Geek Economics

by Shawn Lampron

I’m going to make a broad and unsubstantiated assumption that geeks are, in general, more successful than the average American.  I lack any statistics to back this claim, but I’ll resort to common sense.  Most people I know that fall within the “geek” mold tend to be more educated.  While many may fall into the liberal arts area, a college degree is still a college degree, and more education equals more money nine times out of ten.  Thus, appealing to a geek can ensure a substantial contribution of their income to whatever you’re selling.  Thus, we have the explanation for the United States’ recent “geek chic” movement.  Suddenly, it’s “cool” to like Star Wars, Star Trek and comics.

However, is this all it’s cracked up to be.  Aside from the social awkwardness of people who used to pick on geeks claiming they’re comic fans and watching gobs of Marvel movies, there is the question of money.  How much does it really cost to be a traditional “geek”?  Let’s look at an annual perspective.


Let’s start with the gear.  You’re going to need a computer to rock those video games, play your illegally begotten mp3s, and search for the occasional adult material late at night when wife/girlfriend/mom thinks you’re doing writing for some web site.  We’ll give you a decent gaming console.  You’ll also need fast cable access, a video game console, and a somewhat steady diet of games.  Given that games are going for $50-$60 a pop, let’s just say you buy one every three months. 

Geek Tally: $1,000 for comp + $720 for cable + $400 for console and extras +$200 for games= $2320


Ah, you’re a comic geek like myself and can’t live without a steady stream.  Even worse, you may be a collector.  Your pull list may average a conservative $20 a week, a bargain considering regular books average a cool $2.99.  Maybe you spend an average of only $300 a year on ebay purchases/small cons.

Geek Tally: $1,040 for pull list +$300 for back issues= $1,340


A little film geek running through your veins?  Picking up a DVD every week or two isn’t bad, is it?  Let’s say an average of $40 a month on DVDs.  Hell, that’s not bad.  We’re even assuming your DVD player won’t crap the bed, you don’t have a Blu-Ray, and you’re not plunking down $50 for Voltron Season 2.  Then, you have to go to the movies once or twice a month to see the newest geeky venture. 

Geek Tally: $480 for DVDs + $240 for movies = $720

Given that my wife and I will be going down to one measly teacher’s income in the fall so I can attend law school, I became a ill when I started crunching these numbers, the cost of being a geek.  With just these basic feathers in my geek cap, I’m looking at $4,380, and that’s with some very conservative math.  Are geeks just more victims of rampant consumerism?