How The Victory of Geekdom Has It’s Downside

As I noted last week, geek is good, fan is fab, and the nerds have won.  Doctor Who is back,  the Trek franchise is invigorated, anime is hip, video games are everywhere.

Now, however, I'd like to look at the dark side of the Great Geek Victory.

How do companies, writers, publishers, programmers, etc. deal with the broad, new audience for things geeky, nerdy, technical, and cool?

My concern is that the hipness of nerddom is going to actually reduce experimentation.  The broader audiences have certain expectations, wishes, and interests.  These audiences also bring in a lot of cash.

The end result?  Despite geekiness being everywhere, I'm concerned that too many authors, publishers, companies, etc. are going to play it safe to maintain their new broader audiences.

I've often complained of fantasy RPGs having a standard pseudo-European/Toklein setting.  But now with games being big business is that so expected that companies are less likely to experiment, since the "same old same old" brings in these bigger audiences?

Just go take a look at bookshelves and see how we were up to our armpits in vampire romance before latecomer New Moon.

We've got classic superheroes coming to the screens, but can they evolve and grow, or will it be the same old same old because they're geek icons?  Will we be eternally remaking Batman every decade or two?

So I'm very happy my people have won.  But I'm worried the victory has been because a narrow spectrum of geekdom is viewed as successful, so it can become it's own kind of stagnation because people won't want to take chances.

As for us progeeks, well, we can keep aware of these trends and look for ways to break stereotypes (profitably).  But first and foremost, be aware – you may be in for a career where you can do what you love, but doing the same old same old as you make the same stories, video games, etc.

– Steven Savage