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The Angry Video Game Nerd (abbreviated as AVGN) is an American retrogaming review comedy web series created by and starring James Rolfe. The series centers on Rolfe's titular skit character, often simply shortened to "the Nerd" (sometimes just "Nerd"), a fictionalized version of himself who is a short-tempered and foul-mouthed gamer who delivers commentary on retro games of poor quality. While the series began with Rolfe simply playing games while delivering retrospective commentary, the show would eventually grow in scope to encompass sketches featuring guest characters, reviews of gaming consoles and peripherals, and short lectures about video game history and culture.
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Starting out as an independent filmmaker, Rolfe intended his earliest videos of the character (originally called The Angry Nintendo Nerd) to be a joke privately shown amongst friends and colleagues. In 2004, Rolfe, at the suggestion of future series producer Mike Matei, put the Angry Nintendo Nerd videos on his website, and in 2006 on the emerging video streaming platform YouTube, where it gained popularity. The series became a cult success, and Rolfe began appearing as the character in various other media such as a feature-length film and video games, and many public appearances. The series was soon renamed to The Angry Video Game Nerd to avoid trademark issues with Nintendo, and to allow Rolfe to review games from non-Nintendo consoles. From 2007 to 2011, the series entered a distribution deal with popular gaming websites ScrewAttack and GameTrailers, and briefly with streaming service Amazon Video in 2018.
The show revolves around the Nerd's commentary of shovelware and retro video games that he deems to be of particularly low quality, unfair difficulty, or poor design. Rolfe's character, "the Nerd", is a short-tempered, foul-mouthed video game collector who reviews old video games in the form reminiscent of insult comedies such as Mystery Science Theater 3000. The Nerd plays the game while picking apart its various technicalities, design flaws, and abnormalities in an effort to warn his viewers against playing the game. Other episodes have the Nerd reviewing consoles, peripherals, accessories, or games of a similar theme. The reviews are often prefaced with a short lecture about the games history or his own childhood experience, and interspersed with sketches and profanity-ridden comedic rants, among other various scripted elements. Occasionally episodes may often focus on games the Nerd looks at in high regard, but are still not immune from criticism such as EarthBound.
Dressed up as a stereotypical nerd in his basement, the Nerd reviews the game with his trademark eyeglasses and white collared shirt with a pocket full of pens, high khaki pants and white socks and loafers, while sometimes being bombarded by guest characters from video games and popular culture as well. These guests often provide additional commentary on the games, mock the Nerd's anguish, and act as parodies of the characters from which they had been derived. In response to them and to the games, the Nerd derives comic appeal from excessive and surrealistic use of fantasy scenarios, anger, and consumption of Rolling Rock (in addition to Yuengling in later videos) while reviewing video games. His anger and profanity over these bad games (usually punctuated by the catchphrase "What were they thinking?!", in reference to those who designed and/or marketed the game in question) would sometimes climax in him destroying whole game cartridges, or simulating defecating on, burning, and sometimes even crushing the games or entire video game consoles.
In many cases, the Nerd dresses up as other popular characters while reviewing their games, such as Batman and Indiana Jones. Other characters in the show include Shit Pickle (an earlier character created by Rolfe), the Guitar Guy (played by Kyle Justin, co-writer of the show's theme song), the Game Graphic Glitch Gremlin, Super Mecha Death Christ 2000 B.C. Version 4.0 Beta, and an assortment of others, while also the occasional guest appearance by other video game reviewers such as Pat the NES Punk. The show has also had special guests, including Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment while the Nerd was playing various Toxic Avengers-based games, Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame assisting the Nerd in playing games based on the movie series, and Gilbert Gottfried co-starring as a faux lead developer of Life of Black Tiger and the Nerd's arch-nemesis Fred "Fucks" (Fred Fuchs) in August 1, 2019, while the Nerd reviews said game.
In 2006, Rolfe began making the episodes available on YouTube. Soon, Rolfe released a review of The Karate Kid game that was the first episode where Rolfe's character is introduced as "The Angry Nintendo Nerd". Naming these videos "The Angry Nintendo Nerd Trilogy", Rolfe posted them on Cinemassacre. The success of the show made Rolfe branch out into other gaming systems, and would later change the title into the Angry Video Game Nerd to prevent trademark issues with Nintendo. Rolfe diversified the reviews of platforms and products such as the Atari 2600, Super NES, Sega Master System and Sega Genesis video game consoles, the Power Glove and U-Force peripherals, films such as The Wizard, and the Nintendo Power magazine. He would eventually branch out even further, reviewing games like Sonic '06 on the Xbox 360 and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing on PC.
On September 12, 2006, Rolfe's series received mainstream attention when his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles went viral on YouTube. In an article by writer Alex Carlson, he explained that before 2004, video gaming criticism was mostly reserved for the larger game magazines and websites. He went on to state that the opinions of the professional writers and journalists who were writing the reviews didn't entirely correspond to the opinions of the average gamers; and that "everyone with a webcam and Fraps can now become a critic and don a characterized mentality, spouting profanities at will without getting censored." Since then, the show has increased substantially in quantity, production value, and fandom. Rolfe began infusing various episodes with emphasis on homemade special effects and narratives. The first of these cinematic episodes was a review of the 1989 Friday the 13th game in October 2006, featuring expressive lighting and camera angles to emphasize its horror film-themed narrative in which the Nerd is attacked by Jason Voorhees for disliking the game. Later episodes have alternated from straightforward game reviews to those with a narrative focus resembling a documentary, with Rolfe pointing out information about the game or gaming console under review. When asked if the Nerd is going to make reviews in the current generation of video games, Rolfe replied that the "show is all about nostalgia," adding that he's "mostly a retro gamer."
Rolfe's review of the Back to the Future game was reported in an MTV segment called "Viral Videos Infect the Mainstream". On November 2, 2008, his videos and personality were featured on the nationally syndicated radio show Opie and Anthony. The Nerd has also become the subject of Howard Stern and David Arquette in an episode of Stern's Sirius XM show, in which Stern commented negatively on the show's format as well as the gaming community in general during a TooManyGames 2011 convention in Philadelphia. James Rolfe himself appeared as the Nerd at various gaming and internet conventions.
On July 21, 2014, an independent film based on the series, entitled Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, was released online as well as limited theatrical releases, with DVD and Blu-ray versions released by the end of the year. The film's plot focuses around the Nerd seeking to prove that over 1 million copies of the proclaimed "worst video game of all time", E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, were not buried, after being pressured by fans to review the video game. In his quest to prove this to his fans, the Nerd finds himself being pursued by federal authorities who believe he is investigating Area 51 and the crash of an unidentified flying object.
The film began development in late 2006, following the popularity of the Angry Video Game Nerd web series, with James Rolfe serving as its director, producer, and co-writer, and reprising his on-screen role as The Nerd. The movie's script was designed to pay homage to the character finally reviewing the E.T. video game, though filming required Rolfe to balance his schedule with that of his online series and other works. The screenplay was completed by 2008, with the film's budget of more than US$300,000 raised entirely from crowdfunding. As part of its development, Rolfe asked for the show's fanbase to provide webcam footage of themselves fictionally reacting to the Nerd's webseries, to be used as an intro to the film.
In 2013, an official video game titled Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures was announced. Developed by FreakZone Games (creators of Manos: The Hands of Fate), it was released on September 20, 2013, on Microsoft Windows via Steam. The game follows the Nerd attempting to rescue his friends, all of whom were sucked into the Nerd's television set (done in a Cheetahmen-esque style). The Nerd uses a NES Zapper as his main weapon, and a character known as Naggi the Patronizing Firefly, a parody of Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, guides him through the tutorial. Throughout the game, he faces zombies, Mr. Hyde, Custer, The Giant Claw, Fred "Fucks" (Fred Fuchs), parodies of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger (references to the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th games respectively) named Bimmy and Jimmy (a reference to the infamous Double Dragon III misspelling of Billy Lee's name as "Bimmy"), and more. On July 12, 2014, it was announced that the game would also be released on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. The Wii U version was released in North America on April 2, 2015, and released in Europe on December 10, 2015. On June 4, 2015, a 3DS version became available for download in the Nintendo eShop. On July 17 of the same year, during ScrewAttack's annual SGC convention, Freakzone announced a sequel, Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation, originally due for release in Winter 2015, but delayed to March 29, 2016. 041b061a72