Cool Stuff & Geekery

Where Are the UK’s Geeks Hiding?

What is a geek and where do you find them?

It seems like a straightforward question, but ‘geek’ is a great divider of a word. Geeks and non-geeks alike are split on whether it is an insult or a compliment, and to be fair it probably depends on the tone in which it is used.

Non-geeks also tend to muddle the words geek, nerd, and dork. They use them interchangeably to describe people who – shall we say – pay closer attention to detail than regular civilians. But if you consider yourself to be a geek, you need to be pretty certain of your definition if you want to end up in the same places as fellow geeks – and not the godforsaken lairs where nerds and dorks dwell.

The fine people (geeks, dare we assume?) over at OnStride have clarified their stance on the definition of “geek” (with a little help from Urban Dictionary):

“a geek is a nerd with a social life; they may obsess over one particular passion such as gaming, genre fiction, or comics, but they’ll make time to explore it with the geek community rather than nerd out on study books alone at home.”

They’ve used this definition as the basis to answer the second part of our opening question: where to find geeks in the wild? Specifically, in the wilds of the UK?

The team chose 20 of the most important cities in the land and subjected them to the kind of in-depth analysis that you would expect of an endeavour so thoroughly shot through with the spirit of geekdom. Figuring that the most significant agglomerations of geeks would be found in the comic book stores, video game stores, comic cons, and similar venues and events, they counted how many of each of these there were in each of the cities, and duly categorized and charted them.

The results inform us of the geekiest city for each of the identified geeky pastimes, plus a figurative crown for the top-most geeky city of all (we’ll come to that).

For comic cons, for example, you’re best off relocating to Swansea in Wales. Swansea is the 25th largest city in the UK, with a population of just a few hundred thousand – but over the course of its thousand-year history, the town’s geeks have come together to get things happening. There are 0.67 comic cons per 100,000 people, according to OnStride’s research, with much-adored events such as Swansea Comic and Gaming Convention and GeekedFest leading the geeks out west.

The most all-round geeky city in the troubled land of Britain, though, is Aberdeen. Scotland’s third most populous city, and has the highest density of board book shops, second-highest density of comic shops, and third-highest density of book and record shops and comic cons. This is where the geeks are.

But that’s enough chatter – check out the stats and visualizations of this project for a real feeling of the geek landscape of the United Kingdom! Which city will you visit first?

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