2013: The Year in Geek

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In less than two weeks, 2013 will come to a close. That means it's time for that most joyous of traditions -- the year-end list! Everywhere you turn, lists of the best, the worst, the most and the least are springing up, informing you about all the cool shit that you missed or, more likely, giving you validation for the things you agree with and rage for the things you disagree with. Far be it from me to miss out on that fun! My 2013 was full of geeky joys, and these are some of my favorites.

See also:A geek's guide to the holidays: Gremlins, "Christmas at Ground Zero" and other goodies

Yes, that's right -- favorites. I don't know what the best movies, games and moments of the year were, because I didn't try all of them. I sampled but a small portion of what's out there, and it would be as dumb as a bag of hammers to claim that the cream of my personal crop represents some sort of authoritative "best of geek." I'm also not going to limit myself to things that came out in 2013 -- instead, I'm including all the stuff I experienced this year. The thing is, a lot of the sweet stuff I loved this year (and every year) happened to come out in other years; I just missed it then. That said, everything on here is awesome, and you should check it out regardless of its year of origin or whether it's "the best." Okay, enough disclaimers. On to the list!

Game of the Year:XCOM: Enemy Unknown

The next best thing to saving the world from zombies is saving it from aliens, and man, have I had a blast saving the planet in

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

. This was the rare game that tempted me to buy it when it was at full price, but I held out until it was $20 -- and you know what? I totally should have bought it at full price. That would have meant way more time this year (and part of last, since the game came out in October 2012) plotting out the optimal strategies to defeat the extraterrestrial menace in turn-based strategic combat, figuring out the optimal way to develop my tech tree and sending little gray men to the big saucer in the sky.

Best New Geek Experience:Moderating a panel at Denver Comic Con

I've been going to cons since I was twelve years old, and in that time I have attended dozens, maybe hundreds of panels. From the very start, I always thought, "It would sure be cool to be on one of these panels" -- and this year that dream came true. Director Alexandre Philippe (

People Vs. George Lucas

, the upcoming

Doc of the Dead

) asked me to moderate his panel on zombie culture at DCC, so I stood up in front a few hundred people and blabbed about zombies with some fellow experts -- and my lifelong dream was fulfilled.

Best New TV: Almost Human

A handful of new geek shows hit the air this year, and of all the ones I managed to check out,

Almost Human

took the pole position. Sure, in some ways it's just another cop show, but at the very least it's the most original twist on a cop show in a decade. The

Blade Runner

-lite aesthetic and strong cast really

caught my eye from the very start

, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this one goes.

Interview of the Year: Don Coscarelli I got to interview a lot of bad-ass people this year, from horror author Joe Hill to motherfucking Ken Foree (aka Peter from Dawn of the Dead, arguably my favorite zombie movie of all time), but none of them were quite as meaningful to me as interviewing horror auteur Don Coscarelli, maker of Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep and the new John Dies at the End, which happened to be the ostensible subject of the interview. Not only did I get a good interview out of him, I also got to tell him how he scarred me as a child, thanks to catching Phantasm on cable TV when I was about seven years old. He laughed and said that was great, and you know what? It was.

Movie of the Year:The Battery

You won't see a better independent zombie movie this year, or any year most likely, than

The Battery

. Part indie drama, part horror movie and all genius, it's a small-scale, intimate portrait of how two people, thrown together by virtue of playing for the same minor-league baseball team, try to survive the zombie apocalypse. They bicker, they bullshit, they kill some undead freaks and they quietly go nuts while it happens. In other words, it's probably the most realistic zombie movie ever made. I've seen thirty to fifty low-to-no budget zombie movies, and this is not only better than all of them, it's actually a lot better than most of the bigger budget, studio zombie movies that get made, including

World War Z

. If you like zombies even the tiniest little bit, you have to see

The Battery


Best Horror Geek Experience: Dawn of the Dead at the Alamo This year's Mile High Horror Film Festival was the biggest and baddest yet, and the crown jewel, for me, was the showing of the original Dawn of the Dead with special guests Tom Savini and Ken Foree in attendance. Not only did I get to see my favorite zombie movie on the big screen for the first time ever, I got to listen to Foree and Savini swap anecdotes about the making of the film and take questions from the audience. That's one I can scratch off my bucket list. Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.

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