Greetings once more, aspiring geeks. I’m Nick Michel, your friendly purveyor of nerd wisdom, here to tell you how you—yes you—can become a nerd, just like me.
First, you need to decide what kind of nerd you want to be. Don’t worry, you can choose to be as many kinds as you want, but there are a few general nerd categories to keep in mind. Below is a short list of geeky pursuits to consider. I’ll cover the first two categories—anime and video games—this week, and the third and fourth ones next time.
2.) Video games
3.) Tabletop games
4.) Music (I know music isn’t an exclusively geeky thing, but I’ll share the two genres of music to which nerds, in my experience, tend to flock— Metal and Electronica.)
So you want to be an otaku (essentially the Japanese term for “nerd”), do you? Look no further, for here is a list of quality anime to start out with, as well as where you can purchase them, both online and on campus.
To start, take a gander at Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The two brothers in this tale live in an alternate world that closely resembles our own except for the existence of the mythical art of alchemy, which this world treats as more of a science than a magic. After losing their mother, the boys try to resurrect her, costing one of them a literal arm and leg, and the other his whole body. With prosthetic limbs for one and a soul bound to a suit of armor for the other, the brothers set out to recover their original forms. A very smoothly written and highly interesting action series, this anime combines excellent fight scenes with scientific and political intrigue, making for a wonderful introduction to anime.
Next is Ouran High School Host Club, which has an entirely different genre, art style, and overall feel than Full Metal Alchemist. Protagonist Haruhi Fujioka is a scholarship student at a private academy for the super-rich elite. All she wants is a place to study, but she accidentally winds up in the lair of the titular Host Club, where the female students go for entertainment and pampering by a collection of exceedingly pretty boys. After being mistaken for a guy, Haruhi knocks over a priceless vase, leading the Club to rope her in as a new member. Though not the type of anime I normally watch, belonging to a genre aimed mostly at teenage girls, Ouran deserves attention from all genders and ages for its side-splitting humor. Whether it’s the varied and bizarre personalities of the Host Club members bouncing off each other or Haruhi’s snark and sarcasm, this anime is a riot.
So you want to be a gamer but, being a Vassar student, all you have is your Mac? Never fear—there are still plenty of games that run on Mac and one major place to find them online: Steam. Steam is a service run by software company Valve—maker of the acclaimed Half-Life series—that allows you to purchase and manage games all on one platform; think of it as iTunes for video games. Steam offers a staggering array of games, many for cheap or even free. Over 1000 of Steam’s games cost less than five bucks and even more cost under $10, so there’s guaranteed to be a game suited to your price range. My recommendations include:
FTL: Faster Than Light. Available for Mac and PC. See my last post for a detailed write up.
XCom: Enemy Unknown. Well, it finally happened: the subject of hundreds of movies, comics, and books. Aliens are invading, subtly at first. We don’t know what they want, but we know it’s not good. You command XCom, the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, in its struggle to fight, understand, and drive the alien menace off of our planet in this addictive strategy game. Take command of XCom’s operations, build up your base, study and reverse-engineer the alien weapons, and take your squad into the field against the alien menace in this tactical turn based strategy game.
Bastion. Kid wakes up in the sky, pieces of the wall he once patrolled floatin’ all around him. He knows he has to get moving and get back to the meetup point—the Bastion—to figure out what to do if something like this happened. He sets out, finds his trusty hammer, and starts making things right. So begins Bastion, one of the finest games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. A top-down hack-and-slash game, Bastion’s strength lie in its beauty. The game is done in a beautiful impressionist style, looking almost like a painting more than anything else. The soundtrack is a wonderfully eclectic mix of western and electronic, and the entire game is narrated by a gruff old cowboy, whose amazing narration spins a tale of survival, revenge, and redemption. The game costs $15 and is well worth every penny.
Join me next time, when I finish my introduction to geekdom with tales of twenty-sided die and Finnish folk metal, as well as an overview of where to find these things on campus.
Nick Michel is an STS senior of Cushing. He is the nerd for all seasons.