Pokemon Go and the Mainstream Acceptance of Nerd Culture

Though I’m getting to the age where some of my elementary school memories are (thankfully) starting to fade, one of them sticks out as clear as day. It just took the release of Pokemon Go to fully appreciate it.

In the sixth grade, I made it to my school’s finals of the spelling bee. The top three finishers would move on to our county spelling bee, then if they did well enough, they could eventually move onto the regional, state, and national spelling bee. Sixth grade was the last year you could participate in the spelling bee in my school, so the fact that I made it to the finals was a bit exciting. I was determined to win the school spelling bee — just as I had the geography bee a few months earlier — and qualify for the next round.

As the spelling bee was about to start, our principal was giving introductions and explaining the rules of the contest. While reading through the normal list of rules that we heard in each of our classrooms, he paused to insert an additional rule of his own.

“Just so everyone’s aware, I’m pleased to announce that none of the words in today’s spelling bee will be Pokemon names.”

A cheer went up from the crowd of mostly sixth graders that were watching us compete. While many of the students on stage with me clapped loudly, I sat there with a bewildered look on my face. I knew there wasn’t going to be any Pokemon names in the spelling bee…but why call that out? Why was that really necessary?

On more than one occasion in elementary and middle school, I was bullied. I was a straight A student who was the shortest kid in my grade (guy or girl) up until the eighth grade. I wore hand me down clothes that didn’t fit right or looked like they were out of the 70s and 80s — generally because they were. I shared a house with my own family/stepfamily, as well as another family whose three kids were routinely getting suspended from school. I looked for a way out to escape my day-to-day reality.

From a very young age, that way out became video games. By the time 1998 rolled around, I, like many other kids my age, had gotten caught up in the Pokemon hype wave. I got a green Game Boy Pocket for Christmas the year prior with Monopoly[1] and Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball as a gift. While those games were fun, the allure of a world filled with magical creatures caught my imagination.

My dad ended up getting me Pokemon Blue in early 1999 and I played the game until the cartridge broke. My end game team was almost always the same — Blastoise, Hypno, Dewgong, Fearow, Victreebel, and Jynx — but I loved playing through it no matter what. The Pokemon games really did bring me that escape I was looking for from my childhood.

Back on the spelling bee stage, I recall being flustered and upset that the principal had taken the time to specifically call out the game that I loved playing in an effort to get a cheap cheer. There was no need to do that. I realize that now and I realized it as a kid. Being the first person in the alphabet in the finals, I received the first word, ceiling, and immediately misspelled it. I was eliminated, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get home and play the game that the majority of kids felt the need to cheer against.

Fast forward to 2016, when the augmented reality game, Pokemon Go released. I downloaded the game within minutes of its US release last week, leading to my wife and I running around outside our apartment complex trying to catch our starters. I was surprised the next two days at work to see just how many people were playing Pokemon Go. People who rarely ever played video games had picked up the game and started playing just because it was the cool, hip thing to do.

It was a strange moment for me to see. 18 years earlier, a room full of my peers had cheered that Pokemon would be no where near a spelling bee. Now, there are strangers who would otherwise have nothing in common coming together to play a later, more technologically advanced, version of that same game.

As my wife and I were walking through the park on Saturday trying to catch Pokemon, a kid — probably about sixth grade or so — and his mom were walking their dogs. The kid saw us playing Pokemon and began talking to his mom.

Kid: Why are so many adults playing Pokemon?

Mom: It’s the cool thing to do right now. I’m glad you’re mature enough to not need video games to have fun.

Ignoring for a moment that the mom obviously doesn’t understand the purpose to video games[2], with her comment I began to realize that the very thing that some kids mocked when I was younger had become cool. I’m betting some of those same kids who laughed in the auditorium at the spelling bee were playing Pokemon Go this weekend.

Why wouldn’t they? It’s the cool thing to do. We want nothing more than to be accepted in life. It just happens to be the time where nerd culture has become an accepted part of life. In fact it’s becoming so much that way that you’d be hard pressed to find a component of nerd culture that hasn’t been somewhat integrated into mainstream American culture.

I’d like to think this is a sign that we’re continuing to progress as a society to a point where everyone, regardless of their likes, beliefs, sexuality, religion, or whatever, is accepted the same way. It’s likely not. I know that. But in the interim — until that moment where I’m disproven in my belief — I’m going to continue walking towards lure modules and interacting with strangers, and bonding over sharing our Pokemon adventures.

Book Update #9 – It’s Happening

Hi — Here to find links to buy An Epilogue to Innocence? Click below to buy.

Physical Book: CreateSpace | Amazon
Kindle Book: Amazon

Ladies and gentlemen…ready your Ron Pauls…because it’s happening.

I told you to ready them. You were warned. Image credit: imgur.com

After months[1], my book, An Epilogue to Innocence, finally has a date it’ll be publishing*. On July 10th, 2016, you’ll be able to purchase An Epilogue to Innocence via Amazon and via the Kindle Store. Here’s some details about the sale of the book and what not…but then I want to give out some much needed and incredibly deserved thank yous.

Pricing and Availability

So that little asterisk in the above paragraph is kind of important, as Amazon, CreateSpace, and Kindle work a little bit differently when it comes to pre-orders. While Kindle allows books to be pre-ordered[2], Amazon reserves pre-ordering for their partners, while CreateSpace doesn’t appear to allow it at all. Because of this, there will be an unintentionally staggered release of the book. Here are the details.

CreateSpace StoreAn Epilogue to Innocence launched June 26th and is currently available for sale. You can buy a paperback copy of the book for $7.99.

Amazon.comAn Epilogue to Innocence June 26th and is currently available for sale. You can buy a paperback copy of the book for $7.99.

KindleAn Epilogue to Innocence is available for pre-order and will be delivered by July 10th. You can buy a Kindle copy on its own for $2.99. You can also take advantage of Amazon’s matchbook program which would allow you to get the Kindle copy of the book for an additional $0.99 if you buy the paperback. Those interested in the Matchbook program should see that in the coming days.

International Customers: An Epilogue to Innocence is available via Amazon Europe for €7.09 or £5.59. There are various prices for the Kindle book depending on what country you’re in — I’m still waiting on clarification on this — however I know it’ll be €2.99 or £2.29 for the Euro and Pound, respectively.

For those of you who read this blog and want to help me out, I would encourage you to order from the CreateSpace store rather than Amazon. Why? I make slightly[3] more if the book is purchased from CreateSpace over Amazon. Since my end goal here is the make back the money I spent on editing, every dollar helps. If I can make more than that, amazing.

Signed Copies: For now, there won’t be signed copies of the book. There really wasn’t an interest in them from any of the channels I asked on[4]. If there’s an interest at some point in the future, I might sign some copies for those interested[5]. For now though, no.

Thank Yous

So I devoted a few pages of my book to thanking people for what they’ve done in the process of writing this book. With that said, I wanted to take part of this post and call out a few people who have had a particular impact on the process of getting this book from an unorganized set of stories to a published book. Without further ado, thank you to…

  • …Erin for being the first person to recognize that my writing and storytelling ability was worth more than just the therapeutic value I personally put towards it.
  • Amanda and Jen for exposing me to the publishing process they each went through when writing their books, inspiring me to do the same.
  • Kat for introducing me to a publishing contact, then becoming an invaluable resource in getting my book self-published when my publisher went out of business.
  • …Chris for doing a wonderful job in the editing process and Brandon for the exceptional cover art.
  • Samantha and my wife for their assistance in fine-tooth comb editing and improving wording of my writing.
  • …and to the various people who were kind enough to write reviews for me as part of the book launch process including, but not limited to[6], Samantha, Stephanie, Tabitha, Amanda, Mike, Tim, Karina, Brittany, Eve, Kat, Kelli, and Erin. I‘ll link their reviews here as they’re posted, as well as linking them on the book’s Facebook page.

If you would like to review the book yourself after you read it, I would encourage you to do so both on the Amazon page as well as the book’s Goodreads page. This is a really exciting time for me…thank you to everyone willing to share it with me.

Book Update #8 – Help Me Set A Price

Hi — Here to find links to buy An Epilogue to Innocence? Click below to buy.

Physical Book: CreateSpace | Amazon
Kindle Book: Amazon

Hi again.

In the last three weeks, there’s been a good bit of progress on my book moving towards publishing. Here’s everything that’s happened since June 3rd.

  • June 3 – Received the first proof copy of my book.
  • June 3 – My wife did a full proofreading edit of the book.
  • June 4 – I completed my first and second proofreading edits of the book.
  • June 6 – I completed my third edit of the book.
  • June 16 – The second proof copy of my book arrived here.
  • June 18 – I completed my fourth edit of the book.
  • June 20 – I completed my fifth edit of the book.

Here we are on June 21. I’m working on my sixth (and hopefully final) edit of the book over the next couple of days. I’ll submit the proof to CreateSpace for final review[1] at that point…

…and then things have the potential to get real whirlwind-like real quick.

At that point, I think the next thing coming will be that I’ll be asking some of you for reviews of my book. Hopefully there’ll be some great reviews — or at the very least, some good reviews — coming from you wonderful people. And then, not too long in the future after that, I’ll be able to sell my book.

That’s where I need help from you all. I’m curious what you guys think the price for my book should be. I have a range I’m thinking of in my head that I’ll share in a coming post. I’ve asked numerous people what they’d pay for a paperback copy of my book. That said, I’ve gotten quite a wide range of prices that have been thrown my way…to the point where I’d have no idea where to start pricing it.

So…to readers of this blog: what would you recommend as a cost for a paperback copy of my book? What about a Kindle copy? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

By the way…if you’re interested in writing a review of An Epilogue to Innocence in anticipation of its publishing date, let me know. I’m hoping to line up reviewers to publish some reviews in the near future.

For those curious as to additional specifics about the book, here are the most common questions I’ve gotten so far and their answers.

  • How many pages is the book?
    • It’s going to be around 130 pages[2].
  • What kind of book is it?
    • It’s a book of dark, fiction short stories.
  • Will you be selling signed copies?
    • I hadn’t planned on it, but I’ve had five people ask me this in the last two weeks. So…maybe? If you’re interested, let me know.
  • You’ve talked about how you want to make enough money to cover editing costs. How many copies do you need to sell to do that?
    • Depends on what I set the price at. I’m going to estimate 75-100 copies, however that’s too be determined.
  • How can I help you be awesome?
    • Stay tuned for the next post. All those details will be coming then.

Book Update #7 – The Proof is (Almost) in the Pudding

Hi — Here to find links to buy An Epilogue to Innocence? Click below to buy.

Physical Book: CreateSpace | Amazon
Kindle Book: Amazon

It’s the first day of June[1] — aka exactly a month since my last book update — and I’ve got another one ready for the handful of you who are still sticking around wanting to know more about it. To be more specific, I have quite a few things to give updates on.

As I said in my last post, my publisher went out of business and therefore I planned to go the self-publishing route. Thanks largely to the help of Kat Argo from A Red Rover, I’m moving along pretty quickly in the self-publishing process. Kat made some edits to my existing cover to allow it to fit to CreateSpace’s publishing guidelines, leaving me with the artwork below.

An Epilogue to Innocence New Cover

It’s not a drastic departure from the old cover options, however it’s a noticeable change. I’m really excited to see it on the cover of a physical book…and that’s happening soon too. As part of the editing process, my book was approved by CreateSpace’s formatting team, meaning I’m now on the stage where I’ll be reviewing a physical proof of the book. The proof should be to me sometime in the next two weeks[2] so I’ll be sure to announce to all of you when that happens. Granted, at that point I’ll be messing up this wonderfully pristine first hard copy of my own book with red pen, but the end result should be worth it.

I feel like we’re in the home stretch at this point. While I don’t have a finalized date for publishing of the book yet, I’d hope having that date set isn’t too far off now. I’ve also started a Facebook page for the book. There’s not much there right now, however if you lovely readers could go support it, that would be wonderful.

This also means that we’re getting close to the point where I may reach out to some of you who have offered help/support/whatever for marketing the book to be ready to do so. I’d love to get some reviews of the book up on Amazon shortly after it publishes, so if you’re still interested writing one, please let me know. I’ll see what I can do about making sure you have a copy. To the two of you I owe free books to[3], I haven’t forgotten about you either. Those will be taken care of as we get closer to the publishing date as well.

I really want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has stuck around throughout this entire process. The numbers have dwindled, I know. But I really appreciate the support of those of you loyal enough to stick with me through what has been an incredibly difficult process. The end looks like it’s in sight, even if it is a little ways off.

The Child (Sort of) Without Television

Note: The following is a post that was originally written for the blog Pines and Palmettos. Check out Brittany’s blog here and follow her on Twitter here.

I’m not to the point where I’m having kids yet. I’m really okay with that. I have friends and family members who have kids and while I enjoy being around those kids (at least for the most part), there’s things I’m definitely not comfortable with as a potential parent yet. Whether it be the cost of raising a child, the prospect of losing the extremely little free time I do have, or just the simple annoyance of people saying your baby is cute when it’s really not, there’s a lot of aspects of raising a kid I’m just not ready for at this moment in my life.

One strange thing I’m not sure if I’m ready for as a potential parent is the explosion of television that would surely happen in my household if there were a child around. I have a niece who is a toddler that loves watching television. Which is fine. I mean, watching the same movies over and over gets annoying – The Land Before Time films weren’t that good when I was a child, let alone when you have to watch them repeatedly as an adult – but all in all at least the child has the potential to learn from television.

As a child, I really didn’t have much exposure to television at home. While we had a TV around, screen time was limited for most of my childhood. Both my mom and dad (my parents were divorced, so separate households) strongly preferred my brother and I played outside to being inside, and when we were watching television, they had control over what was on TV at all times. Watching TV with my dad wasn’t so bad, as he tended to mix content between cartoons, James Bond films, and history documentaries. Watching with my mom meant that a lot of biblical stories, ’60s Westerns, and old timey musicals were on, so I usually just went back outside to play more.

There was a gap though – roughly from the age of 7 to the age of 14 – that the TV was almost never on. At my dad’s, it was because we generally didn’t have cable or electricity at a given time (sometimes both), and at my mom’s it was because we were required to read the Bible for an hour a day before we did anything else (and even then, chores came next). At the peak age where most children watch television, I spent most of my time reading, playing outside, or practicing my trumpet. I can’t fully fathom a potential child not having at least some of that same experience.

On one hand, I recognize that the previous sentence makes me sound like an old person who is out of touch with the realities of a rapidly changing, technologically advancing world. After all, I’m typing this blog post out on my work computer while my iPad beside me auto-plays a game, my person computer plays Crash Course World History, and I occasionally check my phone for texts from my friends. It’s a bit hypocritical to not give children access to better technologies than you had access to as a child, particularly when you use those same technologies heavily in your day-to-day life.

On the other hand, I also recognize that one of the most responsible actions you can take as a parent is to diversify your child’s upbringing as much as you possibly can. Surrounding your child with people of different cultures, faiths, beliefs, and opinions allows them to not only learn that the world is a complex place with many different types of individuals, but it also allows them to avoid the narrow-minded opinions and belief systems that can hamstring their personal, social, and intellectual development as they grow.

On top of all that, there has been an explosion of great educational content – both for children and adults – over the last 5-10 years. You’re no longer required as a parent to watch Frozen 45 times in a weekend because it’s the only thing safe for your child to watch. Though you might still…and I’m very, very sorry for you if that happens. But the technology and content is out there to raise our children to be more intelligent, compassionate, and accepting human beings, all well before they start school. We should take advantage of that whenever we have the opportunity. Even me, once I decide I’m at that stage of life.