WEEK IN GEEK: This week, our hosts push through the shelter at home monotony by playing video games albeit old video games. First, Andrew steps back into 2015’s The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt now that he has more context after watching the hit Netflix show, while D. Bethel is intrigued at how hard the narrative payoff will fail in the otherwise really fun Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
CORONA, I HARDLY KNEW YA: The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the nerd world with––since the last episode––the postponement of Emerald City Comic Con, the cancellation of this year’s E3 and other cultural events like SXSW. Andrew & D. Bethel cover the COVID-19-related news since the last episode.
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew falls in love with Scratchpad Publishing’s new RPG, Spectaculars, while D. Bethel is intrigued by the demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake on Playstation 4.
DON’T DIE: With the rising threat of the coronavirus and its impact on nerd conventions––especially Emerald City Comic Con and the Game Developer’s Conference––Andrew and D. Bethel investigate all the ways this pandemic can impact not only fans of nerdy things but makers of nerdy things.
Episode 63 – Just a Quel (04 Sept. 2015): Where Andrew and D. Bethel talk about the state (at the time) of nerd conventions.
GOTTA GO FAST:Sonic the Hedgehog destroys box office expectations Valentine’s Day weekend. Andrew and Dan discuss the surprise success of this cinematic adaptation of the beloved video game franchise.
BIRDS OF PREY: OR, THE REINSTATEMENT OF INSTITUTIONALIZED SEXISM AGAINST WOMAN-LED SUPERHERO FILMS:Birds of Prey released last week and its box office performance left some upset. D. Bethel and Andrew talk about the relativity of box office success, how Marvel fandom may be tainting the pond, and how marketing is a strange magic.
DOOMED ANIMAL CROSSING: In a bit of light news, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal releasing on the same day, Twitter and Reddit have become very interesting places, and in mostly good ways.
The tweet that did the direct comparison between Ford v. Ferrari and Birds of Prey:
“Episode 101 – The Black Arts of Algorithms” (05 August 2015): Where Andrew and D. Bethel discuss a similar discourse around the reboot of Ghostbusters and how it was deemed a failure despite earning perfectly fine box office numbers.
“Episode 155 – Captain Host” (20 July 2018): Where Dan and Andrew ask the question, “Were there too many superhero/nerd movies packed into a single summer?”, among which Solo: A Star Wars Story was released.
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew dives in to Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky after another patch while D. Bethel relays his experience going to see Kevin Smith present his newest film––Jay and Silent Bob Reboot––as part of a traveling tour for the movie when it came to Sacramento.
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew and D. Bethel start the new year with some things they have only light knowledge of and experience with. Andrew starts watching Netflix’s The Witcher and only briefly plays Haemimont Games’ Surviving Mars. D. Bethel has fun playing detective in the disgusting Lovecraftian world of Frogwares’ The Sunking City.
This year we are hosting a variety of looks back at 2019 as hosts and friends-of-the-show offer up the things that defined the year for them. Today we have our other co-host, Andrew Asplund, looking at the 2019 that was (to him).
For all intents and purposes, 2019 was a big year for all things nerdy and geeky. There were big movies, big video games, big TV shows, and big just about everything. When I looked back on the year, something stood out to me and it is encapsulated pretty well by my experience at PAX West back in September: despite being at one of the biggest game conventions in the United States, my notable memory from that event was my experience at the nearby parallel event, the Seattle Indies Expo.
What I realized was that 2019 became the year in which I began actively seeking out small studio and independent video game titles in lieu of more standard, big studio content. This isn’t mean to suggest that I never really played indie games before or that I entirely eschew big studio content. It’s more that my overall preference (at least with respect to video games) has changed enough that I noticed.
Exceptions aside, it’s hard not to see the AAA video game market as a testament to … playing it safe. It’s a place where companies are willing to spend millions (or tens of millions) of dollars on a game title, which means their willingness to deviate from the standard of “what works” is minimal, to say the least.
From Indies With Love
In contrast, my interest in indie content, whether it be small studios of one or two developers or larger “triple-I” studios, has increased significantly. This year, I have dedicated seemingly countless hours to playing indie games. And, to an extent, I feel like that’s what has come to define my memory of 2019, at least insomuch as it relates to nerdy and geeky content.
It’s not that I’m on some adventure to play especially bizarre video games. I’m far from somebody who is looking for video games that are #hashtag #edgy. As important and envelope-pushing as a game like Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please is, it’s not the kind of game I want to spend hundreds or even tens of hours playing. But, there’s something about a lot of these indie titles that I engage with. So often, these are games that a small group of people put a lot of work and feeling into. Not to say that big budget AAA games don’t have work and feeling. It just resonates with me that indie titles feel more less like a million dollar dog-pile and more like something that I could do with my friends.
It helps that 2019 was also the year that I completed a certificate in web development. What I originally started as something that might help me build a cool cooking website turned into something else entirely. An in-class assignment putting together a basic adventure game opened my eyes to the web as a tool for delivering game content; this eventually took me down a path of extremely amateurish game development. I started to really relate to the … allure of indie game development.
Perhaps, for all intents and purposes, that’s why the Seattle Indies Expo became such a benchmark for my 2019 and a reflection of something that had been going on for me since the year began. Getting to actually meet the developers of games like Wildfire Swap, The Wind and Wilting Blossom, or Monster Jaunt really gave it all perspective. Maybe it’s just a little dose of childhood fantasy given perspective. As a young person I always dreamt of making games “when I grow up.” In a sense, 2019 was the year that I finally remembered that.
In the end, my look back on 2019 is a personal one. I have been playing a lot more indie games than I used to. I have started following more indie developers on Twitter and other social media. Honestly, I’m just trying to pay more attention to all of the creative people out there making their mark on gaming. And, as we move into 2020, I hope to start getting more involved in those communities as well.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: As 2019 hurries to a close, our hosts kick up their feet and just chat about the things they’re doing to occupy their time until the new year rolls around. They talk about everything from the winter Steam sale, to finishing Outer Wilds (no spoilers!), to Lovecraftian tabletop games (Fate of Cthulhu), video games (The Sinking City), and novels (Winter Tide), to developing for web browsers, to––of course––Doctor Who and Star Wars.
“Weird World News“––a module for Fate Core by friend-of-the-show, André La Roche.
La Roche, André. “Spotlight: The Joke’s On Us.” A Website [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes, 27 October 2019––André’s critical look at one of the most divisive movies of the year.
WEEK IN GEEK(kind of): It turned out to be an accidental Week in Geek episode as D. Bethel talks about his disappointment with Valve Corporation’s sidelining of Campo Santo’s Firewatch followup, In the Valley of Gods. On the opposite side of breaking news, Andrew finally gets around to watching Star Trek: Discovery and kind of unabashedly loves it.
HAPPY GEEKSGIVING: Disguising a perfectly good Week in Geek episode, our hosts discuss the recent nerdy things in their lives that, like American Thanksgiving, seem to be all about bringing people together––directly or indirectly. Andrew relates his time with Hideo Kojima’s recent game, Death Stranding while D. Bethel has spent the last half-year taking up the challenge of finding out whether he’s actually a fan of the band Queen or not.
What nerdy and geeky things have brought you through the beginning of this winter holiday season? Let us know!
The quote about there being “two Kojimas” can be read in full in the write-up about this book.
Episode 06 – Hear Law, Article 9 (03 July 2014): Where Andrew and D. Bethel discuss the importance of Hideo Kojima’s PS2 masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, has in the continuum of video game history.
Episode 18 – All the Way (26 September 2014): Tangentially related to Queen, in this episode Dan and Andrew talk about the Highlander franchise.
Episode 28 – A Mighty Oak (05 December 2014): Where D. and Andrew discuss the place the first Metal Gear Solid holds in video game history.
Episode 70 – The Big Fiddle (30 October 2015): Where D. Bethel discusses his time with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain after completing it.
I Can Segue (01 November 2019): Where D. and Andrew discuss the most recent level of tragedy around Fallout 76, and spitball ideas for how to make it into a single-player game with light multi-player elements…something that Death Stranding seems to pick up on.