Why don't nerd people need girlfriends

Nerds tell how they made friends through their hobby

Kevin is in his early twenties and hangs alone in his parents' windowless basement all day. There he snacks peanut flips, has a two-liter Coke bottle on the table, a 200-euro headset on his head and gambles with his greasy fingers all day World of Warcraft. In 2019, many people still imagine a classic "gamer" to be. Not only video games but also nerd culture have long since arrived in the middle of the mainstream.

The game Grand Theft Auto 5 turned over more money in the first three days of sales than any blockbuster cinema. The nerd sitcom Big Bang Theory is extremely popular. It is all the more absurd that people who openly admit their nerdism are still often viewed as antisocial basement children.

Gamers and other nerds also seek social contact. Some are satisfied with a digital friendship, others swap the chat room for a meeting in the café, and still others find the love of their life in the pen & paper role-playing game. So very real. Nerdism doesn't isolate, it brings people together who share a passion. Here come their stories.


Also with VICE: LARPing saved my life


When I was ten years old, my father had a press shop in a small town in Brazil. I had a hard time making friends, so after school I would leaf through comics and magazines instead of playing with the other kids. One of those afternoons is when I have something over for the first time Dungeons and Dragons read. I was so intrigued by this that I've collected every article on pen & paper role-playing games. I didn't have any friends who wanted to play with me. So I started writing my own stories and doing solo adventures.

I was the only woman out of nearly 25 men, which at first intimidated me. But finally I had found people who could be enthusiastic about the same things as me.

When my father died, my mother and I moved to a new city. There was a little card game and comic book shop there where people played role-playing games. I, meanwhile 15, often went there after school and at some point I felt shy and asked: "Can I play?" I was allowed to. That was an important moment. I was the only woman out of nearly 25 men, which at first intimidated me. But finally I had found people who could be enthusiastic about the same things as me. Here I was able to practice being a social person and overcome my social fears. At some point, fellow players became friends. One of them finally introduced me to the player who would later become my husband.

I now live in Berlin and regularly organize board game evenings in my apartment. The people I got to know over these evenings are now my best friends. I am very grateful for the games. When I play, I can be who I always wanted to be. And they give me the strength to become that person in my real life as well.

As a child of hippie parents, I always felt a little out of place. I like people, but I also like to be alone. As a child I was a real nerd and switched from Lego to model making. I was pretty chubby and had asthma - I wouldn't have been the coolest in the class anyway. That didn't change until I was a teenager. Suddenly I looked good and was quite popular. At the village high school I was noticed as a motley raver with a skirt. Then I traveled the world as a strolling student and enjoyed my youth.

Years later, I discovered that my life had been pretty much bumped into the wall. I had depression, dropped out of college and numbed my fears about the future with parties and drugs. Otherwise I was at home a lot and didn't leave my room for two days at a time. I spent my time in front of the computer Dawn of War. The game is based on the world of Warhammer 40,000. A tabletop role-playing game in which you paint your characters, dolls. At the same time I had a friend with the same problems as me: a shabby shack, social phobia and abandoning everything that was possible. Most of the time we sat together, smoking weed and drawing quietly. He was basically my only social contact.

One day he showed me the tabletop game and I bought my first doll. Then it was all over to me. Under the Warhammer-I felt like I was in a big family, which reminds me a bit of a sect: The complex rules and the stories are constantly being talked about. You paint on the dolls forever and it takes an hour to build up the playing field and army. But it does so much more than just play the computer or go out to party. I have physical play equipment, I meet people and it activates more of the senses. Did the dolls save me? I do not know that. But when I feel bad, I prefer to buy new dolls instead of drugs.

I find it difficult to adjust to new surroundings, to get to know people and to open up. I've always been very withdrawn. I wanted to change something about that. So I decided to combine my desire for more social connection with one of my great passions: video games Super Smash Bros. Melee, in which you compete against each other with legendary characters from other games. I looked for game partners on the internet and came to the Berlin smash community.

That was one of the best decisions I've made in the past few years. We're a group of people who get organized on Facebook and we meet every Thursday in a small cultural center and do esports tournaments in Super Smash Bros. Sometimes we even have bigger events on weekends, to which many players come from all over Germany.

I've never been a competitive player. I am not as good as many others and therefore quickly demotivated. But the weekly tournaments kindled a fire in me. Even if I still get pissed off regularly in the game, I can tell that I'm making progress. And am now looking forward to measuring myself against others. For me Thursday evening has become an integral part of my life - I don't want to miss it anymore. The game and the community made me more confident and adventurous. In the past, I would probably never have gone to another city for a weekend just for the sake of it Melee to gamble. Now. The nerd culture has enriched my life a lot.

Live role-playing games bring nerds together to a degree that is hardly possible in any other medium. A Live Action Role Playing Game (LARP) is a role-playing game in which the players physically represent a fictional character and dress up. It can be understood as a mixture of a pen & paper role play and improvisational theater. LARPs offer intense stories, a comprehensive representation of characters and a long duration: an average LARP lasts between three hours and four days.

I've made lifelong friendships with LARPs around the world. With an Italian who was my classmate at a wizarding academy; with a British man whose character went to party with my character in Studio 54; and with a Swede who strangled me - a corrupt guard at a royal court. Of course only as part of the role play.

The experiences we have with a LARP are no less real to us just because the situations are fictional. These role-playing games give us the opportunity to forget everyday problems. Even if the games are fictional, we can incorporate the experiences we have while playing into our everyday lives. We are all still in contact and speak to each other regularly. That's why I spend a lot of money every year on trips to the events. I'm not doing this primarily to escape reality. I do it mainly to see old friends again and to make new ones.

Sometimes I feel like I'm a pretty bad friend. I like to be around people, I love my circle of friends, but I also like to be alone. I would rather play some video game for hours to relax than talk to friends on the phone or talk to WhatsApp groups about what's going on in my life. I don't mean that badly. I am interested in what happens to my friends. I'm just not that good at maintaining contact if you haven't seen each other in a long time because you live in different cities.

Video games have shown me that I can "do" things with friends even when we're not in the same town - and they made me a better friend.

That changed the first time I played an online co-op game with a friend. For hours we shot through first-person shooters and not only discussed who is using which weapon and who is allowed to pick up the only health potion. No, we also talked about our jobs, our men's stories - everything that happened in our lives. Just like other people do on the phone, except that we shot at pixel opponents on the side and had a lot of fun.

Video games have shown me that I can "do" things with friends even when we're not in the same town - and they made me a better friend.

Starwars has been my passion for 20 years. It all started in 1999 as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came to the cinemas. The children came to school in disguise. One was wearing a helmet that looked like Anakin Skywalker's one in the pod race Episode 1. A buddy gave me the Hasbro version of Darth Maul's double lightsaber.

After that I got deeper and deeper into the world of Starwars employed. At some point I discovered "trooping" for myself - dressing up as a stormtrooper unit Starwars, the soldiers of the galactic empire. Two years ago I finally had a stormtrooper costume built for me. That was my big childhood dream that I was finally able to fulfill.

In times when I wasn't feeling well, I went to "Troops" on my own. In the beginning I had to get warm first, but in the Starwars-Family I am always welcome. There are people from all corners of the "galaxy": students, craftsmen, teachers, educators.

In the meantime I am a member of the "German Garrison", the German association of the world's largest Starwars-Costume clubs with over 10,000 members around the world. I'm excited to be at the Star Wars Convention in Chicago this year.

The experiences I have at the meetings also help me personally. They give me strength in everyday life when I'm kept small, when people find me weird. In trooping, everyone has the chance to be what they want to be, regardless of where they come from or where they stand in life.

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