Nobody Wants to be the “Noob” – A Problem for Nerd Culture

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

This weekend I went to a combat larp for the first time. A combat larp is a live action role playing game with foam weapon/ bean bags as spells combat.

Still confused? Basically a bunch of people dress up as characters or monsters and spend a weekend acting like their character and running around (commonly in the woods) hitting each other with foam swords and throwing little bean bags of bird seed at each other while yelling damage amounts.

I had been to a larp before but not one with active combat. The ones I had gone to had a combat system based on paper rock scissors or card draws. The combat stuff was pretty overwhelming.

While I had a good time overall, the experience highlighted for me an overall problem in nerd culture.

It was hard to be a new player, not just because my character was low level, but also because the introduction course for new players was not terribly thorough. The forums for the game have enough information about the setting as to make it overwhelming and it is difficult to know what is important to know. I frequently felt like I had to apologize for not knowing how things worked. I didn’t want people to think of me as an “annoying noob.” No one was rude to me but I heard other derisive “newbie” related comments.

Anyone who has spent much time around nerd culture knows the attitude I was concerned about. It is hard to spend terms without hearing the term “noob” used as an insult or along with a string of insults. There is often a connotation of stupidity with the term.

Online gaming frequently involves new players being berated if they are not sure what they are doing. People are often not interested in getting the new player up to speed on the game but rather just berate them until the either find someone else to interact with or stop playing entirely.

In other cases, the implication is that the “noob” is somehow not valid as a fan.

There is a sense that if someone isn’t as knowledgeable as you on a particular nerdy topic (comic books, video games, table top rpgs, etc) that you can mock them for it. Call them a noob and act as if they are not worthy of participating in the activity.

Not everyone is hostile to newcomers but it is a prevalent problem in nerd culture and it is a self destructive behavior.

Want more people to play with? Make your activities more accessible to new people.

Want nerd culture to be more accepted? Be more accepting.