Beyond the Opening Rush: Return of the Nerd

Posted on November 12, 2014 at 10:46 pm |


Thanks to dodgeball, I rediscovered my inner nerd.

Given that I did my undergrad degree in Astrophysics and English Literature, most people can probably guess that I’m a bit of a geek. My studies weren’t something I broadcasted though, because it confused a lot of people, or they thought it was a joke (largely due to the fact that people got astrology and astronomy mixed up ALL the time, and I got a lot of “Oh, so you write horoscopes in the newspaper?”)

So when Jay Chow (who played on a Star Trek themed team called The Expendables) displayed amazement on hearing that I was a part of the UBC Physics & Astronomy department, I initially thought he was making fun of me. Well, turns out Jay teaches physics in high school! You have no idea how excited I was to find someone else who also owns a lab coat, knows about astronaut ice cream, and understands the pain of quantum mechanics.

But, I started out nerdy WAY before high school.

I was a gamer.

There, I’ve said it.

Yup, I was a StarCraft fan, and played my share of Final Fantasy, Diablo, and Pokemon. I stopped playing in my last few years of high school when there were other matters more pressing that kept me busy: final exams, university and scholarship applications, finding my way in the awful social hierarchy of high school (those I don’t miss at all).

So what changed? What brought me back to button-mashing on Castle Crashers and fumbling my way through Assassin’s Creed? At my first VDL pub night, I ran into an old friend’s boyfriend Alex Fontaine, who invited me to play with them the next season. His team was severely short on girls. And no wonder, his team was entirely comprised of his BCIT computer classmates. Girls are unicorns in those places (university physics and engineering classes are like that too).

Their team name was !dodge.equals(PWNED) – which in computer language translates into something along the lines of “Not dodging means you get pwned”. They declared me nerdy enough to join when I thought that the ‘!’ stood for a factorial.

Anyway, I stuck around for a few awesome seasons with these guys, and the team captain Mark Williams used to host these big nerd parties – basically, LAN parties with tons of computers, controllers, and screens hooked up…plus alcohol flowing.

At my first of these gamer parties, being one of the only girls (there were a grand total of two of us amidst about 20 males) fazed me a little initially, but then I got caught up in the world of video games and nothing else matters other than busting out that special move to KO your opponent in Street Fighter.

So yes, dodgeball rekindled my love for video games, but I suppose it was only natural, given the number of gamers in the league. My current Tuesday team is “Super Mario Ballers”, and our team bonder consisted of breaking out old N64 cartridges and playing Mario Kart…on a version so pixelated I felt like I needed a new prescription for my glasses afterwards.

Not only video games, but boardgames as well. I suppose they do go hand-in-hand; if you like one you’d like the other. It astounds me how many intelligent boardgame-lovers exist in the VDL community. Keith Bao, one of the founders of VDL, introduced me to Settlers of Catan – I have been hooked ever since.

In the VDL community as well I found my boardgame-brother: Kevin Hui calls me over when he gets a new game, and now we have regular game gatherings, where I went from Lord of Vegas to Lord of Waterdeep to King of Tokyo. He and his wife Laureen are just about one of the coolest couples in my book – I mean, they had a Scrabble-themed wedding! You don’t get much nerdier/cooler than that.

It was wonderful encountering so many people in the dodgeball community with similar interests as mine, and it really allowed me to embrace the things I like and enjoy. I don’t really care who knows that I study astrophysics, or likes video games, or is a bookworm, or whatever any more, because those are the things that make me unique and I like people who like those things. If I were to keep my interests secret I wouldn’t be true to myself and the friends I make wouldn’t be who I want to truly hang out with. So without sounding preachy, there’s your takeaway lesson for this blog instalment, kids.

Who knows? Maybe someday someone will start a VDL book club. I’m already working on bringing Read-Aloud Parties back, so if I ever get around to it and you want to be part of this nerdy troupe, I’ll let you know.

~ Michelle

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