This probably won’t come as a surprise to many of you, but I’m a geek for video games. Computer games in particular.
What you might not know is how deep my roots go: I’ve been playing computer games for 33 years. Since 1982. Since I was nine years old.
To give you a frame of reference, the first game I played was entirely text. Which is a good thing, because the computer I played it on didn’t have a hard drive. I learned to type playing those early Infocom games, and played some of them for *years* before finally solving them.
Long before I ever tried to write a book, I tried to write a computer game. It had puzzles and monsters, and I wrote it in the only programming language I knew: basic. By the time I gave up on the project, the printout of the program was over 32 feet long.
Later on I played King’s Quest, Populous, Alone in the Dark…. But eventually I found Fallout and Fallout 2. They became the yardstick I use as an example of how good a game can be.
There have been a lot of games I’ve wanted to play these past two years. Bioshock Infinite. Witcher 3. Dragon Age. Borderlands…. So many games I wanted to try. But I didn’t play any of them. I had writing to do, and Worldbuilders to oversee, and a new baby. Contracts to read. Foreign translations to assist with. I had to give up something, so I gave up the games.
This is to give you some context so you can realize how big a deal it was when I heard Fallout 4 was being released. I marked it on my calendar. I watched the trailers. I had someone build me a new computer so I could play it, because my current compy is about 8 years old….
Then I realized Fallout was coming out on November 10th. The same day I was scheduled to drive down to Milwaukee and interview Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Craynor as part of their Welcome to Night Vale book tour.
Even worse, Worldbuilder’s was starting its Big Yearly Fundraiser on November 9th. It happens every year around this time: My team and I rally the geek community to raise money for Heifer International. It’s a lot of fun, and aver the last several years, we’ve raised more than $3,500,000 dollars.
But it’s a lot of work. Every day we post up blogs full of books and games that we give away lottery-style to donors. Thousands of books and games supplied by publishers and authors. We launch dozens of auctions. We shoot video, post stretch goals, do AMA’s. And offer up new items in our online store.
In short, Fallout was dropping at the most insanely busy time of my year.
* * *
There’s another part of my life I’m guessing many of you already know about. But for those of you who don’t follow me much on social media…
(I wish it had been hard for me to find this example, but it wasn’t.)
It happens anywhere I have an online presence.
That’s a comment on a review I wrote on Goodreads. I’d shared a story about reading to my boys.
The moral of the story is that there are a lot of people who are really interested in reading book 3. And while I appreciate their sentiment, the way they express this desire… well… It’s exhausting at best.
Now this isn’t the only thing that happens to me online. Far from it. A lot of folks are amazingly kind and graceful.
Many of them step up to defend me from the abuse I’ve shown above:
So here’s some truths I think are fairly self-evident.
- I want to play Fallout 4. And I deserve to play a game every once in a while.
- I understand a lot of you are impatient for book three. (So am I, honestly.)
- We *are* in the middle of the Worldbuilders fundraiser.
So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have some fun with this. I have a supervillain-esque delight in certain types of gambling. So I’m going to put precious gaming time on the line for the good of the fundraiser.
As of now, anyone who donates to Worldbuilders gets to vote on what I do with this precious time I’ve set aside for gaming.
Behold: The Pat-o-Meter.
If you’re frothing at the mouth for book 3, this is your chance. In this limited time offer, I’m willing to let you have a say in how I spend my personal time if you’re willing to help us make the world a better place.
When you donate, you’ll see this option:
(Pick whatever one your heart desires. Seriously.)
Every day at 4:00 CST, we’ll tally the donations. And if people have ponied up and demanded I write more of book 3, I’ll give up my gaming time and put in another three hours above and beyond my normal writing time for the day.
What’s more, I’ll stream my writing session on Twitch.
If the will of the people is that I play Fallout 4, I’ll do a live stream of that instead. Since I haven’t gamed in a while, I expect the result will either be the live stream equivalent of riding a unicorn made entirely of orgasms. Or, if my mad skillz have atrophied, it might be an embarrassing train wreck as I’m endlessly killed by rats in the basement of whatever inn we start the adventure in.
Either way, I will have my snark turned up to eleven, so it’s bound to be a good time.
As an extra bonus, every day the Worldbuilders team will pull a random winner out of that day’s donors. (We’ll work it the same way we do the main lottery, where every 10 bucks you contribute gives you a chance to win the cool thing.) So even if your team doesn’t win, you have a chance to get something cool. These items will be specific to my books, and they’ll mostly be stuff you can’t buy in the store because I’ve only hoarded a few of them.
(Your donation will still enter you into the main prize lottery, too.)
You’ll be able to watch the live stream on my newly forged Twitch channel: twitch.tv/PatrickRothfuss. I’ll start at 4:00 pm CST every night. If you don’t want to constantly be peeking at the widget, you can follow @FalloutVsBook3 on Twitter to see which side is currently winning….
We’re starting today (Thursday) and we’ll do this for two weeks. If folks enjoy it, maybe we’ll extend it all the way through the end of the fundraiser….
I’m going to be honest with you. I only had this idea a couple days ago, and until today, I wasn’t sure if we were actually going to be able to pull it off. As a result, we’re kinda making this up as we go along. (As you can see, above, we haven’t figured out a way to automate the widget, so the Worldbuilders team is having to update it manually.)
Because of this, we might tweak a few details as we move forward. Fair warning.
But no matter which team wins, I win. Either I get to play the game I love, or I get closer to moving book three off my back. This will be an interesting social experiment, I’m genuinely curious as to what will happen.
And no matter what, it will be a beautiful game.
P.S. If you don’t know anything about Worldbuilders. Here’s a link to the blog where I explain everything in some detail. Here’s a link to the auctions we’re currently running.
And here’s a link to the page where you can donate and case your vote.