September 26, 2012 by Marie-Pierre Renaud
I discussed in my previous post about geeks and nerds that I would rely on people’s self-identification as one or the other to consider them as such and include them, their hobby or interest in the study of geek culture on this blog. I will continue to pay attention to the many definitions people attribute to these terms. It is fascinating to see how people create mechanisms to determine empirically determine one’s geekiness or nerdiness.
Two of these mechanisms are the Geek Code and the Geek Test.
The Geek code
It should be noted that Robert Hayden last updated the code in 1996. Obviously, some sections could be updated. Things have changed: Star Trek production is currently limited to movies, X-Files is over and so is Babylon 5. I have to admit I don’t get why Star Wars isn’t part of the categories, too. Many more categories could be added. Gaming, for example, is no longer limited to DOOM (which can barely be considered as 3D nowadays). You might notice the series of interrogations marks in my code. They indicate my ignorance concerning the test’s computer related categories. I believe a lot of these are outdated and, since I was only 10 years old in 1996, I don’t remember much about them. I admit I am not the most computer savvy geek, but up to date categories would make my code look much different.
Still, I had fun building my code, and I am thinking about rewriting the whole thing to allow for more categories, answer options and subtlety, and submit it to the author. As an anthropologist, I was trained to write questionnaires, so reading the code creation guide, I can’t help but notice some important problems.
I noticed you can’t specify your gender in the code. This might be voluntary or not. Does it reveal the code was written with only men in mind? Having a look at the “Dress” section, I get the feeling this might be the case. Notice the first statement: “I tend to wear conservative dress such as a business suit or worse, a tie”. This option and the following don’t make much room for women’s attire.
The options are limited for each category and were not designed to be exhaustive. In some cases, they are very specific and only partly fit to my own example. In other cases, no option correctly describes me. Such is the case for the dress section. I always wear what I feel like.
Here is my geek code. It’s not the best description of my geekiness, but it’s retro so I like it.
—–BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK—–
GSS d(++) s+: a- C++ U? L E? W++ N? o? K w O? M+V? PS++ PE- Y+ PGP? t++(+++) 5 X++ R tv b+ DI+ D+ G e+++ h- r+++ z?
——END GEEK CODE BLOCK——
The Geek Test
Yvette Beaudoin’s Geek Test is more up to date than the Geek code. It was last updated in 2011 and lists many recent movies and books as options. It was written with a sense of humor as well, and it’s built simply. Just click next to any statement that applies to you and rank your geekiness at the bottom of the page. Take the time to think and read well before answering however: somehow I didn’t rank the same percentage on the two occasions I took the test, and I was honest on both occasions. Of course if I hadn’t been, I would have had to click the “exaggerated on this test to score better” and “flat-out lied on this test to score better” boxes, which I am assuming would have lowered my result. If you have built your geek code, you get extra points.
I scored 32.84% on the test. I am not satisfied with this result. It’s not that I wanted to rank “Geek God”, but I think I could have ranked much higher had the test be configured a little differently or if it offered more options. Somehow, I feel I should get extra points for the fact that the 500+ puzzle I solved was based on a poster of Star Wars a New Hope. I was able to indicate that I play WOW, but StarCraft, Portal and Fallout New Vegas aren’t part of the options. I even played Quake II and Age of Empires back in the day. The test cannot measure that I am a Stargate fan, either, or that I joined the campaign to save the Stargate Universe series from cancellation. Nor can I click anywhere that I recently spent lots of time and many dollars to meet Patrick Stewart and have my photo taken with him, or that I own three different Jean-Luc Picard figurines (and two copies of one). I could go on.
Of course, the test is built according to its creator’s idea of what geekiness is as well as her personal tastes. I am guessing she is not very interested in Stargate and Doctor Who, for example. She probably doesn’t play many video games either. Everyone’s definition of geekiness is based on their own experience within geek culture. The point here is not to denigrate the test, but rather to emphasis on the fact that it is impossible to create a mechanism that will perfectly identity, quality and quantify geekiness.
Take the test anyway! It’s fun! It made me think about some of my habits (I guess I actually DO quote Yoda quite a lot). And interestingly enough, you get extra points if you are woman. I am guessing the author feels like geek girls are rare, or does she feel like their life is even harder than that of geek guys? And why is it that 7 of 9 and Jean-Luc Picard are regrouped in the same choice. Are they supposed to be gender specific equivalents? Personally, I’d rather be Picard. He’s cooler and his clothes look way more comfortable and professional.
I leave you with the geek zodiac representation. Read about it here.