern cities.

    Conscious thinking is very important civilizationally, but it’s of no help at all in most socializing. Most socializing is intuitive. If you ask the people who do it well how exactly they do it, they would not be able to tell you. Being good at the nerdy, conscious kind of thinking, the kind where you explicitly talk through the decision process in an inner voice, where you try to consciously draw conclusions from consciously articulated premises, is no help at all in socializing. It’s like putting the best boat in the world on dry land.

    The games that you have mentioned here have rules. Rules can be consciously understood, memorized and followed. Nerds are good at that. “What did I do wrong just now? Oh, I calculated all the possible positions 4 moves ahead, but my left rook became vulnerable only after the 5th move – lazy me, I should have spent more time calculating before moving any pieces!” You can’t think about human relationships like that. Everything is far, far fuzzier in them. My admittedly nerdy impression is that the people who’re best of all at the social side of life – fooling others into following them, into parting with their property, into liking them, whatever it may be – do not think through any of the steps consciously any more than they think about the mechanics of breathing or blinking. This stuff comes to them intuitively. It doesn’t to nerds.

    So yes, these games are an excuse to interact with people in a logical way – the one way with which nerds are comfortable.

  • Mark

    The signalling theories are very interesting, and certainly deserve consideration. I think there is a simpler explanation that is being ignored. It’s the same reason nerds do other nerdy things, like learn to program computers, study mathematics, build telescopes, etc. Nerds like complexity, they like learning, and they like elegant systems. We’re just wired that way. Games — particularly modern board games — provide all of these elements in spades (complexity in execution, typically, if not in the rules systems which are increasingly simple).

    This is from my own experience as a game-playing nerd who enjoys and does well in varied social situations, so obviously my opinion is colored by that perspective. I may undervalue the group-signalling aspects.

    I also think “games are safe” is an EXCELLENT point.

    Also, I went to Gen Con this year for the first time and it was awesome.

    • Ted

      My impression, based on my own experience as an avidly gaming nerd, is that the love of elegant systems is a major motivation. It is also characteristic of nerds, and so serves to explain the popularity of games specifically among this group, as opposed to among shy or stigmatized people in general. Furthermore, it’s consistent with the nerds’ dislike of badly designed games popular among the general public, such as Monopoly.

  • David

    I must disagree with the assessment of the “Nerds”. I work at Gencon teaching Games and talk to 100’s of attendees each year. I have never once had one shy away from eye contact. Also there are certainly socially different people there but the majority is very sociable. It seems the nerds I know don’t fit your definition. Maybe you should have titled this “Why socially awkward and shy people like to play games.”

    • A

      “I work at Gencon teaching Games and talk to 100’s of attendees each year. I have never once had one shy away from eye contact.”

      Maybe nerds are just more sociable and confident when they are with other nerds and don’t feel threatened. No one is shy all the time.

  • HughRistik

    These are all good social explanations for nerd game-playing. But they miss out on the obvious cognitive factor:

    Nerds are systemizers, and games are systems. Nerds are attracted to the lawfulness of games, and their empirical or prescribed rules.

    Asking why nerds like games is like asking why neurotypical extraverts like parties: because it’s what their brains are wired to be good at, and find enjoyable.

  • Marco

    I can’t help but take issue with the question and the underlying statement of fact: Nerds like games.

    First off, I don’t care for the term ‘Nerd’. Regardless of how Wikipedia or the dictionaries define it, there is a popular image of a ‘Nerd’ and it’s not a particularly positive one. When someone talks about nerds, images from B Movies like ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ come to my mind and reinforce this stereotype of socially awkward, physically unfit people with questionable hygiene who are not particularly clever (even if knowledgeable in a obscure and socially insignificant subjects). Its a negative label, one used by bullies to discriminate and marginalize other kids in the school yard from the ‘cool’ crowd.

    Second, games are too broad a category to qualify with any one attribute. So lets assume we’re talking games with a intrinsic social aspect…ones that bring together two or more players in a cooperative or competitive scenario BUT which does not require any physical exertion (Sports are out. What? Sports are games, too!).

    Having attended GenCon a few times myself, I have to admit there are a lot of people there. Most are male. Many would have a hard time pursuing a successful career in sales. Some I would undoubtedly question their hygiene habits. I must point out however, while those attendees were a typical ‘gamer’ crowd here in the U.S. It would be the case so much in Europe, especially not in Germany (where the board game market dwarfs that of the U.S).

    I think that there is a general popular acceptance (belief? stigma?) that games are for kids and nerds, particularly (maybe exclusively) here in the U.S. If you play games and are not a kid, you then must be a Nerd. I think your blog post just reinforced this notion, by the way…

    That’s where I take issue with the post. I’m a gamer. I’m definitely not a kid anymore. Ergo, I must be a Nerd! No, no, NO!!

    I think playing games, whatever the game, comes natural to us. As if it’s a normal human expression. We role-played as kids before D&D was ever invented, and made our own rules as we went along. I played games in one form or another since I can remember growing up in Europe and most of my friends as well. Even as adults many enjoy playing games, whether its popular card games or classical cerebral games like Chess…Games have existed for thousands of years, before even recorded history there have been archeological evidence of types of board games.

    So to me, the question shouldn’t be ‘Why Nerds like Games’. The real question should be why others don’t?

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  • Miguel Madeira

    Simple explanation – nerds like intelectual activity (or the reverse – people who like intelectual activity are nerds).

    Games are an intelectual activity; then nerds like games.

    A way to test my theory – more complex a game is, more the tendency to nerds being intersted in these game; then, if nerds prefer chess to draughts my theory is correct.

    “you might think nerds would favor movies & TV over games”

    no, because you watching TV or a movie is less complex intelectually than playing a game

    “And among games you might think they’d prefer games with less social interaction. But you’d be wrong on both counts”

    There is any evidence that nerds prefer poker (social game) to “solitaire spider” or “simcity”?

  • Sophia

    “Games let nerds interact socially, yet avoid mistakes via well-defined rules”

    This is interesting. I’m not sure I’m a nerd but I’m shy. I grew up in the late 80s and 90s but my exposure to media and culture was movies from the 40s and 50s, old time radio and old new broadcasts which spans the same time. My parents blocked a lot of the current media. I interacted with other kids at school but was fairly isolated at home due to antisocial parents. I think I unconsciously learned a fair amount of my social interaction with adults and now to my peers through this old media. But this sort of interaction doesn’t exist as much anymore, especially with younger people. So I feel like I’m waiting for cues that I don’t get and to some degree the rules have changed. Without this rigid structure of formality I feel a bit lost and I make mistakes because I not so well versed in or haven’t internalized the the rules. I actually think that back when there were rigid rules involved with social interaction, lots of formalities, and less variation in style of interaction it might have been easier for those with low natural social skills to interact.

    It’s funny, it’s easier and more enjoyable for me to hold a conversation with an 80 year old than another person in their 20s! It’s really quite bizarre, like I grew up in a time warp.

    Anyway, it was interesting to see that bit about nerds being afraid to make mistakes because that is exactly how I think about it.

  • Brian

    Nerds are more sociable at conventions not because the games have well defined rules, but because it’s a safe zone. It’s the same reason med students will often be more comfortable talking with other med students and doctors, law students with other law students and lawyer, engineers with other engineers, etc. When you know the other people have similar interests, you have more to talk about. Games are also generally good icebreakers, so it’s a good combination.

    And this statement is simply wrong:

    Games let nerds interact socially, yet avoid mistakes via well-defined rules, and a social norm that all legal moves are “fair game.” Role-playing has less well-defined rules, but the norm there is that social mistakes are to be blamed on characters, not players.

    Look at 3 types of games:

    Board games: Not all legal moves are fair game. Playing to screw over a player at one’s own expense is generally considered a dickish move, especially in a game with more than 2 players. In Europe, blocking strategies in Ticket to Ride tend to be frowned on, for example.

    Role-playing: Acting like a jerk in character can work, but there are still social norms–power gaming, twinkishness, and rules overlawyering are seriously frowned on. Additionally, the rules aren’t that well defined, and the GM’s fiat often ends up skewing things.

    Miniatures gaming: There are always rules ambiguities, and exploits tend to be frowned on. For example, in Warhammer, there are two common tricks that will get people to not play with you: Targeting a template weapon to “accidentally” hit a unit in close combat (unless you’re playing an army that generally allows that), and declaring impossible charges to get units to move out of turn in an advantageous way.

    What you do have, I think, is that nerds like their games to be more than just a vehicle for social interaction. Most light board games (Monopoly, Parcheesi, Checkers) are simple to play, have little strategy, and don’t provide much to think about. Nerd games are defined by providing a lot more to think about, whether planning many moves ahead (chess, go), conducting grand strategy (miniatures games, Eurogames), acting (RPGs), or social competition (Are You a Werewolf?, Diplomacy, others).

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  • Anonymous

    what a bunch of nerds

  • Dan

    I think most of you miss the point entirely. There really are hundreds of reasons people play games. For one games are a way to use our intellect and strategy. But if you’re talking about video games… you can go anywhere and do anything. You can take impossible scenarios and make it possible. You can be anything. It’s about using your imagination and enjoying the possibilities of what could be. And for some of us, life gets really hard at times, so you gotta go with the cheapest form of entertainment there is: games. (except trading card games. I had a friend that played those once, and sheesh did he spend a lot of money.)

    Half of what most of you say proves that you really know nothing about nerds. When you think nerd, you think of 30 year old men living in their parents basement, working at pizza hut, that can quote every word to every episode of star trek/wars. You think suspenders and wedgies. Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of those, but realistically most of us look and act just like anyone else. (we just have different hobbies). It’s not always that nerds CAN’T interact with normal people, it’s often because we prefer not to. Normal people are annoying, boring and unimaginative. Believe it or not most nerds couldn’t give a crap what normal people think. I could really care less, I’m just here to set the record straight. I can’t speak for everyone but I’ve had enough nerd friends to know it’s not just me. What’s with people looking down on people of higher intellect? What’s that all about? If anything we should be looking down on you, but most of us don’t. Fact is being a nerd is simply this: Having hobbies that society says you are too old for. Most of us are darn proud of it too, I wear the title nerd like its a freakin VIP card.

    And as one person here wrote: “without nerd-like thinking we would be having this conversation on the wall of some cave.” How is it that society gets furthered by the intelligence of the nerd, but society still manages to label us negatively? Just kinda ironic that although people like me are the reason this site exists, there are still sooo many incompetent, ignorant people (like the author of this topic) that dis nerds on the very internet that nerds created. Mind boggling. What a newb, this whole topic is epic fail. As many of your kind have said to many like myself, get a life.

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  • By this reasoning, it would be extremely interesting (as a kind of social experiment) to see how nerds would react if you got a bunch of high-status beautiful women to go to the conference and take seats at the gaming tables.

  • bobroberts

    I found this post to be very, very true.

    I recently joined a board gamers group thru meetup.com in my city. I thought it would a lot of interaction and jokes and conversation and a generally laid-back environment. Boy, was I wrong!

    The place was teeming with misfits and nerds. I tried to talk conversationally during the games but it was frowned upon. It was a very rule oriented atmosphere. There were over 100 people playing various board games.

    I love playing board games but I have always played with “normal” people in a mixed setting who joke around and what not. Turned out to be a bad experience.

  • bobroberts

    Those commenters who are taking this post personally offensive are not reading the post clear-eyed or open-minded.

    To say something like “Well, I play Warcraft and I am definitely not a nerd! When not dating supermodels or being a lead singer in international rock band, I like to wind down with a weekend at GenCon!” I am exaggerating but to those who are posting such comments….Look Around and be aware. You are probably a nerd.

    I love board games but that is what turned me off to playing board games in with nerds. There is scarce social interaction and very little eye-contact either. I played at a meeting with 100+ people and it was very much like what he posted.

    • Sallyfion

      Perhaps you don’t like playing with nerds because they tend to use correct grammar.

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  • I am very much agree with akasha. With this line “Most attendees are, well, nerds. Mostly male too” does this simply mean he’s one of them?
    i am also playing World of Warcraft for how many years and i have full participation in all social activities.

    As you say “An third explanation is hinted at by the fact that we use the word “game” to refer both to “fun/frivolous” and to “seriously selfishly strategic.” We can say fun is always include in word “game” but not selfishly strategic and frivolous……

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  • Rockwater

    Counterpoints to this idiocy:

    How is it that a bunch of guys sitting around on a Sunday night screaming at the television and making comments about the statistics, strategies, and history of {insert some sport} is *not* nerdy behavior?

    When a couple guys start spouting off about {insert some sport} at the office, and most of the women and some of the guys wander off… why is this also not nerdy and somewhat antisocial behavior?

    When a group of chunky dudes show up shirtless, painted in their team’s colors, with some message scrawled in big letters on their backs… why is this not nerdy behavior?

    I submit that the assertions drawn by the author of the article are the result of making generalizations about the core assumptions of the attendees of something like Gen*Con. Assumptions that are likely entirely incorrect. If someone is at a Con to play games, they aren’t going to sit down and tell you their life’s story. They aren’t going to tell you about their successful business, or their wife/husband and family, or their other hobbies, or anything else. They’re there to play, because it’s a hobby they truly enjoy.

    The author simply proves that he does not have the social skills to engage people and discover these details, or the care for detail that would require gathering actual statistics to compare his assumptions against. He’s just another nerd who thinks his opinion is worth paying attention to.

    So, yeah, just another self-centered dweeb.

  • Sallyfion

    This “article” is so badly written it does not deserve the kind of attention required to be appalled. I finished reading it (and it’s attendant comments) only because you posted about it here. The “author” is either a student hurrying through an odious assignment or, as another commenter asserted, a dweeb.

    • pedalpowered1 .

      Agreed. The grammar is vomit inducing.

    • ‘This “article” is so badly written it does not deserve the kind of attention required to be appalled. I finished reading it (and it’s attendant comments)’

      It’s spelled ‘its’.