Nerd Lite™

Nerd Lite

/nərd līt/

Adjective, informal  

A person who has some knowledge of a nerd subject, but not enough to be considered an expert or “super-fan” of the subject.

“I could tell you all of the captains’ names from Star Trek, but I can’t remember the rest of the Enterprise crew. I’m a bit nerd lite when it comes to Star Trek.”


I am definitely a little bit of a nerd. I play Pathfinder every weekend, I basically have the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time memorized, and I religiously follow the release of new horror films. I’m also surrounded by nerds, including my husband who has been playing tabletop roleplaying games since he was a child, a close friend who has an eidetic memory when it comes to fantasy character names and quotes, and my regular GM who listens to H.P. Lovecraft stories to help him sleep.

Well, being surrounded by such huge nerds, I sometimes feel like a fake nerd. But then, when I go back to work and talk about my life, people look at me like I’m the biggest nerd they’ve ever seen. The first time I ever experienced this weird dichotomy was when I went to see “Trek in the Park” in Portland with a friend who has literally seen every Star Trek episode multiple times. I felt like such a wannabe nerd hanging out with her. Well then I went back to work and told my coworker I got to see “Trouble with Tribbles” performed live over the weekend. She didn’t know what tribbles were, which was so strange to me. To me, tribbles are like culturally iconic. Even non-Trekkies know what a tribble is, but then I had to explain it to her. I felt like a huge nerd.  

That’s when I came up with the term nerd lite. I’m definitely a nerd, but when it comes to some topics I’m not a “huge” nerd. I’m still a nerd, but with fewer calories. Nerd lite.

There are lots of things I’m nerd lite about besides Star Trek, including Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and H.P. Lovecraft to name just a few. Some of these things I picked up just because they’re such an integral part of our culture while others I picked up from my friends who are serious nerds. Sometimes nerdy things are like colds, you can’t help but pick them up when in proximity with someone who has it.

Unfortunately, we live in an age full of elitist nerds who will try to make people feel bad for not being nerdy enough. Nerd lite would be an insult to them, as much as nerd used to be in the 80s and 90s.

It was John Green who said, “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is not a good insult at all, like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness”

I love this description and honestly think it defends both the people who are too nerdy and the people who are nerd lite. When someone calls me a fake nerd what they’re saying is, ‘You do not like this thing enough in my opinion,’ which is one hundred percent bullshit.

You are allowed to like a thing as much as you want. You are allowed to like a thing because your friend likes it and you like your friend. You are allowed to only know bits and pieces about a thing and still enjoy it.

And when it comes to being nerd lite, you are allowed to exist in both worlds. There’s no such thing as a hard line between a nerd and a non-nerd. Like many things, nerdiness is on a spectrum and right in the middle of that spectrum is nerd lite.



So you want to be a Dungeon Master?

Over the last few months we have been talking nonstop about Rogue Trader and the campaign you would be running for your friends. I know next to nothing about Warhammer or Rogue Trader, but I’ve been enjoying listening to your story ideas and helping you brainstorm. I love telling stories and creating stories for real people to act out is a new and fun challenge.

Well, today you told me I should run my own tabletop campaign. I quickly responded with a no thank you. While I am a storyteller and it has been SUPER fun talking to you about your campaign, I really don’t think I’d make a good dungeon master. I don’t have the motivation to create a game, much less the patience to run it for a group of people. It sounds like a very quick way to ruin friendships and give yourself a headache.

But not everyone feels the same way, of course. Obviously there are people out there who get a great deal of satisfaction out of building and running games for their friends, otherwise Dungeons and Dragons would have disappeared years ago and it definitely wouldn’t have spawned the thousands of other role playing games on the market today. A game can’t explode in popularity like D&D did without some people out there who really love reading up on tons of rules, creating complex but adaptable plotlines, and wrangling sugared up nerds. I know lots of people who DM. Hell, I married someone who likes to DM.

So what’s the pull? It can’t just be the storytelling aspect. Like I said I love telling stories  and, honestly, running a campaign sounds like hell to me. But it’s obviously heaven to others.

I think it all comes down to how people tap into their creativity. Everyone, well most everyone, likes to be creative, but not everyone likes to express their creativity in the same way. Some people paint, others play music, and I like to write stories. My DM friends also like to write stories, but in a different way.

When I write a story, I start with a concept. Usually, it’s a single scenario that I’ll put my characters in and then, using what I know of the characters, I’ll let them write the story. Basically all of my fiction stories are campaigns, except I get to be the DM and all of the players. And I like it that way honestly. I’m an introvert by nature and I like writing my stories by myself. I’ll let other people in when they’re done, but they definitely don’t get to be there during the creation process.

Well people who like to DM like to write stories just like I do, except they like involving other people in their creation process. Some people like creating in groups, which is perfectly fine, just not my cup of tea. Also, allowing people to be a part of your story means the story will be more dynamic and unexpected. There’s also little change for writer’s block. An entire group of people can’t get writer’s block at the same time.

However, as appealing as that sounds, I’m not running a game any time soon. I am the textbook definition of an introvert. I can barely play in a D&D campaign, much less run one. But at least I understand where the motivation to be a DM comes from.