Back in February, I recounted the first time I met Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade at Comicon:
I have always enjoyed Penny Arcade, because -- like pVp and Dork Tower -- it has characters I can care about and relate to while I'm laughing at myself, or them, or (usually) both.Well, they didn't put me in a new cartoon (though I'll always have this one, sniff, sniff, wipe solitary tear off cheek) but they did something that's a little bit cooler and invited me to be the keynote speaker at the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo.
I talked to Gabe and Tycho for a few minutes that year, did the obligatory geek out, and then got out of the way, because there were literally hundreds of fans who wanted to meet them and give them money. I guess I made an impression on them, because they featured me in one of their comics, which Gabe or Tycho drew on the plane home, and sent me via e-mail (I can't remember who and it's not really important enough to unpack e-mail archives from that long ago to find out. Also if I'm vague enough about it, maybe one of them will ping me and put me in a new comic. How's that for attention whoring?! Very nice.)
"You know this is Wil Wheaton the writer and occasional actor, and not the guy from Brother Bear," I said, certain that they'd asked the wrong guy.
They assured me, via their official organizer Robert, that it wasn't a mistake. They wanted me to come speak, play games, and listen to MC Frontalot and Jonathan Coulton, and OMFG THE MINIBOSSES.
So I picked myself up off the floor, and tried to talk them out of it.
"If you make this about me being on Star Trek," I said, "it's going to piss everyone off, and we'll get the obligatory flood of 'who is that?' and 'why does Star Trek matter to a game convention?' and 'I love bacon!'"
They assured me that their demographic is older than the typical bacon-loving, Wheaton-hating 20 year-old. This wasn't about Star Trek as much as it was about my very public love of gaming, and that I shouldn't be so goddamn insecure.
I actually had to think about it for a few days. I love Penny Arcade, and I wanted to be absolutely certain that I would entertain the people who were there with something that would be relevant to their lives.
A weekend passed, and I called Robert back.
"So here's the thing: Seattle is really close for me, so I can come up and back without missing anything important at home. I also know that there's a little over one hundred people who want me to come to Seattle, according to Eventful.
"I really want to do this, but I want to be absolutely sure that I'm going to be a good match for PAX. I don't play anything like World of Warcraft, and I haven't played anything like Halo since Half Life was new. What I know and love are classic arcade and console games." I said. "In fact, other than the GTA games and Guitar Hero, I really don't play anything you'd consider 'new.' Hell, I don't even have a next-generation console . . . though I've been trying to buy a Wii since they came out, because the Virtual Console is the most awesome th-"
"I can get you a Wii," Robert said.
I dropped the phone.
I picked up the phone.
"Sorry, I dropped the phone. Are you serious?"
"It's the least we can do."
"So you're telling me that, not only will I get a Wii, but . . . I'll get a Wii from Penny fucking Arcade?!"
"Something like that, yeah."
"Dude. Uh, yeah. That'll be awesome."
After a moment's silence, he said, "so do you want to come do PAX? We'll hook you up with the Wii either way."
"I'm really nervous about appealing to the audience," I said, "but I know that I can write something entertaining about classic arcades and the significance of console and hand-held gaming to my generation. I'm pretty sure I can take some cheap and easy shots at Jack Thompson, too."
I took a deep breath.
"Yeah, I'd love to come to PAX and be your keynote speaker."
"Awesome! I'll tell the guys. They're going to be very happy that you're on board."
So that's the story of how I invented ice cream.
Wait. I mean, that's the story of how I ended up being the keynote speaker at the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo, and why I'll spend the next three months with a knot in my stomach, as I write and rewrite and rererewrite my story. Of course, I think the best way to prepare is to play lots and lots of games as frequently as I can, right?
Does anyone know how I can sell that idea to my wife? I don't think she's going to buy it.