PAX '07: Wheaton keynote celebrates social gaming

Former <i>Star Trek</i> star delivers opening remarks to receptive ears on the first day of the Penny Arcade Expo.

SEATTLE--If anything can be said about the Penny Arcade Expo, it's that event hosts Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik know how to do that whole nerd thing right. In addition to the extensive exhibition of recently released and upcoming games from more than 45 different contributors, PAX plays home to scads of tabletop role-playing game and collectible card game enthusiasts, the soon-to-be world-record-setting largest massively multiplayer offline role-playing, and "nerdcore" hip-hop in spades. To commence PAX 2007, event organizers secured none other than self-proclaimed supernerd extraordinaire Wil Wheaton to deliver the keynote address.

Launched to sci-fi superstardom as Ensign Wesley Crusher aboard the USS Enterprise-D, Wheaton has become a champion of the underground nerd-rising movement by proxy of his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In addition to appearing in numerous films such as Stand By Me and Toy Soldiers, Wheaton has garnered a devout following through his blog and books.

Taking the stage to the triumphant chorus of chanted tunes from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies, Wheaton quickly set the tone of his speech with a few disparaging remarks aimed at Florida lawyer and game activist Jack Thompson.

Wheaton then regaled the audience with humorous tales of his childhood, focusing primarily on his love for seedy arcades. Growing up in the '80s, arcades were his generation's Xbox Live or World of Warcraft, Wheaton notes. It was in these mostly suspect dives that he was able to experience the social aspects of gaming, and what helped teach him good sportsmanship. After all, Wheaton said, if people taunted one another in an arcade in the same fashion taunting occurs in online worlds today, the incensed party would have most likely reduced him to a bloody pulp. Moral of the story: "When you're playing online, don't be a dick."

Arriving at the underlying message of his speech, Wheaton launched into a diatribe against what he calls opportunistic politicians and activist moralizers. Gaming, he argued, is anything but the antisocial, destructive behavior that it has come to be portrayed as by the mass media. Wheaton cites in his own life how arcades, and then later the Nintendo Entertainment System and just recently the Nintendo Wii, have brought him, his friends, and his family closer together. Games are works of art, he said, and they should be treated that way, not demonized as they are now.

Closing his speech out, Wheaton noted that beyond all the societal implications, games are fun, and their primary purpose should be to bring joy to our lives.

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47 comments
jknight5422
jknight5422

Die, Wesley, Die!! LOL! Up to now I've had a great deal of respect for Wil, except his choice of console. This has dropped it a few notches....!

zeus_gb
zeus_gb

"When you're playing online, don't be a dick." Hope it catches on but I doubt it.

barrett_rob
barrett_rob

Who cares about wesley, give us seven of nine!

ironwarrior2
ironwarrior2

Oh no, I just pictured Wesley Crusher playing with his wii.

thanatose
thanatose

Nice, too bad more Celebrities don't stand up for gamer's rights. The more public the truth the less politicians will be able to slam games as a means of getting their faces on TV.

ketsuatama
ketsuatama

Had no time for him until now...... well put, young Will!

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

@Myriam_D: Get onto Netflicks and order up 'Stand by Me'

Phoenix2Raven
Phoenix2Raven

Wheaton launched into a diatribe against what he calls opportunistic politicians and activist moralizers. Gaming, he argued, is anything but the antisocial, destructive behavior that it has become to be portrayed as by the mass media. totally agree, it seems politicians spend most of there time trying to find some nonsense to get on news with so they ca be president withou addressing real issues that concern the us today. mature games are the problem to address not the homeless, the war, our lack of an energy policy, poverty rising, unemployment , lack of real education to the poor causing criminals, etc. yeah games are what we need to focus, right.

Metron4
Metron4

Wil and I attended the same high school for a couple of years. I met him a few times (he was already well-known), and even back then he was the coolest guy. Wil as a gaming spokesperson? He's got my vote!

felshs
felshs

who care??anyway

Myriam_D
Myriam_D

You know what? I've never seen a Star Trek, and god knows what Stand By Me is. So I'm just going to comment on what he said. Someone should bloody hug this guy. Strangely, I've managed to avoid all this wacky online-hate chatspeak. I've never spoken in that manner, really, and in MMOs my parties have been pretty good. Yes, there's a lot of cheers of pwn, but we tend to direct that at the bunch of pixels called a mission we finally get through, or getting a few new levels. Then again, I must be insanely lucky. Or never used an XBox/headset. Yeah, that's probably it. :P

BewilderedRonin
BewilderedRonin

Growing up in the '80s, arcades were his generation's Xbox Live or World of Warcraft, Wheaton notes. It was in these mostly suspect dives that he was able to experience the social aspects of gaming, and what helped teach him good sportsmanship. After all, Wheaton said, if people taunted one another in an arcade in the same fashion taunting occurs in online worlds today, the incensed party would have most likely reduced him to a bloody pulp. Moral of the story: "When you're playing online, don't be a dick." Yep. The arcade days. Wil hit it on the head. 1/2 the time I ignore those people, but when it happens and you're having a bad day, it can really turn you off from online gaming. I rest assured that one day these trash-talking turds will slip up and mouth-off in public like they do on the internet, and then reality will come careening fist first into their face. Wheaton noted that beyond all the societal implications, games are fun, and their primary purpose should be to bring joy to our lives. Too true. People that are jerks in online games are either 1)immature and think being annoying is fun 2)hate their own miserable, pathetic lives and want to drag others down 3)are just natural jerks that will always be jerks because they're narcissistic pricks. @Bloodzombie77: Yeah, I first remember him in Stand By Me too. And there's nothing wrong with being old. You're wiser and better experienced. Those of us that did get into fist fights for mouthing-off already know what happens when you trash-talk. These obnoxious kids still have yet to learn. And when they do, I hope it's through fist fights and not gun fights.

Oni
Oni

I've been an online gamer since '98 and I say .... "so what"? This behavior is nothing new .. it's only come to light because on-line gaming is mainstream now. That's it. At least now the community is trying to police itself, somewhat.

Serious
Serious

the racist online are the biggest problem online. Then there are the pedophiles that give the media most of its fear fodder for parents to swallow. Its all a big load and isn't to be taken for anything but sound bytes and attention getters for the press. Don't listen to them. Gaming is fun and that's all its meant to be.

ShirkDawg
ShirkDawg

Haha yeah the online thing is true, I hate the racists on Xboxlive. Most of those p***** wouldn't dare talk that **** in real life. But yeah I agree with what he said about games being works of art.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

-I liked him on Star Trek, I thought the nerdy boy genius theme worked.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

I wish I could have heard him talk. Sounds like he made a really good speech.

VicMackey
VicMackey

"When you're playing online, don't be a dick." Let's hope this sweeps the internet and becomes an unavoidable maxim. How much fun would games be if we acted the same way we do in person? I'm guilty of it, too.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

I met Wil Wheaton once at an Amiga store years ago. He complained about the producer of Star Trek to me, and I have not see any sign of him since then until now.

saintsrowCS
saintsrowCS

XD i remember when people (really) hated him on Star trek. anyway "When you're playing online, don't be a dick" true now that people are masked behind their internet connections theirs sssooo tough

clawboy
clawboy

I agree 100%. It only takes one person to ruin it for everyone. When gaming don't be a dick.

encodi
encodi

Oh my, this will be my new forum quote... "When you're playing online, don't be a dick."

Nepherate
Nepherate

"cant agree more. those kinds of ppl really got me off xboxlive. bunch of trash talking tards" I just keep my volume a little lower, that way I can't hear/understand what they're saying anyway. It's hilarious when it's obvious that they're going on a hissy fit, but you can't hear a word.

yaminoshadow
yaminoshadow

cant agree more. those kinds of ppl really got me off xboxlive. bunch of trash talking tards

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

He is a good contributor to gaming. I believe he gets involved in quite some video game projects. I remember him mainly for being in films though like Stand By Me.

jenova
jenova

No duh you shouldn't be a dick when playing online. Wow, this is all news... to old people. Let this be a lesson to you all, when you get old, don't demonize Hyper Mind Ball or whatever thing it is that those uppity youngsters are into.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

Will Weaton has definitely earned my approval for being the spokesperson for gamers. I'd vote for him if he ran for any kind of political office :) "Well our governer was on the ENTERPRISE you douche!"

blue_tape
blue_tape

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

borgmaster
borgmaster

wil wheaton? the couldn't get anyone better?

YodaGundam
YodaGundam

"jsratm ST: TNG is the best show ever. Except for Diana Troy...pretentious betazoid... *pushes glasses up nose*" Who the hell is Diana Troy?

jsratm
jsratm

ST: TNG is the best show ever. Except for Diana Troy...pretentious betazoid... *pushes glasses up nose*

Bloodzombie77
Bloodzombie77

Seriously, This guy's hit the nail on the head. I first remember seeing him in Stand By Me, (geez, I'm old), but yeah, he got it right with the whole "don't be a dick" thing. Obnoxious little punks online are the main reason I don't play online games. I've never seen one person in an online game win or lose gracefully, there's no sense of sportsmanship anymore, and yes, I'd love nothing more than to see half those obnoxious turds online survive 15 minutes in an actual arcade with all the **** they talk, because some of them need a good pac-man rage-induced beating

Col-Neil
Col-Neil

Ice some people are just born like that

ice_radon
ice_radon

I agree. I dont know why when people play online they feel like they have to be totally obnoxious.

mikado01
mikado01

Wil Wheaton needs to keynote every videogame convention ever.

zeus_gb
zeus_gb

I hope the video for this gets uploaded soon, I so what to see the part where he insults Jack Thompson. Make it so!

Pontesi
Pontesi

Wil Wheaton for the win!

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

"When you're playing online, don't be a dick." Quote for truth.

Vudu_Line
Vudu_Line

The Jack Thompson/Hillary Clinton slams were classic.