Monday, May 17, 2010

Geek habitat: my room Vs. this girl's room.

First off, let's get the definition out of the way.
"Otaku" simply means "fan."

As gamers, you can often tell a lot by our rooms. I know many gamers who have a single, massive bookshelf in their bedrooms or media rooms dedicated to their games library, or walls plastered with promotional posters for titles from here to 8-bit - but if you were to enter my bedroom, it would not be particularly apparent that I self-identify as a "hardcore gamer."

The first thing you'd think is "would it kill him to clean up a bit?" My computer room is entirely benign, with some nice maps from National Geographic on the walls, and a lovely painting of a crow my mother did. In the bedroom (ignoring the seasons of Futurama, Venture Bros and Harvey Birdman I have on DVD), one could only notice it's a bit nerdy if one is familiar enough with gamer culture to know that the three framed lithographs I have on the walls that promise a better tomorrow are, in fact, propaganda posters from Rapture, or that the city map by the bed is not a map of any real city, but Liberty City.

That's it. There's a TV, a PS3, and a Wii, and their respective controllers. There are no games in sight, there are no anime posters or game figurines - unless you count the origami figure from Heavy Rain - another little bit of the culture only a gamer could identify.

I love my games library, but I love it to the point where I have no choice but to acknowledge how many years and dollars it took to assemble - and so I keep it out of sight, and very secure. My room is geek stealth.

This girl's is not.

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It's a bit like I imagine the room of Ethan from Shortpacked (though she has less toys/figurines). There is no duplicity, there are no pretensions - "I utterly love something of questionable value to society - deal with it," it says. If anything else, one has to respect the wholehearted self-acceptance such a declaration asserts - and the dedication it took to amass such a collection.

Such sights are much more common in Japan, where you can discover entire rooms plastered (from the bedding to the ceiling) with a single anime, manga or video game character in various states of costume or undress. Weird thing about this particular lady's room is she's from Holland.

Cosplaying is hardly freakish behavior amongst oktaku, so a nurse's uniform isn't outtasight, but admit it - that mask is a little creepy, no? She's either (a) hiding a deformity (she's not), (b) worried about catching some horrible virus from you - understandable, in my current condition - or (c) about to perform an invasive operation of some kind.

By the end of the video, though, I rather like that lady. Even though she's essentially just taking inventory of her possessions, a bit of her genuine enthusiasm and affection for the subject matter comes through. I'm sure if I took a camera and did an inventory of my gaming gear, the same manner of love for the media would shine - though I do have the handicap of not being a blond woman.

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...which brings me to this poster. The only reason it's cool to have a poster up of a cartoon woman with her bra coming off and a hand in her underwear is because Otaku Girl From Holland is a woman. If a man were to have that poster up, it would be creeptastic. Because it's on a woman's wall, though, it is sexy.

Or perhaps that's just the kind of self-censoring I should be trying to avoid. I love games. I live and breathe games, but you wouldn't know it from my room. Why not plaster it with images of my affection, and shout my love from the rooftops?

Is it because I'm of an age where I judge such decoration unseemly, or do I legitimately prefer something a little more laid-back, and not so... well, nuts? I'm not dishonest about my pastime - ask what I do for fun, and I'll tell you "I love video games" - so I think it's the latter.

(mess: not pictured)

Here is the desk my grandfather made, supporting my sweet new computer. The Earth at Night map from National Geographic hangs above, and some schedules and phone numbers for work are tacked to the wall by my chair for quick reference.

Easy, comfortable, functional. Aside from the maps, which I just like for aesthetic reasons.

Here's the thing, though: Otaku Girl From Holland and myself are both, assuredly, otaku. We are nuts about our chosen media, and that's the only qualification this club requires - but she has a room that screams this from the rooftops, while mine is more simply the place where I live, which happens to contain gaming tech. I prefer a comfortable living space that actually is a comfortable living space, and not a visual cacophony of posters and figurines.

...and I can't be the only one.

I suppose the conclusion I must come to, here, is that there are nutcases all the world over - and their rooms don't necessarily look like this:

1 comment:

  1. Shit. I was going to say something about her Haruhi shelf not having my favorite Nagato figurine, and then I realized -- the Haruhi shelf is just a Haruhi shelf. As in, it only has Haruhi. Nagato has her own entire shelf. That's dedication.