Craig

Me: What does it mean to be a fan of something? 

Craig: To be a fan of something, to me, just means a general interest in it, I think. There’s probably a dividing line between something that you’re casually interested in and being a “fan” of it, but I don’t know where that line is and I don’t know that we should ever try and define that line because then that leads to gatekeeping and all that other fun stuff. I was having a discussion with somebody recently and they were talking about how the term “fan” derives from “fanatic” which is… I don’t think you should have to be fanatical about something to be a fan of it, but some types of fandom can really get into the serious, overly-fan-ish aspects.

Could you briefly explain gatekeeping?

Yes! Gatekeeping is when people who are “fans” of something try and legitimize themselves by saying that if you’re not as much of a fan as I am, then you’re not a “real fan.” If you haven’t read all of the Star Wars novels, you’re not a real Star Wars fan, you’re just, y’know—because everyone’s seen the movies, so unless you really get into it, unless you belong to the 501st unit and dress up as a stormtrooper on weekends, then you’re not a “real fan.” But I think a fan can be somebody who just watched a few episodes of the cartoon or something like that. But yeah, gatekeeping tends to be done a lot along gender lines, I’ve found, because… I think, when I was growing up, it was only boys who were into a lot of these [things], like comic books. Like, “girls didn’t read comic books, girls weren’t interested in Star Wars.” And it was true if you went into a comic book shop, there were a lot of guys there. Very rarely did you see women go into a comic book shop. But I think as these different fandoms have become more mainstream, we’re starting to find out that yes, of course women have always been into these kinds of fandom, but you get a certain “species” of hardcore nerd that refuses to believe that somebody with two X chromosomes could ever have been as interested in Star Wars or anime or name-your-fandom as they are (laughs). I think that’s still the case when it comes to marketing, because a lot of these things tend to be—it’s not so bad with Star Wars, especially—but I feel like there’s a lot more marketing towards teenage boys—that specific age group, that specific gender—than to young women or anything like that. But if it’s pink and has flowers on it, then it’s like, “Oh, that’s for the women. They can do that. They don’t have to be interested in lightsabers or anything.” (laughs) So I feel like gatekeeping comes into play a lot of those times and the standards that most gatekeepers assign to “You’re not a real fan unless you know this, that, and the [other]”—there’s plenty of fans of both genders that couldn’t pass their rigorous “test of true fandom,” so it’s all just to kind of keep it being an “old boys network,” I guess.

Have you been part of a fan community? How so? Please describe.

Part of a fan community? Well, there was a brief time that there was a Rutgers anime club that I went to with my friend. I didn’t go to Rutgers, but somehow we got into it—it was open to members of the general public. We would go [to that]. That’s closest thing to a “fan community” that I think I’ve ever belonged to, but since early 2000s, I’ve been playing a lot of live action role playing games—LARPs—and they seem to come with their own community, because you’re all going together to an event to LARP together, so it tends to develop a good sense of community really quickly because these are people that you might be seeing every month and you’ll usually end up friending everyone on Facebook and all their forms of social media. It does kind of come custom built with its own community, whereas if you’re interested in Star Wars or Star Trek, you have to actually go out and seek those communities, but it’s hard to be a LARPer by yourself in your basement as you can with other fandoms. Other than that, I’ve been to comic conventions and things like that, so I guess that’s a community? I don’t know if you would consider [that one]. I can’t think of anything else, really.

You mentioned Facebook and social media—any communities that are present or based on social media or the internet?

I haven’t really been involved in purely Facebook communities or any other kind of social media. It usually winds up being like I will go to a LARP or something and they’ll have a page on Facebook which is where they’ll post their events and talk about different things—“this is what happened last game!” and things like that—but then you notice that all of the other people that play that LARP are also in that group, and you usually wind up friending each other and talking with a few other people about something that happened in LARP and it’s not necessarily on the game page itself, it’s just conversation that you’re having. There’s a few comic book pages that I belong to, and I’ve never actually been to the LARP because it’s just not been convenient for me, but I follow the page. Going back to Star Wars, there’s a Star Wars LARP that happens—I wanna say it’s in Pennsylvania somewhere? I’m probably totally wrong about that. But I’ve just never gotten to it, but I follow the page and I comment on the page sometimes even though I’ve never actually been there.

 

How often and how long do you participate in these fan communities/fandom spaces?

 

I’ve been involved with LARPs—and I keep going back to LARP because I feel that’s the most active fan community that I belong to (laughs). I’ve been involved in it since the early 2000s. Most LARPs are held once a month—[with] some exceptions. I have yet to find a larp that I’ve been to every month, every time they’ve had an event. Adulting gets in the way (laughs). As far as the communities, I’m talking usually on different social media with these people every day. I want to say maybe every other day, I’ll comment on something that I see on one of the LARP pages. It’s gotten so that my Facebook feed is mostly like, “Somebody posted in this group,” “Somebody posted in this group,” “Somebody posted in this group,” and not just interacting with people as individuals. It’s a lot of things that are from different groups. (laughs) I don’t know if librarians count as a fandom community (laughs), but I belong to a lot of librarian groups on Facebook, as well.

 

Please describe a typical interaction or experience within these spaces.

 

Ooh, okay. I really have to think about this one. I’m gonna start talking about LARP and hopefully by the time I finish talking about LARP I’ll have swung around to more [of other spaces]. The weird thing about playing in a LARP is that you’re in a communal space but you’re not really yourself, because you’re supposed to—in an ideal world—you’re supposed to be always playing that character from the moment you arrive at the LARP. I mean, usually there’s a signup before they do opening announcements. And then for the length of that LARP, you’re supposed to be always in character, playing a different person from who you are. I’ve noticed that there are some people that basically just play themselves—and I’m guilty of this myself—but set in that fantasy, medieval, or apocalyptic setting, whatever that is. But other than that, they’re pretty much just who they are in real life. And then there are other people who are really good at just playing their character and then as soon as the end of game is called, they suddenly turn into a completely different person, which is really interesting. There was one time that I was talking to this young woman and she was playing this “yeehaw cowgirl” kind of southern [person], full of grit and determination, and she was very loud and very brash, typically the “American stereotype” in other countries, and she was talking with this southern accent the whole time. Then I had to ask her something out of character at one point, so I pulled her aside and was like, “Just out of character, I want to ask about this particular rule or something like that,” and she’s like… [in a British accent] “Yes, well, actually—” (laughs) in this perfect British accent, and I was just like… “What’s happening right now?” It was pretty hilarious. So yeah, I feel like [the experience] is different for LARPs because, like I said, you’re playing different people. And within that community, there are various levels of people who are good at it, like this young woman—I never would have known that she was anything other than a Texan American. I got that she was playing a character, but I thought she was at least… not British (laughs). But then there are some people who will make this little, small, token effort to play their character and then just go back to being pretty much just themselves. It’s interesting because… when I first got in LARPs, I thought it was going to be a little bit difficult. But, when you’re playing a medieval fantasy LARP, they don’t expect you to talk like a Shakespearean character, they just ask that you don’t talk about… what was on the episode of The Walking Dead last night, y’know? Don’t talk about pop culture, contemporary things. It’s very easy to do that, just talk in your normal voice, but just talk about what’s going on in-game, and don’t go off-topic about TV shows or video games. Sometimes people do make a sly reference to something in a video game, and it’s funny, but it does take you out of the immersion of being in the game experience. But for other types of fandoms, my level of involvement… I feel like, as I’ve gotten older, it’s been more difficult for me to keep up with comic books and stuff like that, but I do always go to New York Comic Con [NYCC]—that’s kind of my little getaway. I like to cosplay, I like to dress up as different characters, and I’m always determined to, one of these years, just go all out and do this elaborate costume. I don’t know what that would be yet, but whenever I go there, I’m always disappointed at my level of commitment to the character costuming. And I know [there will always be] some kind of fluff piece on ABC News, like, “Here’s New York Comic Con,” and then I’ll see some of my friends on camera. Some of my friends have been interviewed—maybe not major news, but a little clip, maybe. But I’ve seen friends be interviewed because they just go all out and do this cool costume. I have one friend, who I met at a LARP (laughs), [who] had kind of a dad bod, but there’s this one character from DC Comics, Lobo. He looks like an outer space version of a biker, and he was kind of originally created as a parody of all these grim, gritty superheroes. So my one friend wanted to go as him for Comic Con, but decided he wasn’t jacked enough to really pull it off. Then, over the course of a year, he made it his mission to get jacked enough, and succeeded amazingly—he dropped a lot of weight, he got lean, he got muscles. And he wasn’t a wimp by any stretch, just a dad bod kinda guy, but he just pulled himself into this heavy exerciser and he looks great now. It’s pretty amazing. Once he got the costume on, you couldn’t really tell how jacked he was (laughs), so it was kind of interesting that he put this much commitment into it. I would love to be able to put that much commitment into it, but when I get up and I wanna do 20 sit ups in the morning, it’s like, “Nah, maybe not.” That’s pretty much it. I never really get involved in… I’m sure there are other “clubs” on Facebook for people who are into other different types of fandoms that I never really get into—it’s just mostly LARPs and going to Comic Con. And [even though] I’m the faculty advisor of the Anime Club here [on campus], I still don’t really watch anime. I used to when I was younger, but then I had too many friends of the type that found it impossible to talk about anything except anime and it just got really tedious, so I kind of got turned off of anime. I feel like there’s probably some amazing anime out there that I should be watching, but I just haven’t, and it’s not the anime’s fault, it’s just… I’ve had friends that couldn’t shut up about it, so… I would have a friend who would be like, “Oh, have you ever seen this?” and I’m like, “Oh, no, but I’m really interested and I think I’d like to see it,” “Oh, yeah, you’d like—” and then he starts telling me all about it and then… “Well, I don’t need to see it now, okay, thanks.” He almost spoiled Doctor Who for me.

 

[For a lengthy discussion on Doctor Who, see Interview Extras & Bloopers.]

We kind of touched on this a little bit. Describe your ‘history’ with a fandom. What made you join? What made you stay?

 

Ooh… I don’t know, there are so many fandoms that I could go with for this (laughs). I can’t even begin to describe where I got the “nerd gene” from. When I was growing up—again, this was in the 80s (laughs), when I started forming my teenage personality. I was never really into sports. I loved to read—that was my favorite thing to do in the whole world, so somehow that just got me into all of these nerdy hobbies. I knew this kid in grammar school—so in 3rd or 4th grade—I heard about Dungeons & Dragons, and I remember this kid saying that he couldn’t wait until next year because he could play Dungeons & Dragons with his brother, and I didn’t know why [he had to wait to play with his brother]. I’m not sure if it’s because the outside of the box said “For Kids 12 and up” and next year he was gonna be 12 or something like that (laughs), or if it was an arbitrary rules that his brother set to keep his bratty younger brother from playing D&D with him (laughs). But that intrigued me, that “Oh, there’s a game out there that I’m not old enough to play yet…” (laughs) One of my friends’ cousins played it, and he came over and led us through this adventure. I don’t remember much of it, but I remember it was ridiculous—we fought the god Thrim or something (laughs)—so I just got into it. I got the rule book for the Easter of 1983. I remember it was on Easter, and it was a weird thing to ask for for an Easter present, but my parents didn’t care, so… For a while it was just me playing D&D with my friend and my younger brother. Those were the only two people I had to play D&D with. And then, when I got into high school, I found a group to play with, and then we played it in college, then moved on to other roleplaying games. Just kind of bizarre games (Vampire the Masquerade, Nephilim, In Nomine, Villains & Vigilantes, etc.). I guess that’s what got me into LARPing, by extension. Instead of tabletop, you play it live action. With the tabletop roleplaying game, and you’ve experienced this firsthand, it’s really difficult to get a bunch of people together to play, and I think that’s why I’ve stuck with LARPing because if every time you had a LARP, you needed to have everybody that was there the last game, then there would never be a LARP ever again. The fact that it’s able to continue even though not everyone can make it this game is, I think, what keeps me playing those. I would love to run a D&D game—it’s just so so difficult to get a group of people together on a consistent basis because, again, adulting. I could go into late-stage capitalism and all these other things about that if I wanted to, but it’s… just the fact that so many people today don’t have a 9-5 job where they could say, “You know what, every Saturday, I can get together. I’ll be free.” No, people have 2-3 part-time jobs that are weekend evenings, different times, so it’s impossible in this day and age.

 

If you knew then what you know now as a fan in this community, would your fan experience be different? Would you join it again?

Yes, I would join it again. I think, if I knew then what I know now… I feel like it would multiply the experience. I would get more involved in the things that interest me. Like when I was playing D&D or reading comic books, I was content with just being a fan and being a consumer of this material, but I think if I knew how it would go from a bunch of introvert nerds in their parents’ basement to pop culture—[like how all] the blockbuster movies are all about superheroes now, you’ve got Hollywood celebrities playing D&D on a podcast… I feel like I would’ve picked something and gotten into it and tried writing for one of these games or get myself into that industry, I guess? I don’t know if I would’ve been successful. If I were a 12 year old kid now saying that, “Yeah, I want to get into the gaming industry”—it wouldn’t turn up as many noses [now] as it would in 1982. I think that’s the major difference, and I guess it’s never too late, but it would be a lot of work right now, and again, who has the time? (laughs)

 

How important are your fandoms to you? Why are they important?

 

I think just the fandom as a concept is important to me. There’s no particular fandom that… Like, if the Star Wars fandom went away tomorrow somehow, I wouldn’t be heartbroken. I’d be a little let down—”Oh, that was a really cool thing. Shame that it just kind of fizzled.”—but I think that it’s important people have interests that aren’t strictly work-school-home. Like, they have interests in these pop culture type of phenomena, and… I don’t know, part of my problem is that I’m really fickle with everything. Yeah, I’ll get involved in a fandom one day and a couple months later, I’ll be into something else, and then a couple months later, I’ll go back to the other fandoms that I used to be super involved with. I just flit from thing to thing like a bee, whereas, again, if I could just settle on one thing, like “This is what I’m going to be interested in and this is all I’m gonna be involved with,” that would probably be healthier for me (laughs). But, yeah, I’ve never been really diehard into any one thing. Instead it’s more a generalized, “I’m into nerdy stuff.” I’ve known people who will get into something and that will be their entire world. I had a friend, and one of the things he and his wife had in common was—I think it was before World of Warcraft, I think it was Everquest. He loved playing Everquest, but it got to the point where she had gotten laid off and he would be like, “So, did you look for a job today?” and she’d say no, still playing, wouldn’t even turn around. So yeah, she just got really obsessed with this. I think because I’m so fickle about everything in my life, I’ve never gotten to a level of obsession with one type of fandom. I think it is valuable that people have this kind of outlet, this kind of leisure or release, but I do know some people have taken it way too far and gotten crazy obsessed with [it]. Even my friend who can’t seem to talk about anything that’s not anime—[that description is] probably doing him a disservice because he is able to hold down a job and take care of himself… That’s just his one interest, but he’s not obsessed-level where he can’t function like a normal adult in society.

 

Has fandom experience played a part in your identity or how you identify yourself today? How so?

 

I think it has. I don’t know if I would say fandom necessarily, but I was gonna say, I feel like people always know me as the nerdy guy. I think I’ve kind of embraced that identity. When I was very young, I decided for myself that “weird” wasn’t an insult to me, so I wanted to be as weird as possible, and it’s probably why I dye my hair purple and why—well, my nail polish needs to be redone. It’s like I’ve been kind of obsessed with being a little bit eccentric, I guess would be the politically correct way to say it. But yeah, I do identify as a nerd, a little bit of a weirdo I always wonder how much of that has affected my personal philosophy. When I think of myself politically—not to get all political—I do tend to support a lot of progressive, liberal causes. I think part of that is because I tend to root for the underdog because I was bullied when I was growing up. It’s interesting to think of how it would’ve been so easy for me to have just not been a nerd, and I wouldn’t have gotten pushed around so much when I was in school, but somehow that wasn’t an option. I liked being a nerd even though it got me pushed up against lockers and tripped in the hallways. I don’t know if that’s the case now, because nerdness has been more accepted, but again… late 70s, early 80s, you got made fun of—got your books knocked out of your hands and tripped in the hallways and all that fun stuff. So I feel like that has contributed to me rooting for the underdog, but I wonder how much of it is on a purely subconscious level, because I’ve never really thought about my life’s personal philosophy. But, how much of it is, “What would Luke Skywalker do?” (laughs) I wonder how much of my personal worldview has been shaped by the narrative or the nerdy teenager who goes on to become a superhero or gets bitten by a spider or something like that. Like, that’s kind of the way I view things. Not that I’m insane and I think that that’s gonna actually happen some day, but just that whole theme of comic books and Sci-fi/fantasy movies. It always does tend to be—probably because all these things were written by nerds who got [bullied]—the theme tends to be “a good nerd becomes a superhero” or something like that. I guess that’s the best way I can explain it.

 

Do you create content as a fan? Please describe.

 

I don’t really, other than for LARPs—you create a character to play in the LARP. So, in that sense, I will create my character’s background. Some LARPs like you to have a fully 2 page background of everything that’s happened to your character, [while] some of them don’t really care about your character’s backstory, they just want the stats, the cool powers you have. I’ll do the costuming, and if there’s something that goes into the costuming of the character, I’ll create that. There’s this LARP that I go to, Dystopia Rising, [that’s] post apocalyptic with zombies, radioactive mutants, and stuff like that. It was early on a Sunday morning, and I was a zombie myself both in-game and out (laughs)—no, out of game, I was a zombie, in-game I was whatever my character was. There was a campfire and somebody was cooking breakfast. I’m sitting there and somebody sitting next to me has a blank notebook out and she was writing something in it and I was curious what she was writing. She was writing letters from her character to her character’s parents, like “this is what has happened to me,” “this is what I’ve been doing,” “Dear Mom, it’s rough out here on the terrain.” No one was actually going to see these letters, just—this is what her character would have been doing, so that’s what she was doing. She had a whole notebook of “letters to mom and dad.” She wasn’t going to publish this or anything like that. It was a good device for the LARP because she could read back and see, “Oh, gee, what happened at that game 3 months ago?” I almost started to think, “Well that’s a waste of time,” but I thought, that’s exactly the kind of thing that I would’ve been doing as a teenager with my D&D character. I would’ve written a whole history for them and created a journal for them. Again, not that anyone was going to see it except me, but just to get into the character’s head. I think that improved my writing a lot, but I feel like I tend to, when I go to LARPs, not get as immersed as some other people. When I used to play D&D as a teenager, that was my whole world. I used to love writing up different characters. If I was DM-ing, I would make up the whole history of the town. That was something I really got into, I would work on the character and the costuming, but when I would go to LARPs, then I would play my character, and then as soon as the LARP was over, it’s like, “Okay, now I’m Craig again. I’m just gonna go home.” I would leave LARP there, but when I saw this person creating these letters to home, it made me realize that they’re still in that phase in their life where they can afford to get super immersed in a fandom like that. It also made me realize that this person was probably born at a time when LARPs had always existed, and it wasn’t just— D&D itself was created in 1975, which is when I was in Kindergarten, so even though I didn’t get involved with it until I was 12 or 13, it wasn’t something that had always been around the way comic books had—they’ve been around since, like, 1938. I wanna say that I feel like comics are more mainstream since they’ve been out from before I was born, whereas I thought roleplaying games were a little bit more niche, and that LARPing was even more niche than that. I could remember first reading an article in Dragon Magazine how some guys were setting up this D&D game out in the woods where they would hit each other with padded sticks, and I’m like, “Well, that’s nerdy,” as I’m reading a magazine devoted to D&D. That’s pretty deep nerd there. Then I eventually got into that, but it made me realize that for whom this stuff has just always been around as a thing that you could join up with, so I thought that was kind of cool. It’s inspired me to go a little bit more into the background of my characters, and maybe when I go to a game I will do something like keep a journal or something like that. But there’s adulting, so I haven’t gotten into that yet.

That's fair. Have you ever had career or professional opportunities open up for you as a result of your fandom experiences?

 

I’m gonna say no. There was, or there is, this one LARP that I was kind of involved in. It’s New World Magishola, which I think is still around. It’s kind of a Harry Potter LARP, but of course they couldn’t get the licensing for Harry Potter, so they don’t use the names of any of the houses. Basically, you sign up, and you’re a student at a magic school, and depending on what level you sign up for, you could either be a student or a professor. I think it’s kind of expensive, like it goes for a weekend and it’s $300 or something, but it includes whatever space they’ve rented out for that event—they usually have room and board included. So, it’s really just like paying for a weekend vacation, but then you get to be a wizard (laughs). Even better. While I was talking on Facebook to the person who runs it—I knew her from people who were in other LARPs—she [said she] needed someone to write a glossary of the game, like all of the different houses in this fictional world and all of the magical creatures and different spells and what they do and stuff like that. I volunteered, so this wound up being my “creating content” for this game, which is something I did in my spare time. So the very first time they ran this LARP, it was wildly popular. They had to run it on 4 separate weekends at the University of Richmond. So, I got a discount to go to the very first game, and I got to help run the game [by playing] the NPCs [Non-Playable Characters]. I got to be a house ghost (laughs). So yeah, that’s what I was involved with. I didn’t get money for it, [just] credit in the writing staff when they came out with the rule book. I don’t know if it became a LARP powerhouse. It was based off of one that’s run in Poland that’s about the same price, but you also have to pay for a flight to Poland (laughs), but they run that in a castle. You should see some of the videos—it looks like you’re watching a Harry Potter movie. People really go all out with the costuming. I don’t think it ever would have parlayed into a full time job as a LARP writer, and a lot of LARPs do struggle with staying financially solvent. So yeah, that would be great work if I could get it, but it’s really hard, especially in the US. I feel like LARPs aren’t that popular—it’s still usually a bunch of nerds in somebody’s backyard. Okay, maybe not always. A lot of LARPs rent out campgrounds for the weekend and play there when the boy or girl scouts aren’t there. Where Dystopia Rising is, there was a guy who ran a LARP called Knight Realms—he also owns the boy scout/girl scout camp that it’s run on, so he rents it out to other LARPs… and to the scouts. It’s great, because you know that the person who owns the property is invested in LARPing. That’s if I ever win the lottery. I’ll find my own land and just run my own LARPs.

Have you ever discovered new interests because of your fandom experiences?

 

I don’t think so. I feel like writing and drawing have always been my interests, and those are the things that you usually use in most kinds of fandom. I did… Because there was a… I’m trying to describe this in a way that doesn’t make me sound like a criminal. (laughs) One of the very first LARPs, they had it so that when you would go to this LARP, things like combat and spellcasting were all done by different point systems—you hit someone with a sword, it would do this many points [of damage]—but a lot of the different skills were just… “Could you yourself as a human being do this skill?” Like if you were expected to jump over something, it’s like, could you literally jump over it? You couldn’t say, “I’m gonna put 5 points into jump,” then just walk the obstacle and say your character jumped over it. That’s how most LARPs are nowadays, but in this original LARP, if you wanted to play any rogue/thief character, you had to actually learn how to do those things. Sometimes they would have treasure chests with a simple lock on it, and if you could pick that lock, you could get into the treasure chest. You’re expected to learn how to pick locks. Some of the best lockpicks I’ve ever met were people who played this LARP (laughs). So that’s one skill that I learned—I can kind of pick locks. My dad’s actually better than me because—he never played LARPs, but—he had a job as a teenager in Jersey City in the 60s… stealing cars. So, (laughs) one time I had locked my keys out of my car when I was still living with my parents, and I locked my keys in the car with the engine running. I had just started driving. My dad came out with a coat hanger and 5 seconds maximum he got into the car.

Do you tell people outside of the fan community that you're in that fan community? Why or why not?

I do because I do want it to become somewhat normalized, and it depends on the fan community, because I’ll gladly say that I’m into comic books, but LARP—people still aren’t quite aware of what LARP is, so it has to be explained. A lot of times, [people will] ask, “What are you doing this weekend?” I’ll be like, “Ah, okay, so—this is a little nerdy, but I go to this thing—” and I have to go into a full description of it. There have been a few times where I’ve started to go into the description, and the person’s been like, “Oh, LARP? My cousin does that!” or something like that. But I do feel like visibility is important. It should be a normal thing especially by now, like I said, with all these blockbuster movies that are out with superheroes and elves and orcs and stuff like that. But I feel like there’s a certain segment of the population that still thinks of all these nerdy pursuits as something that people should be ashamed of and like a “keep it in the closet” sort of thing. There was a politician [in Texas]—it turned out he played vampire LARPs, and his [opponent] used this [against him], like, “Oh, this guy thinks he’s a vampire. He goes and pretends to be a vampire, ha ha ha.” It turned out to be a good thing because the guy who played vampire LARPs was this ultra conservative, horrible person. But just the fact that that was something you could use against something in a political campaign… If one of the candidates nowadays came out as being [into] LARPs, every comedian would be on it, like, “This guy gets dressed up as dracula, ha ha ha.” That would be all anybody would talk about. Or whatever, comic books, or anything like that.

Do you tell people inside of the fan community that you're in that fan community? Why or why not?

Um… yes? I don’t understand the question. I feel like it’s a “Why wouldn’t I tell them?” because they’re in the fan community, so I would definitely want to… Although… I could see (laughs)... Yeah, I think it would depend on that person. If I happened to meet a politician and he’s an ultra conservative and plays a vampire LARP, I’m not gonna tell him, “Oh, I do that, too.” Or, like I said, there are some people that are just obsessed with their fandom, and I might want to not let on that I do that, as well, just because I don’t want this person to start following me around and harassing me about this particular fandom and not being able to talk about anything else. Yeah, that’s the only reason I could think. But usually when I see a fellow nerd, it’s like, “Oh, hey!” There’s a connection.

 

Okay! Well, that’s all the questions that I have. Was there anything that you wanted to circle back to or bring up?

 

I don’t think so, I think I did a good job of going off on wild tangents. I feel like I tended to define fandom as nerdy stuff, and that might be doing “fandom” a disservice because… I mean, you could be a fandom of football and that’s not nerdy stuff, necessarily. It should be, because people who are really into football, especially fantasy football, can have this amazing, encyclopedic knowledge of stats and all the numbers of the players on every team and stuff like that. That’s at least as nerdy as playing D&D, but somehow that’s mainstream and considered to be “cool.”

So the concept of “nerd” has changed, in a way?

 

I think so. I wonder if it’s changed a lot on a level in grade school and high school that I didn’t know, because like I said, I was used to me and 5-6 other kids [being] the only people who would read comic books, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily looked down upon nowadays, or at least not as much as it was when I was growing up—when I was coming up, as they say (laughs). My wife—before she met me, she had no knowledge of anything in comic books. I mean, she was aware that Star Wars was a thing, but she couldn’t have told you anything about the characters or anything like that. So, when The Big Bang Theory came out—and I feel like a lot of nerds are against TBBT because it kind of makes fun of nerds, but I feel like it does that from within. I feel like the writers were all nerds themselves, so it was more like punching sideways (laughs). But yeah, [my wife] really identified with the character Penny and all these nerds in her life would be making references to things and she would just have no clue what they were talking about, and that’s exactly how my wife felt 100% of the time when I would start talking about one of my nerdy things.

She knows now?

 

She knows now. Some stuff. She kind of intentionally ignores, but yeah. I still feel like there’s a mainstream, and then there’s a nerd culture, and the two haven’t quite overlapped yet.

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