If it wasn’t obvious from my recommended blogs widget, I’m a huge fan of Harris O’Malley, AKA Dr. Nerdlove (who is not a real doctor). Before I ever floated the idea of spouting anime-inspired philosophy and motivational platitudes at nerds though, I voraciously devoured his content. He challenged (and changed) my perspective on the dreaded Friend Zone, the platonic backdoor friendship gambit (better known as ‘Nice Guys’), toxic masculinity, and numerous other topics that make men look like clueless Slowpokes at best and borderline predators at worst.
When I first assembled a list of self improvement books to read and review, his book New Game +: The Geek’s Guide to Sex, Love, and Dating was close to the top of the list. When he visited Charlotte for HeroesCon 2016, my dear friend Caz Cosplays snagged a signed copy for me (I couldn’t attend myself because of my Alaska trip).
So, it was high time to finally read and review this book.
Just like O’Malley’s blog, New Game + focuses on providing advice and strategies for men of the nerdy persuasion to improve their dating and/or sex lives. This isn’t to say that gay men or women couldn’t benefit from the book, but he honestly admits the target audience. There’s a reason his blog has taken off like it did. Many male nerds seem to clamor for any advice or help they can receive with women. Take a look at pickup artist (PUA) communities, many newcomers and veterans came from a geek’s background of struggling women.
Actually don’t look at pickup artist communities.
The Rise of Dr. Nerdlove
Like many self help and dating gurus, Dr. Nerdlove rose up from humble origins to the place of authority he sits today. It’s an all too familiar story: A professed nerd, battered by a life of poor social skills and nonexistent success with women. His rock bottom moment came when a woman he crushed on at a wedding was swept off her feet by his best friend before his very eyes, and the rest of his night involved hearing the two boning loudly in the next room.
From there, he entered the pickup artist community (we all have our dark side moments) and finally found success with women. Despite, in his words, “getting laid like a bandit,” he felt hollow and miserable. Three to four nights a week would be spent crawling smoky and smelly bars until the wee hours of the morning. It felt amazing when he’d snag some tail at the bar, but miserable on nights he struck out. Mystery and Strauss paint a sexy picture of their sexcapades, but O’Malley found out the reality was more of a soul-crushing slog than a vaginal Valhalla.
He decided enough was enough, and struck out to learn and teach men like him how to succeed in love and dating. The moniker “Dr. Nerdlove” sprang out of Valentine’s Day episode of the now-defunct The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen podcast when he shared lessons he had learned about relationships and dating. The blog soon followed, along with some books, and now he is recognized as one of the top gurus in the geek dating advice field.
That’s kind of an overly narrow superlative but whatever.
Inventory for a New Life
Instead of a specific focus, New Game + dips into a wide range of topics. It’s best considered a primer for a better life than an in-depth guide to any particular subject. This isn’t to say the advice is too vague to be useful. There is enough information in each chapter to get you started, but you’ll have to do further research on your own. He’s probably written a few more blog posts about it though so start on his website. Also I’m not shilling for his website and products, he won’t even answer my tweets or emails.
The book isn’t divided into a ‘part 1, 2, and 3’ but can be roughly divided into two sections plus a prologue and epilogue. The Secret Origin of Dr. Nerdlove introduces Harris to the reader and explains what he does and why. Hilarious backstory too, my summary doesn’t do it justice. After all, a person giving advice needs to establish themselves as a trustworthy authority.
The first half of the book mixes challenging negative dating philosophy (such as self-defeating attitudes and the ‘women love jerks’ myth) and general self improvement. The good doctor delivers pointers on building charisma, diet and exercise, men’s fashion, grooming, and living environment. It doesn’t go in depth for these topics, there just isn’t space in a 350-page book, but the reader is given a sufficient blueprint for building a life that is positive and validating on its own, which in turn makes them more attractive to women.
After the crash course in turning around life, New Game + veers into direct advice for meeting, talking to, dating, and eventually bedding women. That description may make the book sound like a manual for hookups, but Harris addresses both dating casually and seeking relationships. His background in the pickup artist community is apparent here as he presents concepts such as proper approaches and touch escalation. Both are central tenets of seduction, but his advice is much less manipulative and borderline-misogynistic.
The second-to-last chapter, “Dating Pitfalls,” deserves special mention. O’Malley addresses several depressingly common bad situations in dating and relationships. Any reader has probably experienced at least one of these emotionally-taxing snafus, whether it be the disappointment of the so-called friend zone or unhealthy attachment to a specific crush (‘Oneitis’). This chapter could probably be turned into its own book. If you’re reading this Doc, I hope you would consider that for a future endeavor.
Longtime readers of Dr. Nerdlove’s blog won’t find much that is new in New Game +, it’s all familiar territory he has covered in depth over the years. This isn’t to say the information isn’t worthwhile. It’s a nice refresher even if you’ve read it before, and for someone who has never read his work before, then this book may just end up being worth its weight in gold. The writing style is fun and easy to follow (the 350 pages breeze by), and contains the nerd culture references you’d expect from someone deemed a nerd dating guru. Some of his advice may feel hard to swallow (the sections on fashion and living space could feel like attacks on a person’s preferred style), but it all comes from a genuine desire to help, not judgment or malice.
Whether or not you’ve followed Dr. Nerdlove for years or if you’re a frustrated geek wants to make a change, New Game + is worth picking up. His wisdom has helped me over the years, and I’m fully confident it can help you too. Add some improved dating skills to your personal toolbox, and get out there to find the great experiences you’ve been missing out on.