On a hike today my friend noticed a clump of Amanita Muscaria and took away this glorious specimen. As we headed down the trail he said: “I can never see one of these without hearing the music from Super Mario Brothers — beep, boop.” He went on to explain that the spotted red mushroom was a coveted power-up that made Mario grow large.
I knew nothing about this. I have never played Super Mario Brothers, or any other iconic game, or really any computer-based game at all, except briefly in the early 1990s when I played Rogue during an office craze that lasted a few weeks, and around the same time played Putt-Putt with our young kids.
This seems unusual for someone like me. I have spent my adult life deeply engrossed in computer-based activity, and am often described to others, by friends and family, as a “computer guy.” That makes me a geek and/or nerd by definition. But I’ve never been comfortable with either of those terms.
Over the years I’ve known a great many others in the geek/nerd tribe who self-identify as gamers. It always puzzles me. I’m perfectly happy to spend long hours in front of a screen reading or writing or coding. But games? I simply lack that gene. It baffles me how other members of the tribe — especially adults who like me already put in long hours in front of screens — could then pile up more screen time playing games, when they could be outside hiking, or cycling, or gardening, or doing really anything else at all.
Perhaps this explains my reluctance to self-identify as a member of the geek/nerd tribe. If I really belonged I’d be gamer. Since I’m not I must be an impostor. I wonder if there’s a word — in some other language than English probably — for when you share certain core attributes with a tribe but not others?