Category Archives: Games

West Coast – I’m on WPT tonight

just found out that I’m on the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel tonight. It’s the WPT Invitational from Commerce Casino, where I outlasted all the other celebrity players and finished 23rd to land $10,000 for City of Hope. I doubt I’ll get much screen time, but my friend Burns! just called Anne to tell her that he saw me.

So . . . now you know! If anyone gets an mpeg or something, let me know and I’ll link it up.

Update: WWdN:iX reader Andrew sent me the following captures:

XviD (9 MB)

mpeg2 (30MB)

It ‘s a great segment. I got a lot more camera time than I expected, and so did Darwin!  If anyone wants to seed .torrents, let me know and I’ll update again. Thanks, Andrew!

(image via Dr. Pauly)

Future Shock: W2 + E3 = ROCK

I wrote a column for The AV Club about my trip to E3, and it hit the web about an hour ago. It’s my first foray into my version of gonzo journalism, and I’m really happy with the way it came out.

Take the largest video arcade you remember from your childhood. Now quadruple its size, put it in the middle of Shibuya Crossing, dim the lights, and crank the volume to 11. Toss in a bunch of celebrities, charge $300 for a stale slice of pizza and a soda, crank the volume up to 11 one more time, and you’ve got E3: the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

E3 started during the halcyon ’90s, when ruled the world. Now every May, gaming giants like Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and Sega gather at the Los Angeles Convention Center to present their newest hardware and software releases to a very select audience: about 30 percent entertainment media, 5 percent distributors, and 65 percent people who have managed to scam press passes so they can spend a day playing video games and checking out booth babes (who this year are required to wear nothing more revealing than miniskirts—the trade-show equivalent of burkas).

[. . .]

Four televisions, eight guitars, and a small crowd stood beneath a mockup that looked remarkably like a concert stage. I could hear Kiss’ “Strutter” being played with varying degrees of proficiency as Gen-Xers rocked out in the highly anticipated co-op mode.

“Hey, isn’t that Guit—” Spencer asked.

“Muh… guh… huh…” I answered, walking on autopilot to the front of the booth.

“Hi, I’m Wil Wheaton,” I said, “and I love your game.” Probably not the most professional way to introduce myself, in retrospect. “I’m writing about Guitar Hero II for The A.V. Club.”

You can read the entire story at The AV Club, and while you’re there, you can check out my Games of our Lives column for this week: Congo Bongo.

I feel really good about this column, and I’m really happy that the type of writing I’ve perfected over the years on my blog earned a spot in an actual print publication.

Oh, and if you think it’s worthy: digg story. Thanks!

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too much is never enough

You know you’re playing too much Guitar Hero when you see the Arena Rock Essentials at the iTunes Music Store and think, "Dude, I totally need to buy that."

Afterthought: If you could pick three songs for Guitar Hero II, what would they be?

I’d pick:

  • Money by Pink Floyd
  • Miserlou by Dick Dale
  • One by Metallica

Ryan would pick:

  • Rude Mood by Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
  • Hot for Teacher by Van Halen

Nolan would pick:

  • I Need to do My Homework, So Don’t Bother Me by I Am Nolan’s Responsibility

Anne would pick:

  • How about you play less Guitar Hero? by Guitar Hero Widows, Inc.

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Primus Gives Master Track to Guitar Hero 2

y quest to play Guitar Hero 2 at E3 was a success! I played bass and I played lead in co-op mode on Van Halen’s "You Really Got Me" (at the Vans Warped Tour, because they’ve licensed some real locations this time around) hitting 97% and 98% respectively. "Strutter" by KISS seemed to be the most popular song for people to try out, with "War Pigs" by Sabbath coming in a close second. I could have easily spent the entire day there, rocking all eight songs they had available for demo play, but there was a growing line of other wanna-be rockers waiting, and I didn’t want to bogart the whole stage, man.

While I waited to play, I talked with some of the developers, who were all really, really cool guys, and told me something rather exciting about GH2:

Les Claypool gave RedOctane the master tracks for John The Fisherman, so when you play it in Guitar Hero 2, you’ll be playing along with Les, Larry "Ler" Lamond, and Tim "Herb" Alexander, just like you were with them in the studio recording Fizzle Fry.

read more | digg story

It was so nice to meet developers who aren’t completely in love with themselves and appreciate geeks like me who play their games, you know? Their entuhsiasm reminded me of the entuhsiasm I felt when I worked at NewTek during the launch of the Video Toaster 4000: we all knew we were working on something totally cool and unique, but we still got excited when someone who used it geeked out at us about it. I know there are pictures of me getting my rock on, so if I can track them down, I’ll post them here for maximum goat-throwing.

If you’re going to E3 and you want to play GH2, don’t bother fighting the crowds in the Sony booth (after you get past the 6 hour-long line of people waiting to play with the Wii). Go down to the Kentia Hall, and find the Red Octane booth. The lines are shorter, you can talk with the developers, and they’ve got GH2 posters and pins to give away. When you’re done rocking out, you can stay in Kentia hall and see an absolutely amazing history of video games exhibit, featuring playable Colecovision, Vectrex, Intellivision, Apple //e, Atari 2600 and other console systems, as well as look-but-don’t-touch collections of classic handhelds like the Tomytronic Pac-Man and Milton Bradley’s Macrovision. There are also about 20 arcade games down there, set for free play, including Tempest, Black Widow, Stargate, Tron, Gorf, and Crystal Castles.

UPDATE: There’s a picture of me in front of the Gorf, Donkey Kong, and Tempest machines from Ars here. For those of you scoring at home, of the machines in that picture, I played Gorf and Tempest, and I was incredibly sad that Gorf didn’t have any sound. It implied that I was a Spaaace Ca-det, though, which I answered by blasting the Flagship out of the sky. Who’s laughing now, Gorf?! Me! That’s who! Me, baby! ME!

In the picture, I’m wearing a shirt featuring the code from Konami, which I got from Think Geek. I realized as I was parking my car for E3 (I missed the train so I had to drive. Yay.) that I was kind of wearing the band’s T-shirt to its concert like a total dork. However, I got my rock on so hard on Guitar Hero 2, I’m really okay with that.

keep on jammin’ the rhino

Activision bought RedOctane, the company responsible for Guitar Hero. Hopefully, this means more money for development, and not a bunch of corporate idiots screwing up my favorite game of 2006. Whatever comes of the partnership, epic congratulations to everyone at RedOctane (edited to add: and Harmonix! How could I forget Harmonix? -2 for me) who worked so hard to make the greatest fucking game in the history of me rocking out in my living room. You guys rock at least 97% of Cowboys From Hell on Expert, and I hope to throw some goats your way on Wednesday (which officially begins here in Los Angeles in 40 minutes) at E3.

Ryan and I have been having some serious Guitar Hero jam sessions recently. Last night, I finally five-starred Killer Queen and Fat Lip, and Ryan five-starred Stellar and Unsung (on medium; the kid slows down so he can play with the old man, which the old man appreciates.)

After I’d pulled a 99% on Killer Queen, I unwound with some Godzilla. As the song started up, Ryan said, "Dude, I think I hear cowbell in this song!"

I laughed a little bit, but maintained my focus: Yellow, blue, red green, yellowblueyellllooooowwwwww red yellow greenred . . . ROCK!

Ryan hopped up off the couch, and ran into the kitchen. A few moments later, he appeared back in the living room, a saucepan in one hand, and a wooden spoon in the other.

"What are you doing?" I said. Yellow, blue, yellowwwwwwww redyellow greenyellow rest yellowblue yellooowwwwwwww Star Power!

He held the saucepan about chest high, and began to tap it with the wooden spoon. "This song needs more cowbell," he said, "and this the closest I could get."

I played about twelve more notes before I collapsed into song-ending giggles.

Rev. Horton Heat and Van Halen in Guitar Hero II!!

I’m kind of crazy in love with Guitar Hero. Does that make me weird?
I have a list of seven songs for Guitar Hero II, as well as some awesome rumors about the sequel, at the SGGeekwire, and I dugg a site that has tablatures for all the songs available in the current Guitar Hero.

The only reason I’m suffering through E3 this year is so I can play this game, and write about the quest. Somehow, I’m pretty confident it’s going to be worth it.

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consoles and strife

So a whole bunch of Nintendo nerds are paralyzed with outrage that Nintendo changed the name of the Revolution to Wii. Some of them, I’ve heard, are even considering having their tattoos of Link, Mario, and Kirby removed (but not Samus and Pikachu; those stay. Even pissed off nerds have their limits, you know.)[1]

Nintendo says,

"Wii sounds like ‘we,’ which emphasizes that the console is for
everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no
matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate.
Just Wii.

Wikipedia adds,

Nintendo spells "Wii" with two "i"s to create an image of players
gathering together to play. The spelling also is intended to invoke the
controllers the Wii uses. 

I actually think that logic is extremely cool, very non-linear, and surprisingly poetic for a video game company. And guess what? Nintendo now has people who are not Nintendo fanboys talking and thinking about the Wii. Brilliant.

Why are so many Nintendo fanboys taking it so personally? I wonder why the name of a gaming console is such a big deal? Isn’t it the catalogue of games and how well they play what really matters?

There wasn’t this much outrage from Trekkies when Rick Berman destroyed the Enterprise D, and that was worth some serious tattoo removal.


[1] Okay, I made that up, but the point stands.

Oklahoma Politicians Decide Some Videogames are “Harmful to Minors”

Oklahoma’s State Senate unanimously passed a bill that would equate videogames like HALO and Grand Theft Auto 3 with hardcore pornography, making it a crime to sell those games to anyone under the age of eighteen:

HB3004 seeks to amend an existing Oklahoma statute, and redefine what
is considered "harmful to minors." Authored by State Rep. Fred Morgan
(R), the bill would add "inappropriate violence" to the statute. In the
actual wording of the bill, "harmful to minors" means: "the material or
performance lacks serious literary, scientific, medical, artistic, or
political value for minors."

[. . .]

Virtually everyone can agree that there are games which are clearly
inappropriate for children, but that’s what ratings and parents are
for. Why is it that Republican lawmakers are gung-ho for personal
responsibility and government abstinence when it comes to healthcare,
welfare, and minimum-wage laws, but they can’t vote "aye" fast enough
when it comes to intrusively legislating morality?

If this bill becomes law, it will be a crime to sell a "harmful" game
to a anyone under 18. There are countless reasons that this is
incredibly stupid, among them the fact that a 17 year-old can buy
himself a ticket to a graphically violent film like Saw or Hostel, or a sexually-charged film like Showgirls.
But that same 17 year-old couldn’t legally purchase DOOM 3, and the
person who sold it to him would be criminally liable. How does this
make sense? The answer is, it doesn’t. Bills like this have nothing to
do with protecting the children or seriously addressing issues which
need governmental attention. Bills like this are entirely about
election-year pandering to the ultra-conservative minority who
unfortunately make up the modern Republican Base.

You can read the rest at the SGGeekwire.

on poker and acting

Last week, Otis asked me if I’d write a few words for the PokerStars newsletter about how acting and poker mix together, and if I’d discuss how acting has helped my poker game.

I tried to answer intelligently and keep it brief, but since it takes
me 200 words to say hello to someone, it shouldn’t be a big surprise
that I ended up sending Otis a little over 2800 words about acting,
poker, and Almost Famous. I was so long-winded, in fact, that Otis ended up using the power of the fully-operational PokerStars blog to handle the Alderaan-destroying mountain of words I sent.

If you’re interested in the poker stuff, or want to know how I’ve been able to combine my acting experience with my poker game, you can read the whole thing at the PokerStars blog.

For the rest of you, here’s a little bit about acting that you don’t have to be a poker geek to follow:

As an actor:
1) I have to be completely connected to the other
actors in the scene, so my character understands what the other
characters are doing, why they are doing it, and I (as the actor) can
allow my character to react naturally and realistically. rather than
2) I have to completely commit to everything that my
character does, and allow my character’s memories, beliefs, and prior
experiences (that I have made up) to truly _live_ in me, like they are
real, so that all the unconscious physical signals that come with
different emotions happen naturally, rather than as a result of

For an actor, getting caught "acting" is worse than a
poker player getting caught bluffing; it’s more like getting caught
cheating. So we actors work very hard to make sure it never happens.

[. . .]

One of my favorite examples of this is from Almost Famous. Kate
Hudson, as Penny Lane, asks Patrick Fugit, as William Miller, if he’ll
go with her to Morocco.

When she asks him, they’ve been running
around a park together, and it’s clear to the audience that they’re
falling in love. It’s really charming to watch, and unless you’re
deeply cynical, it’s tough to not smile with them, recalling the first
time you fell in love.

"I’ve made a decision, I’m gonna live in Morocco for one year. I need a new crowd. Do you wanna come?" She says.

"Yes!" He says.

"Are you sure?" She says.

He looks at her, like he was completely lost in her, and says, "Ask me again."

She flushes, and she says, more intently, "Do you want to come?"

"Yes! Yes!" He says, as some seventies power ballad starts to play.

to director Cameron Crowe, Patrick asked Kate to ask him again, because
he’d been staring at her, and just got lost in that moment, so he
missed his line. But he was still in the scene, so he asked her exactly
the way he would have if it had been real. Kate stayed focused on him,
stayed in the scene, and asked him again, so we have this incredibly
wonderful moment of two people falling in love that probably has many
of you running to Netflix to queue it up right now. If either one of
them hadn’t been completely focused on each other, that moment (which
would have been impossible to script) never would have happened. If
we’d caught them "acting," it would have ruined that moment, and the
whole movie would have suffered as a result.

Did I pique your interest? Heh. So go on, read the whole thing. You know you want to.

the los angeles flatheads


Two tickets from TicketBastard: $52

Parking: $10

Four Dodger Dogs, two sodas: $27

Crushing heads with my stepson:

Watching the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles blow a one-run lead in the 8th to lose to the Cubs: Sadly predictable.