I have a confession: I am a geek. But it's no big deal. In some way, you probably are, too.
You might not guess it just from looking at me. I don't wear geek-themed clothes, and I'm more easily found at art galleries and concert halls than at cosplay contests or video-game tourneys. Comics and games aren't much of a part of my social world, but they are both important to me. The remarkable thing is that, these days, this is hardly remarkable.
Now, even hipsters and intellectuals are likely to have at least a little geek in them, whether it's a stash of indie comics, a hard drive full of retro games, or a Game of Thrones addiction. Even National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates just started writing Marvel Comics' Black Panther. Science fiction and fantasy worlds that were once cloistered niches have spread out, through popular media, to infiltrate all of our lives. Fandom, the term of art for the love of something geeky, has become so universal that geek culture is basically just culture.
The mainstreaming of fandom is particularly evident in the Triangle right now, as a perfect storm of nerdy events decends. There's GeekCraft Expo, where geek Etsy comes to life, joining forces with Oak City Comicon as Ultimate Geekend. There's the East Coast Game Conference, which features game-design legend Warren Spector. And there are appearances by everyone from sci-fi author Ernest Cline (Ready Player One, Armada) to web-series comedian Felicia Day (The Guild), all of which you'll learn about in the following pages. Unless you're already secretly up to speed on them. It's OK to admit it. After all, we are all geeks now. —Brian Howe