Finding that special person can be an intensely personal and sometimes scary process. For many people, meeting someone who shares their interests and appreciates their quirks is difficult, and when some of you're into cosplay or Magic: The Gathering, the pool of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes gets small fairly quickly.
Kenny Dungar and Katie Hatheway met six years ago in the Magic Club on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Katie had never played before and Kenny was the only guy who was willing to take the time and show her how to play.
"The more people play your hobby, the better your hobby is," Kenny says. "Don't be condescending when you're showing someone a game. Be patient, honest, and open."
They saw each other once or twice a year after that, at Geek.Kon in Madison and at No Brand Con in Eau Claire. Last year at Geek.Kon, Kenny invited Katie out to the Essen Haus for some German beer and they really got to know each other. "We talked a lot that night," Katie says with a smile.
Kenny lives in Madison, and Katie still lives in Eau Claire. They email every day, talk to each other on the phone a few times a week, and see each other in person two or three times a month. It's obvious from being with them that they really care about each other. They both radiate nerd love from the toes of their matching black Converse All-Stars to the tops of their bespectacled heads.
Kenny and Katie moderated a panel on geek dating at last weekend's Geek.Kon. They briefly told their story and then invited questions and discussion from the audience. Topics included where to meet girls and how to deal with potential bumps in a relationship (one person playing a game the other person despises, for example). Throughout the panel, Kenny and Katie were professional, inviting and friendly, and they gave some great advice. Everyone at the panel seemed to agree that the best game for beginner geeks is "Dominion," a card game where players build a kingdom and compete with each other for land and goods.
Where can geeks in Madison find other geeks to befriend and perhaps date? Kenny suggests three game stores in town: Pegasus Games (on Odana), Misty Mountain Games (on Cottage Grove and South Park), and Netherworld Games (on West Mifflin). These stores have game nights every week where new players can learn about games like Magic: The Gathering and Settlers of Catan.
Katie offers one last piece of geek advice: "Remember, the girls are just as nervous as the guys! Lots of guys are intimidated by girl geeks, but if you are both into the same thing, then you have common ground."
One can learn a lot from Kenny and Katie. They are geeks and proud of it. They know who they are and what makes them happy, and they are willing to show other people how to be happy, too.