Just A Geek (And Forty Thousand Other Geeks)

I just spent the last five days in Indianapolis, as I do every year, among my people. This year, one of our high priests was in attendance, disseminating the gospel of gaming to the masses. I like putting it like that, because it makes it sound like the person in question is an elitist, pretentious ass. Any of you who have had the pleasure to meet Wil Wheaton understand he’s the antithesis of a pompous ass. In fact, I’m pretty sure trying to prevent himself from getting con crud wasn’t the reason Wil didn’t want anybody to touch him this year. I think he got word that the biggest jerk in the world was going to be at Gen Con. If they’d touched, it would be like matter touching antimatter, and the entire Midwest would have been wiped off the globe. He has saved us all.

I’m sure many of you out there have stories about meeting Wil this year. This is mine.

I originally had plans Friday morning to go to a World of Warcraft TCG tournament. When I found out Wil would be speaking, I decided my Orgrimmar shaman rush deck could get completely torn apart another time. I made the right choice. I was pretty astounded at the size of the line to get in. I got there about 45 minutes early, and before long the line extended all the way out of the Westin grand ballroom, around the upstairs lobby, and out into the skywalk leading to the convention hall. The part of me that used to get upset when people would hate on Wesley Crusher was doing a merry jig.

Wil’s talk was amazing. He talked about how gaming helped him through the gauntlet of his school years. He talked about how gaming was the mortar that held the most important relationships of his life together. He talked about teaching values to his children through gaming. He encouraged us all to keep doing what we all love most, to dispel the negative stereotypes and welcome others into our world, and to make the world a better place 1d20 at a time.

I’m not going to lie, I left that room feeling pretty damn good about being a gaming blogger. Additionally, I’ve also been struggling recently with writer’s block, and Wil made me realize something important: it doesn’t matter as much what I write about so much as why. I felt renewed purpose and fire in my belly again, and I wanted to thank him.

Fortunately, I would have the opportunity to do so in the exhibit hall at the end of a giant, slow-moving line. I would later discover why that line was moving slowly – the man takes the time to talk to everyone. Even me. When it was my turn, I told him I wrote for Critical Hits (since he mentioned this one time that he reads us), and he said he loved the site and that it helped his game mastering skills and thanked me. Sorry, Wil. I may have been somewhat disingenuous. My official role here at Critical Hits is to do the potty humor and Mega Man game reviews. Despite this, I did still have the writer’s block, and so I thanked him for getting me on my feet again. He gave me some advice a friend gave him when he had the same trouble: to give yourself permission to keep going, and to write for your audience even if you don’t feel like writing for yourself. At least, that’s what I got out of it. Every neuron was fried with too much awesome. I’m sure he said more. I’m sure his friend had a name. All I knew is that one of my childhood (and later adulthood) heroes just took the time to personally help me out. I felt like I was talking to a kindred spirit. A friend.

Naturally, I had to take one of the most excellent experiences of my adult life and blow it at some point.

As you may have heard, Wil had asked that everyone give him one of their gaming dice. In his talk, he mentioned that he wanted to know if there was a story behind these dice. I had such a die. I had a ridiculous story to tell. And I remembered that I had both of these about two seconds after the guy running the line at the autograph table asked me to move on.

In retrospect, the smart thing to do would have been to drop the die in the cup, tell Wil thanks, and walk off feeling good about the universe. But no, I just had to tell my story. It’s a very good story. It’s the tale of my heavy metal bard and how he did the deed on top of the legendary Tarrasque, eventually conceiving a child. Told right, it moves people to tears and inspires works of art. I had visions of Wil snort-laughing and Felicia Day high-fiving me for being super rad. However, given that I only had three seconds, I blurted out something along the lines of “OKAY I WILL MAKE THIS QUICK THIS DIE HAS A STORY AND THAT STORY IS THAT I CONCEIVED A CHILD ON TOP OF THE TARRASQUE”.

Wil looks at me and says, “uh huh…” in a very polite way, as I am shuffled away to let the next person through. Well, of course he did. I turned into that guy. And I realized something very important. Just as Gamera is the Friend to All Children, Wil Wheaton is the Friend to All Gamers. I genuinely believe the guy would hang out with every last one of us if he could, but he’s loved by so many that it’s just not possible. Also, there is that problem with his nuclear fire and impenetrable carapace.

So, anyway. Wil, if you’re reading this….. well, sorry about being a toolbox there at the end. And really, thanks for the advice, and for dispelling my writer’s block. Even my rolling a 1 in your presence made me want to write.


  1. You know, stories like these induce cringes that resemble strokes, as my entire body convulses in embarrassment. And it’s not embarrassment for you, but rather seeing myself doing exactly the same thing. Oh, the pain, the pain!

    It’s most excellent you can be this honest, even about these sorts of agonizing moments. Ouch, I can still feel the pain.

  2. Right on Vanir! There is no shame when you are this close to nerd Nirvana! I’m glad you got to talk to him.

  3. Last time I met someone I really admired, I blurted out that she was my biggest fan…

    So don’t feel bad about it. It’s actually a sign of humility — you know that you only have a few seconds to say what you have to say and you don’t take the time to think it through.

    Also, stress.

  4. Had I been there to talk to him, it would have gone much more smoothly. I’m pretty sure it would have gone something like this…

    Charisma shakes Will’s hand…
    Tries to say “Hi,” but instead says “Hem.”
    Stammers for a minute, but then finally figures out what to say…


  5. You’re a braver man than I…

    … and that’s exactly why I did not even get in line to meet Mr. Wheaton. I was concerned I’d blurt out something like, “I loved Wesley Crusher!”, which would almost certainly elicit some odd stares, as well as mothers pulling their children away from the strange middle-aged man.

    But seriously, I have always felt Wheaton got needlessly abused by that character…

    At least I have a pic of Wil signing autographs in the Exhibition Hall, and I’m contented enough with the knowledge that he’s a great friend of his fellow gamers and geeks. Just seeing him there surrounded by fans gave me cause to smile, and a good GenCon memory.