10 Reasons Why Denver Is a "Bastion of Geekdom" | Westword
Navigation

Ten Reasons Why Denver Is a “Bastion of Geekdom”

Colorado was just named an official U.S. Tech Hub. But this state has other geeky credentials.
Denver, Colorado: Bastion of Geekdom
Denver, Colorado: Bastion of Geekdom YouTube
Share this:
The geeks will inherit the earth. That's been said many times, and not just by the geeks themselves. But here in Denver, they've already run over the place, the capital of a state just officially deemed a U.S. Tech Hub by the Biden Administration under the CHIPS and Science Act, which comes with the opportunity to compete for millions in federal funding.

RentCafe also recently released a list of the top American cities for nerdalicious living, ranking those with a population of over 100K by nerd cred. Denver ranked as a "bastion of geekdom," fifth overall out of more than 300 cities, behind Orlando, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Austin.

But here's the thing about Denver's nerd cred: We've got broad coverage and a deep bench. We're not one-note, like Disney's influence on Orlando, or Austin drafting off the wake created every year by South by Southwest. From a strong convention presence to geek-focused businesses recognizing our local potential to one of the crown jewels of comics being based here, Denver has everything required to be a contender for number-one nerd.

Take out your pocket protectors, my fellow nerds, and make sure your glasses are pushed up on the bridge of your nose as we dig into Denver's nerdiness in an organized, mathematical fashion. Here are ten reasons this city is a "bastion of geekdom."
A History of Supporting Nerd Culture
Denver was the site of the very first Star Wars Celebration back in 1999. That alone might be a little thin as evidence, but it helps that Google Analytics puts Denver at a 74 out of 100 for residents searching for Star Wars topics online. And it’s not just the Skywalker saga: Denver boasts a strong search history for Game of Thrones, and about five times as many searches for “bookstores” in general than in the average metropolitan area.
An Impressively Robust Con Scene
FANEXPO Denver might be relatively new, and even its forebear, Denver Comic Con. only started about a decade back — but it’s a big deal both regionally and nationally. And that’s just the juggernaut: Smaller cons have been around a lot longer than that, and some are still going strong. StarFest just finished a 45-year mission serving sci-fi lovers in Colorado, Genghis Con has been gathering fans since 1979...and the MileHiCon just turned 55.
click to enlarge apartment with pool table
Okay, "nerdy" might be a broad term for some apartments.
Jobs and Apartments
Nerds and their families, of course, have to have a way to make money to go to all those conventions. And, you know, live someplace. Studies suggest that over 5 percent of the Denver workforce is employed in “gaming” — and those jobs out-earn the average Denver salary by 70 percent, with an average annual income of $122K. Tech and media jobs are just as plentiful and profitable. And all those tech geeks need a place to play those PlayStations: 14 percent of all rentals in Denver come equipped with on-site and nerd-friendly areas like “game rooms, libraries, media rooms, music rooms, and even bocce ball courts,” according to RentCafe. We’re waiting for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign room complete with miniature sandbox, torch-like sconces and dice-rolling trays built into each seat at the table. Mountain Dew and Dorito dispensers optional.
Teague Bohlen
A Camelot for Comic Collectors
Any comic-book readers who were poring over their four-color fun all the way back in the 1970s could have told you of the legendary kingdom of comic awesomeness that lay somewhere in the mountains of Colorado: Mile High Comics. In a snail-mail world, for one brief, shining moment, Chuck Rozanski’s Denver empire offered back issues and had a full-page presence in current comics. In a comic-book world where Denver didn’t seem to exist (until David Banner from the Incredible Hulk TV show wandered through the state in Season 1, Episode 7, from April 1978), this was a Colorado connection that locals could brag about to their collector friends. And there are plenty of other comic-book stores in the Denver metro area to scratch a collector’s itch, too: Time Warp Comics up in Boulder, Hall of Justice down in Parker, and a bunch of other fantastic spots to search for that last issue to fill up your run.
Geeks Who Drink Was Born Here
Denver saw the conception of the national Geeks Who Drink pub quizzes, when back in 2006 a couple of titular drinking geeks had the idea that their two passions — nerdy knowledge and downing alcohol — were two great tastes that taste great together. The concept soon spread to Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, then down into New Mexico and, quickly, nationwide. First, North America...then the world. It’s like RISK, only with beer and trivia.
We Might Be the Next Silicon Valley for Quantum Tech
The U.S. Department of Commerce just designated Elevate Quantum Colorado, a consortium of over seventy organizations that works to keep Colorado and the Southwest a leader in quantum information technology, as one of 31 Tech Hubs in the country. "This will future-proof our successes," says Governor Jared Polis, "and ensure we remain an economic and technological powerhouse." Polis also calls the quantum sector "one of the key industries of tomorrow," which all sounds great until Dr. Sam Beckett gets lost in time and has to spend eternity setting right what once went wrong.
It’s a Destination for Coaster Geeks
These days, it’s rare when a city boasts one amusement park, let alone two. Elitch Gardens might be moving in a few years to make way for a big development along the South Platte River (and maybe recapture some of the magic it lost when it left northwest Denver), but Lakeside Amusement Park has never budged an inch — and Denver is better for it. There’s a lot of history to Lakeside, which was one of many “White City” parks built around the turn of the twentieth century. Lakeside had been around since 1908, and still has one of the oldest remaining wooden-structure roller coasters in America: the Cyclone, originally erected in 1940. It wasn't running this summer, but we can dream.
South Park
Yes, Clint Eastwood and his orangutan filmed Every Which Way but Loose on East Colfax, and Bruce Willis used the old Stapleton Airport in Die Hard 2, and Boulder will always have Mork & Mindy. But Denver’s real claim to entertainment fame is definitely Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s long-lived, comedically profane tribute to growing up in Colorado: South Park. Now that Stone and Parker are also the owners of the revamped Casa Bonita, they’re even more ensconced in the nerd-dom that is Denver.
Red Rocks, Duh.
If a ranking is going to include music in its definition of nerdalicious elements, it's impossible to overstate the importance of Red Rocks Amphitheatre. From classic concerts to huge events to Film on the Rocks, it’s at the center of pop-culture Colorado — and only one of countless reasons why Denver is and will remain a nerd Mecca by the mountains.
click to enlarge two men hugging at convention in front of mirrors.
Governor Polis geeks out meeting actor Christopher Lloyd at FAN EXPO Denver 2023.
Teague Bohlen
Nerdiest Governor: Jared Polis
Looking for an unabashed nerd made good? Look no further than our own good governor, Jared Polis, who in his last State of the State address managed to make references to Lord of the Rings, Yoda, grammar rules and the author James Baldwin. Now, there's a dude you want on your Geeks Who Drink team.

All Denver, baby.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.