We’re all nerds here, right? While we all may fly nerd flags, everyone’s nerd-dom is a little bit different. The books, shows, games, movies, and fandoms which comprise our little kingdoms of nerdiness can vary greatly from person to person; and that’s awesome! But what happens when you need to fit into a foreign fandom?
This is currently happening to me. My nerd tapestry is woven with the strands of many fandoms, predominantly fantasy in nature (LotR, DnD, Redwall, Elder Scrolls), though with a few sci-fi (Star Wars, Mass Effect) mixed in for color. I have recently begun playing in HLG’s live-streamed Star Trek Adventures. Prior to the campaign, I had not seen a single Star Trek episode, of any series (gasp! shock!); I saw the first of the movie reboots in college, but even I knew that wasn’t right. Suddenly being dropped into a fandom older than I am with no more than the most basic of knowledge is a harrowing experience. For example, the extent of my Star Trek knowledge was that there was a character named Spock, the term ‘Kobayashi Maru’ meant something Trekky, and I knew how to do a Vulcan salute, though, full disclosure, I had to search google for ‘Star Trek hand sign’ to assign it the proper name. As an adult with a family and a job, I just don’t have the time to catch up on all the content that I’ve missed, but at the same time I want to play this awesome game with my group. What was a fella to do?
1) Hit The Highlights
My game group was aware of my STD (Star Trek Deficiency) when we were planning the campaign. They put together a list of the ten most important episodes that I should see to get a sense of the world in which I was going to be playing. While I still feel like a noob when we’re playing, those episodes laid a good ground work in the source material so that I can at least function within the universe (I now know what the Prime Directive is! Go me!). You don’t need to know every detail about the foreign fandom, just enough to get you going.
2) Minimize The Knowledge Deficiency
One way of limiting the issues caused by my STD was to create a character who was more punchy than thinky. It doesn’t matter what universe you are in, a punch to the face is still a punch to the face, be it orc or Klingon. Had I created a character with a greater emphasis in knowledge, history, or politics, I would have had many more issues, having to learn these things before I’d be able to effectively communicate them in-game. You should take steps to keep yourself out of positions where your lack of knowledge is easily perceived.
3) Ask A Lot Of Questions
We nerds love our fandoms. We also love sharing the ridiculous amount of information we have about our fandoms with anyone interested (or just willing to listen). If you are involved in a fandom that’s not your own, everyone in that fandom wants you to be there! Another person with which to share in the wonderful experience that is (insert fandom here)! If you ask, and I speak from experience here, you’ll often get more information than you were looking for. You’ll receive too much, more than you are interested in, or, quite frankly, even deserve; but there’s no better way to learn.
4) Buzzwords And Catchphrases
To really feel like a part of the group, you need to speak like them. Every fandom has lingo associated with it. It’s important to learn it and use it, even if you’re not 100% sure if you’re pronouncing words correctly or using them in the correct context. I think the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” is appropriate here. In addition to sounding awesome, something that I’ve found is that you learn about the source material unintentionally while you’re learning the lingo.
5) Wikis Are Your Best Friend
While your friends may be a seemingly endless source of knowledge about their fandoms, the internet is an even better source, which you can more readily shut up if you ever have enough. There is a Wiki for every conceivable fandom out there that can provide all the information (and speculation) about a topic that exists. This is one of the situations where going down the rabbit hole of links that the internet often takes you down can actually be a good thing. The thread can lead to all sorts of interesting, and sometimes disturbing, information about your fandom. For example, I found myself reading all about Denobulan mating rituals, something I did not know about; which I apparently needed to know, which I now know.
Dive into those new fandoms without fear and enjoy yourself! May you live long and prosper. (I’m fitting in!!)
Jake is now a huge fan of Star Trek and will be working to lessen his STD by watching all the original Star Trek episodes (albeit eventually).
Picture Refrence: https://repsub13.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/stark-trek-fandom-the-federation-alliance-of-misfits/
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.