With the advent of Pokémon GO and esports gaining mainstream recognition, something beautiful is happening. Nerds are having their moment. A week before Pokémon GO came out, I wore my Pokémon/Where the Wild Things Are mashup shirt. No one said a word.
After Pokémon GO came out, strangers would stop me on the street to talk about my shirt.
These subtle hints in the world that your fellow nerds are out there are fascinating if you pay attention to people’s self-expression. A few months ago, I discovered my contribution to what I call "Nerd Deco" – the subtle gaming or nerd culture references that invite others with similar interests to discuss topics that might not necessarily come up otherwise.
My Contribution To Nerd Culture Is My Cross Stitching
The first time I cross stitched, my friend picked me up at 4:00 on a Friday night to shop for supplies, champagne, and dinner. Fast forward to 5:00 the next morning, and I was still cross stitching 13 hours later.
As a graduate student, most accomplishments are intangible. Even more discouraging, you can’t really see them until you step back years later and realize that you’ve actually done something with your sleepless nights and endless edits.
After teaching myself the craft of cross stitching, I quickly realized that I could come away from binge-watching the latest Orange is the New Black season with some self-designed gaming memorabilia to hang on my wall and show off my gaming enthusiasm.
Very quickly the standard designs you normally see from your grandmother’s craft stock or local crafting store did not do enough to satiate me, and cross stitching was the last thing with which I wanted to be bored.
So, I Started Designing My Own Gaming-Related Patterns
Gaming has always been a highlight in my life. I have fond memories of my family gathered around our projection TV as I beat Bowser in Super Mario World with my eyes closed for the first time on our SNES, or when my sister abandoned her Gameboy Color and I swiftly stole it so I could evolve my Haunter using two copies of Pokemon (one Blue, one Red).
However, I never had the ability to visually portray what it is about games that inspires me until I realized I could cross stitch them using patterns that I’ve created.
There's Something About Making Patterns
The first of these patterns, a rendering of Pallet Town, is available at the end of this article for download. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of it and happy to share it because it represents a spark in my childhood that’s stayed with me throughout the years (and with the advent of Pokémon GO, it seems as though none of us can get enough of Pokémon).
Not only that, but it invites conversation from guests about Pokémon, and those with no interest can still appreciate the hard work that goes into the creation.
Of course, some things in life are disappointing and even games aren't what we expect them to be. The No Man's Sky design was a product of my excitement for the game. Let's just say I still haven't finished stitching it and this parallels my experience with the game.
I'm Creating Cross Stitching Quests For Myself
Moving to a new city for school and enjoying gaming and cross stitching as my favorite past times doesn’t exactly make me the most sociable person in the world.
Socializing as a gamer can be hard. I spent time talking to others in the gaming community and quickly realized how common social anxiety and other issues are among gamers.
Nonetheless, socializing is healthy and building relationships, no matter how difficult, is part of a well-rounded life. So I assigned myself a quest during conversations: listen well enough to find out what makes this person tick, and come away with enough information to be able to cross stitch them something personal.
As silly as it sounds, this quest helped me listen to people.
As I continue to cross stitch and develop my art form, it feels great to come out of a Netflix binge session.
If you'd like to stitch along with me, you can find several free cross stitch patterns from this article (including a Now Loading pattern!) in this Dropbox Folder. Check out more gaming patterns below - all of which are in that folder!
Victoria is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in psychology. If you are interested in purchasing or commissioning a cross stitch kit, designs, or patterns, please contact her at freudianstitch [at] gmail [dot] com, follow her work on Instagram at @freudianstitch, or request an order on the Freudian Stitch Etsy store.