GEEKS ARE WELCOME AT THIS GATHERING PLACE AT HAVERFORD
By Stephanie Marrie
One rainy night, students from Bryn Mawr College cross the bridge to a small, two-story house next to a soccer field. It is 8 p.m. at the Yarnall House on Haverford College. Tonight’s events revolve around Pokemon, the popular kids show that captured the hearts of these college students when they were little.
Unsurprisingly, there is a huge and noisy crowd. The main hallway separates two rooms, a kitchen and a TV area, both of which are packed. In the kitchen, six young men are playing their 3DS systems simultaneously. There is a picture of Pikachu taped to the wall, with several different paper tails to pin on her. In the hallway, seven others sit on the carpet. They take turns on an old board game based on the show’s second season. In the TV room, the rest of the club members play various mini-games from “Pokémon Stadium 2,” a classic from the Nintendo 64.
After that, two of the four players, one boy and one girl, decide to hold a one-on-one match. Once word gets around that there will be a Pokémon battle, all four floral couches in the TV room quickly fill up with commentators. When the female player picks out her monster, Jynx, the audience is shocked.
“Jynx is the biggest drag-queen,” one onlooker quips. The girl is undeterred, even though her chosen character is beaten easily. She used to play this game with her younger brother, and simply wants relive her most competitive years.
This is the only place on campus where she and other closeted video game enthusiasts can come together to have such fun. It may not have been around for long, but according to those in charge, its history says much about the nature of a geeky community that is part of the Haverford and Bryn Mawr sub-culture.
Yarnell, one of Haverford’s residence halls, become their official place to hang together. It is known — officially and unofficially — as Nerd House.
It is the year before the birth of the Nerd House, and Yarnall’s atmosphere is more sports-oriented. Kamala Codrington has just been admitted into the school. By the next spring, she will become one of the first members to sign up for the Nerd House. At this point, she has only heard stories about the Yarnall House, but apparently only because Lacrosse players live there.
“They stand out because of their rowdiness,” Codrington says of the relationship between the sportsmen and the Department of Residential Life.
After the jocks move out, the place grows quiet. The TV room is empty, save for a few obscure DVDs lying against the plain white walls. One student, Tatiana Hammond, tries to take advantage of this new atmosphere by proposing a sanctuary here. She wants to hold Yoga lessons but, unfortunately, her plan is not accepted. Nothing else happens here for a long time except for the occasional superhero movie night, like Superman or Spiderman.
“Nobody goes to see them,” Hammond sighs. “It’s weird because they were pretty popular when they first came out.”
Jocks and movie buffs, however, are not the only major players on campus. Daniel Plesniak, founder of the Nerd House, is one of the few freshmen who likes to game as a hobby. Although he does not think Haverford College is unaccepting of people like him, he feels that sometimes its acceptance is not enthusiastic. So, he sought to create his own space. Continue reading