YouTube celebrates geekdom with Geek Week in Pittsburgh

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It's cool to be a geek -- for now.

We are in the golden age of geekdom, where it is fashionable to wear comic T-shirts, thanks to the CBS hit comedy "The Big Bang Theory," and trendy to like superheroes because of "The Avengers."

There is one place where these zealous fans of science, sci-fi, comics, fantasy, superheroes and gaming can create content and share their obsession with the world for free -- YouTube.

YouTube promo touts Geek Week

YouTube is throwing its first Geek Week, a programming event from Aug. 4-10. (Promo courtesy of Youtube; 8/2/2013)

With more than half of its top 20 nonmusic channels dedicated to geek culture, YouTube is throwing its first Geek Week, a programming event from Sunday through Aug. 10, with each day themed and hosted by different YouTube personalities.

The event will showcase more than 100 popular channels, unveil new videos and trailers such as Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World" on Super Wednesday.

If today is the golden age of geekdom, then Pittsburgh is the geek acropolis with its zombie fame from "Night of the Living Dead," its Anthrocon or Furries Convention, Pittsburgh Comicon and Steel City Con. It's also home of the ToonSeum (one of three museums in the country devoted exclusively to the cartoon arts), the world headquarters of the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association (in Scott) and "Classic Game Room" review show.

Pittsburgh "is a hub for retro gaming," said Mark Bussler, executive producer of "Classic Game Room," which has a YouTube channel and website.

Mr. Bussler is planning to open a new studio for his growing show and retro video game collection. "Classic Game Room" is one of the world's biggest modern and retro video game review shows, started before YouTube took off in 2006.


"Classic Game Room" reviews




"Geek culture is a term that has become marketable," said Mr. Bussler of Oakmont.

"Video games are not like they were 30 years ago. Everybody plays games now."

His show has almost 300,000 subscribers at www.youtube.com/classicgameroom.

"Even if something isn't terribly popular, you are still going to get tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people together on the Internet to talk about something, and they are frequently very passionate and will spend money on it," he said. "And, obviously, who wants to let the kid inside of them go?"

YouTube will have Gaming Thursday with game-inspired original series and live play-throughs. Mr. Bussler does fully edited video reviews, and for him, Geek Week isn't a concern.

"If YouTube hosts a Geek Week, and we get a few more subscribers because of it, that's great, but there are also millions of other people out there who are probably going to be trying to work that to their advantage as well," he said. "The Internet is so congested right now. It's always better just to work with your audience and deliver what they want rather than what one of YouTube's weeks might want."

Within the wide definition of geeks as fans of popular culture and video games, they can also be curious. With countless how-to videos on YouTube, the website boasts being the world's biggest platform for learning.

YouTube's Brainiac Tuesday is a testament to that as the two channels that will host this day are science related. "Veritasium" is a science video blog featuring experiments, expert interviews and science discussions. "The Spangler Effect" features Steve Spangler, a science teacher who finds creative ways to make learning fun.

Many of these channels have found a "sweet spot" -- a combination of education and entertainment to make their videos go viral, said Drew Davidson, acting director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

For some local geeks, as it goes with anything in popular culture, when something is in the spotlight for too long, it can become too mainstream.

"[Geek] is like a word like hipster now where it doesn't really mean anything," said Kristin Ross, 35, of McKeesport. She has been to 12 Pittsburgh Comicons. The next one will be Sept. 27-29 at the Monroeville Convention Center.

"Everybody is a geek about something," she said.

Here are the themed days for Geek Week:

Blockbuster Sunday: A celebration of the iconic characters, movies and shows that define geek culture -- plus a spotlight on the best original YouTube sci-fi, fantasy and animation. Hosted by FreddieW.

Global Geekery Monday: Anime from Tokyo, comic-book heroes from Delhi and a celebration of Doctor Who. Explore geek culture from around the world. Hosted by YOMYOMF (Asian-American pop culture channel).

Brainiac Tuesday: Science, education and knowledge channels that make YouTube the world's biggest platform for learning. Hosted by "Veritasium" and "The Spangler Effect."

Super Wednesday: From hilarious parodies to real-life super-powers, explore superheroes, the supernatural and the super-weird. Plus, released exclusively for Geek Week, the trailer for Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World." Hosted by Stan Lee's World of Heroes.

Gaming Thursday: A gamers' paradise, with live play-throughs, videogames in real life, game-inspired original series and much more. Hosted by Machinima and Maker Studios' Polaris.

Fan Friday: Sci-fi-themed cooking, incredible cosplay and impassioned nerd debates as YouTube's biggest fans take center stage. Hosted by Geek & Sundry.

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Marina Weis: 412-263-1889 or mweis@post-gazette.com.


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