Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: PAX Prime Edition

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Talking to Strangers: PAX Prime Edition

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to sexy geeks at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle.

BY Marguerite Kennedy

The Penny Arcade Expo is an annual gaming convention that's been held in Washington State since 2004.

Atlus, 27

Are you in a relationship?
I am. Been with my girlfriend for two years. She's the very attractively-dressed witch over there.

At a Harry Potter-themed drinking tournament, that's not narrowing it down. Is your girlfriend a gamer?
She's a game developer for [a well-known studio], so yeah. She's really into it.

What are some of the qualities you appreciate in a woman?
Throw me list of five attributes, and I'll rank them in order of importance.

Okay: great boobs, intelligence, knowledge of string theory, being a gamer, gives good blowjobs.
Being a gamer and boobs are first, because I'm looking for the whole package. Then good blowjobs, then intelligence. String theory, not important at all.

Do you ever think of relationships as like being like a game, as in, you have to "level up" or "score?"
I'm a big fan of ladder theory, but, no. I don't think the rules of gaming apply to real life. Fortunately!

When you're not in Harry Potter robes, what do you do for a living?
I'm a cable technician.

So, as a cable guy, I assume you spend half your time being seduced by hot, scantily-clad ladies who want you to "hook up their cable?" Or has pornography lied to me?
It's lied to you. Although, recently, I had this lady come running out to my truck after me, because she wanted to set me up with her coworker's daughter. It was kind of awkward. My life would make the most boring cable-guy porn. "Once, I went to this lady's house and I… fixed the problem! Oh, yeah!"

Have you ever gone to any extreme measures to woo a lady, or vice-versa?
Vice-versa. My current girlfriend went out of her way to design the buttons for Tri-Wizard Drinking Tournament — which I organized — in order to pursue me. But I was so dumb, I didn't pick up on it. I just assumed she wasn't interested, so I kept saying, "It's cool, no pressure, we can just be friends." I thought she was out of my league, and she was going to "friend zone" me, so I decided to "friend zone" myself.

No woman would make hundreds of buttons for a guy unless she wanted to get under his Slytherin House Robes, if you get what I mean.
I realize that now, but I didn't at the time.

But you finally came to your senses, and asked the lady out?
Yeah, this Tournament marks our two-year anniversary. You could say it's what brought us together. And, as an added bonus, I don't have to worry about buying buttons anymore.

NEXT: "I once dated someone purely for sexual attraction, and he ended up being really into Magic: The Gathering…"

Heather, 28

Are you in a relationship?
Yes, I have a boyfriend. We've been together for about two and a half years.

How did you meet?
We meet at a Geeky Karaoke night, but a mutual friend introduced us.

What do you think are some of the reasons that your relationship works?
I like that he can put up with my occasional anger issues. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but he deals with me in a way that doesn't cause me to go crazy. That's really important to me. That, and we have stuff in common.

Does it matter to you whether a guy is — and I mean this in a totally geek-positive way — as "geeky" as you are?
It's pretty important. It's good to find someone who you share at least some geeky interest with, because then you can do stuff together. But then it's important to also have your own interests.

Would you say that geeks make better boyfriends?
The only people I dated who weren't geeky weren't as nice, and they didn't treat me as well. So, based on my experience, I'd have to say yes. In high school, I tended to hang out with nerds and geeks in our own spot in the back of the lunch room. I dated a lot of those people — not in spite of their nerdiness, but because of it.

There's a stereotype that gamers are very introverted, and don't ever go out or get laid. But based on this crowd, I'm guessing that's not the case.
I'm more of a geek than a gamer — into sci-fi, fantasy, that sort of thing. But gaming, like sci-fi, etc., is a lot more mainstream now than it used to be. When I was a kid, being a geek was more associated with pasty guys with taped-up glasses, so I didn't think of myself as a geek until later. Now, it's okay to be a sexy, social geek. Events like this, where you get to wear costumes, drink, and hang out, have helped change the image.

Can you regale us with any tales of your geek-related hook-ups?
I once dated someone purely for sexual attraction, and he ended up being really into Magic: The Gathering, which isn't my thing. I would go over to his place to hang out with him, but he and his friends would play Magic all night long, and he would just kind of ignore me.

So, he'd rather play a card game than have sex?
Yeah. That didn't last long.

NEXT: "I'm drawn to women who are attractive to me, but who are not necessarily conventionally beautiful…"

Chris, 26

What do you think is more important in a partner: looks, brains, or gaming ability?
I value intelligence over anything else. If a woman's not into gaming? Not overly important. Looks, least important.

Reaaaaally? What if a girl is super-duper-hot — we're talking supermodel hot — but not exactly a genius?
It wouldn't matter. Usually it's more of a turn-off if woman is what you might call "super-hot." I kind of know what my level is, and I'm drawn to women who are attractive to me, but who are not necessarily conventionally beautiful.

Other than intelligence, what qualities do you look for?
I'm a big science nerd, so being into science is a real plus. That, and having similar interests in general.

What's your relationship status?
I'm married — six years now. My wife and I were high-school sweethearts.

Is it a challenge having being with just one person for so long?
We're a bit different, because we're polyamorous. That's amazingly important. It may not be for everyone, but it works really well for us.

How long have you been poly?
About three years now.

What's the hardest part about being in an open relationship?
It's not what you may think. From a guy's perspective, it's harder because you might meet a woman you like and who likes you, but as soon as you say, "I'm married, but it's cool with my wife!" they still won't go out with you. Of course, I'm always completely upfront with anyone I meet and might be interested in — no secrets or deception. But being married makes it harder.

Does your wife have the same problem with potential male partners?
No, it's a lot easier for women. A woman meets a guy she's interested in and she's like, "Hey, wanna go out? My husband's okay with it!" and guys are like, "Sure!" There are exceptions, but as a general rule, guys don't have as much of a problem with what you might call "casual" or non-committed relationships.

Do you each have regular secondaries?
She does, but at the moment I don't.

How did she meet him?
They were also kind of high-school sweethearts.

What do you think are the keys to making an open marriage work?
Communication, honesty, and transparency. You have to constantly make sure that you're both on the same page. But for that matter, I'd say that's the key to any relationship.

Some people say that open relationships can't work because of the jealousy thing. Has jealousy ever been an issue for you?
I think you'd be kidding yourself to expect that you'll never, ever experience a moment of jealousy — even people in "closed" relationships get jealous, with or without good reason. But a lot of what we think of as "jealousy" is really just people's fear of being deceived, i.e., being cheated on, which isn't an issue in an open relationship. Also, if your relationship is strong and honest, then it mitigates the jealousy factor. Like I said, polyamory may not be right for everyone, but it's worked out really well for us.