Hey, Wil Wheaton, What’s the Geekiest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

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I’ve known Wil since I was a kid. The first time we met was in the summer of ’86. Wil was searching for his brother who had gone missing somewhere in Oregon and I decided to tag along with the rest of the crew. We lost touch for a couple months until the next year when Wil decided to go into outer space. We argued over whether or not space was the final frontier for a long time. I’m pretty sure I won that argument. Shortly after, I moved away and we lost touch. As fate would have it, we crossed paths sometime last year and we’ve since exchanged a few emails here and there. We missed each other at Pax East the other month and just now got a hold of one another.

Peter: Hey, Wil, so there’s this thing called Geek Pride Day and the entire Techland staff is reminiscing about our geekiest moments. What’s yours?

Wil: I’ve done a lot of geeky things in my life, but I think the geekiest of all was my first effort to build props and cosplay, when I was about twelve years-old.

Peter: Cosplay? I don’t know if I like where this is going.

Wil: I was obsessed with “Ghostbusters”.

Peter: Phew! I thought it was going to get weird for a second. I’m down with Ghostbusters.

Wil: It ran at the Rainbow Theater in Tujunga for a couple of months when it was released, and my friends and I went there every weekend to see it. Sometimes, we stayed through the double feature to watch it a third time. I got it into my head that I was going to build a Ghostbusters costume – not for Halloween, just to have. I went to Thrifty with a bunch of change and photocopied the Ghostbusters logo from the cover of my Ghostbusters RPG rulebook, using the “reduce and enlarge” functions to make different sizes for my shoulders and front pocket. I remember being really confused when the resolution got worse and worse with each generation, and using a thick, black, felt-tipped pen to clean up the lines. I convinced my mother to loan me one of her jumpsuits (they were *everywhere* in the 80s, kids) and attached the logos to it with tape.

Once that was complete, I used my Crayola markers to draw all over some Styrofoam blocks, which I attached to my backpack with packing tape. Then, I assembled my Megatron into a gun (including the stock and sight) and connected it to the proton pack using some surgical tubing and more packing tape.

Peter: That’s some serious commitment, man. Kudos.

Wil: Because that wasn’t excessive enough, I built that scanner thing Egon used in the library out of a toilet paper tube and a single chopstick that I cut in half. I covered the sticks with black dots to represent the lights, and used string to create a tiny pulley system that would raise and lower them, just like in the movie. I also made a trap out of a Vans shoebox, connected to a controller (probably an empty box of strike-anywhere matches) via more surgical tubing and the now-ubiquitous packing tape. We had a lot of surgical tubing, because my dad worked in a hospital; the source of the excessive packing tape remains a mystery.

I didn’t get to have a headquarters or an Ecto 1, but I did play the soundtrack on my record player in my bedroom over and over and over again (probably driving my parents crazy) while I wore my costume and did my best to reenact the movie – by myself – on an almost daily basis. I didn’t have a particular character that I played all the way through; I’d switch roles so I could deliver the best dialog. I think I played Venkman the most, but I remember doing entire scenes, jumping from character to character, because there was more than just one funny line in it. If this ever disturbed my parents, they never let on. If my kid was doing what I did, I’d be thrilled that he was using his imagination so much, but also a little worried at the level of commitment.

Peter: Yeah, well, you are who you are. There’s nothing wrong with that. So, I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a while now and since I have your undivided attention, I’m going to come out and say it. Have any interest in joining the Techland family as a contributor?

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