Regarding Anonymous Gaming Trolls, Tabletop, and More

So it turns out that this week is full of stuff that I would like to share with you, Internet.

First, I wrote a column for The Washington Post about how anonymous trolls are poisoning the video game community, and what we can do about it.

Anonymity, in some cases a key civil liberty, also enables society’s worst actors. The loudest, most obnoxious, most toxic voices are able to drown out the rest of us—a spectacle that has nearly pushed me to quit the video-game world entirely in recent months. I don’t need to hear about the sexual conquest of my mother from a random 12-year-old on Xbox Live ever again.

But here’s the thing: that random 12-year-old I seem to encounter so often? He probably isn’t 12. According to the ERSB, the average age of a video gamer is 34. That 34-year-old is certainly old enough to know better, but he probably came of age in an era when trolling was not just acceptable but encouraged by a generation of players who rarely, if ever, had to see the actual people they were playing with. No wonder he feels enabled by digital anonymity. It means he never has to face the consequences of his actions, or acknowledge that there is a human being on the other side of the screen.

It’s time to break this cycle—and to teach gamers that they can compete without being competitive, that they can win and lose without spewing racist, misogynist, homophobic bile at their fellow gamers. But doing so requires casting off the cloak of anonymity.

Early feedback via Twitter is split between a majority, who are tired of being harassed while gaming, and a minority who seem to believe I am advocating for an end to online privacy (which I clearly am not). I’m interested to know your thoughts on this column, so please read it, and comment here, if you don’t mind. If you’d like to read more about it, I highly recommend this article, which quotes my friend, Stepto, at length.

I’m hosting DC ALL ACCESS this week. Here’s the trailer, which makes me laugh:

Tabletop Season Three premieres in just two days!! We put together a special trailer for this season that asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind…

I signed agreements to do two more audiobooks. I can’t reveal their titles, yet, but I will as soon as I get permission.

Next Monday, I’m performing in a live show here in Los Angeles, with Hal Lublin, and John Ross Bowie. It’s Hot Comedy Dreamtime, written by my friend Joseph Scrimshaw.

Oh! Also next week, I’m filling in for Larry King, and interviewing Chris Hardwick for Larry King Now.

In a couple hours, I’ll sit on a seat which will magically hoist itself into in the sky, and I’ll end my day in New York City. I don’t think I can talk about why I’m going, yet, but I’ll be there for just under 24 hours, for something really awesome that I can’t wait to share with the world.

PLAY MORE GAMES!

I have additional thoughts, based on your comments, which I wrote while in a seat in the sky. They are behind the jump.

Continue reading

welcome to my life, tattoo

No, not this tattoo.
No, not this tattoo.

I’ve wanted tattoos for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally felt like I could make good decisions about what I’d permanently put on my body.

At first, I thought maybe I was too old, but when I asked my friends who have lots of tattoos what they thought, they all said that waiting until I was in my 40s was a great idea, because it means I won’t ever have to reckon with an unfortunate decision made during Spring Break in my 20s. That reassurance, coupled with me dedication to not-fuck-giving about what random people think, was all it took for me to go ahead and get some artwork to live on my body.

First, I got Anne’s heartbeat tattooed on my left forearm. She wrote a lovely story about it on her blog, which I encourage you to read (in fact, even though I’m a little biased, I think everything she writes on her blog is pretty great, and worth your time.)

I wanted her heartbeat because I wanted to carry part of her with me wherever I went. I wanted her heartbeat on my left arm because I’m left handed, and I felt that it symbolized her guiding me. I wanted it on the inside of my arm, because I wanted to be able to look at it whenever I thought about her, and I wanted to be able to lay her heartbeat against mine whenever I missed her.

It was quick and easy and before my artist was even finished with it, I was making plans for another. They say you’ll either have a single tattoo, or a whole bunch of them, and I see myself landing squarely in the latter category.

A few months later, I went back to see Kim, my artist, and started work on a fairly large octopus piece on my right forearm. There are a lot of reasons that I wanted an octopus, but they’re personal and I’m keeping them to myself. I will allow this: the octopus is amazing, and the more I learn about it, the more I love it.

It took three sessions, for a total of about six hours, to finish her (I don’t know why, but I know that the octopus I have on my arm is female) and when she was finally finished, I felt like she needed a name.

“What are you going to name her?” Kim asked me as she put a bandage on my arm.

Maybe it was the endorphins talking, because I’m a pretty sciencey, skeptical, get-your-woo-bs-out-my-face-because-SCIENCE! guy, but I said, “I’m not sure, but she’ll tell me when she’s ready.”

A few weeks went by, and I tried out different names for her, but nothing felt right. Maybe naming her was a silly thing to do, like when I named my neato robot vacuum “Dobby”, and then felt terrible when I kicked it in the dark, and it shook side to side like I’d hurt it (it was making sure that he — it. It. Not he, it — was still connected to its charging station).

But one day, I think during Comicon, I was walking with my friend, Joseph Scrimshaw, and he asked me if she had a name.

“Not yet,” I told him, “but I decided that she’ll tell me what it is, when she’s ready to name herself.”

I had no endorphin excuse, this time, but after several weeks, giving her a name had become A Thing.

The words came out of my mouth, and a name popped into my head. It was not a name I ever would have chosen, but it was there, all the same.

“She kind of looks like she should be called ‘Gloria’,” he said.

Gloria was the name that had popped into my head, two seconds earlier.

“Okay, this is weird, but not only is that a name I’d never choose on my own, but it’s the name that popped into my head just before you said it. So I guess her name is Gloria.”

I don’t know what it means, I don’t know why I chose it, I realize that we could have heard or seen or otherwise subconsciously had something happen around us that made that name land on us at the same time, but whatever the rational explanation, the idea that this ink on my arm, which is in the shape of an octopus, assigned a name to itself — to herself — is cool to me, so I accept it.

Today, I went in to see Kim, to get Gloria some touch ups. When I was done, she looked like this:

Wil-Wheaton-Octopus-tattoo

Eventually, I’m going to get my right arm sleeved. I talked with Kim about some of my ideas today, and we’ll probably get to work on them next month.

Skeletor’s best insults

I don’t miss working for a corporate nightmare, but I really miss Skeletor reading angry tweets.

If you love Skeletor’s angry face of anger as much as I do, you’ll probably enjoy this compilation of him insulting everyone he can in Eternia.

(via io9)

do you game more in person, or online?

I’m writing a column for the Washington Post, and I could use your feedback, if you have a moment.

I would like to know (unscientifically, of course), if you play games more online, more in person, or about the same.

If you have a moment, please answer this survey thingy I set up:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

I’m closing comments here, so I only have to look in one place for the data, since my deadline is tomorrow. Thank you for your help!

panorama ephemera mashupa

I made a thing, which I believe is best experienced as ambient background noise, projected onto a bare brick wall. This is not something that you sit down and watch, the way you’d watch a movie or a TV show.

This work was created by combining audio and visual works obtained from the Internet Archive, at archive.org. The visuals are from Panorama Ephemera, which was found in the Prelinger Archives. The audio was remixed and processed in Audacity, and comes from several different sources, also originally found at the Internet Archive.

Everything used to make this video is in the public domain, or is licensed for remix and reuse.

This video is released under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial share alike license.

Halloween stuff and Tabletop stuff

Happy Thursday!

To begin: I did a Not The Flog that was released this morning. In it, I talk about the season three premiere date for Tabletop, offend nearly everyone for one reason or another, and bounce around on my couch while I wear a fancy Captain Kirk tunic.

Oh, I also talk about some dumb Halloween stuff that is occasionally amusing to me.

NEXT.

I co-hosted DC All Access today, with my friend Tiffany. I think it will be released in the SOOOOOOON.

ALSO.

I listened to a fucking amazing NPR show this morning, from Snap Judgment, called SPOOKED V. It’s a collection of fantastically creepy and scary stories, just in time for Halloween. I highly recommend it.

FINALLY.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on archive.org recently, and have been doing my best not to completely fall down the rabbit hole of amazing films and weird bullshit they have there, but this time of year, I just love checking out some of their old and creepy silent films. I mentioned on Not The Flog that you can see The Golem there, but you can also watch a gorgeous transfer of Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, a silent Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde short, and the unforgettable 1960s B-Film classic, Carnival of Souls.

I’ve been having such a good time downloading and remixing things from the Internet Archive, I almost feel like I could just write about it and publish the stuff I make for the next several weeks, but I have other duties to which I must attend. So until next time, have a happy Halloween, and PLAY MORE GAMES!

 

the audacity of derivative works

Anne and Wil Wheaton 1920s outfits
Click to Embiggen

This weekend, my friends hosted a 1920s occult party. There were tarot readings, Ouija boards, and a seance. Everyone was encouraged to attend in appropriate attire, and we sipped absinthe while movies like The Golem and Fantomas were projected on the walls.

Anne and I got our clothes from Unique Vintage and Clockwork Couture. While we were getting dressed, Anne said, “I kind of love that I’m cosplaying with my husband,” and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I had this idea to track down some 1920s music to play during the afternoon and evening, leading up to the party, so I started by looking on Amazon. I didn’t see anything that I liked, so I checked the Google Play store, and then iTunes. Again, I couldn’t find the original recordings that I was looking for, and as I was about to give up, a voice inside my head sort of kicked me behind the eyeballs and said, “Hey, stupid, music from the 1920s is in the public domain. Go look on the Internet Archive and I bet you’ll find more original recordings than you know what to do with.”

People, you should always listen to the voices in your head, because they know things. They know things that you don’t know. THEY KNOW THINGS THAT THE OTHERS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW AND GREAT CTHU–

Sorry. I got a little carried away, there.

So I went to the Internet Archive, and I found a treasure trove of incredible recordings.

Here are a few of them:

I grabbed them all, because that’s what you can legally and ethically do with the Internet Archive, and I made playlists that I shuffled through our Sonos to fill our house with the sounds of the Roaring Twenties. By the time we left for the party, I was ready to hop in a plane with Lucky Lindy and fly to New York to watch Murder’s Row in action.

So the party was fantastic, and everyone there looked incredible, but that’s not what I set out to write about this morning. What I wanted to write about was this thing I made, using free (as in speech and beer) tools, to create something where something wasn’t before.

Within one of the collections I downloaded, there was a jaunty little tune called JaDa.

I enjoyed it, and I had this idea to slow it down and completely transform it into something that sounds very, very different.

Longtime readers may remember that I freaking love the ambient music of the early 1990s. Well, I loaded JaDa into a free and open source audio editing program called Audacity, and I played around with some of audacity’s effects to turn this three minute jazz tune into nearly an hour of sinister dark ambient that was directly inspired by the occult party we attended. When I finished it, I was happy with what I’d made, and I wanted to share it with the world. So I put it on SoundCloud. While I was uploading it, I saw that I could add some sort of album art. Keeping with the theme of transforming existing public domain works, using open source tools, I went back to the Internet Archive, and found a page of a 1927 seed catalog that had some bright strawberries on it. I captured part of that image, loaded it into Gimp, and applied a bunch of filters to it, until I’d turned an image of luscious strawberries into something very different, that I thought matched the mood and tone of the audio I’d created.

Here’s what I made:

I’ve talked a lot in the past about how I believe this is a really great time to be a creative person, because the tools we need to make things, as well as the ability to get those things out into the world, are never farther away than our keyboards. I hope this inspires some of you to Get Excited and Make Things.

Tabletop season 3 – the complete list of games and players

Last night, we wrapped production on the third season of Tabletop. It was bittersweet for me, as always, because I’m so wiped out and teetering on exhaustion, the idea of sleeping until I don’t need to sleep is very appealing … but I’m also sad, because I love the crew so much, and they are such a joy to work with. We truly have become a family over the last three seasons, and it’s going to take me a few days not only to decompress from the intense production schedule, but to get used to not seeing all these people who I genuinely like for 12 hours a day.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we did this season, and I am super excited to get to work on editing and the other post-production tasks, starting on Friday.

For those of you wondering, here is the complete list of games and players from this season, in the order they were played (not the order they will be released):

  • Tokaido – Jason Wishnov, J. August Richards, Chris Kluwe
  • Concept – Joseph Scrimshaw, Rett and Link
  • Roll For It and Sushi Go! – Jason Ritter, Jennifer Hale, John Ross Bowie
  • Forbidden Desert – Felicia Day, Alan Tudyk, Jon Heder
  • Love Letter and Coup – The Fine Brothers and Felicia Day
  • Hare & Tortoise and Council of Verona – Jessica Merizan, David Kwong, Alison Haislip
  • Sheriff of Nottingham – Meredith Salenger, Ashley Clements, Derek Mio
  • Stone Age – Nika Harper, Jesse Cox, Jordan Maron
  • Geek Out – Anne Wheaton, Bonnie Burton, Clare Kramer
  • Five Tribes: Jenna Busch, Richard Garriot, Satine Phoenix
  • Epic Spell Wars: Jonah Ray, Emily Gordon, Veronica Belmont
  • Mice & Mystics, Chapter One – Anne Wheaton, Ryan Wheaton, Nolan Kopp
  • Dread – Molly Lewis, Ivan Van Norman, Laura Bailey
  • Catan Junior – Emily Anderson, Brett, Baligrad, Adam Chernick
  • Libertalia – Karen Gillan, Seth Green, Clare Grant
  • Kingdom Builder – Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Platt, Paul Scheer
  • Dead of Winter – Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, Ashley Johnson
  • Legendary – Allie Brosh, Mark Fischbach, Brea Grant
  • Tabletop After Dark: Cards Against Humanity – Aisha Tyler, Ali Spagnola, Laina Morris

Our backers also get a special mini-episode that includes a whole bunch of behind the scenes stuff with our crew. I’m keeping that stuff secret unless backers want to talk about it and share it. Also, we have an episode order as well as a season premiere date, but we haven’t announce that stuff, yet.

 

Peak Zombie

This is my intro for Dead of Winter. I thought it may spark an interesting discussion about what I call Peak Zombie:

I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead. It hit me the way certain things can only hit a child’s fragile, eggshell mind: it was gory, and disturbing, and pretty scary. It also made me wonder what I would do if I found myself in the zombie apocalypse. Would it really be living if I spent the rest of my life trapped inside a mall? At what point does surviving cease to be living? Why am I asking myself incredibly complex and difficult philosophical questions, instead of playing The Legend of Zelda?

Dawn of the Dead piqued my interest in George A. Romero’s version of the zombie apocalypse, and I devoured — sorry — Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and even Return of the Living Dead. For many years, I was a zombie fiend. In fact, every Halloween from 16 to 30, I was some version of a zombie. I wrote stories about zombies, I read stories about zombies, and if there was something with a zombie in it, it was on my wish list.

But sometime in the last few years, we hit Peak Zombie, and the truth is: I’m kind of over it. The Living Dead are rarely a metaphor for consumerism, conformity, militarization, and complacency. In much of popular culture, zombies are little more than cannon fodder and background noise in corporate entertainment that’s rushed to cash in on the public’s insatiable — some may say zombie-like — hunger for stories that pit a scrappy band of human survivors against a relentless, endless, faceless mob of interchangeable, shambling bad guys.

But every now and then, something breaks through the fortified wall of hardened, Hipster cynicism I’ve built around my survival compound, and reminds me that we keep returning to stories where zombies are threatening our very existence because even if the undead aren’t explicitly standing in for some profound and specific commentary on our modern world, they can, in fact, stand in for time, age, hunger, despair, and every existential threat we worry about when the night is darkest, and we can’t find the light.

Today on Tabletop, Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, and Ashley Johnson are here to explore a game that puts us right in the middle of the depths of our fears, during the worst of  the zombie apocalypse. As if staying alive and pushing back the undead wasn’t hard enough, one of us may very well be working against the rest of us, to ensure that none of us make it through the DEAD OF WINTER.

50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong

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