Many definitions exist for what it means to be a “nerd” or a “geek.” I am partial to the definition Wil Wheaton gave when asked to describe it to a baby, namely, that it means to love something and to be excited to share it with others. This definition includes all of the hobbies, interests, and loves that someone can accumulate in their lifetime. However, many of these interests have been labeled as “childish” or “inappropriate” for adults; in the past, this has led some people to hide or abandon their passions. More recently, tabletop and role playing games have experienced a resurgence in interest as people are looking for ways to spend time with friends and family.
Communities that have grown around games and gaming have also expanded to discuss and celebrate more of the facets of community members. There is room to identify as a geek who is also a member of other communities and to be your full authentic self with others. Additionally, cooperative games are becoming more popular as people are looking to collaborate to solve a problem or create a new world.
Many gaming communities are by definition an ongoing Pride celebration! Online worlds are places where people can explore, express, and celebrate gender and sexuality. Players are able to develop characters that look and behave differently than they do, which allows you to practice new skills and identities. One such community is the Critical Role community. Critical Role started off as a group of friends getting together to play Dungeons and Dragons, becoming heroes and going on adventures to save the world. It turned into a livestream show that has developed a generous and positive community of fans including artists of all types. The players have developed and interacted with characters across the gender and sexuality spectrum and have encouraged their fans to do the same.
Other tabletop games provide a range of simple to complicated options for working together to cure disease (e.g., Pandemic), collect treasure (e.g., Forbidden Island), or escape a haunted house (e.g., Betrayal at House on the Hill). These games emphasize playing together, communicating openly, and exploring possibilities.
I encourage everyone to discover your passions and find ways to be a hero and solve problems with others who celebrate what you bring to the table.
- - -
Online resources for gaming and mental health
Take this is a resource developed by people in the gaming industry for people in the industry and people who love gaming. They have have an extensive resource list for mental health resources you can find by clicking here.
Geek Therapy is a network dedicated to utilizing the "Geek Mindset" to improve therapy. It describes itself as "the Geek Therapy Network celebrates how Geek culture can save the world by discussing the Geek Therapy mindset through podcasts, videos, blog posts, community outreach, education, and convention appearances."
During the month of June, Critical Role will dedicate the proceeds of their pride T-shirt to Outright International. You can order your shirts here.
Here are two books that I recommend. We receive a small percentage of the sales as we are Amazon Associates. Please consider buying these books through us or at your local bookstore.
The first book is a collection of essays about representation in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
The second book is a second collection of similar essays.