How do you make a geek continue to buy a comic book he was thinking about dropping? Simple: tell him it’s going to be cancelled soon. No matter how much he didn’t like it before, if he was about to drop it completely he’ll now buy the remaining issues because then he’s got a complete run.

Completion is the whip that scars the geek’s back. Consumption is what determines one’s standing in the geek community, and the thought that there might be something out there that someone else has and he doesn’t is possibly the most existential threat a geek faces.

For the geek, existence implies necessity. If a thing I like exists, then it’s a thing I must have. Never mind if it adds nothing, or if I already have several things almost exactly like it, it’s a new one and it’s there, so I have to get it. Completion is the alchemical marriage of Collections and Accuracy, and is essential to the Hierarchy.

Existence implies necessity, which in turn implies (as always) entitlement. Making a bonus card for this game I own not only means I have to get it, it means the producer is obligated to make sure I can get one. It’s not fair if someone else has something I don’t, rendering a game I previously liked and was satisfied with “incomplete” and now indelibly tarnished. Even if the bonus card is worthless and he’d never play with it, the geek won’t be happy unless one sits in his box doing nothing.

Of course, the opposite doesn’t apply: if something is limited and the geek does have one, then whoever doesn’t just needs to stop whining and be as good as he is at acquisition. Many angry words have been written about Kickstarter “exclusives” that later turned out to be available for just any old loser with money to pick up, making the ones belonging to those who got them first “worthless”.

For people marketing to geeks, completion is a boon. Why release something in one part when you can make it in more? Why sell a quality item when you can seel a substandard one and keep “improving” it for people who will keep re-buying it? Why not keep futzing with Star Wars, since the people who complain the loudest about it will still feel obligated to pour money into it?

A way to justify pointless consumption AND keep score? No wonder geeks LOVE Completion!


One Response

  1. […] enough talking directly to the comic book. It’s somewhat satisfying to have a complete set of Hellblazer, terrifying as it is to realize I read each issue, month by […]

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