Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Reluctant Geek - Passion Play, in all its guises

Dear readers, imagine, if you will, a darkened room bedecked with candles and roses, maybe some Barry White playing on the sound system and a half drunk bottle of wine carelessly flung on the table. Never let it be said that I don’t go all out to get you guys in the mood and the mood this week is... (said in my best, breathy seductive voice) ...passion.

Of course, passion is also a bit of an abstract concept at heart, rather than a palpable object like a comic book or a DVD so it might be an equally effective scene setter if you were to imagine some kind of clinically minimalist modern art installation and a bunch of people using words like ‘post-modern’ and ‘deconstructivist’. Whichever works for you.

The point is that passion and geekery are pretty inseparable, although we may not use the words together terribly often. It may not be very sexy to refer to the Warhammer enthusiast who spends painstaking hours painting tiny figurines as the victim of an all-consuming passion, but that’s what he is none-the-less. So is the Star Trek convention attendee in the Klingon costume, and the Role Player who writes reams and reams of background that the other players may never see. As much as we might prefer to imagine those in the throes of passion as young and beautiful and tastefully dressed, the truth is that passion is found in strange places. (And maybe the prolific role player is young and beautiful anyway...)

But that’s OK, because it’s this invisible sheen of passion that actually makes geeky pastimes almost, well, cool. In my eyes, at any rate. Bear with me while I briefly channel the spirit of a grumpy 82 year old, but why are we so quick to dismiss people who care about stuff as kooks? Since when did apathy rule OK? I’ve said before that I don’t watch a lot of TV, and that’s because when I do watch I want to be viscerally involved, drawn into a storyline to the temporary exclusion of the world around me, and heart thumpingly invested in the characters I’m watching. I can barely cope with even thinking about what’s coming in Game Of Thrones, and that’s the way I like it.

Similarly, at a LARP Gathering this weekend I was struck by the incredible effort that goes into every event. A tiny, bustling medieval camp is created complete with hangings and thrones and gates. Players shiver through rain and mud, and run around wearing plate armour in the blistering sunshine. And after 48 hours it all gets packed away and taken down again. (On this occasion, with added scrubbing and disinfecting after an outbreak of some kind of horrific plant disease on site.)

Whilst the rest of the world would perhaps label this evidence of mental deficiency and skewed priorities I’m actually kind of proud to be part of a community that will make this much effort for their hobby. It requires a darn site more commitment than watching Britain’s Got Talent at any rate, and is considerably less painful.
And you know what? I love it that my friends can talk with conviction and enthusiasm about their favorite board games, or the series of novels they are currently devouring, or the latest obscenity they are crafting from their subversive cross stitch manual. To live without passion is to sleepwalk through your life, and we may as well extend it to every area we can rather than letting it remain purely in the domain of romantic love and all of its associated ephemera.

Which is why I’m going to talk about passion and geekery in the same breath more often, in the hope of starting my own modest little revolution. One that changes the mentality that perpetuates the fiction that the more you care about something, the less cool it is. It isn’t nerdy that there are people out there who speak Elvish. It’s amazing! (Well, OK, it’s a little nerdy, but it’s mainly amazing.) And I’m glad that my world involves people who cry at the end of Doctor Who. (Not every episode though, that would be crazy!)

I think what I’m ultimately trying to say is this: light the candles, prep the wine, turn on the music. Because tonight, we’re playing Risk!

This week Kate is overexcited about potatoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment