E.T. and Elliott (Universal Pictures)
I guess there's never been a good time to grow up a geek - those of us who prefer to be challenged mentally rather than physically have never had it easy, especially as kids – but in terms of cultural richness, I reckon I can make a good case for the period of my childhood as a golden age for the genre.
I guess if we're dads, many of us will have grown up in the late seventies and early eighties. In movies, we had Star Wars and Superman, Close Encounters and Ghostbusters, Indy and Marty McFly. Elliott was us, we were Elliott, living in the suburbs, playing with Greedo and Walrusman, rolling our d20s and finding freedom through our bicycles. The period ended, perhaps, with the ultimate kids' film, The Goonies.
On TV, in Britain, we joined Blake and his band on board the Liberator, boldly going into territory which Firefly would later visit. Tom Baker, a great Doctor, gave way to a fantastic new one that was ours to own: the young, breathless, dynamic Peter Davison (current showrunner Steven Moffat's favourite). The historical became hysterical through Rowan Atkinson's Black Adder (I tried to convince my parents to let me watch it on the thin argument it would help with my school History essays).
In books, (and then TV, radio, records, towels…) I discovered the genius of Douglas Adams through a moth-eaten copy of the Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy bought in a school féte. To an adolescent the world seems crazy, but Adams knew that was the case for everyone, and parodied it to perfection through the medium of sci-fi. Asterix and Tintin books from the continent were breaking through in Britain, while our home-grown comics were hugely popular, a golden age for the Beano and its ilk, and the groundbreaking 2000AD featuring Judge Dredd.
In toys and games, Lego entered a creative period that laid the foundations for its current world-beating success, with the introduction of themed ranges populated by minifigures and the first Lego Technic sets. In the UK, computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were the first games consoles; but titles like Knight Lore and Manic Miner inspired a generation to program themselves, kickstarting the UK games industry that has become so prevalent. And pen and paper gaming also encouraged eighties kids to get creative – we not only crawled through amazing purchased dungeons, we wrote our own. Dungeons & Dragons defined the generation, taught us math and teamwork in a fun, exciting way, and introduced a new generation to the works of JRR Tolkien.
So that's the case for c.1977-1985 – a period of intense creativity in imaginative media. I count myself lucky to have been the right age to experience it. Or perhaps, with geek culture hitting the mainstream, today's generation has it better? Or was there an even greater era to be a geek-kid?