My show, Tabletop, was included in Giga Om’s The Best Of Web Video 2012, one of only four program(me)s singled out by Liz Shannon Miller:
Part of the Geek and Sundry YouTube network (along with Felicia Day’s Flog and the whimsicalWritten by a Kid), Tabletop was one of this year’s case models for the concept that web video audiences are ready for longer content.
The Wil Wheaton-hosted series sat geek celebs like Alex Albrecht, Morgan Webb, Jane Espenson, Amber Benson and Ryan Higa to play a wide range of dice, card and board games, consistently reaching six-figure viewcounts (impressive for a half-hour long show). But what I find especially cool abut Tabletop is the gaming community that’s come out of it, showcased primarily via the Tumblr blog Seen on Tabletop, where viewers are encouraged to submit their experiences playing the games featured on the show.
The last new episode of Tabletop was posted November 1st, but “Seen on Tabletop” is still updating regularly: Right now, it’s flooded with posts featuring the post-Christmas gaming adventures of its fans.
I’m so proud of Tabletop, and so grateful to everyone who has helped make it a success. As a rule, I don’t care about being included in lists or winning awards — I believe the work is what’s important and that the work should just speak for itself — but this is different, because we’re on a very short list with My Drunk Kitchen and Daily Grace, two of the funniest and most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen anywhere.
And I really love that she singled out the Tumblr community I created, which is only awesome because my fellow gamers keep submitting their pictures and stories to it.
The most important thing for us at Geek and Sundry is to make Tabletop an entertaining show that’s worth your time to watch, so we work very, very hard to hit that goal. But my ulterior motives are twofold:
1) Make more gamers by showing anyone who watches the show how much fun it is to play tabletop games, thus inspiring them to get together with friends and family to play.
2) Give gamers something to show their non-gaming partners, friends, or family to help them understand why we love games as much as we do, hopefully leading those partners/friends/family to number 1).
The community that’s been built at As Seen On Tabletop has ended up being a very big part of serving my ulterior motives, and I’m very grateful to everyone who’s submitted pictures and stories to it.
Tabletop comes back with new episodes starting on January 3, and we should know for sure if we get a season two very shortly after. Fingers crossed!
Because project Get The Garage Organized was such a success, I was inspired to spend a little time on a related project, called Get My Office Organized.
In the process of cleaning up, going through stacks of papers and a considerable number of boxes, I found the dungeon map I drew for the title sequence of Tabletop. You only see it for a moment, and even then it’s just a small part of it, but I still drew a whole map like I would have in 1982. I’m confident that I don’t have to explain why.
I hereby release this into the world under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License for anyone who wants to use it (I suggest the original D&D red box rules), on the additional condition that you share with me how you populated it.
Tabletop returns with all new episodes in January!
For the next seven days, shirt.woot is offering some awesome designs — including mine — as part of their Tabletop-tastic sale:
Roll +1 for fashion! This week we’re
featuring some of our favorite board game- and tabletop RPG-themed designs on hoodies, totes, and tees! Because how else is everyone going to know you’re more civilized than they are?
If you need a new How We Roll T-shirt, always wanted a How We Roll hoodie, or your very own How We Roll tote bag (I’m in for thee, because they are amazing and perfect for carrying my games to gameday), you have about 160 hours to make it happen.
Oh! Oh! Oh! And I just noticed when I was making those links that they’re also offering How We Roll Remixed, which is the same design but on a black shirt. So, you know, now Neil Gaiman can wear one.
Yesterday at the Montreal Comicon, a guy asked me if I would play Rock, Paper, Scissors with him. Of course I said yes.
I read him as a paper guy, so when we counted to three, I went scissors. He held up three fingers.
“What the hell is that?!” I may have almost shouted, every fibre of my being offended by the deviation from accepted Rock, Paper, Scissors norms.
“That’s the W,” he said. “It means that you automatically win.”
Just as quickly, I abandoned my blind adherence to the aforementioned norms, thrust my arms into the sky in the universal pose of victory, and made shouty noises about how I was so great.
But then … then … then it got awesome. He pulled a roll of duct tape out of his backpack, and he wrote my name on a piece of the tape, just like I do at the end of every episode of Tabletop . He held it out to me and said, “Now, for the rest of the day, everyone who sees you will know that your name is Wil, and you’re a winner.” (Just like I do at the end of each episode of Tabletop).
I shouted again, jumped out of my chair and asked him to take a picture with me, and then shouted some more.
I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly grateful that people care at all about the things I make, and it never fails to blow my mind that so many people, like this guy, do awesome things inspired by the stuff I do.
The picture below is me, wearing my winner’s tape, sitting in the Montreal airport while I wait for my flight home to board.
“Will my talk be moderated, or am I setting the agenda?” I asked Dan, my convention liaison, as we got ready to head across the show floor to the theater were I’d be speaking.
He told me that I wasn’t moderated, and I could spend the hour however I wanted. I grabbed a copy of Sunken Treasure off my table and began putting together my mental setlist.
When we got into the theater, the Munchkin episode of Tabletop was playing on giant screens. About a thousand people were watching it while more people filled the remaining seats.
I’m not going to lie, Marge: seeing my show on a screen, ten feet tall and luminous, was awesome.
While I waited to go on stage, I looked through the book in my hands. I love the stories I put in there, but none of them really felt right. I cursed my damn brain for forgetting to remind me to remember to bring my iPad to the con, so I had access to the complete works of me, Wil Wheaton, to choose from.
I looked up at the back of the screen, and saw myself playing games with my friends … and I knew exactly what I’d talk about.
When I was introduced, I walked out to a wonderful audience that made me feel like I was playing for the home team the entire time I was out there, even when I teased all of Canada about my Los Angeles Kings having the Stanley Cup. It was a great hour, where I spent about half talking about why I created Tabletop, and why gaming is so important to me. The second half I spent taking questions from the audience, talking about things from Sparks McGee to Stand By Me.
Even though I’m supremely jet lagged, and my scumbag brain has woke me up in the middle of the night and kept me awake for an hour two nights in a row that I’ve been here, I felt invigorated and damn good when I walked off that stage.
I know the talk was filmed and recorded. I hope it shows up online.
This is where I’d put a clever segue, if I wasn’t so fucking deliriously tired. Here are some pictures I took yesterday at the convention:
This adorable drawing was done by this adorable lady.
I made some more custom Cards Against Humanity cards:
I ran into two of my favourite people, and their booking agent photobombed us.
When someone asks you to sign a poster of the cast of Firefly, YOU! SAY! YES!
And then you sign right across Nathan Fillion’s junk.
So the the face I think I’m making is “oh my god this is so cute!” But it turns out that the face I’m actually making is Overly Attached Wil Wheaton.
The day ended with a game of Settlers of Catan. I started out fairly well, and then got trapped against the coast with 6 points. Luckily, I was able to build out toward the center of the board, get another city, and WIN THE FUCKING GAME with largest army and longest road.
I got so excited, I jumped up onto my chair, and nearly fell off the damn thing. I know the entire game was filmed by some guys, and I assume it will get online at some point. I’m red, if you want to try to put it all together. We’re playing on a beautiful, giant board.
I ended the day having a local beer (Maudite by Unibroue) with my friend Sam Witwer, who it turns out is on location in Montreal.
In about an hour, I’ll check out of my hotel and go back to the con for the final day. If the previous two days are any indication, it’s going to be great.
Tomorrow, I'm heading up to Seattle for PAX Prime. This year, I hope to play a shitton of games, both of the Tabletop variety and the Video variety. To accomplish this noble goal, I'm not going to do a ton of signing like I've done in years past.
If you're planning to attend, and want to do things with me, or come see me do things, here's my schedule:
Friday Morning: Signing at Paul and Storm's table in Bandland.
Friday Afternoon: Playing Ticket To Ride in the Tabletop gaming area with Anne and the first five people who show up to play with us.
Saturday Morning: Signing at Paul and Storm's table in Bandland.
Saturday 3:30pm: Main Theater. Acquisitions, Incorporated. The Lost Episode.
Sunday 11:30am: The Awesome Hour! Pegasus Theater. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS HAS BEEN UPGRADED. THE AWESOME HOUR IS NOW THE DON'T FORGET TO BE AWESOME HOUR, WITH PAUL AND STORM, AND HANK GREEN. Also, I'll be there telling stories and answering questions.
Sunday 1pm: Signing at Paul and Storm's table in Bandland.
Important note about signings: I'm going to PAX this year primarly as an attendee, so I won't have my own table in bandland. Instead, I've convinced Paul and Storm to let me crash their table for roughly one hour each day. For specific times I'll be there, check my Twitter account, which I'll update throughout the weekend.
I'm also bringing fifty of these silly Wheaton Paper Dolls with me for sale. Hopefully, I won't have to schlep 45 of them back home.
Fantasy flight Games publishes an epic game called Arkham Horror that I just love. In the game, the players assume the role of Lovecraftian Pulp Investigators who are all working together to stop one of the Great Old Ones from devouring the world.
You know, like you do.
Arkham Horror is a complex, intricate, incredibly difficult, beautiful game. It's more like a guided role playing game where the board itself is the GM, and there really isn't another boardgame out there (that I can think of off the top of my head, anyway) that plays like it does. I would love to play it on Tabletop… but it takes a minimum of three hours, and if I put it on the show, I wouldn't do the game justice. There's just no way to edit a 3 or 4 or 5 hour game into 30 or even 45 minutes, while staying true to the heart and soul of the game.
Luckily for us, Fantasy Flight also publishes a cooperative dice game set in the Arkham Horror world called Elder Sign. Designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson (who also designed Arkham Horror), it takes about an hour to play, and while it isn't a scary and complex as Arkham, it is still beautiful and challenging. It was perfect for my show.
While I have your attention:
At GenCon last weekend, the most frequently asked question I got was "When do you start the second season of Tabletop?"
The next most frequently asked question was, "What are you going to play on the second season?"
My answer to both of these questions is: "I have no idea, because we don't know if YouTube is going to fund a second season."
What usually followed was a series of confused noises and some stammering before the final question was asked: "How do I help you get a second season?"
Here is the answer:
The best and most effective way to support Tabletop — in fact, the only way that Google even cares about — is to subscribe to the channel, like and comment on the episodes (if you, you know, actually like them) and encourage everyone you know to do the same thing.
Google cares about interactions like that on their Premium Channels (like G&S), and while we all know we're never going to get the same numbers as the longtime YouTubers who are getting five million views per video, I think that if we can stay up in the six digits, we'll get another season.
It's amusing to me that we're not dealing with a studio or a network, but we still have to hit certain numbers to get more funding (just like we would if we were on broadcast television.)
Finally, I'll leave you with this:
You'll have to watch Tabletop's Elder Sign episode for context. But beware… there are some Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.
Today and tomorrow, I'm narrating the audio version of Zach Weinersmith's The Trial of the Clone. I'm up nice and early because I'm apparently on the same schedule as my puppy.
In place of a proper post about GenCon (which was exhausting but lots of fun), here are a few pictures of awesome things I saw while I was there, starting with epic cosplay:
My favourite part of signing is meeting people who love the same things I love, and geeking out about those things. It's genuinely wonderful to talk with hundreds of people who are from The Tribe, you know? Signing for hours and hours at a time can get tiring, though, and one of the ways I restore HP and Mana during the day is by amusing myself when it's appropriate. Here are a few examples of me doing that at GenCon:
People make me amazing things, and give me wonderful gifts at cons. Here are a few of the things I got to bring home:
I was so busy signing, I only got to play two games: Fiasco with my friends, using a playset they wrote me for my birthday, and True Dungeon with many of the same friends, where we sent the Draco Lich (Formerly known as the dragon Smoak, who I kind of one-shotted in 2010) to the void. You're welcome, people-who-no-longer-live-in-fear-of-the-Draco-Lich.
I can't even count the number of people who told me wonderful, personal stories about how Tabletop has touched their lives. When I have some more time, I'll share a few of them.
On Wednesday, I'm heading to GenCon in Indianapolis. I had a great time when I was there before, and I'm looking forward to attending this year.
Here's what you need to know, from GenCon:
Wil will be signing autographs in the Autograph Area of the Exhibit Hall, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. Check local signage for exact times.
I hope that I'll have some time to do a True Dungeon run (since I killed a dragon the last time I was there), and I also hope that I'll return with lots of new games to consider for Tabletop. If you feel like tipping me off to something new and awesome, feel free to do it in the comments.
Finally, this is an important thing I have to restate at least once a year:
I got the Swine Flu at PAX Prime, and it was the worst two weeks of my life. When we went to PAX East, all of us (Jerry, Mike, Kurtz, Straub, Paul and Storm, The Professor and Mary Ann) all agreed that we wouldn't shake hands, give hugs, or engage in human contact with people, to limit the introduction of infection vectors. Most people understood, and we gave each other the old Iron Guard Salute (not the fascist thing, the gaming thing that looks like like "love" in ASL). The result: a few people were cheesed off, but none of us were too upset about that, because none of us got sick. It was the first con I've gone to in my whole life where I didn't get some form of Con Crud, and I'd like to repeat that until we turn out the lights on Planet Earth. So, tl;dr: I'm not going to touch people at the con. I know it seems weird, but I hope you understand why. I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm trying not to get sick.
A non-zero number of readers seem to have a real problem with this, and people on the rest of the Internets are already giving me a hard time about it in very unkind terms. This makes me really sad; I hoped for a little more empathy and understanding. Not that it should matter, but I have Epstein-Barr, so my immune system isn't as robust as a normal person's; it is very easy for me to catch viruses and other nasty things. I'm not going to apologize for not wanting to get sick, especially after two weeks of Swine Flu. If you can't understand that, it's your problem, not mine.
Back to happier things: I'm going to bring some Tabletop posters, and a few of those silly 3 Wheaton Moon posters. I'll also have the usual collection of 8x10s.
The best part of GenCon last time I attended — other than slaying the dragon, of course — was the time I spent talking with people and geeking out about the games we love. That's actually what I love about nerd cons in general, that we can let our geek flags fly without feeling even a little self conscious about it. I'm really looking forward to doing that again.