If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you’re no stranger to video games or movies, or even a good book or twelve. I know I’m not… I’ve lost count of the number of times that my mum told me to go outside to play when I was clocking in my fifth hour in a new game on my weekend, and there’s no end to the rants I go on about my favourite film franchises and TV shows, and why you’re wrong for not liking them as much as I do!
I’m not alone in being this way at all, I mean, come on, the entire Respawning team is exactly the same! To be fair this isn’t even a big deal to the world as a whole anymore. Thanks to the surge in popularity of superhero movies bringing the fantastical worlds into the spotlight, and the video game market being saturated with quality content and examples of nostalgia, there has never been a better time to be a geek. As much as I hate to admit it, some thanks needs to go towards the massively popular (Though I’m still not sure why it is) sitcom Big Bang Theory. With its cast of nerds bringing even more attention to a pop culture fandom lifestyle, and making it gradually seem “normal”; I’m coming across more and more people in my day to day life that can hold a conversation with me about all sorts of subjects that actually interest me! So long boring small talk!
Obviously it wasn’t always this way and at the end of the day this article is all about me so lets hop in the DeLorean and go back. We’re travelling to a dark period in human history… A time where synthetic materials and ripped jeans dominated the clothing market and ketchup came in different colours… The 1990’s. Nothing all that exciting really happened throughout the decade, at least nothing I cared about as a child, all that mattered to me was watching Power Rangers and pretending to be a Jedi. Now, I wasn’t a popular kid; I played alone in my street and at school I avoided other people because they’d want to play football, and I had absolutely no interest in any sport (Still don’t)… So what did I do? I spent all my free time either watching TV shows, or running around outside with my Star Wars toys imagining a world that actually mattered to me. Sure, I was lonely, and a target for bullies, but I felt happy hiding away in my own little worlds. I would have loved a friend or two, but I was in no rush. It was only because my Mum worried so much that I made a friend in the first place when she pushed my teachers to get me out of my comfort zone!
So, with a little research, they made sure I was in a situation to meet with another Star Wars obsessed kid and BOOM. Friends. Now, this had the opposite effect my parents would have liked however, since my first proper friend was a pop culture loving cretin like me, so ALL we talked about was fictional universes, and as my Dad likes to put it “stuff that isn’t real”. This trend kept going and soon I had a close knit group of nerds to call my own! We talked games, anime and movies, and spent pretty much all of our free time smashing out multiplayer games sat in our parents living rooms equipped with a multi-tab – Oh yes I’m THAT old!
So what’s the point of talking about this? Why do you need a history lesson based on my personal life? I think the background was important to understand why I didn’t like my life for so long. As much as I said before, I was in no rush to make friends and fit in; I did still want those things and it sucked feeling like a weirdo and an outcast. I wasn’t bullied as much as some other people I know, but only because I made NO impression at all! I was like the invisible man if all the invisible man did was read comics and collect Starfighter models. Real life sucked and I just retreated deeper and deeper into fantasy worlds to avoid dealing with “boring” people.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when everything started changing. Look at the state of the world now, terrorism, violence, racism, greed and climate change. Let’s face it; we’re stuck on a planet that’s fast tracking its way to looking like Blade Runner’s dystopian world, so you can’t blame people for wanting an escape, if only for a few hours! Everyone is getting behind pop culture more and more because it gives you that freedom to be something else, a break from the mundane. It’s just that geeks like me and probably you too have been living like this a lot longer. I, for one, couldn’t be happier with that since, finally, the people around me are starting to understand me more and it makes it easier for me to connect in the real world, which of course sounds odd but it’s true! Like I said at the beginning though, there’s one group that I’ve found who really embraces all this available content and has a solid bond you can’t just drop. The Respawning team is like a family of uber geeks who are riding this massive wave of pop culture as long as we can, and even if it dies down, you can bet your little cotton socks that we’ll still be chatting shit about whatever obscure game or franchise is still around!
Now, I’ve talked a lot here about my love of my geek lifestyle, and how it brought me friends and connections… And yeah that’s great, but I’ve got to end with a disclaimer here. Sure the virtual or fantasy world you choose to inhabit is great, and I’m positive it brings you joy… Maybe even more than your real life does. I don’t blame you since I feel the same way… But as said by Groucho Marx and paraphrased by James Halliday in READY PLAYER ONE, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal”, so get out of the games and fantasy once in a while and don’t let reality run away without you!