Fuck Wil Wheaton, I Want to Game!

It was 1987 and I was a freshman at New York University. I’m not sure why, but I thought at the time that I might not do much gaming at college. As it happened, however, I stumbled across a game group playing in the lounge of my dorm when returning from a punk rock show at CBGB. I talked to a guy named Sandeep and he invited me to the game the following week. That’s how I joined the Society for Strategic Gaming at NYU (funny name, as we did way more roleplaying than strategic gaming, but there you go).

We played on Sunday nights. We’d have dinner and then rally up around 7 for roleplaying. This was AD&D at first, then other games like Runequest, MERP, Twilight 2000, TORG, WEG’s Star Wars, and especially WFRP. We’d usually end the session between midnight and 1 am and then a group of us would inevitably head off to the Washington Square Restaurant (a nearby 24 hour diner) for food, coffee, and conversation. The hardcore would then return to the dorm at 3 am and play a boardgame. We had nights when we’d start a game of Talisman at that time, finish at 8 in the morning, and then go get breakfast in the cafeteria. Ah, college. Sometimes we even found time to go to class.

This was all just starting in September though and I was getting to know the group. John Footen was trying to run up to a dozen people through the original Dragonlance modules and it was no great surprise that it was bogging down. Nonetheless, it was great to get to game and to make some new friends who shared my geeky interests (and indeed many of these folks are my good friends to this day).

One Sunday we were eating dinner and Chris Keefe (who later did art for Green Ronin) informed me that we’d be starting the game hours late that night. When I asked why, he said, “Star Trek: The Next Generation debuts tonight.” I was not impressed. Surely we could watch it later. Chris said no, the plan was to watch it in the lounge with a big group of people. He added, “Come on, Wil Wheaton is in it, and he was great in Stand By Me.”

“Fuck Wil Wheaton,” I said. “I want to game!”

I lost the argument. We watched Encounter at Farpoint and didn’t start gaming until something like 10 pm. While I would later come to like the show, my response at the time was, “I can’t believe we delayed gaming to watch that bullshit.”

Life, of course, is weird, and I could never have predicted that 20 years after I said, “Fuck Wil Wheaton,” we’d become friends. I think it was at a PAX that we first met, courtesy of our mutual friend Andrew Hackard. As I’m sure you all know, Wil is also a gamer and nerd. Turns out we also like many of the same bands and we are both step-dads, so we had a lot in common. Subsequently, Nicole and I would try to meet up with Wil for a meal when he came to Seattle. We’d talk about trying to game together but it was always hard to coordinate with his travel schedule.

A couple of months ago Wil told me he was going to be at GenCon. Knowing he had enjoyed my Dragon Age RPG, I asked him if he’d like me to run a game at the show. His response was something like, “OMG, YES!” And amazingly, despite the craziness of GenCon, the game actually went off. The group was on the big side but we made it work and the game was really fun. Nicole invented a new maneuver, the Axe Tackle, and that’s been a running gag amongst the players since the game, no doubt to the confusion of many a Twitter user.

Now the Penny Arcade Expo is coming up. Wil, of course, will be here to deliver the blessings of the Omnigeek to his people. Many of the other players from the GenCon session will also be at PAX so naturally the idea of playing more Dragon Age came up. To which I can only respond:

“Fuck yeah, Wil Wheaton, let’s game!”

Originally published on LiveJournal on August 23, 2010. 

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