So the Gnomish festival of Lupercalia (a very long feast of drinking, dancing, and slaughtering halflings), which was turned into something having to do with hearts, flowers, and naked flying babies called Valentine’s day, occurred about 2 months ago. Just prior to this, our very good Gnome Matthew Neagley started trading messages back and forth with E, from Geek’s Dream Girl. The result of their tweetfest was E offering to give one of the Gnomes a sample of her online dating advice services for the purposes of a review. After going through the ranks of Gnomes, the only non-married gnome (for gnomes are universally known to be quite the catch) was yours truly (for I am very slippery when it comes to long term relationships). After talking it over with the other gnomes, I decided to give E’s online dating coaching a try. We went through her normal process for a "silver" dating advice package for the purpose of the review and then I did an interview with her afterwards.
The process started with me resurrecting my long dead match.com profile. I had it a few years ago from when I moved into a new area and was looking to meet a geek girl specifically. I hadn’t looked at it in a very long time. E and I started by talking through an IM program and she had me update my profile to be more current. My old one was so out of date it needed help – bad.
As I started re-writing it, I went to the Geek’s Dream Girl site and read the advice on writing your profile. I have to say, just reading the advice and following it in re-writing my profile made it a whole lot better to read. E and I talked about what I was looking for in a prospective match and she asked questions to suss out things I wanted to emphasize about my self. After talking online, she tweaked and changed some of the ways that I said things. It still felt like my writing, just what it would sound like after an editor got their hands on it. She There were definitely things she emphasized that I wouldn’t have thought to. I’m generally not good at self promotion, having a bit of geekish shyness and always feeling weird when I talk about myself. She didn’t change much, but focused on strengthening things I’d said. Here are a few samples from my profile to show you how great of a re-write job she did:
“The best laid plans of mice and men…” well, you know how it goes! I’ve learned that life will always take me in good directions, even if they’re rarely the ones I intended. Good thing I am always open to new opportunities and experiences! Everything has a lesson or story in it, you just have to sit back and let it tell you. Writing is a big part of my life, and it lets me make use of my other hobbies and interests – like watching movies, reading books, checking out art, hiking, and playing games. I tend to be the one in my group to get new things going, but always listen to my friends when they bring new stuff to the table. If I don’t have a project going then I usually find one. That could be building something new in my garage, donating my time to a worthy group that needs a new website design, or organizing a zombie walk for Halloween. When the snow clears I spend a lot of time outside. Every so often, I’ll head off with a friend and hike for a few days on the Ohio trails. It is a great experience, one made better when wearing one of my four kilts.
I love being around intelligent women with strong beliefs. When people ask me my type, I often say English major, but any woman who loves to learn fits in that description. I have a geeky side, and finding someone with similar tastes would be great. Humor, compassion, and communication are huge parts of connecting with people, and I think they are paramount to a good relationship. Being active and adventurous is a great way to live life – whether you’re playing saxophone in a local jazz band, teaching herds of unruly teenagers how to appreciate literature, or hiking a mountain trail (perhaps with a man in a kilt). Sound like you?
To me what matters most is living well and being compassionate. My shelves are full of religion and philosophy books.
favorite hot spots:
When I’ve got a writing block I tend to dig into other projects or go walking. Getting someplace new and people watching is great for inspiration. I’ve always wanted to see the deserts by camping in Arizona.
I don’t tend to watch a lot of TV, but catch series on DVD. The latest is The It Crowd. I’m a geek by nature, but my social side is close to the surface. Sometimes I try new beers with friends, check out art shows, or just catch a good rental.
I’ve been writing so much lately it is hard to sit and read without feeling guilty. The Baroque Cycle was my last series. Generally, I like anything with good characterization or has a good philosophy to it. I love philosophy books.
After getting the profile re-write, I interviewed E about what Geeks Dream Girl is about.
John Arcadian: Your site offers gaming articles and dating advice, as well as online dating help. Your gaming articles show your geeky side and prove that you have a good grasp of the geeky side of life, but what got you into the Online Dating Coach role?
E: I’m a veteran of the online dating system since back in the late 90s with Love@AOL. I’ve always been a shy geek in the real world, so online dating gave me the chance to show off what was cool about me in a place I felt comfortable – the intarwebz. I’ve always gotten compliments on the various renditions of my online dating profile and my friends often asked me to help write theirs, so when I was thinking of what I could do on the intarwebz to have fun and make money, online dating writing & coaching seemed like a natural fit.
John Arcadian: That is a good way to look at it. I know you do more than Geek’s Dream Girl as far as online dating coaching service goes, but did you start with your focus on geek dating, or move into that as a specialty?
E: I started with geek dating and opened my sister site, OnlineDatingProfiler, about a year later to have an option for people who "met" me through my writings on other websites and who were (for some strange reason) weirded out by the whole geek thing.
John Arcadian: Yeah. Geek is still a misunderstood and stereotyped sub-culture. So what is the best advice you can give to a prospective GDG client, aside from hiring you?
E: Geeks tend to write too much. :) There are always the ones who buck that trend and write too little, but more often than not, when I see a new profile I’m having to cut down on the word count. John Arcadian: I can definitely see where my profile before reading your site and going through your re-do suffered from that.
E: The main issue with doing that is you can overwhelm your audience with too much information. A good profile should read like the back cover of a book – just enough information to get someone to want to pick it up.
John Arcadian: Good advice, but every geek coming to you probably has their own unique reason. I would consider my biggest issue time, I have none. How would one of our dating packages help me, and which would be best?
E: A lot of people are time-strapped these days. Let me walk you through a few different clients (with names changed, of course) to give you an idea of the packages and other services and who they’re best for.
John Arcadian: That sounds excellent.
E: Henry fancies himself a writer, even though he’s in IT for a career. He’s got a great profile up, he gets a good amount of views, but barely any winks or emails. The Plastic d20 Package worked great for him since it’s a low price point and I was able to give him several tips on how to tweak and rearrange his profile so it made a stronger impact. (The key is to say more in less space!) We also went through the recent photos from his Facebook page and picked out a new set of photos for him to use in his profile.
E: It’s important to note that even folks who are good writers can benefit from having their profile looked at by a professional. It’s difficult to write about yourself!
John Arcadian: Very true. My worst writing is when it is about myself.
E: Frank did online dating before with very little success and has decided that he’d give it one more shot since he’s meeting very few women in his social circle. With the Copper d20 Package, we’re able to sit together for an hour, discuss his old profile (which was full of red flags), chat about his life and the type of woman he wanted to date. Then I whirrrrr it in my magical blender brain and out comes a brand new dating profile. Like the lower package, we also go through all his pictures to choose suitable ones. He’s currently having much better results with the new profile.
E: A lot of people ask me what the difference is between Copper and Silver. Silver is for the person who needs just a little extra push to get started or a little extra hand-holding after the fact. You get all the same things as the Copper, but there’s also an extra hour of consultation time that you can use via IMs or email. One of my favorite clients, Jacob, used the time to ask me to "okay" the first contact emails he was sending before he sent them. Once we’d gone through the hour, he had a good grip on what he should say and how to say it.
John Arcadian: That is definitely an important step. First impressions are very important and very easy to misconstrue over email. So your biggest dating profile is the gold, what more goes with that?
E: Gold is the one for people who prefer us to do just about everything. Of course, we still have to communicate with you so we can write your profile and there’s a bit of work on your end when it comes to approving your matches, but we can do just about everything else. Basically what we do is set up your custom searches and find you at least 10 matches a week based on those. You can approve or reject them (we have a pretty good eye, but we’re not perfect!) and let us know which ones you’d like us to email. Then we will email up to 10 matches per week for you. Some folks prefer for us to log into their accounts and do it all; others prefer us to email them so they can edit the emails before sending. We also help you write any replies to messages you receive (separate from the 10 first contact emails). You have access to your dating coach via email and IMs through the process and if during your month, you want to update your profile, we’ll do that, too. Big event coming up, want to change your headline, want to ask the girls of Match to go see the latest flick with you? We’ll do all that
John Arcadian: Good to know. It seems like Gold is the best one for someone who feels they need a lot of hand-holding or don’t have a lot of time. Is there an area where most clients ask for help?
E: A lot of people need help with emails. I met a guy during one of my Dating Doctor one-on-one sessions at a convention who said he had the "shotgun approach" to emails – he sent the same cut-n-paste email to dozens of women at a time, praying one of them would write him back. He seemed pretty surprised when I mentioned that it didn’t take much longer to write a personalized, meaningful email and that they got a higher rate of response.
John Arcadian: Awesome. I like the analogies you set up in the article. So one final question before I head off. What is the best one line piece of advice you would give to any geek to help them with their online dating?
E: Remember that the goal of this online dating thing is to find ONE person who will love you forever and ever. All you need is one yes.
Conclusions and a Game Mastering Tie-in
I’ve had Geek’s Dream Girl as a part of my blog reads for a long time. Not because I’ve had anything to do with online dating for a while, but because I like the idea of what she does. I told myself that if I ever did get back into online dating I would hire one of their services. Why? Everybody needs help. Having someone look over your profile and help you tweak it or add the things you feel silly adding about yourself can be a great help. I think the service is well worth it. We geeks aren’t always the best at self expression. Even though being a Game Master helps us hone some of our communication and interaction skills, it doesn’t always help us hone the right ones for interacting in the world of dating, online or not. Face it, geeks are great catches a lot of the time. In general, we think about details a lot more, tend to be more caring, and have a lot of great unique qualities to offer. Having some help to bring those out is never a bad thing.
So the Game Mastering tie-in? Imagine if you had a personal Game Mastering Coach, just like what E does for online dating but for running your game. After you wrote your adventure, and before you set out to run it, someone who went over your game plans and helped you tweak the strengths and remove the weaknesses. What if someone looked over it and said "You’ve got too much here, if you want to fit this into a single night you need to eliminate an encounter." or "Your party really likes this type of play, this plotline is great but these clues need to be simplified a bit." While reading Game Mastering advice sites (like this excellent one run by Gnomes) can help you think about various pieces of advice and tighten up your game, there is no substitute for having someone give your game one on one help. So think about handing your adventure off to another GM before running it (providing they aren’t in the game or can keep the Out of Game Knowledge to a minimum). I brought the idea up to E, knowing she writes a series of Articles called the Virgin DM Monologues.
John Arcadian: So, we want to make sure there is a Game Mastering angle involved in all the articles, and while a happy dating game master is one who is less likely to TKP (unless he is trying to get out of game to go on a date), it seems like what you do for online dating would also be a huge help for Game Masters. You have a section on your blog called the Virgin DM Monologues, where you talk about your first forays into running a game. Do you think having a Game Mastering coach would have helped your first foray into running?
E: I have been a lucky virgin DM. I’m surrounded by good role models both in my home games and friendly RPG folks online. I’ve been able to ask lots and lots of stupid questions and (mostly) not get laughed at. (Sometimes I deserve it. Ask DaveTheGame about treasure parcels sometime.) I was also blessed with the opportunity to help Keith Baker in his quest for love and so my Eberron campaign has a teensy bit of the master himself in it. Back when I was a teacher, I wrote a post about how DMing is like teaching, but it’s really a system that’s applicable to any new skill.
I’ve been online in the dating scene for about a month and a half after getting Es help. While I haven’t had a lot of time to devote to a search for a geek girl, thanks to E’s help I’ve been talking to a cute girl and will probably ask her out on a meet-up date soon. So have you had any experiences with online dating looking for a geek girl? If you currently are, I would definitely suggest Geek’s Dream Girl’s dating coach help, and look for the same type of help with your next game. Put your adventure notes or outline in front of someone else and have them critique it. Have you ever tried this approach?