James Duncan Rolfe (born July 10, 1980), better known as The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN), is an American amateur filmmaker and creator of the popular Internet series The Angry Video Game Nerd, previously known as The Angry Nintendo Nerd and more before that as The Guy Who Irate Gamer Rips Off. The series centers on the titular Nerd, a basement-dwelling, foul-mouthed coprophiliac who rants about poorly-made retro games from the 1980s–90s, perfectly capturing the childhood frustrations of his fellow Late Gen Xers.
In contrast to the character he portrays, James is actually a humble, shy, and down-to-earth gent in real life. Originally, he created the "Angry Nintendo Nerd" character as a joke amongst his friends in college, and only reviewed NES games. After his original two reviews became popular via YouTube, he changed his character's name to "Angry Video Game Nerd" to avoid copyright troubles with Nintendo and expand the amount of consoles he could review for. AVGN had a massive impact on the YouTube community, and inspired a wave of cheap imitation Angry Internet ReviewersTM that exploded in the late 2000s.
In recent years, James has expanded beyond the Nerd videos, posting videos of him reviewing monster movies, ranting on inconveniences in life, and playing games with his effeminate friend Mike Matei. James also runs the Cinemassacre production company which specializes in B-movies, though no one seems to care about them other than his hardcore fans.
He's Gonna Take You Back to the Past
The Nerd to Be
James was born on July 10, 1980 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first thing he did upon birth was complain that he was cold, and then he went to other things like the taste of his mother's milk was not to his satisfaction, and that The Dukes of Hazzard was an "unrealistic piece of monkey-shit" because cars do not make skidding noises, like on asphalt, when they are speeding along dirt roads. He proved a handful to his parents, often berating the food they served him and refusing to eat it. The only thing he seemed to accept was Rolling Rock beer, chilled and served in a baby bottle.
James never lost this hatred of things that are bullshit. During his induction day at Kindergarten James wrote a three page long letter in red crayon expressing his anger at the cafeteria for not supplying enough straws for the milk boxes they were drinking. He then expressed his anger towards a fellow student named Chris "Stinky" Bores, who James said copied one of his drawings but Chris told the teacher that James had copied his work. The teachers believed the bogus story Chris told them, and sided with him, to which James was then suspended from Kindergarten for 2 weeks when he said: "What a shit-load of monkey fuck this is... and I don't like it."
For James's seventh birthday, he received a brand new home video game console, the NES. The console came with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. This seemed to calm down James's anger towards anything and everything, and he finally found something that he enjoyed doing. For weeks on end James would play the video game until Christmas time when Santa brought him a brand new NES game, Top Gun. His relatives had not even arrived yet for the family luncheon before James had become so enraged with how bad the game was that he was using the zapper gun to blow off all but his middle finger to give his opinion on what he thought of the game.
Over the next few years, James would only be a calm and normal boy when he got to play a good video game, but all hell would break loose and he'd invent new English cuss words as he expressed his anger towards these shitty games the only way he knew how. His mother to this day cannot thank Nintendo enough for the creation of Super Mario Bros. 3.
High School Nerd
In the 9th grade, James figured he was ahead of his time, and that no girls were interested in an obsessive video-game player. Therefore, he needed to venture into some other activity in order to meet women. James figured he only had two passions in life; the first being the obvious, video games, and the second being...well, video games. Don't hold this against James, though, you need to remember that this was the mid-'90s, and every boy loved games.
In the 10th grade, James reluctantly joined the high school film department and borrowed a camera to make his first movie, Attack of the Killer Lesbian Vampire Zombie Girls from Outer Space. This 35-minute short can be viewed on the Cinamassacre website today, and receives quite a few thumbs-and-all-up votes... but back in 1995, this kind of thing was too far ahead of its time. His film teacher, Mr. Smith, deemed it "complete filth and smut", expressing disappointment that wasn't given a part in the movie, and suspended Rolfe from school for 3 weeks.
After that incident, James would continue making short films, each slightly better than the last. In the 11th grade, he remade his original film with a new and younger cast and changed the title to James Rolfe and Mr. Smith Present: Attack of the Killer Bisexual Vampire Zombie Girls from Outer Space do the whole Football team. This time, he received an A++ and a scholarship to TCNJ. He had to use CGI girls, as when he asked female students to star in his movie, they responded "Fuck off, Nerrrrrd."
James excelled in all academic classes and was well on his way to becoming his class's valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA. However, his English class would prove to be his downfall, as his teacher would deduct points for every time he used the words "fuck", "shit", or "ass", often being presented in that order and combined with other words, which resulted in a negative score to his English results, but an A+ in his creative writing classes. Reports are found that James will forever be remembered as the student who apparently was constantly seen shoving Atari 5200 controllers up classmates' bums in the latrine because they could land the plane with ease in the video game Top Gun.
James spent four years at The College of New Jersey, where he majored in filmmaking. He made several short films, as well as a feature-length film titled Chris Bores Sucks. The movie was about James's built-up anger from his younger days, and was also the first movie he made that was not XXX rated. The film won "Best Runner-Up" at the Sundance Short Film Festival in 2001, coming in second to The Corner of My Bedroom Where Two Walls Meet.
During this time, James also created two short films about him blowing his top off at how terrible certain NES games from his childhood were, titled Angry Nintendo Nerd Tells You Why Castlevania II Sucks and Angry Nintendo Nerd Tells You Why Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Sucks. The shorts were only to be passed around by his friends to warn new-friends that this guy has a short temper and if he doesn't like you, he will invent new words to express his inner hatred towards you.
As per usual when you study something in the arts, the only job James could get upon graduation was creating industrial training videos, and later an even worse fate: editing together wedding videos at Cinemacake. It wasn't until 2006 that, as a joke, a friend of his put the Angry Nintendo Nerd videos up on YouTube, and James found his calling in life. To this day, those videos has spawned millions of views across the world. This was the beginning of how James was going to be able to make big money, without the fear of having to actually go and work a normal job from nine to five...lucky bastard.
To Play the Shitty Games That Suck Ass...for a living
With the phenomenal success of the first viral video, James figured he would make some more videos of himself getting angry at shitty games he hated as a kid. Soon new titles as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and The Karate Kid followed, each gaining James more and more popularity with internet folk. But it was when he reviewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that he went beyond viral. People stopped laughing at how pissed off this guy was, and actually started to find it humorous. A particular line of "Shredder is my balls, and Splinter is my ass" had people rolling on the floor laughing.
I guess you had to be there at the time, it's kinda lost its novelty now, but it did manage to make James's Angry Nintendo Nerd videos go so viral, he became the #1 most viewed YouTube user in six countries, quite an astonishing feat for someone who isn't being viewed because they have gigantic tits. James has gone on to make so many more of these Angry videos and is still going strong... sort of... to this day he has created over 165 of these things.
James soon signed a deal with ScrewAttack to put his videos on their site, and he is arguably the only reason anyone knows that site exists. In 2007, he began to upload AVGN videos on Gametrailers, and for the first time raked in cash to make these reviews. Since AVGN became so popular and got so many subscribers, people have tried to copy his style. They probably thought Internet fame would get them laid or something. The results have mostly been lackluster; only 10% of the "Angry Viewers" were not shit, and most of them who did originally churn out a good product have gone downhill later, thereby upping the shit-meter to 97%.
Irate Gamer Rivalry
During the time of James's rise to internet fame, he was also receiving attention from other sources on the web. Just after James posted a AVGN video based on Back to the Future the video game, another name from the past emerged on the net as competition for James. Another very similar character popped up who was also reviewing the same game, almost word for word. James received information about this copycat and was angered to see that it was his old Kindergarten archnemesis, Chris Bores, whom was calling himself The Irate Gamer.
Chris has caught on to James uprising, and chosen to use his trademark tactics of stealing James's work, and claiming it was his own. Speculation began to spread that James may have been copying Chris, so James filed a complaint to the authorities, but this did him no good, as the FBI just laughed about it saying it was ridiculous for two grown men to use the Internet for anything but porn. James felt he was on his own, and that even with his legion of followers at his beck and call, he couldn't do anything about this by reporting it. This was 2007 mind you; the Internet was not yet available to any schmuck with an iPhone, so few rules and regulations were enforced.
James figured he would have to look back into his past, to the time when they met, and find a solution. James knew he had a problem, and if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team. Unfortunately, the A-Team was busy trying to stop the motion picture remake of their show, so James had to result to lower tactics, and do something more drastic, more horrifying, and more cunning. He ordered one of the Irate Gamer's DVDs, and sure enough, there it was, clear as day, printed right there on the box it was shipped in... The home address of Chris Bores. With a quick Google search, James was able to find the home phone number of Chris Bores, and he did what any other true-blooded American man with a pissed off vendetta to get a no good dirty copy cat son of a bitch with... he got his mom to call Mrs. Bores and tattle on her son about what a naughty little brat her son was.
The day after this harsh event had taken place, Chris's YouTube channel had ceased to accept comments, and he was no longer allowed to make videos. He did, however, post on his website that he had been grounded for 6 years, was sent to bed without supper, and his mother has confiscated his Xbox. James celebrated this well and truly deserved victory by beating up Bugs Bunny in his next video and taking a massive dump on his face. Bugs Bunny was a clear metaphor for Chris Bores, any old fan knows this because the video game being reviewed Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout was not really all that bad of a game as James made out. However, real fans knew what the hidden meaning to the video review was.
Nostalgia Critic Rivalry
When AVGN fans started to draw comparisons between him and That Guy With the Glasses' Nostalgia Critic series, Doug Walker made a joke video calling the AVGN out, and urged him to "keep [his] fans under control". This was a poorly veiled attempt at generating a response and a future collaboration by piggybacking on his popularity. The Nerd responded with a forum post like one would do with something so blatantly transparent, to which the NC responded with a video, causing AVGN to take the bait and fall into the trap of unoriginality and pointless fluff.
The two fanbases merged, thereby benefiting the two reviewers by exchanging each other's fanbases. And, hell, it worked. Both peoples' fanbases grew and the two websites Cinemassacre and That Guy With the Glasses are now partnered with each other and exchange each other's hits every day, simply because they exist alongside one another and participated in a staged "fight".
Making a Movie
In 2010, James announced plans for an AVGN movie. Since the ad revenue he earned from Blip.tv, Cinemassacre, YouTube, GameTrailers and ScrewAttack wasn't enough to fund it, he solicited donations from his fans via IndieGogo, earning $75,000 in less than ten days. Soon he requested even more moolah, in case the AVGN movie was successful enough to have a sequel. In the end, James collected a grand total of $300,000, with many fans expressing disappointment that they weren't able to donate more. Jealous haters believed James would take money and run without delivering a movie, but true fans held out hope.
In 2014, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie was released to the joy of thousands of adoring fans to
torrent rent on YouTube. It follows AVGN on his quest to review E.T. for the Atari 2600, the "worst game ever made" which was allegedly buried in the Nevada desert. The film was considered something of a disappointment by fans, mainly due to its overblown plot and humor that resembled a Disney movie moreso than an AVGN episode, though hardcore fans defended the movie, claiming it was "intentionally bad" and a throwback to 1950s sci-fi B-movies.
Even though James promised he'd retire the AVGN character after the movie, fan demand made him decide to keep making AVGN episodes. James is balding, approaching middle-age, looks more stonyfaced than he did ten years ago, and just doesn't fit the nerd persona as well as when he was in college, prompting some fans to think he should just throw in the towel and devote more time to his family, because he doesn't seem to be having as much fun with the role anymore.
The Angry Video Game Nerd
In The Angry Video Game Nerd, viewers are transported back to the past, as Rolfe, in-character as "The Nerd", plays the "shitty games that suck ass". The games are of such substandard quality that Rolfe claims he'd rather have a buffalo "take a diarrhea dump in [his] ear", or "eat a rotten asshole of a road-killed skunk" and wash it down with beer. He also states then whenever you turn on your TV, you should always tune it in to channel 3 so you can play those shitty games.
AVGN is always seen wearing a white button-down shirt and a pocket protector filled with pens, though we never see him actually write anything down. He reviews the worst games of all time, which he considers "horrible abominations of mankind"—seriously, these games rip you off and don't care one bit. In each review, The Nerd asks engaging philosophical questions such as "Why can't a turtle swim?", "Why can't I land a plane?", "They got a quick buck for this shitload of fuck?!", "Why's the password so long?", and "Why don't the weapons do anything?" At the end of the review, he destroys the game with his trusty Zapper, concluding "This game is ass!"
AVGN's humor consists of fecal matter, excessive profanity, and random guest stars such as Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Bugs Bunny, Michael Myers, The Joker, Shit Pickle, and Super Mecha Death Christ 2000. These characters are played by James's friend Mike Matei, and he usually gets the living shit kicked out of him in every AVGN video. James often comes up with creative new swear words, usually with "fuck" at the end of a word; for example, "cockadoody bullfuck" or "shitload of fuck". He also takes a swig of his favorite beer, Rolling Rock, every three minutes to keep his sanity.
An annual horror-movie review marathon, where James reviews one classic horror movie a day throughout the month of October to celebrate Halloween. Conveniently, he has stopped indexing these videos under "Movie Reviews", forcing fans to work backwards through Cinemassacre blog archives just to figure out what he's done over the past few months.
James & Mike Play
A series where James and Mike play games together and exchange witty banter, minus the crude humor of the AVGN reviews. This is actually better than the newer AVGN episodes, but since Mike is in it, it's not all that funny.
You Wanna Know What's Bulllllshit?
A show narrated by The Bullshit Man, a separate character who totally isn't like the AVGN. He rants on small annoyances in life, like how hard it is to open the flaps on orange juice cartons, or how a hamburger contains no actual ham. Occasionally, he'll rant on a deliberately stupid topic (like temperature, pennies, or shoelaces) in order to fool his fans, the same ones who thought AVGN wasn't a character. The embarrassing shark-jump of the show came when it was revealed that The Bullshit Man's face is literally bullshit.
A show where James dresses up like a little boy and reviews board games from his childhood. It started off as a one time thing with the game Mouse Trap, but the fans soon craved more and he started pumping out these videos on a regular basis. At the start, it was a passable show, but in typical Rolfe fashion he soon ruined it by adding another character called Motherfucker Mike, played by the much-maligned Mike Matei. It's as annoying as it sounds.
Mike Matei videos
While James was off working on his movie, Mike Matei took over production of Cinemassacre videos. His first video was a nine-minute commentary on Elmo in Grouchland, which consists of Mike poorly imitating Elmo, inserting sex jokes into the context of a kid's movie, and laughing at his own wisecracks. His second video was a review of Minecraft, in which he discussed with Inspector Gadget how he loves to "build with brown bricks" in the game Miney Crafta. A large number of AVGN fans disliked the video and left numerous hateful comments. Mike couldn't handle these hurt feelings and pressure, so he made comments approval-only. Then he deleted all negative comments. Then he disabled ratings. Then he made the videos private. Finally, he pulled the videos from YouTube altogether.
During this time, many believed that Mike Matei was damaging James's reputation, with his censorship and cringeworthy sense of humor. After all, Mike couldn't just make his own YouTube channel since James's was partnered. Mike was also known to block users, since what are the odds that he'll block someone who is a legitimate AVGN fan and possibly donated to his movie?
In 2013, enthusiastic Steam users greenlit Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, a game where you play as The Nerd, while shooting—though oddly enough, not shitting on—enemies. The game is done in retro style, complete with 8-bit graphics and sound effects replicated from famous NES games.
With his donation drive coming to an end, James coincidentally decided to sell plushies of him and his side-character Shit Pickle for $18 each, further capitalizing off his success. It's pretty obvious that his fans bought these by the hundreds. What's next, Glitch Gremlin dildos?