Hobbies for Nerds: A Journey Through Geekdom

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Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

Geek nerds are no longer the socially awkward, obsessive comic book collectors they once were. OK, that’s not entirely true, but nerd culture has branched out of the antisocial computer geek stereotype of the 80s and 90s. Hobbies for nerds and geeks have diversified, too.

Nerds are cool now. Whether it’s the geek girl with a social fandom following or the gamer dork that streams on Twitch, geekdom has room for all the socially inept and self-proclaimed sci-fi collectors.

Finding the right subculture to geek out over can be a challenge, though, so I’ve compiled this list of the greatest and some more obscure hobbies for nerds.

DnD

Once upon a time, Dungeons and Dragons was so edgy that news shows warned parents about this “addictive and satanic game.”

In reality, though, DnD is about as nerdy as you can get. It’s make-believe, goblins, and math. For anyone who calls World of Warcraft players geeks, DnD players are playing the same game without a computer.

If you’re into the idea of spending months inside a fantasy world of your own creating, Dungeons and Dragons might be your jam! You don’t need much to get started, just the starter pack and some willing friends.

Retro Gaming

Computer Scientists made the first video games in the early 1950s, which means there are over 70 years of games you can play. So why only play PS5 games?

Instead, dig into the consoles of yesteryear, some you may have played when you were young and others before your time. Retro gaming also includes playing games that weren’t popular then but still retain their eight or 16-bit charm.

Have you heard of the Jaguar? The last Atari console released all its patents to the public domain. So look in the attic for old consoles, or check eBay.

No one needs a new Minecraft or COD stream, but how many people are streaming the Sega Master System?

Geek Film & TV

Bringing out the nerd geek within you doesn’t have to be hard work. You can dive into geek culture from the comfort of the couch with some classic Nerdist TV shows.

In the Venn diagram of geek and pop culture, fictional characters are the overlap you’re looking for. From Superman to the Avenger or Darth Vader, they’re all nerdy inventions that made it into the mainstream.

Here are some classics to nerd out on:

  • Big Bang Theory
  • Game of Thrones
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Xena: Warrior Princess

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry pi

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer, slightly larger than a credit card. Its size and low cost make it perfect for creating IoT-connected devices, tech prototypes, or projects.

  • Create a retro gaming console
  • Create a robot
  • Create an Alexa replacement, a virtual personal assistant
  • Create an eReader
  • Build a media server

Or use it as a computer!

Competitive Memory

If you can think of anything geekier than memorizing binary or 100 digits of pi, tweet it at me! The ability to recall lists of presidents, historical events, or anything you read in the encyclopedia will help build your geek mystique.

If this is your first time learning memory techniques, there are tons to get stuck into. Once you have a few strategies under your belt, consider a system like PAO.

Rubik’s Cube

If you can’t solve a Rubik’s Cube in a few minutes or less, you can’t call yourself a nerd!

Created in 1974 by Ernõ Rubik, the cube has been unsolvable by muggles since then. It’s only the true nerds and geeks that know the algorithms required. Youtube is full of tutorials showing different techniques to solve the cube. I’d recommend you learn F2L, though. It’s fast and not so complicated that you’ll give up.

Magic

The specialized vocabulary and hours of focused technique perfection make magic one of the geekiest hobbies you can start. However, if you don’t know your riffle pass from your Marlo tilt, there are many options to get started.

I’d recommend you start the way most magicians did, with books. These are some of the classics of magic:

  • Expert at the Card Table
  • Tarbell Course in Magic
  • Royal Road to Card Magic
  • Expert Card Technique

Board Games

Board games can turn you into someone else for an hour or two. Become the ruler of an early civilization with Stone Age or become a detective with a classic game like Cluedo.

There are more board games than ever before, and with crowdsourced or Kickstarter funding, more people are turning their ideas into reality. But the classics like chess, poker, or other card games are also stereotypical for a geeky night in.

Why not set up a games night once a week when you have spare time to invite friends over and teach them how to geek.

Text Games

Back in the days when your average home PC didn’t have the power to run 3d graphics or even 2d sprites, there were text games. Part video game, part storybook, these early games took the player through a world in their imagination.

Most games started something like this. “You find yourself in a dark forest, a dimly lit path is ahead of you, and a shovel lies at your feet, what do you want to do?”

You could type your action, like “pick up shovel” or “go forward.”

When you managed to type a command that worked and continued the story, it was a great feeling. Then, as the games developed, the writing improved, and you felt immersed in the story.

  • Scott Adams’ Pirate Adventure (1979)
  • Genesis MUD (1989) – An online text game people have been playing since the 80s!
  • Anchorhead (1998)

Comic Books

There’s no better way to prove your nerdiness than a solid comic book collection. You need to know your superheroes from your villains and your science fiction from fantasy.

Some comics appreciate over time, so pick the right genre, and you may find your collection worth a small fortune in the future.

There is an entire subculture built around comic books, which makes the local comic book store the perfect place to find other like-minded people and expand your Nerdist tribe.

Anime

Best Anime

Anime has exploded in popularity recently, but if the trend has missed you, don’t worry. Instead, look at this list of the best anime of all time, or if you want a gentle introduction, here’s where you can start without feeling overwhelmed.

  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Pokemon
  • Attack on Titan
  • One Punch Man
  • Naruto

Linux

Linux, or “GNU plus Linux,” as Richard Stallman would prefer us to say, is an alternative operating system. Rather than booting up Windows or macOS, true nerds and geeks run Linux. Some might say that Linux isn’t really a pastime but more of a way of life.

But don’t think that booting up a Linux distro like Ubuntu will automatically get respect from your geeky friends. No, that’s reserved for those running Gentoo, Arch, or Slackware.

Martial Arts

Is martial arts a nerdy hobby? It depends. Do you mean kickboxing or Aikido? Wrestling or kung fu? The easiest way to visualize this is with one of the greatest martial arts movies of all time – “The Karate Kid.” Danny LaRusso is obviously a geek, while the Kobra Kai gang are not.

So pick your dojo carefully and work on your crane stance if you want to be cool.

Cosplay

Gone are the days when you could only get away with dressing up on Halloween and Comicon. There are so many ways you can enjoy cosplay (costume play) online now.

Obviously, you can find channels dedicated to cosplay on YouTube, but if you want to star in your own dress-up world, you can turn to Tiktok and Twitch. You’ll also find large cosplay communities on Facebook, Instagram, and even Onlyfans and Omegle (for adults.)

It goes without saying that you should check into any community online before giving access to your kids especially when it comes to cosplay.

Collectibles

Baseball cards might be your first thought regarding collectibles, but there’s so much more to collecting than that.

  • Autographs
  • TV show memorabilia
  • Hollywood props
  • Happy meal toys
  • Vinyl records, cassettes, or CDs
  • Old tech
  • Coins and money
  • Stamps
  • Magnet Fridges
  • Figurines
  • Trading cards

Languages

Are languages a hobby for nerds? If you approach it as getting out, making new friends, and talking to people in your leisure time, maybe not. But if you are a more introverted extrovert, learning languages at home is about as nerdy as it gets.

Grammar tables, etymology, and reciting tenses are pretty nerdy, but if you want to make language learning the ultimate geek hobby, you need to become a polyglot.

Polyglots are people who speak many languages. You can think of them as collectors of languages. While I recommend you take the time to learn one language deeply, switching languages five times while having a basic conversation proves your geeky nature!

Robots

Robots

If you ever saw robot fighting shows of the late 90s or early 2000s, you’ll remember that the builders were usually bearded men in their 30s. These were the nerds of that period.

Fast forward a couple of decades and look up robot building online, and younger and cooler-looking geek chic types are now building awesome robots.

Technology has moved on, too. The barrier to entry is now much lower, and so is the cost, so why not try building your own robot? It might protect you from the bullies!

Juggling

Despite being a lifelong juggler, I must admit that juggling is a hobby for geeks and nerds. It checks all the boxes.

  • Lots of Jargon
  • Requires hours of solo practice
  • Ordinary people have no idea how to do it

But when you are finally able to keep those balls in the air, it makes all the time practicing worth it.

Learning to Juggle is really not as hard as you think, you can learn to juggle in an hour or less.

Reading

Not only is reading the best hobby you can have for personal development and creating a better version of yourself, but it’s also a great way to flex your geek-nerd muscles.

Whether you’re into historical fiction or futuristic fantasy or just want to read Wil Wheaton’s latest blog post, a daily reading habit is a new hobby that geeks love as much as anyone else.

Still Haven’t Found the Hobby For You?

Don’t worry if you haven’t found something that fits your particular geekiness yet. There are more hobbies and pastimes below, or you might find the right one for you in these examples of indoor hobbies.

Maybe it’s not a hobby that you’re looking for; maybe it’s just something to do when bored.

  • LARP Live action role play
  • Metal Detecting
  • Bookbinding & Repair
  • Computer Programing
  • War Hammer Tabletop Gaming
  • Laser Tag
  • Bird Watching
  • Geocaching
  • Fan Fiction
  • Astronomy
  • Puzzles