It's probably not wise to be a jerk to Felicia Day
Felicia Day at Spike TV's Video Game Awards show last December.
July 2nd, 2012
06:14 PM ET

It's probably not wise to be a jerk to Felicia Day

There's an old adage that says, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Not everyone takes that to heart.

Early this weekend, Ryan Perez –a blogger who was a contributor to gaming hub Destructoid - decided to pick a bone with geek culture icon Felicia Day via Twitter. He questioned whether or not Day made any contribution to the gaming industry other than cultivating a geeky persona. He suggested she was a glorified "booth babe."

That was a mistake.

Aside from being a successful web content producer, a Forbes-recognized entrepreneur (they called her a mogul in the making) and an actress with a resume steeped in Joss Whedon productions, Day has some pretty influential buddies. Gaming podcaster Veronica Belmont saw Perez's tweet and quickly came to her friend's defense. Nerd celebrity, Day's costar on "The Guild" and "Eureka" and Star Trek alum Wil Wheaton also weighed in. The Twitterverse got fairly heated in response to Perez's posts.

Within a few hours of his tweets, Destructoid publicly cut ties with Perez. Perez apologized to Day, who accepted.

But that's hardly settled anything. Clearly, this young journalist's callous online spouting hit some nerves, especially in a time when there is great gender inequity in gaming relations. The loudest outcry from those following the dramatic exchange regarded Perez's attitude toward women. As someone who had "I love the smell of busty women" in his twitter bio at one point - he's updated it since the Tweetsplosion - Perez's motive for the tirade against Day earned questions of misogyny.

Others wondered why Perez should be fired for expressing his views on his personal Twitter account and where the line should be drawn between a media company protecting its reputation and an individual's right to say whatever they want on their own time and in their own space.

By most accounts, Perez conducted his tweets in a less-than-gentlemanly manner. He defended his comments by explaining he was drunk at the time. His jabs were a rare attack on a woman who has earned accolades from the millions of people who watch "The Guild" and "Geek & Sundry."

What we're left wondering is this: do Perez's tweets indicate that today's male nerd can't treat women as people? Will the boy's club of the gaming landscape ever not grumble when a girl takes the controller?

And also, has Felicia Day become so powerful that no one should dare question her relevance? Destructoid certainly wasn't willing to take that risk. And yet, they gave their platform to Perez in the first place.

What do you think? Give us your take in the comments below.

Word minion or word nerd?
Kate Karp, center, participates in the 2012 Atlanta Open Orthographic Meet.
June 1st, 2012
05:39 PM ET

Word minion or word nerd?

Do the Scripps National Spelling Bee competitors love words? Word nerds have to wonder.

There's something about compulsion, the competitiveness of reading the dictionary every night and only being in it to win it that disturbs writer, editor and self-described word nerd Ed Hall.

Hall is part of a community that derives joy from words — orthology hobbyists who gather for low-stakes, adult spelling bees.

Adult spelling bees, like the one hosted by AARP, the National Adult Spelling Bee in Long Beach, California, and the long-running Atlanta Open Orthographic Meet, are held across the nation.

Some of them look a lot like the Scripps bee, with contestants wearing pinned-on numbers and spelling steadily into a microphone. Others are deliberately more laid back. FULL POST

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That hoodie is not size 'nerd'
Mark Zuckerberg rings the Nasdaq opening bell on Friday.
May 18th, 2012
05:49 PM ET

That hoodie is not size 'nerd'

Fresh-faced 27-year-old Mark Zuckerberg wore a hoodie rather than a shirt and tie to meet with potential investors for Facebook's IPO this week, to the consternation of well-dressed financial analysts everywhere.

With his decidedly casual wardrobe, Zuck has entered the pantheon of great and nerdy technological entrepreneurs, famous in part for the "uniforms" they wore.

Steve Jobs' closets full of black turtlenecks, jeans and sneakers were endearing and disarming. While convenient, it disguised the ambitious genius wearing them. Bill Gates' unkempt hair and safety-style specs helped cement his image as a nerd-terrible just as much as his ubiquitous operating system did. Steve Wozniak's out-of-date-and-frumpy wardrobe from the 1980s and 1990s gave him the air of the lovable wunderkind, jovial and enthusiastic about computers, not necessarily fashion.

And Zuckerberg wears a hooded sweatshirt, riling up the suited financial analysts who would like to control his money. They even called him immature.

In an editorial on, Benjamin Nugent contended that nerds like Zuckerberg have no time to deliberate on their wardrobe because their minds are consumed with their work. Whether it's computer programming or art, Nugent said nerds are so singularly focused that they are unconscious of the visual impression they make. That social machinations like being presentable don't enter their head space - they make spastic movements, have childlike laughs, even dress like homeless people, he said.

Nugent, the author of "American Nerd: The story of my people," said: "He's first and foremost an inventor, a tinkerer in a workshop, a monk in hooded robes. Sales, the bottom line, these are not the things that define me, the hoodie says." It's a savvy hoodie.

I respect Nugent immensely and can vouch for his masterful descriptions of contemporary nerds. I've sought his expertise more than once for Geek Out!, but he misses the mark on this point. FULL POST

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May 11th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

How brainy women think about attachment parenting

Mayim Bialik is an actress, a neuroscientist and an outspoken member of the attachment parenting community. Her take on mothering entered the forefront of the public consciousness with this week’s controversial Time magazine cover featuring a woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old.

Citing her education and admittedly nerdy nature, Bialik said she found attachment parenting and natural childbirth methods preferable to the conventional medical advice she was given as an expectant mother.

"I think the mainstream has been revealed to be a lie to those of us who are nerds," Bialik told Geek Out in March during the tour for her book "Beyond the Sling."

"I think, depending on what kind of nerd or geek you are, there's an analytic and statistic aspect to (your) brain," she said. "When you're used to being prepared to reject conventional wisdom, it leaves you open to learn more." FULL POST

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Leveling-up at the Smithsonian
Images from "Super Mario Brothers 3" are part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "The Art of Video Games" installation.
March 16th, 2012
10:36 PM ET

Leveling-up at the Smithsonian

"The goal is not for us to put a stake in the ground and say ART!" said former Sun Microsystems chief gaming officer and Past Pixels founder Chris Melissinos.

And yet, Melissinos is the guest curator for the Smithsonian American Museum of Art's newest exhibit, "The Art of Video Games." That's right. Video games are now included in the leading art museum in the nation. What else could this mean but ART?

How about legitimacy for an entire generation of gamers who grew up playing 8bit games and weren't taken seriously by the rest of mainstream culture?

"It was intentional," Melissinos said. The medium of video games, after 40 years, is "worthy of examination as an art form," he said. It is also the first reflection of nerd culture within a museum that, Melissinos said, is arguably one of the arbiters of what is art  in the world.  The weight of the Smithsonian's stamp of approval not only starts a cultural dialogue about whether "Pitfall!" is art, but also what devotion to video games actually means. FULL POST

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