T went to one of those small colleges that generally tolerated everything, where a spirit of inclusiveness was hammered into you. There was a club on campus called AOKP, or the Artorian Order of the Knights of Pendragon, which was a closed-doors sort of group, except for late nights, when members would take over the grassy quad near the language building and spar with foam swords while wearing tunics. I'd walk by them after playing the video game 007: Agent Under Fire for five hours and think, Wow, what a bunch of nerds.
I hadn't thought about AOKP for years until I attended MystiCon, a science-fiction, fantasy and horror convention in Roanoke aimed at dragon enthusiasts, zombie experts, vampire buffs, steampunk devotees and space opera nuts. When I arrived, people were gathering at midnight for a seance in Room 438.
In the past decade, conventions aimed at the traditional nerd/geek demographic (gamers and comic and anime collectors) have bloomed exponentially. PAX East, a gaming con in Boston, had 75,000 paid attendees for its blitz of games last month. Comic-Con International, the well-known industry event at the San Diego Convention Center first held in 1970, is expected to draw more than 130,000 people in July.