Nerd Culture

Geek Beat: Celebrity Geeks and Gaming Freaks at RandomCon

I grew up in the Dark Ages of role-playing games. I'm talking the late '80s, when Christian groups were protesting Dungeons & Dragons as a satanic tool and mixed-up drug addict and heavy D&D player Chris Pritchard -- now out on parole -- killed his stepfather in order to get his hands on a $2 million inheritance.

My mom's reaction? First, I got the "devil worship" lecture. Then, she threatened to sic a cult deprogrammer on my ass. Seriously.

My, how the Tides of Doom have turned. Sexy celebrities now freely admit to being gamers (read more after the jump to find out who!). Gorgeous women role-play -- outside the bedroom. And, as evidenced by the inaugural WesternSFA RandomCon gaming convention held this past weekend at the clean, family-friendly Grace Inn, parents participate in Dungeons & Dragons adventures alongside their kids.

The four-day event was a confluence of all things geeky, from medieval themed card games and live action role-playing (LARP) to console games like Rock Band and sci-fi movie previews. Think of it like a miniature casino -- that is, if you replace the high-stakes poker games with pricey collectible card games in the vein of Crack, er, Magic: The Gathering (which, thankfully I did not spot) and the regular dice with sparkly D10s and D20s.

Want to really piss off your fundamentalist sister-in-law? Purchase a copy and play with your nieces and nephews the next time you babysit. Mwahahaha!

There were folks playing D&D, a slightly later invention called Tunnels & Trolls, Star Wars roleplaying games, board games like Axis & Allies and card games like Munchkin. One gamer shared with us his story about Wil Wheaton, avid gamer, LA Weekly contributor and former Star Trek actor. 

So Wheaton attends a con in LA as a regular participant -- not a guest speaker. He sits down for a Star Trek: The Next Generation roleplaying game and is handed a character. His own character, Wesley Crusher. "I'm so sorry," says the guy. "We only have one character left, and it's Wesley." The GM (game master) goes on to say he knows Wesley totally sucks, but tells Wheaton "you kinda look like him, so maybe you can make do." Ouch! Wheaton, being a nice guy, said nothing (and hopefully kicked some Klingon ass)!

More celebrity gamers: Bones leading lady Emily Deschanel is a gaming geek. Hollywood hunk Vin Diesel is also serious about roleplaying -- and not just in the movies. So serious, in fact, that he has the name of his D&D Orc character tattooed on his arm!

"RandomCon was really successful for it's first year," Western SFA President Bob LaPierre tells New Times. "The only complaint was that it was on Mother's Day weekend." The Western SFA folks are working on changing the dates for next year. Of course, we know the truth.

The missing geeks weren't out buying their moms flowers or taking them to dinner. They were watching the new Star Trek flick. Over and over and over...


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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden