top of page

The History of the Geeks

female reading comic book
Female reading comic book.

Growing up I always asked myself the simple question; what is a geek? Aside from the

stereotypes we see on television it makes sense to go across the years of history, and even

anthropology to see what tribes have to do with this concept. As a college student and a person that has worked in conventions for years this is going to be a fun deep dive to show.

The word geek has an interesting history as the work ‘geck’ was used to describe a person that was considered a fool or idiot in old British times. This term was created in 1510 and soon was also used as a word like ‘carnival’. As we all know there are carnivals with comedy acts and animals, so early ‘geck’ became more of an entertainment term. Kind of matches with our views in the modern age, isn’t that odd?

In modern times, more specifically the 1950’s, the term ‘geek’ was created by older siblings to their younger siblings to describe how boring one could be. This also could be translated to ‘square,’ and this term is also used in famous music as well. As time went on the word took on the meaning of someone that had non-conventional views of the world around them, and Star Trek in the 1960’s was the biggest example of the modern age. Before Star Trek there were book nerds for Sherlock Holmes, and that also created the first fanfictions and petitions to keep a character alive after a book was made. Arthur Conan Doyle was a busy man with all these fans, and that wasn’t a common occurrence in 1887.

Keeping this in mind we can consider something anthropological about this rise of the non-

conventional; this created tribes again. According to a philosopher named Daniel Quinn this is called ‘new tribalism.’ This occurrence often has openness, cooperation, and egalitarianism. This means the world of the geeks of different types are all helpful to each other’s success and then it creates a society that will allow growth and adaptation. From SCA to MMORPG culture, the concept of the growth and help that the tribes like this create is always important to other parts of life.

A big debate is how MMORPGs can cause issues with the youth of the generations in the times. Maintaining a guild is equal to managing employees some studies have said over the years, and being part of this hierarchy is important to show who is the head of a department. The ‘raids’ leader, and others to be the basic members of the group that help maintain the guild bank supplies. The youth of this video game media are learning skills to help them get jobs in the future. Sometimes being a geek is detail oriented; collecting comics and knowing what era and how they relate to the world around fandom, learning turn based combat and numbers with D&D, or even fighting with armor at SCA events.

The world of geeks is complex and not just the entertainment we see on television or in bad

news articles. All of us are geeks in the end and we sometimes don’t fit the boxes, and that is

what makes us all unique. Image courtesy of Drante


bottom of page