I'm a nerd.
For those of you just tuning in who may doubt this, let me paint a picture for you. My "credentials", if you will. When you walk in my apartment, my gaming books (ranging from the most recent iteration of Mage to 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons) are in plain view in my living room. Next to those books, an old Crown Royal bag is filled to capacity with dice of every variety. A gamecube and a playstation 2 sit under my TV, accompanied by a veritable mountain of video games. The "throw blanket" adorning my couch has Spiderman on it. So do the other blanket next to my bed, my toothbrush, and even one of my ties. I have the entire Star Wars series on DVD, as well as the full Lord of the Rings series and the entirety of "Batman: the Animated Series". In the bedroom, there's a shelf that stands 3 and a half feet tall which is filled entirely with fantasy books.
The point of that exhaustive description was to show that I've really plumbed the depths of dork-dom. Comics, video games, table top games, movies, larp... I've really done it all.
I work in a profession where gamers are scarce. I'm one of the few "openly gamer" legal people that I know. As such, I find myself constantly put upon to defend my lifestyle against people that view it as a sickness.
Unfortunately, way too many gamers prove the stereotype entirely accurate and make that job a lot harder. Therefore, I've come up with following mandates for nerd-kind. Please realize that these are directed at some of the examples I've seen, and not really anyone on this list. Y'all are part of the same revolutionary "non-stereotypical gamer" movement that I am. As such, you can commiserate with what I'm saying, which is really all that I want.
But I had to write this SOMEWHERE because I'd get arrested if I just went to Mega-con with a bullhorn and a dream.
1. Bathe - For Christ's sake, bathe. We don't live in Bosnia and you fuckers certainly don't spend most if your time in the wilderness. Showers are plentiful. I just don't understand why this problem keeps popping up. Bathing is FUN. Hot water is relaxing. It's a time of the day when you're reasonably certain not to get bothered by the screaming masses! How rare are those times anyway? I get irritable if I'm not clean. It's an extremely beneficial habit.
God knows how many guys have turned to the alternate reality of gaming because women weren't readily available. Ignoring hygiene won't help this. Allow me to reveal a secret that woman-kind has kept close to their breast for time untold: Chicks are more likely to touch your wing-wong if you don't smell like stale Cheez-its. It's true. Just ask ANY woman on this list. I suspect they won't even get mad at me for revealing this ancient secret, because it is beneficial to all parties.
For some reason, there's a lot of idiots out there that think their gaming habit is so demanding that they don't have time to grab a couple showers every day. In short... THEY'RE WRONG. If I smell like sweaty man-funk, that elder red dragon can fucking WAIT TEN MINUTES.
2. Exercise - Not everyone has to look like the just walked off the set of 300, but c'mon, now. A little physical activity is not fatal. For some reason, a lot of gamers in high school had to polarize themselves from jocks and, as a result, totally abhorred any form of physical activity. I'm here to tell you-- regular physical stimulation will not automatically turn you into a football-gnawing cretin without a saving throw. Regular physical activity helps with emotional health AND gives you more energy to use for gaming purposes.
And to reveal another secret of women (I know, they're probably sending their ninjas after me by now), women are ALSO more likely to touch your wing-wong if you can SEE your wing-wong.
3. Broaden Your Conversational Horizons - Yes, I've had conversations about Starcraft that lasted five hours. They were great. However, to someone who doesn't play Starcraft, those conversations were probably about as enjoyable as a penis rudely thrust in their ear (aural sex). Inevitably, you may find yourself in a situation where a non-gamer wants to exchange words. I've seen too many people who conversationally ham-strung themselves around norms by their inability to talk about anything but gaming. Reading a newspaper or a best-seller, or perhaps following some kind of sport will not magically incinerate all your precious "nerd cred". It will make you more informed and give you the ability to interact with the 95% of the world who are not Nerdus Americanus. (On a totally dorkish note, this superior knowledge of the real world also tends to make better dungeon masters and story tellers.)
4. Attain manners - When I meet new gamers, do you know what my biggest turn off is? People with no manners. "Excuse me" and "please" grease a lot of wheels. Asking permission before raiding someone's fridge or using their bathroom are common usage, even though they're probably okay with it. That recognition of personal space and authority do wonders for the difficult task of getting along with your fellow man. Occasionally picking up the check at dinner is a gesture that will not go unappreciated or forgotten. And if you're on the receiving end of that generosity, "thank you" is the appropriate response.
These little niceties may seem unimportant or "wussy", but they aren't. They'll vastly improve the quality if your interaction with others.
5. Be willing to befriend people who can't rattle off every X-man - Another big irritation for me is people who firmly believe friendships / relationships can't work unless both parties are nerds. There are a lot of good people in the world, people who would improve your quality of life, who have never cracked open a single comic book. God knows how many positive things I've cheated myself out of by avoiding "non-nerdial" associations. Don't make that same mistake. It's true that doing this will put you in the position I'm in, where you'll have to defend your lifestyle to others who aren't familiar with it, but that irritation is worth the reward of having more people in your life.
As I said above, I'm a nerd to the hilt. The advice above applies to me as much as it does any other nerd, and I often don't live up to the very advice I give. But I've also got a college degree and in a few months, a law degree. I'm ranked in a martial art and I speak three languages. I'm a published writer. I've tried jury trials. I've been in a committed relationship for over five years. I absolutely, categorically, and fully refuse to be treated as less of a person, as having lived less of a life, because I enjoy comic books, movies, and role-playing games. I find the prejudice against nerds odious and, as many of my friendships prove, mostly erroneous.
I hate that I've had to get good at defending my lifestyle, whereas a football or camping afficionado can get by in daily life without comment. That hatred is only intensified when I see people who are more than happy to embrace those stereotypes and help them perpetuate, all the while feeling the effects of the very prejudice they help sustain.