in which wil goes HULK SMASH

Last night, I was supposed to perform in the Thrilling Adventure Hour at Largo with a bunch of my friends, and a bunch of people who I really admire. Unfortunately, the sinus infection I was fighting all week had other plans, so I stayed home and rested on the couch with a screening of Repo Man.

I ended up sort of live-tweeting the thing, with silly pictures and quotes from the movie, which I did with Forbidden Zone awhile back. I'm not sure if it was as amusing to Twitter as it was to me, but it was still fun.

At that point, I could have gone to bed, but I thought I'd check Twitter to see if anyone had clever Repo Man references to toss back at me (they did) or if anyone was amused by it (some were). Then I caught this thing that made me explode into HULK SMASH for the first time in … I can't even remember the last time I was as angry. Here's an image that someone uploaded of the ensuing ragefest, which was captioned "Damn, Wil Wheaton is a jerk."

(click to embiggen at Imgur)

So reading that back today, I can totally see how I come off as a raging asshole. I make no excuse, but I wanted to offer a bit of context and perspective that 140 characters doesn't allow.

First, a little history: At PAX in 2007, I was approached by some folks from the ECA, who asked me if I'd endorse their organization. I'm very reluctant to do this sort of thing, because I feel like high-profile people tend to throw their support behind every cause in the world, and when I support an organization, I want it to actually mean something, instead of being just another entry on a list.

I looked at what ECA does, and I was impressed. I thought that it was a good idea for gamers to have a lobby in government, and I thought it would be great to educate non-gamers about who we are in a way that would dispel the hysteria spouted about us by politicians and other moralizers who demonize gamers and the games we play for their own political purposes.

I signed up, and I gave ECA a quote that I've since forgotten, but was signed, "Wil Wheaton – actor, author, gamerdad."

About a week after that went live on the ECA website, some guy who apparently trademarked the term gamerdad – oh, excuse me, gamerdad™ – e-mailed me with this long and rambling rant about how I was using his trademark without his permission, how he had some history with ECA that made this nefarious, and a bunch of other stuff I've also forgotten. I forget how ECA got involved, but the end result is the organization caved to this guy almost instantly, and took the "gamerdad" out of my endorsement.

You know, writing about this now, the whole thing seems really stupid and petty, but I was pissed. I remember saying to a friend of mine, "The ECA won't stand up to some crackpot who's basically being a patent troll, and I'm supposed to expect them to stand up to Congress? I can't be part of this organization."

I didn't want to make a big public scene (I waited until last night for that! Yeah! Go Wil! You're SMRT!) and the ECA people seemed nice and genuinely interested in making a positive difference in gamers' lives, so I kept my annoyance to myself, but I didn't renew my membership. I saw Hal Halpin at PAX the following year, and I told him how disappointed I was in ECA for not standing up to that guy and leaving me sort of out in the wind, and I couldn't vocally support the ECA because of it.

So last night, when I saw GamePolitics, which is part of ECA, Twittering what I interpreted as a passive/aggressive slam at me ("Ya, Wil is good, but what does he advocate for gamers/gaming?") something in my brain snapped, and I went HULK SMASH.

Maybe I misinterpreted it — I tell my kids that you can't get tone and nuance in text messages, so it's important to think carefully about how you engage people when you're only using text — but when GamePolitics replied to my "Really?" with "Other than Net Neutrality…" and "While I've really enjoyed your keynote speeches at PAX, it's not really representing" it seemed pretty clear to me that whoever writes GamePolitics was being deliberately obtuse, was genuinely ignorant, or was just being a jerk. Take my history of annoyance with ECA and stack this on top of it, and I was Godzilla in Tokyo. Hell, I was MechaGodzilla cranked up to 11 … ON FIRE.

If GamePolitics was just some random person, I probably would have just ignored it and gone to bed, but since it's part of ECA, I expected GamePolitics to know better. Since I expected GamePolitics to know better, I assumed that he/she/it was either deliberately insulting me, or making a conscious effort to minimize the things I've worked really hard to do.

See, I've worked really hard to advocate for gamers. I spent months writing my keynotes for PAX Prime in 2007 (message: We're not the bloodthirsty psychopaths some in the media say we are, and the best way we can prove them wrong is by example. Also, don't be a dick.) and my keynote to PAX East earlier this year (message: Playing game brings people together, and PAX is a time and place where we can celebrate the things we love.) I published a chapbook for GenCon this year called Games Matter, for frak's sake, about exactly that! 

I've written dozens of columns for a number of diverse publications about games and gaming, and I've worked really, really hard to remove the media-created stigma associated with being a gamer.

When I got pissed at GamePolitics last night, I wasn't saying, "I'm Wil Fucking Wheaton, man. Don't you know who I am?" (Which, I was very sad to see, a lot of people seem to have thought I was saying) as much as I was saying, "I'm really hurt and offended that: a) you are supposed to represent gamers and don't know how I've tried to advocate for us; or b) you're minimizing the things I've done to advocate for us."

The responses I got on Twitter from GamePolitics last night just made me more and more angry. I felt like I was talking to a child who had broken my Death Star, and then sat next to it in mock innocence wondering why it was in so many pieces. Taken in context in the clear light of day, it doesn't seem to be quite like that, but that's how I interpreted it at the time, and I reacted accordingly.

I hope this gives some context to why I got so angry. I'm not offering excuses, just hoping to clarify. I should have just written a private e-mail, but I let my passions get the better of me. I'm human, and I do things I regret from time to time.

I'm sorry that so many people had to witness me explode in furious anger, and I am embarrassed that I lost my temper. I hope this doesn't get me voted off of Gamer Island, or invalidate the times I've tried to live my life's philosophy — Don't Be A Dick — by example.

Added: after much thought, and some discussions with trusted friends, I publicly apologized on Twitter to GamePolitics for losing my shit at him/her/it last night. I'm not saying that I'm sorry for getting upset, and I'm still not entirely sure what his/her/its motives were, but that's not really the issue: I regret the way I behaved, and I'm embarrassed that I did it in public. I don't view this as some Team Wheaton / Team The Other Guys thing, and I hope we can all learn something from this about how we communicate and treat each other. Well, I hope I can, anyway; what you do is up to you.

250 thoughts on “in which wil goes HULK SMASH”

  1. I had a few thoughts while reading the exchange.
    a) For a group engaging in politics, they did a very poor job of communication. It kind of supports the theory that they shouldn’t be in this business.
    b) You were up too late with a sinus infection.
    I suspect that their meaning of “represent” in the context of politics. While Net Neutrality fits that definition for them, the issues around perception of gamers as violent does not.

  2. You had every right to be upset. They were rude and way out of line. I think some people just like trouble. You are the better man. Love ya man…don’t let them get you down. We are still cheering for you. :)

  3. Good post Wil…
    It sounds like you tried to look at it both ways.
    Isn’t there a quote about one shouldn’t discuss politics?
    Maybe you can add GAMEPOLITICS to that generic list. LOL

  4. When I was reading the Twitter stream as it happened, it seemed to me that Wil was heading into ‘dick’ territory. This blog post clears things up a lot for me, for which I thank Wil. Context makes a huge difference. I also have a lot of personal experience with huge temper flare ups over matters that, in the clearer light of a slightly removed perspective, turn out to be unworthy of my wrath.
    That said, I think this suggests a clear corrolary for the ‘Don’t be a dick’ byline, that being: ‘We are all dicks from time to time’ ;)

  5. Hmm. Bottom of the heap again.
    I know who GamerDad is– he’s basically providing parents some perspectives on what video games are appropriate for their children. (Yeah, I included a link. Heh!)
    Oh yeah… he capitalizes “G” and “D”! So really, I don’t quite understand why he got his shorts in a bunch, because… you didn’t. Are the masses that dumb to confuse what you said with him? Ehhh… maybe, but again, he is GamerDad, and you said “gamerdad”.
    My first thought was, “oh, he’s a gamer, he is a dad, he is introducing his kids to gaming.” I wasn’t confused.

  6. I totally got why you were angry. I mean, almost everything Game Politics said was the wrong thing to say. And God Knows I’ve got 100 tweet arguments that put that lil’ spat to SHAME.
    On the other hand, “.@GamePolitics If you don’t know what I’ve advocated – and continue to advocate – for gamers, you have no business claiming to represent us.”, is basically “Hi, I’m Wil Wheaton and when it comes to this I’m kind of a big deal.”
    NOTHING wrong with you saying that, as I believe the statement happens to be true.
    But you calming down, and apologising is an incredibly classy act. So, score one for having “trusted friends” (I’m imagining Morgan Freeman imparting sage wisdom as you mop a floor).

  7. In @GamerPolitic’s pitiful, PITIFUL defence, they actually just used the “@wilw” from an existing re-tweet. I don’t believe it was actually meant to be directed at Wil. Which makes them seem even more incompetent, but y’know.

  8. “How does Wil advocate for gamers?”
    “Your keynote speeches at PAX, it’s not really representing”
    Someone should write “Don’t be a dick” on a big plank and hit this guy over the head with it.

  9. You know, it’s quite possible that Wil was overreacting and the Gamepolitics guy didn’t mean to be so passive aggressive. It is also possible that Wil was right and the Gamepolitics guy was being a dick. (dbad!)
    But what makes me firmly stand on the side of Wil is the fact that he thought about it, publicly apologized just in case and then wrote this article explaining it and acknowledging that he might actually be wrong.
    Gamers have gotten an identity, we are part of the community now. Pax is fantastic and we are no longer just some kids that can be attacked by nutjobs who need a target of the day. Gaming has value and we are convincing the world of that. And Wil Wheaton is one of the most important figures in that evolution. Game on!

  10. Right or wrong, it’s good that you were the bigger man and apologised. It’s easy to fly off the handle and regret doing it, however, it’s not so easy apologising for the outburst especially when you don’t consider yourself to be in the wrong.
    Props for that matey.

  11. Geekenstein: What is the internet for, if not soapboxing? :) (Also, that’s a word now.) But I think your point is well-taken, that whether intentionally or not, our dear Mr Wheaton has become a public figure when it comes to games and gaming, and as such, he’s going to get baited by people looking to bolster their own claims of authority for that community. But I’m not sure it’s fair to be annoyed that he took the bait – as much as ‘don’t feed the trolls’ is as good advice for politics as it is for the internets, unfortunately, when people are claiming to represent a community that includes you and people you care about, you have to speak up and say if they don’t, as it really is true that decisions are made by the people who show up! Gamepolitics can continue to claim to represent gamers, only so long as no one calls them out for it.
    Paul: I think there might be two different kinds of advocacy being used interchangeably here. One is being a public face, and I’ll grant you that Wil is probably not that well-known outside gamer/nerd circles (and I agree with whomever above pointed out that it’s really weird to talk about Mr Wheaton in the third person on his own blog . . . um, hi, Wil! *waves*). The other kind of advocacy, especially for a community like gamers who are often accused of being crazed, isolated, violent sociopaths, is to offer counter-examples of self-regulation and self-awareness within the community, and that’s what Wil has done. He may not be the first person everyone in the world thinks of for ‘hey, what do gamers think about x?’, but he is someone the community can point to when people say ‘oh, but gamers don’t care about x.’
    Incidentally, Wil (or anyone really): this proves that whereas I am a nerd, I’m really not a gamer, but what does ECA stand for? I was trying to figure out if they were a registered political action committee or not. The other problem here is that there are a lot of faux-PACs that claim to speak with authority for both the community they represent and the government, when they really don’t have sway with either.

  12. In retrospect I might also argue that Wil (Hi!) is not ONLY well-known inside the geek/gamer circle but outside it as well, partly because he does do stuff outside the ‘genre’ (Stand by Me and Leverage being the ones that leap immediately to mind) and partly because he has done work in shows that appeal to people outside the circle whether they be geeky or not. My wife, who is neither a gamer nor a geek (but IS a champion of the ::eyeroll::, knows who Wil is, and not from my fanboy babbling either.

  13. If you were embarrassed by your reaction, look on the bright side. Something good has come of it, i.e. this lively and interesting debate. So there you go. You’re welcome :)

  14. We all say things we regret. This alone does not make us bad people. It’s when we habitually behave the same way to others publicly that makes us “douches”. Overcompensation is, perhaps, a way of being a douche. But, again, if it is done with regularity. I have been lurking this blog for nearly a year now. Though I never met Wil in person (as no one believes there are gamerss here in Regina, SK so no annual events come here), and I’ve never conversed with him on twitter or any other medium, this is the only time I have seen him flip. Does this make him a douche? No. I’ve never seen him behave in a manner that would lend me to believe he has an elitist attitude. I’ve seen the opposite. Wil doesn’t know me. But I know him enough to say that he is not like that. Am I a brown-noser for saying so? I guess that would depend on how you define it. It definitely seems that brown-nosing is something you find extremely offensive. That’s fine, you are just as human I hope. Otherwise, why are aliens so interested in Wil Wheaton all of a sudden?.

  15. Very much in agreement Chris, the differences in reactions today have further clarified to my mind who was being a dick here.
    Wil apologised to the stream and hosted this article, gamepolitics when tweeted directly to them and Wil by HalHalpin saying he had shot Wil an emailing to clarify the status between ECA and gamepolitics felt the need to retweet it.
    Why ?
    It seemed a little NER NER to me, I think whomever is on the other end of that keyboard just has a problem with context and tone.
    It struck me as a strange thing to do anyway with no gain.

  16. Wil, dude, you’re golden, no worries.
    I read the tweet exchange. I thought your opponent was trolling, especially being obtuse.
    There are ALWAYS haters. Sure, maybe regret being baited into a fight. But consider: lions have to occasionally roar to protect their turf. If only to remind the haters not to mistake kindness for weakness.
    I appreciate you sharing the gamerdad ™ vs ECA history. I don’t trust orgs that don’t fight for their principles.

  17. I don’t participate in Twitter things, but I do like your blog. You seem a very down-to-earth person with a good head on his shoulders.
    Concerning any overreacting here, let’s take into account that:
    1. You are, as far as we all know, human.
    2. It was late at night.
    3. You have The Yuck all up in your nose-space.
    4. You’ve recently had to step down from participating in something you not only obviously enjoy, but had a hand in creating.
    Everyone loses their cool at some point, and given that guy’s comments and the things I’ve listed above, your reaction is understandable. The situation was not prime for you to react in a Buddha-like manner.
    As for your contributions, it’s obvious to me that “gamepolitics” either sets his(?) bar ridiculously high, or that he(?) wanted to provoke a reaction from you by saying these things. I, however, set my bar pretty low as far as gaming advocacy goes. You take the time away from spending it with your family in order to attend these conferences and conventions, and to be a voice to us gamers and geeks everywhere that – hey! – our shared hobbies are acceptable and even good. To me, that alone is above and beyond what most self-proclaimed gamers do for the rest of us. I thank you and others like you for what you do.
    So don’t sweat it, Wil Wheaton. From what I’ve glanced over in the comments, nearly all your blog readers and Twitter followers still think that You’re Okay. Just take this, like anything else, as a lesson about yourself and about life.
    ~Lauren
    /ramble

  18. You are a classy gentleman, and I’m glad I didn’t let my opinion of you waver when I saw that stuff on Twitter last night.
    Every story has two sides and we’re all just people. Everybody gets upset at times; only good people take responsibility and apologize after the fact.
    Kudos to you good sir!

  19. Don’t worry, Wil. We (when I say ‘we’ I refer to myself and an invisible community…..) won’t hold it against you. It happens to everyone: no one will remember this in three years. However, this blog post did help, and we thank you for the clarification.

  20. Wil (hi!) has posted before that he reads all the posts to this site. If so, it’s a wonder he’s got time for anything else! :-)
    But, to paraphrase Rahm Emanuel, never let a good crisis go to waste. Seems to me this is an eminently teachable moment on many levels: ease of misconstruing things in the micro-fractured world of social media; the fact that so many are discussing the ramifications of such an occurrence; the way celebrity (in whatever context) colors so many perceptions; how even a successful person seemingly at peace with who s/he is can suddenly have a relapse of self-doubt and -confidence (I do hope Prove To Everyone remains banished); the value of owning up when one does not live up to one’s high standards.
    There is a tale of humanity here, and Wil, eventually your thoughtful mind will find valuable lessons about which I predict you will, in due course, write quite an essay. I look forward to that. We already know that Wil makes some damn fine lemonade.
    Dave

  21. I must agree that they seemed completely out of line. I have to wonder, though, if at any point they could have calmed you down with a quick “@wilw Shut up, Wesley.”

  22. The way I saw it, the difference comes down to interpetation of the words Advocate and Represent. Gamepolitics meant it in a politicial fashion. Wil meant it in a more personal fashion. Does Wil advocate to (and for) gamers, does he represent gamers? Yes, he writes books that talk to all kinds of people, and he does indeed embody many of the values that gamers view as laudable. Does he go to Washington to lobby against politicians? Not so much. Both were right, but it’s imperative that the person ASKING the question be sure to define it well enough to avoid misinterpretation.
    In many ways though, this represents to me one of the failings of Twitter. Twitter is different for people than for businesses. This is a factor many people disregard. If a news agency posts on Twitter, they are not bound by the rules that bind people, they should be asking themselves, “Would we post this on our front page?” Gamepolitics didn’t comport themselves in a manner that would be acceptable in an interview. They were not clear, they caused offense, and they didn’t make a valid attempt to clarify their questions. I would’ve expected any dialogue a news agency had with a public figure in a public venue to have been conducted in the same fashion as a professional interview.
    As far as I’m concerned, Wil Wheaton can do whatever he feels like. He’s a private citizen who got pulled into a conversation by a news organization. Gamepolitics however never presented any personal credentials of the journalist, didn’t clarify their interview questions, made comments that were not professional (“If I knew what he was offended by, it might help…”), and generally didn’t accept any responsibility for drawing Wil Wheaton into the conversation by questioning Wil directly. It probably would’ve been different if whomever were posting for Gamepolitics had used his personal twitter instead of posting using the official corporate account. I’d be interested if Gamepolitics would feel comfortable publishing all the Twitter messages involved on their front page. If they’re not, then they shouldn’t have been posting them on Twitter in the first place. Obviously Wil Wheaton didn’t post anything he is afraid of.
    Sorry for the wall of text.

  23. Hello, Mr. Wheaton and crowd, I would like to say thank you to you, Wil, for this posting. I have only been following this blog, or you in general, for a short while now. But I have done some research and have been thoroughly impressed by your interest and commitment to a lifestyle that is so universally ridiculed. So when I saw this exchange on Twitter I was confused. I was unaware of your history with the ECA, and your responses seemed inconsistent with the personality I have seen you display in the past.
    I don’t want to comment on who was right or wrong because it is not my place to decide such things. I am glad to see that you regret the situation, and I think because of that and your public apology that this situation in no way invalidates anything you have done in the past. Again, thank you for the explanation and context, and for giving me something truly worthwhile to make my first comment about. I am very glad to have you out there representing myself and my gamer friends. Carry on sir.

  24. As an amateur activist against passive-aggression, that’s what I saw on the part of the GamePolitics tweeter.
    Likely, in his head he was thinking, “Will left our organization, so now we have to either bully him back, or discredit what he is doing in a subtle way.” But what the same douche didn’t understand is that not bows their head to subtle insinuations.
    That aside, in the GPtweeter’s mind you betrayed them without telling them why you just “up and left.” And, the GPtweeter is just one person in a large organization (that clearly needs to reassess who represents them.) It’s possible all of this could have been averted by talking to them directly about why you chose to let your membership lapse either immediately after or an email just after the first few lobs into the twittersphere, but we may never know.
    After a food fight everyone looks like a mess.
    However, after this because you have an explanation and a group of people who follow your blog, you are going to be exonerated, and they are going to look like they need to do internal infrastructure changes. Bottom line, the passive-aggressive GPtweeter likely will lose his job or be forever demoted never to make another tweet for the organization. If they are smart about it, they will ask for a short exit interview just after a membership lapses. It could do a lot to avoid these dramas in the future and perhaps retain membership. They just lost a lot of credibility in the gamer community by coming across as dicks.
    Best to you Will. Hubby and I always look forward to seeing you in basically anything you do.
    Kam
    PS: cute/small wilw reference in hilarious song by Garfunkel and Oats. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stEXPIh9Qi0&

  25. Passive-aggressive people (PAP) try to bait and rile someone else because they are personally upset with them for undisclosed reasons.
    PAPs attempt to do it in a subtle way so that they can feign innocence if anyone calls them out on it.
    PAPs play it like a game: if they can get you upset, and themselves look perhaps misunderstood, then in their mind, they have won.
    GamePolitics’ tweeter is passive-aggressive. In his mind, he won.
    We know better.

  26. I think you and I have talked about why I don’t have any interest in being an internet personality like you are. I’ve found that in person, I can get all up in arms in front of someone based on an accurate read of what they mean, and don’t have any fear that they will misinterpret me. But I simply don’t have the tools to carry on an argument on Twitter. I can’t say what I mean in that space, and I can’t assume anyone else has the space and inflection to say what they mean. So I turtle up and let it all pass. Which is probably also not the right approach, since people have said some unfortunate things about me that I’ve very much wanted to respond to, and have later regretted that I haven’t. But I haven’t been able to have it both ways. Anyway, I doubt that helps much, but I figured it was worth saying. Glad you worked it out.
    Mike Selinker

  27. Reminded me kinda of this situation during the 2010 Olympics: http://bit.ly/cuQcp5
    The difference was he seemd to be in that “Don’t you know who I am?” mode more than Wil was.
    In both cases there was an element of miscommunication, but also certainly ignorance by someone who shouldn’t be, given who they are and what their job was.
    On a personal note, I’d have to say that Wil’s advocacy brought me to the Humble Indy Bundle and the Child’s Play charity. I would have never accessed these aspects of gaming without Wil’s influence.
    I know there some talk about the semantics of the word “advocate” but I don’t think Wil needs to go on CNN and speak to the heathens to be an advocate. That, to me, is just a specific type of advocacy.
    What Wil does is definitely another type. He communicates on all sorts of forums, some of which are as worldwide as CNN (books, blogs, Youtube vids, tv news programs, speeches at cons, on stage at w00tstock, twitter, etc.), in support of gamers and gaming.
    Further, and more importantly to me, he has acted as an advocate, in playing games for his own benefit, playing games for other’s benefit, playing games to learn, playing games to teach, even recently choosing to play instead of do the celebrity thing.
    To me that’s plenty of advocating.
    So, as I’ve said before, keep doing what you do Wil. It’s important to a lot of people.

  28. A lot of my issue with your original comment was the assertion that @GamerPolitics wasn’t acting like a child and that Wil was.
    Wil might’ve overreacted a tad, and passionate + questioned about that passion + sick = give him a pass even if he is a role model. Not really childish.
    Someone who’s supposed to be a journalist using phrasings and word choices THAT poor and obviously doing only barely minimal research really makes me think of a kid working on a school newspaper for the first time. So in that way, yes @GamerPolitics was being childish, though the honest perplexity and seeking to actually know (and maybe correct?) what made Wil go “HULKSMASH” was definitely more adult.
    Basically, I saw (and still see) it as a relatively small overreaction to someone being very lazy and completely unprofessional in a way that was remarkably easy to mistake for a near-personal attack.

  29. Maybe I’m an idiot but I just don’t get it. I know that you go to a lot of comic book conventions and events and I know that you like and enjoy gaming and that you are very public about it but I don’t know if that is the same as advocating for gamers. I am also not sure that speeches delivered to what I presume is an audience of probable gamers is advocating so much an attempt to guide other gamers….. I tend to think of advocating as someone attempting to change the minds of mainstream culture and/or people on the other side of the debate or even folks that are undecided. Often I would put what you do into the column of preaching to the choir, which is not a bad thing. It’s good for people (lots of people) to be told not to be dick. But I just do not see it as advocating.
    I would not question your loyalty to or love for gaming. I only wonder if what you do is actually advocating or just being a public figure who is actively involved with gaming (which can, in and of itself) help remove the stigma.
    Just my thoughts.

  30. Hey Wil
    saw the tweets, read the blog entry here, and I can’t help but think you were being punked just a little bit. I’ve been reading this site for what seems to be the better part of a decade, and am well aware of your passion for gaming. What occurs to me is that the person who you were beefing with kept saying ‘im a fan, but…’ and seemed to know about your PAX keynotes etc….kinda seems a bit bullshit to suddenly not know the rest of your resume, so to speak….
    I would have been mad as hell as well…..
    I think they were being rude, and deserved to be called out for it.
    You may have gone HULK SMASH etc, but i probably would have as well….
    If anything, you’re even cooler in my books now bro ;)
    cheers
    tyson

  31. No matter what happened I’d like to commend you on coming back the next day and realizing that it could be taken as an over-reaction and apologizing in public for that. Most of us would not have the guts to do that and instead would wait for it to fade into history. Thanks for being a good example especially when it’s not easy.

  32. I’ll be honest – just reading your side of the conversation in Twitter, I think you came across as a tool the other night. That doesn’t mean you *are* a tool, mind you, and with this added context (some of which I knew already, and some of which was new to me), I can sure see where you were coming from. At the end of the day, my read here is that you could have been a lot classier in your initial response to the whole thing – but who hasn’t been guilty of that once in a while?

  33. Wil,
    I’m not going to get into this specific instance, research it etc…
    But I do want to make a couple comments.
    1> When we’re passionate about something, sometimes we go overboard, and that’s just the cost of really genuinely caring about something. So IMHO…no harm no foul here.
    2> What you do, for gamers, and for people who know gamers is FAR more important than ANY organization can do. Don’t forget it. Seriously. I don’t care about political lobying. I do care about having an advocate for something that is personally very important to me that I can point to and say “Here read his book, maybe you’ll understand ME a little better for it.” or “Hey, watch this you tube clip of a speech that really says some things that are important to me, maybe my hobbies and things I enjoy won’t seem so mystical and hazy to you”
    3> I’d like to propose a corollary to your “Don’t be a dick” rule.
    When someone else is a dick, don’t sweat it.

    As someone who lived through the viscious anti-D&D years where I was called all kinds of names and made to feel wrong and less for my hobby your efforts mean more than you likely know.
    Anyone who suggests, directly or indirectly, that you haven’t been an important force in the industry is either ignorant, or baiting you. So I say see #3 above.
    Keep fighting the good fight, even if that includes an occasional “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” moment.

  34. Guess its another case of the one-douchebag-can-ruin-your-day rule.
    He deserved it. If he didn’t see what you put fourth in PAX as advocacy, he’s a clueless useless jerk.

  35. GamesPolitics was a great example of how to fail at social media – the tone was so unprofessional.
    FWIW, GamerDad is actually a guy who makes a living blogging and doing public appearances as GamerDad. He’s not a patent troll as far as I can tell, just a games blogger who blogs about games to play with your kids. It doesn’t seem unreasonable for him to try to protect his persona, since he’s been building it up for a while.

  36. I for one (perhaps representing others with the same reaction) read it first on your blog, and my first take was,”You go, Wil!”
    Your comments in response immediately moved you up a notch or two in my book. That your whole ‘tude afterward was apologetic only added to the warm fuzzies, so Wookie fist-bumps to you.

  37. I have to wholeheartedly agree with twitter/com/rocza. I am a sci-fi fan, but am not a “gamer.” However, I appreciate the gamer world and all that it represents. I’ve learned more about the gamer world from Wil and I’m glad for it! I now have aspirations to attend my first “con” in the next 12 months and have vowed to attend W00tstock next time it’s in Seattle. Wil is reaching the masses by leading by example – the best way to reach people IMHO.
    As for the HULKSMASH moment, Wil, I read the thread the same way you did and completely understand why you said what you said. The fact that you were compelled to give us all context and offer an apology for your behavior proves to me that you are the living embodiment of “Don’t Be A Dick.” Even when you (in my eyes) were perfectly justified in your response, you chose to take the higher road and make sure that your words/actions were not interpreted incorrectly and made great efforts to correct any ills you felt you committed.
    All of this hits home for me because just over the weekend I witnessed a horrible barrage of crap being doled out to a friend of mine via FB and it was horrifying how classless these people could behind the wall of the “internets.” I immediately thought of “Don’t Be A Dick” and wished that these idiots were privy to that rule of thumb.
    Bravo Wil. You are a stand up individual and you are enriching many more lives than you realize simply by living life to the best of your ability.
    Keep being awesome. (And come back to Seattle soon.)

  38. Dear Will;
    This incident had spurred me to finally write to you about something I want to apologize to you for.
    I met you at Emerald Con one year. I got you to sign your book and I chatted with you briefly.
    Towards the end of our chat, I said that I hoped you would keep being honest in your blog posts, because I felt that was when your writing was at it’s best, even when doing so cast you in an unfavorable light at times.
    See that’s what I MEANT to say. Instead I said, “even when doing so makes you look like a dick”.
    You replied you try very hard not to be a dick, and I said we could all be dicks sometimes.
    I doubt you remember this but it bothers me because I feel I offended you. I want to take this moment to apologize for that.
    I was finally spurred do this because I think this post clarifies what I was trying to say. By writing about losing your temper and how you felt about it afterwards I felt a connection with you.
    I know how it feels not to have lived up to your own standards for personal behaviour. I also know what it feels like to need to do something about it, even if noone else in the world cares.
    Hence, my apology to you.
    Your words rang true, Will. I feel a little less weird and out of place. That’s why I read you. Thanks.

  39. Honestly, I think you totally were in the right. It seemed to me like @GamePolitics was either spoiling for some Twitter drama or else has so little idea of how to publicly comport himself that he shouldn’t be doing social media for his website. Had he responded to your initial annoyed comment with “Wow, @wilw! I’m sorry, I just wanted more information about what you do for gamer advocacy. Can you tell me a little about it?” I don’t believe there would have been a situation. I don’t know you personally, but I feel, particularly after having read this blog, that you would have cooled down if he had responded with any kind of respect.
    Regardless of whether you are FUCKING WIL WHEATON or anybody else in the gamer community who has put in the time that you have connecting with gamers and speaking for them, GamePolitics doesn’t have the chops to disrespect publicly someone who is so entrenched in the community. I checked out his site. It doesn’t seem that popular (or at least.. it wasn’t.. until he started some shit on Twitter with wilw, maybe?). He’s the gamer’s version of a social climber and you had every right to be upset that this punk was disrespecting you. Considering it did not seem to disintegrate into name-calling, threats, or even vulgarity, I don’t think it could or should be viewed as anything but heat-of-the-moment anger and incredulity.
    I also don’t think that his demeanor was 100% genuine. He claimed to be familiar with you and a fan, but his tone was utterly disrespectful. He did a 180 and claimed you were upset because he had “complimented” you (where? I saw no genuine compliment) and then QQ’d on Twitter to make himself seem like a victim. Very distasteful.

  40. I read every word of that image and I don’t think you came across as “I’m Wil Fucking Wheaton, man. Don’t you know who I am?” as you say lots of people thought. To me it seems like you were pissed that they either don’t know what you have done to lift gamers and games up in public opinion or they don’t care what you have done or don’t think you have done enough.
    I think I would have gotten just as pissed if I were you. I think you are stronger then I am because you are able to apologize when I don’t think one should be needed. So I say WOW! Way to go! I wish I could be that strong.

  41. Your pedantry is not surprising. Anyhow, if you’d read closer, you’d see that I meant that the PERSON BEHIND THE TWITTER ACCOUNT does not represent the WHOLE of the ECA.
    Obviously they BELONG to it.

  42. I don’t really see how GP’s end of the exchange can be explained by anything other than maliciousness or incompetence. Sadly that doesn’t surprise me, because Gamepolitics has gone to crap since Dennis left (which depresses me on a regular basis as I used to LOVE that site).

  43. What is the big hairy deal if you misunderstood got pissed and let it out? Why do we have to be nice and appropriate all the time? That’s how people get ulcers. We’re not stepfords. We do have emotions and sometimes they get the best of us. So, just own it, apologize, and move on. You shouldn’t be made to feel you have to write a thousand-word essay to do it, either. Just, “I got pissed. I thought they meant A when they really meant B. Sorry.”

  44. Here’s my delayed thoughts on the matter:
    As someone who’s been generally clueless as to what you’ve accomplished in terms of gaming advocacy, I will admit I was surprised and confused by the whole ordeal as it unfolded on twitter. Honestly, the only reason I followed you in the first place is because I read Jeph Jacques’s Questionable Content, saw some of your back-and-forth tweets with him, and liked what I saw you posting on twitter. I didn’t watch Star Trek much as a kid, so you were pretty much a complete stranger to me, and I didn’t really do much research beyond reading some of your blog posts.
    I didn’t know much of your history with the gamers’ community until this incident unfolded and you linked to this blog post on twitter. Now, having a better idea of what you’ve done and what you stand for, I can completely understand why you reacted the way you did. Everyone has those HULK SMASH moments, you’re no worse than any of the rest of us.
    And to be honest, on a personal level, I’m glad I saw it happen. I’m a not-quite-hardcore gamer myself and I’ve always thought that the way gaming has been looked at by the media has been, for lack of a more polite term, complete bullshit. Sadly, I didn’t realize that there were people out there who were fighting to change that, but now that I know more about the issue, I am very glad to see that people like you exist.
    Also, the fact that you apologized for reacting that way while still standing up for your opinion on the matter just increases my respect for you.

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