Geektown: The Culture of Geekdom in Corvallis

by Justin Bolger

Whether you attend classes and rock the party life, work your yawn-worthy nine-to-five, or simply hide out in dark seclusion, someone you know – possibly a close friend – meets once a week to stand toe-to-toe against fearsome dragons, orcs, and all the like.

Armed with little more than imagination and dice, these heroes are the nerdy among us.

They play table-top games of the most intricate design. This isn’t “Monopoly” or “Life.” We’re talking about getting together for 2-8 hours with a group of friends for a night of epic heroics. It’s like a poker night, but more incredible.

“Gamers come in all shapes and flavors, not just the stereotypical pimply, bespectacled 30-something that still lives in his mom’s basement,” says Gary Brittsan, student at Linn-Benton Community College.

Unlike the 80s, people can proudly claim they are gamers. You can even hear too-pretty-for-life sorority girls saying, “I am such a nerd!” from within the walls of Starbucks – if you listen close enough.

“I’m good friends with a married couple that bought their first home about two years ago and just had their first kid. One is a child therapist and the other is a chemical engineer. They’re both avid gamers. Another friend whom I’ve been gaming with for more than 10 years works in a law office. Another is a photographer for the Gazette-Times,” says Brittsan.

Between a dying stigma and our world of increasing financial woes, geekdom is on the rise.<

It’s a pastime that is both affordable and lasting. With a popular video game like “Call of Duty” or “Gears of War,” your $60 is likely to only keep you going until the next gaming craze sweeps the land.

“You can buy a good game for 50 bucks, and play it forever,” says Matt Ashland, owner of Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics. “Gaming in general is going great. The recession actually helps it.”

Ashland says that he even gets the cool college types who don’t want people to see them coming or going from the shop. They ask for ‘new’ games, like “Settlers of Catan,” “Munchkin,” or “Dominion.” Some of these games have been around for about 15 years, and are just now spreading into norm-culture.

What’s the point? Why do they do it?

“Because it’s a great experience. The games are highly social. It’s face-to-face time with friends, and not to mention the games themselves are worth it,” says Matt Nendel, vocalist and guitarist for Dead Kingmaker.

“Plus it’s an avenue to use my imagination, which I think too many adults neglect as being kid stuff,” says Brittsan.

Corvallis has a rich culture for the world of geekdom. You’ll always be able to find someone to game with if you look in the right places. Perhaps that place is Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics. Maybe it’s Pegasus Games. In any case, it’s out there, and we’ve saved a seat for you.