L-R: Chuck Wendig, Brian McClellan, Stephen Hood, Stephen Blackmoore, Delilah S. Dawson
Thursday night at Gen Con, Stephen Hood of the collaborative storytelling web game Storium got together with a number of authors for a two-hour public exhibition (and exhibitionist?) game of Storium, raising money for Patrick Rothfuss’s charity Worldbuilders. The participating authors included Chuck Wendig, Sam Sykes, Delilah S. Dawson, Stephen Blackmoore, and Brian McClellan.
The story was set in Storium’s stock generic urban-fantasy setting. Wendig served as the narrator, while the other three writers apart from McClellan took turns having their characters take actions. (McClellan came in at the one-hour mark to fill in for Sykes, who had to go.) Members of the audience were able to donate money to Worldbuilders in order to alter the outcome of the story. (For example, one member of the audience paid several dollars to have Nickelback be playing at the club where the action was taking place.)
As might be expected when you put several famous authors in front of an audience with their words being thrown up live on a big screen—and Stephen Hood being forced to read them aloud for the benefit of people sitting too far back to see the screen—things got very silly and very R-rated very quickly. The writers seemed to delight in writing text as outrageous as possible for the sake of making poor Stephen Hood have to read it aloud.
The game has not been marked viewable to Storium members in general yet, and I personally suspect it might not ever be. And that’s probably for the best. To fully appreciate it, you kind of had to be there, experiencing it in the moment. To anyone who wasn’t there, it would probably just look like intentionally juvenile badfic. Which it…well, kind of was. That was the point. And the audience loved it.
Anyway, the important thing about the event was not the story itself per se, so much as the fact that it kept the audience entertained, and raised a great deal of money for charity. Perhaps that might be the most remarkable thing about the whole affair—an audience was amused and entertained for two hours by a bunch of writers sitting there writing. Who would have expected something like that?
On a related note, I taped a brief interview with Stephen Hood today about the progress of Storium in general over the last year or so. Look for it to appear as part of a TeleRead podcast episode later this weekend.