What's your nerd origin story?

  • Admin

    I was thinking about what I read, watched or even heard of as a kid that got me into this geeky stuff many of us here are into - which I understand is now becoming mainstream but didn't always used to.

    So maybe we can discuss what got you to be the person you now are, kind poster! What did you experience in your formative years that made you go "wow, that stuff is different and cool?".

    For me it was a few completely separate experiences, many so random that it makes me wonder how things could have turned out if I hadn't had them.

    • One of my childhood friends was around the day my parents were dragging me over to my mom's home town for a visit and he joined along (which had never happened before nor did since, usually I was the only kid there and bored as hell). So while we were walking around the empty streets there at mid-day he was telling me about this Conan the Barbarian movie he had watched, and I hadn't, describing all those insanely cool things about the hero falling into a dead king's tomb and fighting monsters - I was fucking hooked. Oh, and Thundercats, he had watched way more episodes than I had, and he made Mumm Ra sound so dangerous and intimidating.

    • A different buddy of mine in elementary school - who's now a University professor in BC - lent me the Hobbit. I had no idea what it was but sure, I read it and I liked it. What a weird, different book that was. And then when I brought it back to him he told me there was 'another book' following it up... mind blown, books can have followups? Whaaat? So I read it out of curiosity and, spoiler alert, it was The Fellowship of the Ring which went off like a tactical nuclear bomb in my 12 year old mind. I read it twice, consuming every page like I was starving, and then could barely think of anything else. Nothing ever delivered that kind of awe for me since those first reads.

    • So I broke my leg one summer. I was playing with my dog and fell off a wall (don't ask) which led a pre-teen boy being unable to play with his friends all summer long. It was going to be hell! But then again we had just gotten a VCR and my dad would bring anything I told him from the store, he didn't give a shit about ratings... so horror movies it was. How do I know I watched over a hundred of them in those weeks? Because I still have a small notebook where I had written their names since so many sounded very similar and it was confusing. What did the experience do for me? So much, from getting me fluent in a language I didn't speak that well over that small span of time to getting me exposed to all kinds of cult movies, from The Thing to Fright Night.

    • For a long time as a teenager I was resisting reading Isaac Asimov. I didn't think I'd like science fiction since I had read some Arthur Clarke and it didn't quite agree with me... but I was bored at a bookstore one day and so I picked I, Robot. What do you mean heroes could rely on their brains? And abhor violence because it was a sign of incompetence? So by the time I read the Foundation series, going from one cliffhanger, logical puzzle, foreshadowed revelation I had completely missed and tied everything together - that stuff affected not just what I liked as a reader or even nerd but who I wanted to be as a person.

    Strangely enough starting on MUDs or even AD&D wasn't that 'formative' for me because by then I was aware I was into and actively pursued these things. I do recall quite fondly reading the premise of Vampire: the Masquerade though when I was at university because it was such a compact, cool concept since it tied gameplay and theme in ways I still believe are really brilliant.

    What's your nerd origin story?

  • Pitcrew

    I think it started with Ghostbusters for me. I grew up in a house where most of our visual entertainment was VHS tapes, and that was one of the dozen or so movies we had - and I watched it a zillion times as I grew up. Then the cartoon came out when I was 3, and I was even more obsessed. The idea of pretending to be a ghostbuster, a normal person who could (by being smart and brave) stand up against the supernatural was pretty formative to me.

    The D&D cartoon was what first introduced me to D&D, obviously, but I didn't at first realize it was a game you could play IRL. When I did realize tabletop games were a thing I wanted them desperately, but my mom thought D&D was literal Satanism that would damn my soul. I couldn't even play the Shadows Over Mystara arcade game (although I secretly did...a lot).

    So I got into Vampire: the Masquerade instead, in junior high. In high school I was introduced to MUDs, and I found out there were Vampire MUDs - which lead to RP enforced Vampire MUDs, which lead to MUSH/MUX.

    And I've been damned ever since.

  • Pitcrew

    It's hard for me to even pinpoint. I'm from a nerd FAMILY, and it was just always a part of my life. My dad read The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia to me when I was little, and the vast majority of my book intake growing up was fantasy. We listened to the BBC radio play of Lord of the Rings on family car trips and fancast imaginary movie adaptations years before the movies actually happened. Star Trek and Star Wars were also constants for as long as I can remember. I come by it honestly from both of my parents, but my dad is particularly scholarly about his consumption, particularly with stuff like Tolkien and Lewis. (He's a priest and a theologian, and he appreciated their work a lot on multiple levels through that lens.) We were always COINCIDENTALLY OUT SICK from school on days when a new Star Wars or Lord of the Rings movie would come out, that sort of thing.

    So I guess I don't have a nerd origin story. I WAS JUST BORN TO IT. I came to MU*s by way of Redwall: I loved the books when I was little and found Redwall MUCK at some point in late elementary/early middle school. And that was that.

  • Admin

    @Roz So you're like a mutant, unlike the rest of us who had to be bitten by radioactive nerdy spiders.

  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel Yes. I've even got a weird apparently-benign mutation in my retinas. I WAS BORN THIS WAY.

  • Pitcrew

    I started going to Renascence fairs, acting in Shakespearean plays, and coding on an Apple IIe and a Commodore PET when I was in the 6th grade. I started playing D&D and other RPGs about the same time. From there I ran a BBS and got into online RPG's via play by post games. When I got to college I started hard core into the MUSH world with Vampire/Were 1st edition and Super Hero MU*'s.

  • I always liked to read. I started out with classics, like Verne, Dumas, Scott's. At some point - I think I was 13 or so - a friend of mine lent me Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. Only the first 2 books were translated into my native language, and that just wasn't nearly good enough, so I picked up the english version. It was pretty tough at first, but by the time I got to the third book I didn't even notice I was reading in english. After that I started devouring all the fantasy and science fiction literature I could get my hands on.

    I didn't live much of a nerd life at the time, though. I kept my bookishness to my self, reading in private and not discussing any of it with many people. Liking to read meant being a nerd, and fuck that. I was all about athletics (handball; big where I'm from, soccer, martial arts, skiing and snowboarding in the winter; which meant from october to april basically.) My parents encouraged me to be outdoorsy. I hanged out with my friends doing stupid things, and trying to get with the pretty girls, petty crimes. I also spent a lot of time fishing, which I still love to do.

    Anyway, we moved when I was 17. Soon after, when I didn't know anyone where I was at, I got ill. Was stuck to my bed for a year, wasting away into little more than a skeleton, and getting pretty depressed about it all. I was chatting on msn with a friend from back home, and then she had to go, and I noticed there were lots of chat rooms to troll through. What was weirder was that some of them were called Inns, or Kingdom this or Kingdom that, and people were pretending to be this character or that character. Its not that I didn't know what RP was; I'd heard about DnD; some of the kids at my old school had talked about it from time to time. But I'd been pretty dismissive of the whole thing.

    Anyway, I was pretty desperate to get out of my present life, so I gave it a try. It stuck. When MSN's RP scene died, I moved on to IRC games, then finally someone suggested MUs. While sometimes it goes years between my RPing, I always come back to it. Its no longer a coping mechanism of a lonely kid, though. Its just a nice hobby.

    Anyway, I'm proudly nerdish these days.

  • Pitcrew

    I wrote fan-fic about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past when I was about thirteen. It's all been downhill since then.

  • @Roz said in What's your nerd origin story?:


    Mutants represent. For me it was my dad. He's a retired soldier/physicist and was a wargamer before I was even born. I painted my first mini when I was about 2, and he took me to see Star Wars several times in the theater. SW, Trek, Dr. Who - I was hooked.

    I got into gaming by playing wargames with him and his friends. Dad eventually picked up on my penchant for assigning names and backstories to my figures and tracking their exploits, and bought my first RPG (Traveller 2300) for Christmas one year. He'd GM adventures for me, my brother, and my BFF.

    Now my daughter is making her own video game in Scratch and my son is going through the campaign in Starcraft2.

    So yeah... the geek is strong in our family.

  • Pitcrew

    I can barely even remember NOT being a nerd, but I think one of the earliest formative experiences that I can clearly recall was the children's book version of 'Little Fuzzy'. It was beautifully illustrated, I got it very young, and it pretty much hooked me on science fiction forever. Everything else just flowed outward. It's a bit odd, in that neither of my parents share my interests, although my mother DID get me into horror movies, for certain. But fantasy/SF just came from books that I could grab.

  • I have been like this so long I couldn't even tell you at this point in the ways I consider 'core', really. (Namely, 'creating stories' in some fashion.) This goes back so far that, as a kid, I had trouble falling asleep, so like many moms, mine would read me bedtime stories. But, y'know, I would still sit there staring at the walls and side-eyeing the closet for hours after that, so I'd make up other stories in my head based on whatever she'd read until I was actually asleep. As a little kid, there were the usual 'make believe' games. I remember passing notes to write 'shared stories' back and forth about any given thing with friends going all the way back to second grade. I... really don't remember a time in my life when I was not 'this way' in a way that's instantly recognizable as part of how folks 'do stuff' in the hobby (coming up with plots stories as a creator/st, sharing stories with folks back and forth, etc.)

    I am very much that pretentious ass who will cut a fucker who scoffs at that cheesy quote about the universe being made of stories, not atoms. A lot of the genuinely shitty things in my life have been made less shitty because while they may have given me hell, they also gave me stories. (There's another great quote from the Hannibal series about this, but I am not going to butcher it in paraphrase and don't recall it exactly at the moment, dammit.)

    The gallstone that nearly killed me was apparently in the shape of a D10, though. So I almost had an ultimate gamer-geek finale?

    I still have the set of story books my mother read from -- and they were the ones her mother read to her from when she was tiny. They are still fucking gorgeous and they will never not be considered genuine treasures of the house.

  • Pitcrew

    I was either born this way, or adopted it so far back that I can't remember - and I remember being two years old. It wasn't my parents, it wasn't my grandparents, it wasn't other kids. To the best of my knowledge I have no origin story, because I am one of those who simply /are/.

  • Shining Force, the old Sega game.

    I dunno how it happened, but that game was my gateway drug to reading fantasy stuff and playing video games.

    I had of course played like...mario kart and stuff on the SNES before as a kid, but I remember being at a cousin's house and watching them play Shining Force and thinking it was the coolest thing in the world. It had princesses and dragons and horseknights (yes i know wtf a centaur is), an awesome sadstory werewolf guy (Zylo is bae), and cute little jellyfish things that murdered the whole map for you, and spoopy skeery demon bad guys (in a clown tent).

    I'd never read anything other than like..the generic Goosebumps/Kids In School Dumb Books kinda stuff. And after that game I got into LotR, played a couple of FF games, etc (My intro to Shining Force was yeeeaaars after Sega Genesis was already old, and PS1 was out, so I kinda went straight from SF to Final Fantasy Tactics and FF7). And it was all downhill from there.

  • Pitcrew

    I was not allowed to read anything but Christian fiction, the NKJV or NIV bibles, and certain concordances and Christian authors' nonfiction at home, until I was in the 7th grade (Also no musical exposure to anything but hymns, classical music, and modern Christian music, except when we were moving and driving cross country, then I got to listen to Abba and country, because my dad hated religious music). Before then I just would try read every book in the base library at each post (I started in the nonfiction session though, so didn't really get a lot of exposure to regular fiction) so despite the effort I was exposed to a lot of stuff I probably shouldn't have been. My 7th grade teacher first put a science fiction book in my hand (Ender's Game, perfect for a nerdy weird military brat) and then I expanded my secret reading quite a lot. I still had to hide my nonsanctioned reading material though.

    In high school I got into D&D oddly, with a group of similarly nerdy weird sheltered kids. By then my mom was sufficiently in her illness enough that pretty much I could do whatever I wanted and she didn't notice. So I spent weekend away playing D&D, Twilight2000, Shadowrun, GURPS, CP2020, ect. When I went to college I got hooked into the college RPG guild which was eye opening for how male gamers were 'expected' to behave in the 90s, finally met other women who gamed and we formed our own group so that we didn't have to hear all the rape jokes and weirdness. I got introduced to MUing my last year in school, and found I liked it even more than tabletop, and still got to be social.

    I still find I am missing large chunks of pop culture that I've not caught up on. And I have a very similar problem of many self-taught compulsive overreaders I've met where I mispronounce many words that I know/use just fine in writing, because I only learned them through reading. It's funny sometimes! Now I primarily just enjoy watching all 3 of my kids and their friends all blossom into mega nerds who are not quite as awkward and weird as I was. I think my oldest actually RPs online, but it's not on MUSHes, it's a play by post thing but different. He tried to explain it to me once but I got way lost.

  • I'm another 'grew up around it' sort. My father was a nerd (he's a developer), but he's also hyper religious, so what I was allowed to read / be exposed to was sort of weird. Fantasy-wise, it was only Tolkien and CS Lewis (Tolkien being Catholic and CS Lewis being ultra-religious in his own ways), but sci-fi was 'anything goes' sort of deal (book-wise: TV/movies it had to be kid-appropriate). So I saw Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, etc. all growing up. I had this gorgeous illustrated edition of The Hobbit and my dad's first edition copies of Narnia........ until my brother destroyed them in a fit of jealous rage (and I got the 'shrug, sibling rivalry, ha ha!' talk and never got any replacements: things I'm still really bummed out over being a book lover). I devoured books. Even a lot of fantasy because my parents....... kind of gave zero shits about me. It was this mix of their old school 'give kids freedom' and a sort of focus on my brother(s) in this 'we wish we'd had a son first' mentality. Even at the age of 7, they let me go wherever I wanted in the neighborhood and the only time there was ever a panic was the day that a neighbor found me just hanging out after dark and got concerned and brought me in and my mom actually had a 'wait, oh god, uh-' and started going door to door and found me just having dinner.

    ...then I got the 'be home by dark' curfew.

    I didn't find out my mom was also kind of a nerd until I was a teenager. She's hugely into horror films and even loves sci-fi horror. She is not as wildly religious (tho she was homophobic until I was going through my own self-discovery and had a rather big upset at her as a teenager) as my father and I think he probably forced her to keep that under her hat for a long time. But she and I definitely share that and once I was old enough, it was something we began experiencing together. It is one of my favorite things about my mom, I admit. She is not the sort of woman you'd expect to love horror films, but she does!

    I did still, until I was like, 17, have to continue the 'hide away any interest in fantasy' tho. There was a really fun 'sit down and be lectured' experience when my parents discovered my MUing wherein I was told (super cereal y'all) that if I ever saw the word 'chaos' online, I needed to come find them right away so they could have an exorcism done because the word 'chaos' summoned demons into our home.


  • My memory of my childhood is pretty sketchy at best, but I think I was just always was a nerd? As much as I dislike who my stepdad is now, he was also a nerd and so it was never discouraged, other than a strict 2 hour time limit on the computer every day. Which is why I didn't start MUing until I moved out.

    One of my favorite childhood memories that doesn't revolve around horses is watching a Star Wars marathon every Thanksgiving. I asked for the original trilogy EVERY Christmas, but never got it, so I could only watch it when it played on TV, and for some reason it always played around Thanksgiving.

    We'd get most of the consoles as they came out. We watched Star Trek as a family, and my dad and I loved Aeon Flux when it originally played on MTV. I read every Xanth novel, and I was obsessed with the Last Unicorn and Legend (lol, horse theme?) and Labyrinth. I remember when Jurassic Park came to the 50 cent theater, my friend and I watched it as often as we possibly could.

    As a child with severe, suicidal depression that I was too ashamed to talk to anyone about, being a nerd kept me a little more sane!

  • Pitcrew

    I was born to a non-nerd family, but was raised in a very 'who the fuck cares what other people think' manner which came in handy. I think I found scifi/fantasy on my own (at the library). I finally met some Actual Nerds in high school and it's been downhill since.

  • Pitcrew

    @Roz said in What's your nerd origin story?:

    So I guess I don't have a nerd origin story. I WAS JUST BORN TO IT.


  • Pitcrew

    It began one vacation to California back in the 90's when someone handed me a VtM book. I was hooked on the book alone, then she logged on and showed me a Mux. Being someone who always had wanted to be a writer for trade, I became quickly enamored. It kinda went from there. When I couldn't handle RL, there was always that escape into another world, if it was reading the books or making up stories with my companions.

  • Pitcrew

    My maternal brothers were playing D&D when I was born. Not literally. Like, not, "Mom's in labor, roll a D20!" but you get the idea. By the time I was a toddler they dressed me up in drag and taught me the lyrics to Sweet Transvestite. My mom took me regularly to Broadway matinees.

    I was a reading prodigy from an early age - I was clocked as having a high school reading level in the first grade. Of course, this was the southern rural Oklahoma public school system, so that isn't saying much. Still, I corrected my teacher's pronounciation of Greenwich Village in 1st grade, and bringing in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe into my second grade class resulted in neither them nor the teacher understanding it at all.

    In the third grade, having seen a Life photography article that had horses done up as unicorns, I told me teacher that unicorns were real. We argued about it.

    I've had Star Wars action figures as a kid, right alongside my Barbies, took the neighborhood kids on little D&D style "quests" in our apartment complex as part of our play time, glommed the Dragonriders of Pern by the time I was 12 or 13, inevitably embraced horror, comics, and seriously, it's just always been there

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