It really sucks when something you’re passionate about–and have to constantly defend to family, friends, and possibly a shrink–goes mainstream. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by people who normally wouldn’t glance in your direction giving you something like…What is that weird sensation you get sometimes–respect? “Oh, that guy was into classic games a long time before anyone else. I think he even has a Commodore 64 and an Apple II!” You’re probably put off by this unusual attention, but just as you’re warming up to the idea that–hell–maybe you are somewhat worthy of the veneration, along comes that bastard Mr. Kewl Dawg.
You know “the Dawg,” don’t you? He’s that guy that’s always scanning the fads and fashions, waiting to swoop down and save the cool crowd from the likes of you. You probably find him annoying, irritating, and you might just be allergic to his cologne. Everyone else says he’s annoying, too, but, by golly, they just like that guy. C’mon–he’s the Dawg! And hey–did you know he’s got a show about classic games now? Apparently, he has a real Nintendo! Whoa! He’s Mr. Kewl Dawg!
Want to play, Mr. Kewl Dawg? I just a Frisbee over that cliff. Fetch.
Mr. Kewl Dawg and I have never been on good terms. He’s always been there, though. I started to get into alternative radio back in high school, listening in on a staticky college station to the likes of Inspiral Carpets and Bauhaus. Suddenly, though Mr. Kewl Dawg was there, wearing a Nirvana t-shirt and calling everybody “bra.” (Never quite got that one figured out. Though bras are cool, I guess). A few days later, the kids weren’t listening to country anymore–they were jamming out to Jane’s Addiction and Pearl Jam.
Thanks, Mr. Kewl Dawg, for ruining yet another of my utopias. This was my secret garden. Now it is covered in cigarette butts and my sister is wearing my jeans our mom accidentally bleached.
It happened later in the 90s with, of all things, comics. I’m still incredulous about this one. It blows my mind that someone could enjoy (and be seen in public with!) comics without a fully intact male hymen (hey–they exist in my religion, and since it’s religion, I can come up with anything I want).
So I’m sure that you and I weren’t surprised when our last bastion of uncoolness–old, “obsolete” games and systems were suddenly hot again. I was in denial for a long time about it. But then I went into Hot Topic (dragged there, I assure you), and saw t-shirts and belt buckles with arcade icons and the inevitable tri-force. This shock was followed up a few months later when I saw the same material in Target and then…Wal-Mart.
Am I the only one that feels like he just got kicked in the gut when you see some hottie with one of those “I love nerds” shirts on? Hey, if she calls you a nerd, it’s a good thing, right? Well, guess what. If I call you a nerd, it’s still an insult. You’re dreaming. She doesn’t love NEERRDDS. She loves Mr. Kewl Dawg (now in glasses and skinny jeans), just like she always has. Consider:
That’s what I’m talking about. At least these guys are honest.
In my upcoming interviews with Glenn Wichman, we talk about this phenomenon in a roundabout fashion. He’s one of the designers of Rogue, as you probably knew (Nerrdd!). Now he works at Zynga, where he’s apparently surrounded by a new breed of -ahem- game designer who learned the trade sitting in a college classroom.
Glenn had actually quit listing Rogue on his resume because nobody remembered it, or, if they did, didn’t think it was important. Now he’s getting the occasional moon-eyed kids coming into his office, saying “You mean you’re the guy who did Rogue? Wow! We read about that in school!” So Glenn’s gone back to listing Rogue on his resume. Good for him. I’ve gone back to scratching really hard at imaginary insects living just under my scalp.
I suspect one day soon someone much too cool to be addressing me will approach, copy of book in hand, and ask me to make it out to his teenage son who loves Matt Chat and all the great classic CRPGs he’s been playing after hearing about them on the show. “Oh, man, he loves Stonekeep!” Er, okay. The thing is, I know that if such a moment ever comes, I should SEIZE IT. Seize it with both hands and shake it hard until something comes out of it. Because, like it or not, where there’s admiration and respect to be had, Mr. Kewl Dawg will smell it. And before you get to second base with that chick in the I love nerds shirt, he’s beaten you to it, somehow nerdier than you ever dreamed of being (and sooo cute!).
I will smite you, Mr. Kewl Dawg. I, with my army of ferocious dungeon rats, nuclear punks, and a rather excellent drinking horn. AND NO, you cannot drink my Belgian ale. Stick with your Mike’s Hard Lemonade! Goddamnit. Mr. Kewl Dawg, get off my leg!
Where is my drinking horn….Mr. Kewl Dawg! You bastard!