The nice thing about being a nerd is the sheer volume of stuff released to please you. If you're geeky, and you like geeky stuff, each year brings more fun, more games, and more diversions. This year offered a host of new geeky games, gadgets, comics, shows, and movies. And I'm not talking about that big-budget, "geek-chic" bullshit. I'm talking about the real deal, I-have-a-hard-time-attracting-the-opposite-sex-or-just-plain-interacting-so-I'm-just-going-to-fiddle-with-this-puzzle-instead stuff.
Geek out with me as I take a look back at 2014.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
This iOS, Mac, and PC game from the makers of World of Warcraft debuted in March. Designed as an interactive digital card game, Hearthstone scratches the same itch as Magic: The Gathering, but it succeeds with online play where Magic fails. The game features heroes, monsters, robots, and murloks (little fish-goblins... you still with me?), and the gameplay is clean and easy to understand.
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
In the world of board games, the zombie genre is overblown and basically kaput. It takes a really impressive game, like Plaid Hat's Dead of Winter, to catch the collective attention of nerds. In this strategy and storytelling game, two to five players take on the roles of survivors in a post-apocalyptic colony. Players have to keep up morale on the colony, find food, survive zombie attacks, and squelch any crises that arise. Each player has a secret agenda that they want to achieve, and only through tense negotiation and difficult decision-making will anyone come out ahead.
I'm not saying True Detective was one of the geekiest things to happen this year... However, the inclusion of a heavy-handed H.P. Lovecraft mythos into a taut crime drama sure is! With mention of Carcosa, the King in Yellow, and all types of other nods, fans of the Cthulhu mythos were left pulling their hair out while Richard at the water cooler rambled on about it all meant. Whether you like the series or not, nothing else on TV injected its series with random nerd-friendly elements like True Detective.
LIX 3D Printing Pen
Kickstarter is great at funding inventions that no one needs but everyone suddenly realizes they want, and here's another example. The LIX 3D Printing Pen, which was successfully backed this year, gives artistically gifted spatial thinkers the ability to draw in midair and make solid creations. As far as geek gadgets go, few this year can compete with something so damn futuristic.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Here's one for all the Tolkien nerds out there. The multi-platform video game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, released this fall, was equal parts open-world gaming and Silmarillion-filled fan service. While other games may have done the sneak-and-hide better, this huge new game did it with the geek flag flying high. Sure, the Lord of the Rings is mainstream now, but there's nothing geekier than sinking 50 hours into a game to learn the secret history of Celebrimbor.
Tabletop's Third Season Crowdfunding Explosion
Praised among nerds as something of a golden child, Wil Wheaton (that's Wesley Crusher to you) now hosts an immensely popular webseries about board games. Tabletop, which has been going strong since 2012, invites "celebrities" to Wil's gaming table to play (and teach) various board games. This year it was announced that the third season of Tabletop would be crowdfunded on Indiegogo. Board games are starting to trickle into the popular zeitgeist, as evidenced by the show far exceeding its goal and raising $1.4 million.
Season Two of Uncle Grandpa
"Good Mornin'" is Uncle Grandpa's catchphrase. It's a pretty dumb and ignites hate in the hearts of many young viewers. But this absurd Cartoon Network cartoon—about a magical man who is everyone's uncle and grandpa—truly hit its stride this year in its second season. While lots of young viewers hate the show, a burgeoning group of nerdy cartoon fanatics are finding this crazy cartoon and latching on.
Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition
I wrote about the release of the newest Player's Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons back in August. Since then, we've seen releases for the Monster Manual (which covers each and every goblin, kobold, ogre, and dragon) and the seminal Dungeon Master's Guide, which dropped in December. All three books are updated for a streamlined, newcomer-friendly game of D&D that points toward a new attitude of openness and inclusion in the world of roleplaying games.
The Veronica Mars Movie
You think comic book geeks are die-hard fans? Try hanging out with a TV fanatic. Losties (fans of Lost), Fang-Bangers (True Blood), Trekkies (Star Trek), Scoobies (Buffy)—these are just a few of the dedicated fanbases devoted to cult (and not-so-cult) TV shows. And this year the Marshmallows (yes, Marshmallows) came out in force to Kickstart a movie based on the Veronica Mars series. The movie had 91,000 backers and raised over $5 million.
The Return of Moon Knight
Moon Knight is a cool, creepy, totally moody superhero comic that's been cancelled over and over again. This year, helmed by genre icon Warren Ellis and illustrated by Declan Shalvey, the "Marvel Batman" hit the ground running in a brand new series. With dual personalities, magical gadgets, and a backstory involving an Egyptian moon god, this new iteration of the hero hits the sweet spot we're always looking for: right between geeky and "not embarrassing."
If you're a Dune fanatic like me, you don't care who makes an adaptation and how it falls short of the novel by Frank Herbert. It doesn't matter. You just want to see Paul, Baron Harkonnen, Duncan Idaho, et al on screen. But seeing this documentary about the greatest science fiction movie that was never made may be hard for some dedicated fans. Jodorowsky's vision of this sci-fi movie was huge, grand, elaborate, and starred Salvador Dali as the grand Padishah Emperor of the galaxy. This is a great documentary, but damn, Jodorowsky's Dune is a meditation on what could have been.
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