16 July 2013

Get your wheat-on

It took me a while to figure out exactly who Wil Wheaton is.



I knew who Wesley Crusher was, and I knew who Fawkes was, and had a vague understanding that Wesley Crusher had been played by a child actor named Web Wheataker. This was mostly embedded in my brain as the blue Star Trek font on black, stardusted background from my many, many viewings of The Next Generation as a young pup. Speaking genuinely, it took a second viewing of The Guild's third season, after I'd convinced my wife that she'd like it, for me to put two and two together. Once the "Ohhhhhh yeeeaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh" finished, about 30 seconds later, I immediately wanted to go back and watch more TNG, but resisted. We did go back and re-watch TNG, just later.

It rested on the backburner until the bomb dropped, a bomb with the words "Tabletop" stamped on the side, prepped to decimate the Hiroshima that was my gaming life.

When I read about the launch of Geek & Sundry I was very pleased. It was like a TV station was about to pop up that showed only programming I was interested in. Stuff about geek culture, literature, original geek programming, and, of course gaming. Felicia Day seemed like a cool chicky and, whatdoyouknow, old Wil Wheaton (you mean it's not Wheataker?) had his own show as well. My first thoughts about Tabletop were (1) Okay, Wil Wheaton is a cool guy, unlike the dick he portrays in The Guild and (2) Meh, this is all going to be about RPGs and wargaming. My immediate assocation with the term 'tabletop' was in the context of Warhammer 40k, in which people used the term to differentiate between the computer and physical versions of the game. Nevertheless, my conscience would not allow me to give this thing the full brushoff without at least one viewing. It had to be better than most things on network television, and it was.

As I'm sure most of you know, the first game featured on Tabletop was the wonderful Small World. Midway through the episode I may have crapped a brick: this world of non-video gaming, which for me was strictly poker, Magic, Risk, and the odd game of Catan, exploded in a brilliant display of possibility. Not only were there games out there that appealed both to my social nature and fantasy geek sensibilities, there were lots of them. Better yet, there were hordes of geeks out there who liked these games as well, and Wil Wheaton was their chief.

Before we go any further, I feel I should admit that I am not 13. I am 30, married, childed (meaning I have a kid) and a lifelong gamer. As I mentioned above, I played Magic in my younger years, but all tabletop gaming was eclipsed by PC gaming through my teens and twenties. I was vaguely aware of the game shop down the street and that people played Warhammer on tables, but somehow the market of European-style board games went right under my radar. Now that I am an older gent and gamesman, I felt I was ready to branch off into this undiscovered country and maintain my identity. There's something to be said about the relationships you keep into your adult years; they don't shift with your interests like earlier ones. If you quit the band, change schools, or change hairstyles your friends are still there. They're not bound by the thin glue of that one thing you do together. Point being, I felt I could drag my wife and friends with me into this board gaming arena, and I did.

Each episode of Tabletop saw my board game collection grow and my discretionary income diminish. I took the time to learn a little bit more about Mr. Wheaton and I'm ready to admit that this is a guy I can relate to. Here is a celebrity who has done great work in the realm of acting, even at an early age, and has not only been unafraid to keep his identity as a geek, but has "championed" the geek cause (whatever that is). He likes cool stuff. He promotes good behavior. He's like a role model to geeks everywhere. Put in the simplest terms, I'm a fanboy. So you go, Wil Wheaton. Keep writing and acting and homebrewing and making us want to play more games, because we need to. And if you ever stop making Tabletop, it's Kickstarter time.

No comments: