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The Assassination of Lord British

March 20, 2013
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It seems to me that In every geek's life, there seems to be a defining moment, a moment of clarity that either drives you away from your hobbies of choice and pushes you into the arms of popular societal norms of watching reality TV and going to bed at 10, or one that cements your status as a someone who's proud to stand outside 'normal' pop culture lines and say, 'I'm so frigging glad I'm not them.'

Seeing as the geek culture that most of us know and love only really started toward the early '80s, it's not like we have generations of examples to pull from. Speaking from personal experience, I've watched quite a few potential geeks that seemed to give up on it and simply took their place in the rat race without even so much of a struggle. It was like a jacket that they could take off, hang up and never look back at again.

Sometimes I envy them. Sometimes I wish I could stop being who I am just for a few days, just to make it that much easier to relate to people outside of my tiny social circle.

The thing - such a small, inconsequential thing - that started this whole nerdy existential quandary was when I couldn't find my name tag.

Granted, I'd registered as 'Lord British,' so that would explain part of the difficulty. 

I was wandering into an educational conference, really having no idea what I was doing there. My job generally consists far more of how tech relates to education, not really the other way around. While it's always nice to be around people who are passionate about education and I did learn a few things, I still felt very out of place. 

So there I was, parading around as 'Ultima''s beloved king, when about halfway through my first session, I realized I didn't have a kindred spirit in the whole room.
And none in the next.

And none in the last.

That feeling of being out of place followed me around that whole day. I was alone in a building full of people because I felt I couldn't relate to a bunch of normal, everyday people. I was completely isolated in the exact opposite of isolation. I was in a school full of people who had decided to be passionate about big-people things, and here I was in the middle of it, silly name tag giving away what I was slowly starting to suspect was my immaturity.

It was a lot easier when I was in high school and in my earlier twenties, when I could come home from work and be with a roomful of like-minded individuals, people just as disillusioned with the 9-5 grind as I was, people who understood that we didn't seek an escape from reality, just regularly scheduled breaks from it.

For the first time in my life, I was actually ashamed of being a nerd.

I came home that day in a cloud, a high dudgeon that caught my wife's attention. Being the kind, compassionate person that Jenn is, she asked me what was bothering me. Being the emotionally dead, stonewall manly-man that I am, I immediately broke into tears and said that I didn't fit in with the other kids and I didn't want to play Nintendo anymore.

Jenn took my face in her hands and simply said, 'It's part of why I fell in love with you.' She calmly explained that it was OK to be me, and that she loved me just the way I am. 

It didn't matter to her that I could still remember how to play through 'A Link To The Past' blindfolded but couldn't remember what I had for breakfast. It didn't matter to her that I was more excited about playing 'Halo 4' at a semi-pro level than most people would be about playing in the NBA. It didn't even matter that I've insisted on naming our firstborn Shepard after 'Mass Effect''s main character. The only thing that mattered to her is that those things didn't get in the way of me taking care of my family, spiritually, emotionally and financially, and that I would never absorb myself to the point of placing them on a pedestal above the core people that make my life as awesome as it truly is.

It was like a light turned on in my head, a full-on Wile-E.-Coyote-idea-light-bulb effect. I didn't need the approval of my peers at work, in the arena we call the rat race. All I needed was one person to see me for me, outside of these silly button-pressing marathons that take up so much of my free time, and to see that dedication as something that transfers to the way I approach my relationships with people.

All it takes is one person accepting you as you are. That's all the justification I need to be comfortable with being myself.

I have that Lord British name tag stuck to the dashboard in my car. It's a quiet reminder to be myself, no matter how difficult it can be at times.

Aaron Waite wants you to port 'Ultima 7' to the 'Skyrim' game engine.

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