Did you ever wonder how geeks find love despite the often presumptious general belief that they live their lives in the virtual world or wander the endless rows of comic book stores? Eric Smith’s The Geeks Guide to Dating might have the answer and simultaneously offers advice for other social interaction as well.
Insert love coin here
As far as first impressions go, the book of the title is a bit misleading, even if the general structure point in a certain direction. Divided into seven chapters, Smith gives an insight into different stages of interaction with the other sex, or rather levels, because the book reads more like a walkthrough for a game. If this already sounds too geeky, one shouldn’t put the 208-pages long guide away, because as it is often the case, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, although it really has a nice Donkey Kong-inspired one, and the many 8/16-bit games inspired artwork inside is lovely despite its reinforcing the idea of looking at a book suitable for gamers only.
Finding love in another castle of geekdom
It’s true that there are many references to comic books, videogames or other pop culture examples, which are sometimes overwhelming. But despite some inside jokes, the gist of the stories or characters relevant to each topic is explained in an easy-to-understand way to the uninitiated and non-geeks. The tone of voice is just right, finding a good balance between cheeky fun and being serious in… well, serious relationship matters. For those who don’t look for a hetereosexual relationship, this might not be the right book, because its emphasis is on boys/girls and men/women courtships. Still, there are certainly enough pieces of advice to take from it for everyone.
Level with me on this stage of love
What the book succeeds in and makes it interesting not only for people looking for love but also for those who have already found it or simply want to enjoy a good read is that the extremely clever way how Smith uses certain game design ideas for real life situations. As most of the chapter titles indicate (Select Your Character: Your Quest Begins, Boss Level: Advanced Geek Dating), some are borrowed from RPGs or arcade games, while others are from movies (First Contact: The Date! or Beyond Thunderdome: The Day After, and Beyond). What’s especially cool about this idea of levelling up is that it works by giving confidence and strength in certain situations (Never give up, never surrender!) and making people aware of the inner workings of the dating game.
One shouldn’t make the mistake and think of this book as a pick-up-line guide. Smith treats the subject matter of social interaction with respect and never falls back on dull sex jokes or stereotypes (although covering all things MMORPG and social networks can feel alienating to certain people), something which should be applauded, considering how many bad books (or comedians) are out there to sell this image of chauvinistic behavior. No, The Geek’s Guide to Dating achieves something much more profound: It gives advice on how to be open-minded and kind in even the most difficult situations. One can even go so far and say that it makes better persons out of those who listen (or read). Even if it gets a bit too specific about certain outward appearance features (the clothes section being one of the weakest, less fun parts of the book) and too abundant with comic book references, there are enough wisdoms to use in real life outside the dating/relationship realm of comfort.
End credits with a warm and fuzzy feeling
The Geek’s Guide to Dating is a wonderfully written book which should not only be read by people being out of luck with their relationship status, but also by couples to understand each other better. It’s great to see that the book doesn’t stop at the dating stage, but that it takes things even further, providing advice how to keep a relationship going and look at the possibilities of living a life together. Actually, it’s a universal work that (despite its humorous tone) gives people a sense of staying true to themselves but also breaking out of their small world and being more compassionate to each other.
A quick note on a future German version by publisher DuMont Buchverlag due for release on December 10, 2014: Not sure if the quality of translation is as bad as the title suggests, but it will hopefully be better than “A Heart for Nerds: Who they are and how they love” (seriously, that’s what the title says!). But who knows what other culturally-specific changes will be made…
So better get the original one. Oh, and don’t forget to check out Eric Smith’s blog contributions on Geekadelphia that he cofounded, and if you live close or have a chance to visit, Philly (Philadelphia), go to Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual ceremony of the “geek scene” (suitable for “nerds” as well).
If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).
Using one of the Amazon links and buying the products also helps ;).