Doing laps in the LA Fishbowl

A Geekly Paradise

Had my first taste (a small one, admittedly) of geek celebrity-hood this past weekend— was part of a panel at Blizzcon, the gamer convention for Blizzard Entertainment. Those of you who play Diablo or Warcraft or StarCraft will be well familiar with this online multi-player company; everyone else will be completely in the dark. I spent my youth rolling twelve-sided dice and plotting magic dungeons on graph paper in my friends’ living rooms: these are my people. 

Dungeons & Dragons, writ large 

I went in expecting it to be like Comicon, but smaller; it is, in fact, nothing like Comicon at all, but in a good way. There’s a lot less splashiness— no product placements, not a lot of costly, no flashy A-list celebrities and movie tie-in swag. There’s no corporate synergy going on, because it’s all about one company. The celebrities are the game artists and developers, who are for the most part uniformly Asian, uniformed in black t-shirts and jeans. The big draw are the banks of computers—three parking lots worth of them— where you can sit and play the “campaigns” with and against all of those people around you. It looks like a vast war room, but with mages and blood elves and clerics on the screens. There was pure and unadulterated geeky goodness going on at the Anaheim Convention Center.

I was invited to be part of their first voice talent panel, along with some of my World of Warcraft compadres, very esteemed voice actors all. 

I’m a pretty recent addition to WOW— I play a warrior Panda (no, not Po) named Taran Zhu in the Expansion Pack “Mist of Panderia.” Here’s an earful of what I do:

I’m the Panda Pandaren who comes in at about 1:00.

I think that most of the audience had a hard time reconciling that growly character with the reedy-voiced, bespectacled man on the stage, and, I have to admit, I’m always a bit surprised myself. 

That ugly ginormous brute with whom I fight? Here he is in the flesh;

Patrick Seitz, a kind and gentle man, who specializes in throat-shredding monster voices and doesn’t even cough up blood afterwards!

The panel was fun. I got to sit next to the estimable Keone Young, fellow Pandaren and essential guest star on “True Blood” and “Deadwood.”  

We talked, did a Q&A, and signed autographs. I picked up my autographed poster, bought a stuffed panda and made my way into the darkness of the gaming floor—once a geek, always a geek.

November 14th, 2013 - Still Life Las Vegas


3 responses to “A Geekly Paradise”

  1. Genevieve says:

    James that was so much fun! I know nothing of this world, but was totally hooked on that trailer. I turned the volume WAY up in an attempt to hear a voice I would recognize, but NOPE! You are really great at this. Well done!!

  2. Keone was just on "Sons of Anarchy". And here he is again. He's EVERYWHERE.

    I should have come and waited in line to meet you. I'm that much a fan.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And my house was one of those houses! Hi this is Pam, younger sister of K… from Maplewood!

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