Some Reflection on Nerdy Things
In short, I think I am going to remember 2023 as a year that I grew tired of nerd culture’s obsession with Brand. I am an Elder Millenial, and I have spent my fair share of time and energy on mega brands like Star Wars or Marvel comics. Burnout plays a role in my brand exhaustion, but it is not everything. The Hasbro D&D OGL crisis at the beginning of the year started a trend of wanting to consume ideas from individuals and independent brands and I hope 2024 brings more success for those who keep it positive and strike out on their own rather than circling around the click and attention factories that are scandal and outrage over the PR mistakes of brands from one’s youth.
That being said, looking through my best-of decisions below, almost all are sequels to established brands. Hopefully new in 2024 can also include new ideas and properties.
Movie - Oppenheimer
Told out of sequence, a story about coming to terms with consequences
It wasn’t a great year for new movies for me. Catching up on my Letterboxd movie diary, among the first-time-watched films of the year there weren’t many standouts. I liked Barbie, and its dedication to color, set design, and addressing the place of Barbie as an icon for the audience. I thought The Marvels was an enjoyable watch in the theater after being underwhelmed by a few Marvel sequels in a row. However, watching Oppenheimer in a home theater setting with my Dad was my first-watch of the year. Told out of sequence, Oppenheimer deftly makes the movie less about history and more about the choices of the flawed main character and the resulting consequences. This was among the more watchable historic Christopher Nolan pictures I’ve seen.
Runners Up: Barbie, The Marvels
Theater - As You Like It
It started with a professional wrestling match
The DC Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of As You Like It was a surprise this year. Starting with a professional wrestling match, packed with renditions of Beatles music, and ending with a wedding this comedy was a great night out in DC.
TTRPG - Dungeon Crawl Classics
Ready for a DCC funnel
I am very thankful for the monthly tabletop role-playing crews I am still part of. I’m still playing in an online D&D game that is trying to get through the end of Rime of the Frost Maiden. Scheduling is tough, but we all want to get to the end of it. D&D 5th edition remains fun, but my desire to invest in a game run by Hasbro / Wizards of the Coast is all but gone.
A positive outcome of the D&D OGL crisis was getting a chance to read a good dozen alternative role-playing games. Goodman Game’s DCC stood out and I’m looking forward to running it or Mutant Crawl Classics at some point in the future. I got to play DCC as a one-shot, but a full campaign will need to wait until after my monthly gaming group gives Cyberpunk a shot. The improvisation, gonzo spirit, and old-school playstyle appealed to me without getting too deep into stricter Old School Renaissance ideas.
Video Game - Baldur’s Gate 3
Worth the wait, Larian Studios deserves all the acclaim for this masterpiece game
It didn’t have too much competition, and I have not finished it yet, but the first chapter of Baldur’s Gate 3 stood out as a masterpiece. This was a labor of love by top craftspeople with the personal added benefit of a low learning curve given I have a good handle on the D&D 5e rules. I intend to finish my first play-through eventually, but I’ll need to find a good moment to get back into it.
Runners Up: Jumplight Odyssey
TV Show - Wednesday
While technically an existing Brand, the Adams Family spinoff made a young adult fantasy story that stood on its own ground without depending on nostalgia for the movies of the 90s.
Runners up: Rick and Morty Season 7, Lower Decks Season 3