We Want Our Tea Back! 10.22.03

The gloves are off, the motor’s running, and the horse has well and truly bolted. After deluging Lucard, Bebito and everybody else with more feedback than you’d get at a Spinal Tap gig, they’ve finally given me a spot. So, welcome ladies and gents, to Insidepulse’s own provisionally-titled UK column. I’m your host, Misha Sumra, last seen filling in for Bebito and being mistaken for a woman by Cory. What to expect over the next while? Comment, punditry, ramblings, obscure TV references, gaming content according to what’s available (i.e not much… BAKA2!!) and more, all served up with copious amounts of Real English Humour (and, if I can afford it, Real English Ale).

First off, since the rest of 411 is going ‘Football’ mad, I’m going off on my own to rant about the Rugby World Cup (the US has a team in it, so there’s no excuse for you not to be interested; it’s fairly similar to Your Football, but played tougher, cleaner, and less turn-based). Notable results from last week saw the English team score a hard-fought win over the South Africans; And though technically, we’re supposed to be favourites, I don’t think I really saw a World-Champion performance from my team. They played well, and won, and that’s what counts, but it wasn’t nearly so commanding a victory as it (perhaps) should have been. Perhaps I’m not giving the South Africans enough credit, but this is a team who, by their own admission, had pretty much written themselves out of the World Cup picture. All that remains to be seen is how the rest of the group plays out.

I did have a whole load of other random stuff planned, but the last thing I need is to scare everyone away (hey, even Hyatte didn’t start writing his personality pieces until he was established). So, on with the relevant stuff.

Pokemon News!

Latest snippets from Nintendo suggest that Pokemon Colosseum is gpoing to be developed by a team known as Genius Sonority. Whilst this may not mean much on its own, it becomes far more relevant when you realise that this is one of Nintendo’s extra-special RPG development teams, all of whom worked on Dragon Quest for Enix (as they were back then). The only question now is whether 411 can persuade Nintendo to send out 2 preview copies of the game (one to me, one to Lucard).

Soul Calibur 2 Competition

On the off-chance that someone who reads this site also lives in/near Sheffield, I feel remiss not mentioning that the local LAN gaming venue, The Frag Cafe, is hosting a Soul Calibur II tournament, with muchos prizeage up for grabs, as well as assorted demo-stations up (hell, I’m going down there just to play Ikaruga).

More gaming, less £££

Sony’s PS2 price cut will be effective in the UK as well, apparently. Just thought I should make the point.

On to the commentary! Feedback, as ever, will be gratefully recieved and read. Even the bad stuff. Maybe after a few months, I’ll have enough for a mailbag ;)

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Commentary: The rise of the “New Geek”

Dictionary.com:

geek n. Slang

1) A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.
2) A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
3) A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.

Or is it?

Leaving aside the Ozzy Osbourne definition of the word, I want to analyse what I believe to be, if not a new Social Demographic, then at least a refining of an existing one. It’s Geek, Jim, but not as we know it.

Somewhere along the line, being a gamer ceased to be a stigma. Once upon a time, anybody who even admitted to owning a computer or console of some kind was immeditely labelled an outsider, and looked down upon in social circles. Yet gradually, over the course of time, this has ceased to apply. Nowadays, if somebody admits to their friends that they didn’t finish their assignment because they were up all night playing Zelda or FIFA, or (heaven forbid) a new Tomb Raider game, they’re greeted with knowing smiles rather than ridicule.

But it goes further than that. It’s not even a case of “They’re not so wierd, leave them alone”. It’s “Hey, these people are gamers and techies. Give them respect”. When I think of stereotype-breakers, I always think of Sheffield’s “2600” group; Basically they’re “White-Hat” good-guy hackers who are part of a big global movement dedicated to raising awareness of computer security issues. Ordinarily, you might think that they’d be classic computer geeks, like the Nerds from the episode of the Sinmpsons where Homer goes to College/University. But this is absolutely wrong; These are the sorts of guys who you’d never think would be techie (except for the occasional “Linux humour” T-shirt); you saw them in the pub, or out on the town, you’d never think to label them techies. Even if you knew they were.

What has happened to our society to cause this controversial social upswell? I think it can be traced to an overall upswell in the presence of technology.

Consider now, the world, where basic IT skills are fast joining the “Three R’s” in terms of Essential Skills To Have. Nowadays, if a person has computer knowledge, they’ve not only got the respect of those around them for their skills, they also have any number of employment opportunities. Often, these opportunities will have big salaries attached to them. Compare that to the days of the Spectrum/Amstrad, where if people knew how to fix those, only their other enthusiast friends would respect them for it. And as technology became more mainstream, it dragged the world of gaming along with it.

However, gaming was also dragging itself into the mainstream, with the advent of the Playstation. Yes, I would go out on a limb and say that, for all its faults, the PS1 redifined gaming in a way that had never been done before. The Super Nintendo and Sega Megadrive were getting there, make no mistake; But Sony created the first Fashion Accessory console. They made a machine that people HAD TO HAVE. Many of those people were those who’d never played video games before in their lives (and never planned to), but suddenly they all wanted a piece of the action. I can think of a whole crowd of people I know who would never have become gamers had it not been for the Playstation. some people may not like having to accept it, but it’s true.

**QUICK READER SURVEY: What was *your* first games machine? Replies to multiclassgeek@gmail.com

And it’s not just gaming, either. Somehow, as one “sad-case” hobby has blossomed out into the mainstream, others have seemingly followed it. The recent explosion of interest in Final Fantasy (stop complaining Alex. It’s true. FF *did* cause a huge RPG revival. Just ’cause you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not true ^_^) has not only led to console and PC RPGs (whether they be Zelda-style ARPGs or “heavier” stat-based games like Knights of The Old Republic) becoming more popular, but has led to the re-emergence of more ‘traditional’ roleplaying (Dungeons & Dragons, White Wolf, etc). The discovery that Japan does more than make cheap cars and nice TVs (“Hey, they make games in Japan! Wow!!”) has opened the floodgates of the West to Japanese culture in the form of games, anime, manga, and Takeshi’s Castle, and for that, Western anime fans can rejoice as it suddenly becomes a viable commercial project for “Spirited Away” to get a professional sub/dub AND a mainstream cinema release. As a self-proclaimed “Multi-Class Geek” (i.e someone who is part of many different ‘streams of Geekdom’), I can safely state that it’s a knock-on effect: As one part of something gets more exposure/acceptance, it drags everything else into the light with it.

Of course there will always be the “sad case” element. The old-style steretypes who never EVER go out of the house. The ones who obsess. And, of course, there will be those who ruthlessly persecute people with hobbies that they don’t understand. But no longer is there an innate stigma. The word ‘Geek’ has been picked up, washed off, given some new clothes, and granted social acceptability. And that’s why I can freely declare my Geekdom in many ways, before going down the pub with my girlfriend.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to clean my teeth. Chicken feathers taste nasty.