If you think that March Madness is what happens to people when winter drags on and on and on, and brackets are something used in computer coding, then you’d be…well, right actually. But odds are that the March Madness and brackets you’re hearing about on the news and around the water cooler these days are of a different sort.
The brackets being filled out by sports enthusiasts across the country are being used to predict (and maybe win some money on) who the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Champions are going to be this year. The concept is simple enough, in theory: based on current standings, fill out a bracket starting with all of the teams in the running, and choose who you think will win each game, down to the final play-offs. (In practice, there’s a lot more that goes into it, but that’s the basic idea.)
Some people – Nerds, Geeks, Dweebs, people who just don’t care – might be only vaguely aware of basketball, definitely having played it in high school, possibly having been hit in the head by one, maybe having been picked last for a team once or twice. But not being a basketball fanatic doesn’t mean you can’t experience the joy of sports brackets. Instead of using this tool to predict the winners of a championship basketball game, it can be used in a more nerdy pursuit.
Perhaps it’s time to organize a Nerd Tournament.
Nerd Tournaments, or Nerdaments, go back hundreds, even thousands of years (probably), back to times when Dungeons & Dragons were a part of everyday life and later when nerds sat on the sidelines of jousting matches and the back rooms of ale houses playing Alchemy: The Gathering.
So how can you run your own Nerdament brackets? There are a number of ways to get started. First, decide what sort of Nerd or Geek you are. Are you a gamer? A programmer? Really into comic books? Or regular books? Once you’ve accepted yourself for who you truly are, it’s game time. Here are some options, broken down by Nerdigory (Nerd Category):
Video & Online Gamers: Host or attend a Halo, Madden, WoW or other MMO game Tournament. Even if you don’t play, you can try to predict the outcome.
RPG Fanatics: Get your Dungeon Master to set up an in-game tournament of some kind. The nerdier (and more mystical creatures) the better.
Tabletop Gamers: Host or attend an event for International Tabletop Day (March 30th) and turn it into a tournament (check out Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop videos for a number of awesome game options).
Band Geeks: Get together with Math Nerds to calculate the odds of a team winning based on whether or not the team members’ high school or college had an award winning marching band. Or, you know, something else a little less complicated.
Math Nerds: See Band Geeks. Or, hold a math competition.
Chess Enthusiasts: Host or attend a – you guessed it – chess tournament.
Literary Nerds: Have a whodunit contest, where players try to predict the killer in a series of murder mysteries (short stories might be best).
Word Nerds: Spelling Bee time!
Comic Book Fans: Get together with the RPGers and set up a tournament using comic book characters. (DC vs Marvel could be a good place to start.) Or, go to a Comic Book Convention and predict beforehand which characters will have the biggest cosplay representation. Or hold a costume contest of your own, with rounds of voting.
Programmer Geeks: Hold a programming competition. Perhaps figuring out what exactly a Programming Competition would entail could be a part of the competition…
Basically, the Nerd options are endless. You could even have a competition to see who the biggest Nerd in your group is. Or, stay simple, gathering your friends and having a Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament during commercial breaks of Game of Thrones. And combining forces with other groups of Nerds and Geeks can only add to your fun. So set up an event, clean your house, rent a hall, dust off your Nerd shirts, comics, and keyboards, and start setting up your brackets! Nerd on!