About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerdism: Clutch or Kick

Shirasagi Dojo - David Gegen Goliath

 "Clutch or kick" probably makes at least a little sense to most people. You’ve likely heard something along the lines of, “she’s a clutch player,” meaning that she does well under pressure. The kick part is what confuses some people, but don’t worry, it has nothing to do with literal kicking, and these days no one intends to follow through on the kick part anyway. If someone looks you in the eyes and says, “clutch or kick,” here’s the background and what’s expected of you.

The phrase purportedly originates with the game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) a team-oriented first person shooter game where each person is either part of the terrorist or counter-terrorist team and has objectives to complete. Each round is won by either completing the objective or killing all the opposing players. The phrase is likely a carryover from previous multiplayer first person shooter games, possibly earlier Counter Strike games, but CS:GO was the game that made the phrase ubiquitous among gamers of the early 2010s.

In gaming terms, the phrase is used when the last member of a team must face overwhelming odds to win the game by defeating all the other opponents in the last few seconds. Consider this scenario: all but one member of the counter terrorist group has been mown down by rifle fire, there are 3 terrorists guarding the bomb and 58 seconds left before it detonates and destroys the stadium. The lone counter terrorist might just give up under the circumstances, but over her headpiece she hears the voice of one of her dead teammates shout, “clutch or kick.” She knows she can’t disarm the bomb under fire, she must push in on the objective and mercilessly eliminate all the hostiles. That’s the clutch. Her motivation to accomplish this? If she fails, the team will kick her from the server and allow someone else to take her spot.

The reality is that the team probably won’t kick her, unless they’re playing a few unimportant casual rounds and feel like being jerks, but the phrase still inspires a try-hard mentality. 

Outside the gaming world, if you’re told clutch or kick then you’re facing a high-pressure situation where you’re the last hope for success. You have to close the last sale of the month, weld the seam no one else can reach, or convince the vending machine to release the cinnamon bun. Just take a breath, nod, and go to work. If you make the clutch, you’ll be a hero.

For extra nerd cred, once you’ve made it back with the win, ask your teammate how exactly he planned to kick you if you didn’t get the clutch.

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