Some of us were forged out of pop culture, birthed out of interests that, during a more ancient time, were tagged as “nerdy.” Growing up, we realize that not many people are interested in the lore we consume, or are impressed that we’ve somehow managed to become fluent in Elvish. You’ve seen enough coming-of-age films to know that there’s always some (a lot) of baggage that comes with the “geek” label.
Outside of our social circles, we might not have had the avenue to direct those years of accumulated knowledge about That Thing We Love. There are game shows like Jeopardy with a vast array of categories but require rapid fire answers, quiz bees in school that only ever covered academic topics. Rarely do we encounter a quiz format that puts the spotlight on geek culture and supposed “frivolous” topics. Very few care to answer questions about the color of Batman’s very first Batmobile, or how many films about Dracula have been made.
GeekFight! hosting themed trivia nights in every event
When Underdog hosted its first online Trivia Night, it was heavily inspired by the format of GeekFight! Trivia Nights: injected with massive amounts of references, lore, and featuring a crossover of multiple fandoms. If you haven’t heard of GeekFight!, then it’s about time you did.
In 2009, GeekFight’s founder Paolo Cruz saw the need for a pub trivia night “with unabashedly geeky, fandom-oriented content.” GeekFight was founded with the goal to create a space where you could not only flex your nerd knowledge, but also be surrounded by an equally pop-culture obsessed, nerd-inclined group of people. It was a safe space akin to hiding under bed covers with your favorite book, or gathering during recess with like-minded friends.
“Some of the early regulars compared it to going to mass, weirdly enough, in that it felt like going to a regular celebration with other strangers who nevertheless shared the same general set of tastes and interests (if not values or beliefs),” says Cruz. And perhaps it is, in the way interests are given reverence and respect within the GeekFight!’s space, whether in a pub or online.
Welcome to GeekFight!
Each GeekFight! feels like a lovingly baked meal, where everything is sprinkled with generous helpings of references — just how an avid consumer of the culture would enjoy it. From category names to question formats, GeekFight! has created its unique tone that calls out to anyone with geeky sensibilities. A standard GeekFight! consists of six categories with ten questions under each one, and three categories for the GeekFight!’s they’ve hosted under ECQ. Even in the beginning, GeekFight! would be conducted in pubs, places where people could easily gather and not be reprimanded for using outdoor voices. When GeekFight! allowed its players to have a hand at choosing categories, the number of new participants grew with older regulars pulling in friends who they knew could nail the newer categories.
The founding year saw different changes in the format and question types as well as changes in organizing members. From a roster of a dozen organizing members in 2016, three people became the constants — all conceptualizing questions and categories, and organizing with the venues. Cruz was eventually joined by Dante Gagelonia, a consultant at Puzzled Owl CCEM Co., and Glerren Bangalan, a writer and performer for Deus Sex Machina.
There was no trial run for its first games. “I just went ahead and did it. I think I posted the idea on my FB wall, and I got an enthusiastic response from people, but that was the extent of any market testing,” mentions Cruz.
Before ECQ and the pandemic befell our land, GeekFight! was hosting one quiz night for every week of the month, their venues packed with regulars and newcomers alike.
GeekFight! at Dulo in Poblacion, Makati
Participating in GeekFight! 11 years ago, you would feel the sense of community. Gagelonia says, “when I first started playing in GeekFight! in 2009 I was blown away; there was nothing like it here at the time, and I was super happy with it because of both the game and the community it drew together.”
Bangalan agrees. “Fast forward to 2016, when I was new to our social circles, I basically felt the same thing. Like, “WHAT IS THIS? IS THIS MY PEOPLE? HAVE I FOUND PEOPLE LIKE ME? AND GASP! THEY’RE EVEN BIGGER GEEKS #BLESSED,” she says.
Because its community and geek culture are the foundations of the quiz night, collaboration with its audience and adaptation is always at top priority of the organizing committee. “We like that we’re essentially a cozy little neighborhood activity, as opposed to an aggressive grow-grow-grow event that tries to rake in as many people as it can, because we value retaining that personal touch in our content,” mentions Gagelonia.
Evolution is always welcome. In its years of recalibrating questions and categories, the GeekFight team has seen many changes in the definition of what it is that’s considered, “geeky.”
“It shows how much fandom culture has developed around streaming video,” comments Cruz. “With ships, fics, and memes being built around even stuff that isn’t “traditionally/conventionally” geeky, like Bon Appétit cooking shows,” he adds. The openness and inclusion of different fandoms and interests makes GeekFight, a place where everyone can come and be seen in the best way possible.
“I am pretty happy with our team to be honest, because we all fulfill a unique role. Like a well-rounded D&D party. It also helps that we represent levels of geekery,” says Bangalan of the GeekFight! committee’s dynamic.
“Paolo’s tastes lean towards more niche and hipster things. Dante is a mix of mainstream and niche. While I am the token filthy casual. I also provide more jologs and local flavor because they are old and they are conyo,” she jokes. Since it’s impossible to imbibe all the knowledge about all fandoms and interests everywhere (you can try though, if you really want to), no one geek culture is above the rest and all interests are given consideration. Gatekeeping is not in GeekFight!’s vocabulary.
Much like many industries under lockdown, GeekFight! has been doing its best to keep serving the community that has seen it through the past years. To Cruz, the continuation of GeekFight! Under lockdown has become a bit of a lifeline, their connection to the outside world and to the fans of the trivia night format. It’s evidence that the GeekFight! community lives on sans physical spaces.
Every Thursday at 8PM they host the event on their Facebook page, releasing the categories earlier in the week. Done over Facebook Live and through their special Google Forms, GeekFight! continues to fill their slots of their game nights; geeky minds need reprieve under ECQ after all. Still, the GeekFight! committee continues to look for ways to innovate the experience of their online trivia night’s, all to continue serving their still-growing audience.
For many, GeekFight has become a place to come home to, a place where you can shout out and wear your geek badge proudly. So if you’ve been looking for a space to sun out your interests, and to sharpen your knowledge, GeekFight might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Much like many things that are birthed out of an intense love for somethings, GeekFight feels like a warm welcome, a place at the D&D table or the dog pile at the end of Lord of the Rings. So come to the church of GeekFight, and genuflect before its pantheon of interests, and celebrate the nerd.
Photographs via GeekFight! taken by Dante Gangelonia
Header art by Kitty Jardenil
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