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A top 10 of Nerdy Events of 2020

    2020 was a very difficult year. I know, I'm starting up with a cliche but I mean that ish for real. Shout out to y’all. I'm happy you are still here with us. I am happy to write anything that can be consumed and used as a tool of distraction from whatever major event you need to ignore for a little while. Nerd culture, geek culture, whatever you call this community of creative exchange and appreciation has taken on many forms for many people. Beloved escapism has been a crutch, a life preserver, and in some cases a final request for people all over the world. For something so reliant on make believe and fantasy, it’s presence for a lot of us has been crucial to our existence.

During a time of pandemics, political unrest, and tremendous loss; people all over the planet have looked to their heroes, whether fantasy or real, to inspire them to keep pushing. It was like this for me. I lost my mom this year. Amidst all the other things happening, anybody who’s ever dealt with the death of a parent knows what that pain is like. I’m not writing this to evoke that pain. I’m hoping to give a piece of what’s helping me get through it in hopes that you can get some aid from it. 

With that said, I’d like to wrap up 2020 traditionally but with a bit of a twist. I’m going to create a top 10 most significant things that I enjoyed from our culture(nerd/geek) this year. Highlights basically, for a year that sucked in so many ways and yet steeled the resolve and strength for so many of us to keep moving forward.
I have a number 11. It's last but not least and it still counts even though this is a top 10. It's simple. It’s all of you. When one thinks of this culture they think of the gatekeeping that takes place. People have talked about not feeling welcomed by “the old guard” when they show interests in certain things. Look at Star Wars, Anime, Dungeons and Dragons, and Star Wars(yup said it twice fam). When people hear about how hostile these communities can be to newcomers and casual fans, it turns them off from ever engaging. That was still present but, people still persisted. They still fought to learn new lore, engage new platforms, and cultivate new interests. Folks were welcomed and we helped our not so geeky friends to learn to appreciate their choice of medium in ways that we've always have. So if you haven’t congratulated yourself for enduring all the obstacles telling you that you can’t do something, then went and did that something, please allow me. You are amazing and you deserve the happiness you've allowed yourself to have. Thank you for also allowing others to enjoy that space with you.

My number 10 is we got to see the results of what happens when we work together. Example given: Sonic the Hedgehog. So when Sony first dropped the trailer in 2019 and people immediately started roasting the titular character. The design was awful. I know some folks thought it wasn’t that bad. I was not one of those people. His teeth looked like the nails on gremlins to me. Beady eyed blue lil beastie bastard. I hated it! Anyway, Sony actually listened to the fans though. They released an official statement and then re-released the trailer with a brand new Sonic and you know what yall? He looked dope. And the movie was dope. I for one, was so happy to see Sonic and Cyclops take on Stanley Ipkiss. 

    My number 9 was Star Wars. Everything Star Wars. Grogu, aka Baby Yoda is my son. And I’m sure he’s your son too. The memes that said “If anything happens to Baby Yoda we will revolt”. That’s star power y’all. The Mandalorian was amazing and can I just say Rosario Dawson was an amazing Ahsoka Tano. Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin is a BEAST! The best Bounty Hunter in the universe! Don’t get me started on Gincarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon. Can’t forget the man Mark Hammil returning as Luke Skywalker. Bruh I cried. I cried because Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau got people excited about the Star War man! Put that on Kevin Smith! Give them their flowers!

    Number 8 was mentioned but it wasn’t just Star Wars where he stole the scene. The man Gincarlo Esposito is the villain of 2020 hands down. He is the franchise. He’s been a badass since we’ve seen him in Breaking bad but Esposito as Moff Gideon in the Mandalorian and Stan Edgar in the Boys is what solidified his spot as the badass of the decade if not the year. He single handedly embodied what 2020 represented for a lot of us. Insurmountable odds. He deserves all his accolades and more. Bubble wrap Moff Gideon damn it. Protect that man with the same reverence y’all had for Grogu!

        Number 7 was definitely Ghosts of Tsushima. Look man, Ghosts of Tsushima is the complete samurai experience. I’ve seen people refer to it as the Japanese Assassin’s Creed we never got. I disagree. I think it’s a beautiful refinement of the 3rd person action genre. I think it pays more homage to the Tenchu series than it does to the AC series. Narratives tend to get over done and dialogue tends to be inconsistent in games like this. But not this one man. Jin Sakai is one of the things that happened to gaming and I do hope they continue that man’s story. Shout out to the multiplayer for bringing Greg Baldwin on as the narrator. For those who don’t know, Baldwin was Mako Iwamatsu’s mentee chosen to replace him as Akoo in Samurai Jack and as Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

      Number 6 is the Boys. If you’re looking for a reason to get Amazon video then look no further than Karl Urban's portrayal as William Butcher. Fans of the show will recognize his Australian accent, fast and frequent c bombs, and unwavering brutality. Urban brings a gravitas and madness to the character that matches what they were going for in the comic despite him having been toned down from that iteration of the character.  The Boys does a lot to actualize the real world effects on what the existence of super heroes would have on society. It’s a great conceptualization on what the world would be like if the Avengers ever signed the Sokovian Accords like Tony Stark wanted them to. How special interests act as government agencies and ultimately have the final say so in where and when a superhero does his job. And how a hero’s marketability is integral to their success in the same way NBA players are endorsed by athletic sneaker companies. Season 2 debuted this year and it was by far the bloodiest and most well written season yet, really having us analyze how consumerism, racism, and classism exists in a world with superheroes and villains. Spoiler alert: Not too different from ours y’all.

        Number 5 goes to Nintendo as a company. The Switch is a great system that helped us stay connected to people through gaming online. They aint reinvent the wheel or nothin but the convenience of gaming came from the slick portability of it all. The way you could just hop on your switch and chill while your roommate is watching TV was a step up that people always wanted. Nintendo was just the first to open the gates for that. We see the advances with Microsoft and Sony’s remote playing but for me, Nintendo has been orienting solely on maintaining the standard of convenience with portable gaming, bridging the gap of consoles systems and portable systems in a way that only they can. Thanks Mario!

        Number 4 is sites like Dndbeyond, Roll20, Inkarnate, and so many more. If there was a community that took a massive hit in the wake of the pandemic I would have to say it’s the tabletop gaming community. Games like Dungeons and Dragons, which has recently surged in popularity, suddenly saw their hobby for bringing people together for social engagement severely impeded. Luckily apps like Discord and Twitch as well as the aforementioned sites above have developed the online interfaces  for people to game from at home via their laptop, chrome book, Ipad or cellular device. I use Roll20 and Dndbeyond myself, they have great deals and they have both have great savings and discounts in attempt to make the games accessible for folks who want to learn and play. It’s their way of helping folks stay home and practice social distancing. Kudos on them.

      Number 3 you know I have to shout out Square Enix for Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It’s cool if you didn’t like it, I loved it as a fan of the original. I teared up so many times playing that game. As much as I prefer Ghosts of Tsushima for gameplay and narrative, the Remake was long awaited and really felt like everything I was looking for. I loved the gameplay. I loved the characters and how they expanded on the original cast and how they expanded on the non playable characters. I loved fighting everything in that game. So much. I would love a comrades version where you play as characters similar to Cloud and Avalanche. I know they’ll never do that but yo if they did though, Square-Enix would be cooler. And I’d forgive them for Marvel’s Avengers.  

    We’re getting down to the wire people! Number 2!(Easy y’all) For me Number 2 is Kevin Feige, man. Kev, buddy, homie, family, thank you for giving Charlie Cox back to the fans. Spider-Man 3 sounds like it’s going to be so bananas. Andrew Garfield is coming back, Toby McGuire is coming back, Alfred Molina is coming back, and Daredevil is gonna be in it y’all! The only way I could get more excited is if they told me they’re casting Wolverine, Gambit, Cyclops, Storm and the villain Arcade so they can set up “Spider-Man and X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge.” I just aged myself bad right there. It’s a lot to consider when you realize that no Marvel movie came out this year but you still hyped for a Marvel movie!!! That’s Kevin Feige’s super powers. No cap. 

        Number 1? The return of Luke Skywalker: Jedi Master. We all saw Mando, Fennec, Cara, Bo-katan, Koska, Grogu, and Moff hush when they saw that X-Wing pull up. Then we saw the final scene from Rogue 1 in reverse! We saw a familiar hooded Jedi Master with a green lightsaber obliterating the dark troopers that stood between him and our heroes. We all knew who it was but we were afraid to believe until he took the hood down… That’s when the speculation ceased. Luke took Grogu, gave the crew the whole “May the Force be with you” and bounced. Luke in all his Skywalking glory, was brought to us through use of Mark Hamil’s deaged face on a younger actor. The graphics had us all wondering… was Sebastian Stan busy or something? (Kidding!)

        This is my list, and I’m standing by it. As should you with your list. I want to hear your list. Let me know in the comments if you feel so inclined. Now I don’t know what the escapism in your life looked like this year. I don’t know personally, how you got through. But you got through and I’m so happy that you’re here. I don’t know the circumstances and I don’t know the roads you will travel, I only wish you success and health in every step that you take. May you find the satisfaction and validation you seek. May you be the person you wish to be seen as both in the company of others and moments of solitude. Don’t give up. Our heroes didn’t. Those no longer with us want us to keep moving and do the best we can. 

2020 was a very difficult year. Shout out to y’all. I am happy you are still here with us. I am happy to write anything that can be consumed and used as a tool of distraction from whatever major event you need to ignore for a little while. Nerd culture, geek culture, whatever you call this community of creative exchange and appreciation has taken on many forms for many people. It really is a great culture, isn’t it? Thank you for stopping by the Nerd’s List and have a Happy and safe new year.  Rhyme in Paridise MF DOOM.

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