Loosely Defined Bo(nus) Levels: It’s a Good Time To Be a Nerd

Illustration by Nicki Diacik

It’s hard to think about “This day and age” without being bombarded with bad news. Even I’ve never considered myself a particularly optimistic person and I often have trouble appreciating the present for what it is. That said, when The Avengers release in 2012, I remember walking out of the theater repeating, “God. It is such a great time to be a nerd”, and I genuinely feel like I’ve said that every year since.

For those of you who still aren’t comfortable identifying as a “nerd”, here are a few reasons why I think you should jump into nerd culture now more than ever.

Marvel movies are every bit as good as people hype them up to be. Avengers: Infinity War is this generation’s Empire Strikes Back, and I feel completely confident making this statement on the internet and I welcome opposition because I know they’re wrong. As a DC fanboy, I personally never thought I’d see the day where the movies about Ant-Man are consistently better than the movies about Batman and Superman, but here we are.

Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has kept nerds around the world on the edge of their seats for over a decade now. Thanks in no small part to the fantastic directors, effects specialists, screenwriters and obviously the actors, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (so far) has provided some of the most visually spectacular and emotionally fulfilling films since the original Iron Man back in 2008. They aren’t just movies anymore, they’re global events. With the release of Avengers: Endgame marking the end of the recently-dubbed “Infinity Saga”, fans can expect a new direction, a new team, and a new overarching narrative to take down bad guys in the years to come.

If superheroes aren’t your thing, why not try some good old fashioned Sci-Fi? Movies like Annihilation, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049 are incredible entry points to science-fiction film. They ask deep questions about humanity and the existence of the soul and the sanctity of self and just please, please watch them.

If you’re looking for something to binge, check out shows like Netflix’s Altered Carbon, Maniac, or Stranger Things. CBS Access has shows like Star Trek Discovery and Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone reboot. There are so many options to choose from, you just have to find the right show/setting/concept that works for you.

The best sci-fi (in my opinion) can take the audience to a new and exciting setting while evoking extremely personal questions about identity and society and I feel like these films and shows explore those themes extremely well.

For all of my beautiful nerds of color, we’re finally being represented with actual care! I know I gushed about Marvel already, but holy shit Black Panther was genuinely great. Not just a great Marvel movie, or a great “black” movie, just a great movie that has me tearing up just thinking about it.

Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman finally provided good films for two of the most badass women in comic book history (no, Cat Woman doesn’t count). Games like Apex Legends and Overwatch are regularly adding characters from all kinds of racial, gender, and sexual identities.

These days, nerd culture is more inclusive than ever and it will only get better with time. Regardless of how you identify, it's getting easier to find a game, movie, with characters that actually reflect who you are instead of “generic white guy with gun.”

Finally, and I know this is going to sound like a contradiction, but it has been the “Best Year For Games” every year since 2015.

- The Witcher 3

- Overwatch

- Metal Gear Solid V

- Grand Theft Auto V

- Fortnite

- Uncharted 4

- Bloodborne

- Horizon: Zero Dawn

- Persona 5

- Super Mario Odyssey

- the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

And those are just this year's games.

Last year's God of War (2018) and Red Dead Redemption 2 are technical masterpieces and the epitome of compelling interactive storytelling. They pushed the medium forward and have changed how I look at games and art in general. Without mentioning the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017 or the potential Google’s Stadia holds for the future of gaming, I can safely say that now is the best time to be a gamer.

Nerds have been blessed with both the quantity and the quality of nerdy content. As high concept fantasy and science-fiction become more normalized and popularized, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find something you love. I believe everyone is a nerd in some regard, they just have to find what makes them nerd out.

In 2019, I genuinely think it’s easier than ever to find something that makes you nerd out, so venture forth and start geeking!

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