Phila. awards will crown local geek royalty
Michael Licisyn, 27, is a geek.
"I take pride that I can beat the original Legend of Zelda in 90 minutes," said the producer of medical videos who, in his spare time, creates the webisode series, "Living in 8 Bits."
"I've only done it once, but I beat the original Super Mario in under five. I take pride that I can do that. I take pride that I can beat Contra without dying or using the Konami code."
If you know what that last sentence means, congratulations, you're a geek, too.
Licisyn is shortlisted for Best Web TV Show, as part of the first annual Philadelphia Geek Awards.
"Living in 8 Bits" features short, fictional accounts of what would happen if the logic of video games were applied to real life. The low-budget, faux-documentary style shows such incidents such as the mugging of a pedestrian who has infinite life points, and an illegal Pokemon-fighting ring.
Licisyn says fans of the series complain that new webisodes are not posted quickly enough. "I remember being teased all the time because I love Nintendo so much and I wear Nintendo shirts," said Licisyn. "Now, it's like, 'we love it and we want more of that.'"
The titanic influence of Bill Gates, the insatiable global appetite for i-gadgetry, and the ungodly amounts of money to be made putting comic books on the silver screen have taken the social sting out of being called a "geek." Now the Geek Awards, an idea hatched by the creators of the local blog Geekadelphia, intend to solidify geek pride locally.
The awards in 14 categories, including Outstanding Achievement to the Philadelphia Indie Game Scene and Best Local Viral Video, will be announced Friday night at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
To award a geek, one must be able to define what a geek is. It's not a nerd.
"Geek is a positive moniker, nerd is a negative moniker," said Dan Tabor, a contributor to Geekadelphia and the blog Cinedork. "A geek is intellectual and passionate. Above somebody who is just a hobbyist. Very passionate, articulate, and specialized in particular genre. Taking a hobby to the next level."
Fashion turned geek-chic years ago, when it stood mostly for choppy haircuts, horn-rimmed glasses and oddly colored sweaters. But the core of geekdom has been slower to arrive: a deep love for first-generation Nintendo games, an encyclopedic knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons, or the desire to spend a Saturday night developing code.
"I think anytime you have interests outside the mainstream, or are too into something, you're going to be called a geek," said Box Brown, a cartoonist nominated for Outstanding Contribution to Local Comic Art. His comic series, called "Everything Dies," is an earnest exploration of religion from the perspective of an atheist.
"I never really thought of myself as a geek," said Brown. "But I'm happy to be lumped in with the crew that is there."
For a demographic often hyper-focused on specific interests, the Geek Awards are designed to draw people out. Comic book artists, app coders, electronic musicians, and makers of short horror movies may have only tangential common interests, but an event awarding them all could get them talking with each other.
"Even having our name on the roster of an event happening in Philly is absolutely a huge deal to us," said Will Stallwood, 27, co-founder of gaming company called Cipherprime. "There's not really a lot going on in Philly as far as tech. People talk about it a lot, but there really is not that much going on so it's really important to us that we are involved in it."
Stallwood and his partner Dain Saint are nominated for Outstanding Achievement in the Philadelphia Indie Game Scene, for their game "Pulse." Designed specifically for the iPad, the musical rhythm game is both simple and mesmerizing. Saint and Stallwood tested the product in local bars, to see if drunk people could understand and enjoy it. It has been lauded by Apple, MacWorld, and Indie Game Magazine.
"I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I got thrown in a lot of lockers for being a geek," said Saint.
"I did not get thrown in lockers," said Stallwood. "I was very fast."
Check out all the nominees on http://www.phillygeekawards.com/
Support provided by