Photo of two actors from Star Wars

The Force Awakens's Finn and Rey, just one example of 2015's diverse new heroes

As we close out 2015, the continued mainstreaming of geek culture couldn't be more obvious: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently obliterating box office records like they're superweapons with conveniently-located weak spots. And while some have railed against their fandoms going mainstream, the simple capitalist truth that bigger audiences bring more money has had the effect of making geek culture as a whole more progressive, more welcoming and more diverse.

  The biggest trend in movies this year was nostalgia, but instead of remakes (the worst of all being tepid PG-13 remakes of R-rated classics) we got new entries to moribund series that often chose to ignore the more recent entries in favor of unapologetically homaging the originals.

  The Force Awakens was itself guilty of this, but Star Wars fans were so badly burned by the prequels that such reassurances were genuinely necessary. Jurassic World's homages to Jurassic Park were goosebump-worthy, but apart from some great dinosaur-on-dinosaur action, it lacked the heart of the original. Terminator: Genisys recast Game of Thrones' khaleesi Emilia Clarke as iconic action mom Sarah Conner, with mixed results. And while Mad Max: Fury Road wasn't the blockbuster commercial success of some of the others, it was a critical success that was embraced by women eager to see a new generation of action heroine.

  The video game industry has been nearly as bad as Hollywood when it comes to recycling ideas, but some of this year's news was very welcome. In an environment where major studios have started to push out new entries to big-name game series whether they're ready or not (see also: Assassin's Creed Unity or Batman: Arkham Knight), the seven-year wait between Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 seemed an eternity. And though Fallout 4 used the same old engine and graphics that weren't quite ready for next-gen, it was still one of the best games of the year.

  This was also the year that Square Enix finally noticed that people have strong feelings about Final Fantasy VII. Despite being the most iconic game in the series, its use of 3D characters on pre-rendered backgrounds made it uniquely difficult to update, something highlighted when it was dropped onto Steam two years ago in all its hideous low-res glory. But at E3 2015 they announced a full remake of the game, and in December its spikey-haired protagonist Cloud was even added to Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. 4 fighting game—which was odd considering FFVII was the first FF game not released for a Nintendo console.

  The inevitable backlash against social progress embodied last year by GamerGate continued, but it also continued to be pathetic and widely ridiculed. Self-proclaimed Men's Rights Activists claim to have robbed The Force Awakens of a whopping $4 million by boycotting it for featuring a woman lead, but even if that's true, it's a laughable sum in the face of its current $1.5 billion worldwide box office earnings. Their attempt to take over the Hugo Awards resulted in a record number of No Awards.

  It's been a good year to be a geek, especially for those of us in underrepresented groups and those who want to see more diverse characters. Here's hoping 2016 has even more in store for us.




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