In this age of obsessive cataloguing and relentless subdivision of social
groups, why should we be any different from the rest of the world. It only
takes a little effort to realise that the entity called "Geek" is not a
homogenous lumpen mass, but rather a creation with many layers. This is the
tale of the many different geek tribes, and how you can tell them apart.
I might add that it is perfectly normal for people to be members of more
than one of these tribes, and there is a great deal of mobility between
them. For example, today's gamer geek may innocently try out that obscure
CD-Rom with a strange Finnish name on it, see the light and become a
fanatical demoscener. Anyway, have fun and see if you can spot which of
these groups you belong to!
Are there any missing from my quick and too-easy analysis? Please write in
with your views, a future update to this list may be possible.
BRAND NAME LOYALISTS.
Firstly, but not necessarily at the top of the geek tree, we have the group
known as Brand Name Loyalists.
These people make a great fuss of the distinctive and superior (to them)
nature of their chosen hardware, and take great pleasure in disparaging the
opposition. These days this definition mainly applies to those people caught
in the Steve Jobs reality distortion field, the Apple Mac fans. With a more
diverse market there were many more in the earlier days. Check out the Retro
Platform Diehards to see where this started. Now there is not so much cachet
attached to individual brand or company names. Who gets a sneaky thrill from
owning a generic Dell-like orange box? Come to think, I've not really heard
of too many fiercely passionate Sony Vaio owners either?
Most likely to say:- "The PPC is a different architecture, so the mhz speed
Least likely to say:-"This conflict is silly, actually a lot of what you
say makes sense!"
RETRO PLATFORM DIEHARDS.
Retro Platform Diehards are former Brand Name Loyalists who were left
stranded by the demise of the parent company, and their beloved platform in
the computing mainstream. The names Commodore, Amiga, Atari, Acorn, and
Sinclair spring to mind. These people tend to be some of most fiercely loyal
and long suffering geeks, afflicted by many misfortunes, but also cherishing
the few triumphant moments more keenly than the rest. Many people here also
claim a parallel membership with the demoscene tribe.
The majority are only really part-time Retro Platform Diehards, guiltily
indulging themselves with more modern hardware as needs must. (Yes, and you
can now shoot me too!) It is even possible to split these further into 'Real
Hardware' and 'Emulator' clans, although as usual, the two aren't mutually
Most likely to say:-"Rodolphe Czuba is a genius!"
Least likely to say:-"I'm really looking forward to Windows Vista!"
The concerns of the Brand Name Loyalist have not gone away, even with the
clumping together of the majority of the market into a small selection of
hardware types. These have transmuted into software, specifically the tribal
disputes that break out over the flavour of operating systems. The typical
O/S Warrior ignores hardware, which is usually something very generic and
intel-based, but is fiercely passionate about his software. Common battle-
lines are drawn over Linux versus Windows. Interestingly the Apple Brand
Name Loyalist also fights here in the MacOS corner. Bill Gates wishes that
these geeks, the anti-Microsoft ones at least, were all dead!
Most likely to say:-"Nyaaah! (Insert opposition name here) smells of poo
Least likely to say:-"This conflict is silly, why not take the good bits of
ours, and mix them with the good bits of yours, then everyone is happy!"
Retro Collectors are the people on whose backs Ebay was built! Their
interest started from their early years with geekish tendencies showing,
although outright geekishness was suppressed for a time by the conflicting
demands of real life and maturity. Lately, with the return of some spare
time and disposable income, the Retro Collector seeks to return to an
idealised past of warm and fuzzy childhood memories. These Geeks often
evolve into Console Fans, as they chase that addictive rareness fix which
retro gear can only go so far to satisfy!
Most likely to say:-"Original Quicksilva cassette label from 1982, wow
Least likely to say:-"Let's throw out all this worthless junk..."
HARDWARE BODGERS AND SOFTWARE TINKERERS.
Hardware Bodgers and Software Tinkerers. The term "bodger" is unfair to
those real engineers amongst us, but would admirably cover the vast majority
of wannabe system builders. Tinkering geeks tend to confine their
speculative activities to extravagant software installs. You will rarely see
these people with a fully stable or completed system. If you do, it is in
the microscopic time interval between projects. These would also have been
found under the category of Comms Freaks in the pre-internet age, when some
people took it upon themselves to care about things like Baud Rates.
Most likely to say:-"It just needs some more ram for it to work, and maybe
reflash the bios."
Least likely to say:-"I fancy an out of the box solution!"
The Demosceners, aka the Pouet Crowd form a very distinctive sub-culture.
These are predominantly European and young(ish). Great emphasis is given on
either technical excellence, or great artistry according to the fashion and
hardware platform. Some members are very talented and able, whilst others
claim associate membership through feats of heavy drinking! These are one of
the few geek tribes which physically gather together at parties, mainly it
seems for the feats of heavy drinking, although it is rumoured that some
other activities take place.
Most likely to say:-"That rout is lame, I can get an extra 0.5444 fps with
my code, unoptimised!!"
Least likely to say:-"It's all very nice, but why can't they do something
useful with that talent?"
'Leet' wAnNabIes, in touch with their inner fifteen year old, are often
interrelated with the demoscene crowd but with leanings to the more
underground parts of that scene. They try too damn hard to impress.
Most likely to say:-"We 0WnZ sOmeThing with a11 teh Kapitalz in Teh wroNg
Least likely to say:-"Oh stuff this for a night at the opera Tarquin, I
hear that the new production of Carmen at the National Theatre is
One of the larger and better known groups are the Gamers. These are placed
on the lower branches of the tree of geekdom, and they are despised by most
regular geeks. However, their geekish interest in acquiring the most up to
date hardware for gaming qualifies them. If you were really pushed, they
could be renamed as Consumer geeks. These are the geeks closest to the
regular users in temperament. They are also one of the only groups, apart
from demo-sceners who socialise with each other, offline, in "Frag-fests",
which are like demo parties, but without the black humour.
Most likely to say:-"Eat plasma death, mothersucker!"
Least likely to say:-"Have you ever thought how much cool coding goes into
this game, must try to do some myself!"
Another grouping to be found at the wealthier and more consumer orientated
part of the geeksville district are the collectorish Console Fans. These are
often turning Japanese with rare and expensive import stuff, the more Far
Eastern and obscure, the better. Where they own more conventional hardware,
it is likely to have a huge Manga/Hentai tentacle porn collection stored on
the hard drive.
Most likely to say:-"Tsunami Shit Throwers, what a game! I had to fly
personally to Osaka to get it!"
Least likely to say:-"What the f*ck is a Wonderswan?!"
And finally, we come to the Users, the rest of the computer owning public.
They care not for the computer itself. It is as a means to an end, whether
it is booking holidays online, simple home/office tasks, sneaky acts of
fornication via an old girldfriend rediscovered on Friends Reunited, or else
transmitting spam through a zombie client they are totally unaware of. These
people have come late and reluctantly to computers, they are the rest of the
population who are not geeks. They are the preferred clients of Microsoft!
Most likely to say:-"It'll come in useful, but I'm not quite sure how?!"
Most irritating thing they say:-"Eeeh! That Mr Gates, he's a very nice
Least likely to say:- "That triple transparent tunnel effect in the
Zzsploch! Megademo was really cool!"
CiH, for Alive! Mag, Sept '05