One of the best things about big gaming and comic conventions like PAX, E3, Tokyo Game Show, and Comic Con is seeing all the hardcore fans in cosplay showing off what probably took weeks and possibly months of passionate hard word to create.
Many people will say that cosplay is unique to gaming and ‘geek’ culture, a term that I don’t care for personally.
Yes, gamers, as well as those who enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books are a passionate lot, and we get lumped together as being geeks or nerds. We can be very enthusiastic when it comes to our hobby and genres of choice, leading to impassioned conversations, public displays of fandom, and remarkable acts of cosplay.
Non-gamers and non-geeks will casually point out that cosplay, online flame wars, the waiting in line for a midnight launch, and Gamergate as examples of their superiority over the lowly gamer and geek.
Dressing up like idiots, queuing up outside in the cold, having irrational and heating conversations is beneath them. They have too much class for that nerd bullshit.
There is one group in particular, who has a tendency of being very much anti-geek and anti-gamer, and yet, practices the same behavior as many hardcore gamers and nerds, but they would never admit it.
The NFL is the most popular sports league in America and its fans are a passionate and vocal bunch, just like gamers and pop culture enthusiasts. Dressing up and going to a game looking like a rejected juggalo is okay, because they’re just showing TEAM SPIRIT. They’ll put a block of cheese on their heads and sit in sub-zero temperatures with their fellow fans and enjoy it god damn it. If you have a fucking a problem with that or god forbid, are a fan of the opposing team, you better be prepared to have beer poured on you and being cursed at the entire game.
It’s not just American football that has fanatical fan bases.
There are other parallels as well between gamers and sport fans. In the case of this blog post however, we’ll stick with football fans, since football season has just started and football fans can be the most obnoxious.
As it was mentioned earlier, gamers and geeks alike can be very vocal online in the comments sections of various blogs, websites, and online forums. Look at the reactions you see online whenever a highly anticipated game comes out or the game industry is going under some controversy, like Gamergate.
Sports fans and football fans especially can be just as vocal. Go onto a site like ProFootballTalk.com and read some of the comments and you’ll encounter some of the most amazingly fanboyish trolling since the inception of the Internet. It’s almost like someone just took the comments from the Destructoid forums and did a ‘find and replace’ of all mentions of PS4 with the New England Patriots, and Xbox with Dallas Cowboys
Sports talk radio is also incredibly hilarious. I was up in Boston recently and had the opportunity to hear Patriot apologists, like long time listener first time caller Peter from Quincy Massachusetts who thinks “AHHH, THE NFL COMMISSIONAHH HAS IT OUT FOR BRADY AND THE PATS BECAUSE WE AHHH WINNAHS AND EVERYONE AHHH LOSAHS. YOU THINK BRADY IS THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRSIT? THANKS! I’LL HANG UP AND LISTEN.”
Hardcore football fans, like Peter from Quincy are worse than console fanboys. Console fanboys are bad, but hardcore Patriots fans and football fans by extension are delusional and highly paranoid group of people.
I freely admit that I used to be a jock. I played football and soccer, ran track, and was a gym rat. I still enjoy going to the gym, passionate about soccer, watch a fair amount of both baseball and football. There are also teams that I follow closely and I am passionate about. I own a few Yankee caps and soccer shirts, I follow the NFL and root for the Giants, and on occasion, still play a bit of soccer and try not to tear my hamstrings or shred the ligaments in my knees.
Then there is the fantasy aspect of the NFL, something that I partake in every year, because I like to combine watching grown men giving each other brain damage with gambling.
When I first tried Fantasy Football, the Internet was still in its relative infancy. A group of my jock friends and I met in one of our parent’s basements, and performed our draft.
We elected someone the commissioner of our league, ran a raffle to setup the draft order, and consulted a book that contained the rules and statistics of every player in the NFL that could be drafted. This was the gamification and nerdification of football in its infancy as far as I’m concerned.
Looking back I see that our early NFL Fantasy Draft was essentially D&D for jocks and frat bros. Our commissioner was our Dungeon Master, the official draft book was our Official D&D Player’s Handbook, and the teams we were creating were our avatars, who would battle every week.
My group of friends and I were now no different than the nerds we made fun of for playing Magic the Gathering at lunch. The only difference being that the nerds debated the tactics of using a Fire Wizard against an Ice Orc (or some shit like that) and the jocks deliberated whether to start Steve Young against the Dallas defense.
Because I was not a pure meat-head like many of my jock friends, as I was into sports, but liked to indulge my nerdy side as well, I was able to see how the two pastimes of fantasy sports and fantasy role-playing had plenty in common. However, the jocks, meat-heads, as well as the nerds would never dare to admit that what they were actually were pretty closely related.
Now, fantasy sports have gone online and massively multiplayer with sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, much like video games in general with the proliferation of eSports, Xbox Live, and PSN. On top of all this, there is substantial money that can be made in both fantasy sports and eSports as well. The only difference is that the media and public perception is that fantasy football is cool and manly; while eSports is for geeks and freaks that live out of their parent’s basements and is generally a fringe pastime.
It does look like we’re starting to see a pivot however. ESPN, the self-professed worldwide leader in sports has taken an interest in televising and covering eSports. This is a substantial shift in my opinion. Perhaps they see that the demographic is merging, and that there is no longer a clear distinction between the fans of sports, eSports, and gaming. I mean, I like sports and gaming, and the fact that ESPN is now covering both is something that resonates with me personally.
Even DraftKings, purveyor of horrible advertising and weekly Fantasy Football betting is tipping its toe into eSports gambling. Their goal is to tap into eSports Gambling in Asia first and then slowly expand globally. So our friends in Asia can look forward to being constantly bombarded by shitty ads featuring grinning screaming/morons like the ones below.
So in the end, the sports nut, the gamer, and the sci-fi/fantasy geek have more in common than not. We’re all kindred spirits who should be united in our fanaticism. We should rid ourselves of juvenile terms coined in the halls of high schools such as nerd, jock, geek, meat-head, and freak. In solidarity, we should wear diary products on our heads like a hat, dress up as Bilbo Baggins, cover our bodies in grease paint while stand out in the cold. We shall continue to berate and verbally assault people online who may disagree with you, whether it’s an obnoxious Pats fan our PC Master Racers.
We are all the same. Except for wrestling fans. Those people are weird.