The last day before Kinda Funny Live 2.
What a Year It's Been
The first event today was a lunch event at the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. I led my group over there, since I've been deemed the responsible adult (see yesterday's comment about "Daddy Trevor"). But I didn't piece together until I turned the corner my own personal history with that place.
A little over a year ago, I was in town early for the first Kinda Funny Live. Sean Pitts was also in town and invited me to join him on a personalized tour of IGN he had set up with Jared Petty. On our way to the IGN offices, the two of us stopped somewhere to grab a bite to eat and sit and watch Colin & Greg Live on our phones. Sure enough, that location wound up being the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. We sat at a table outside and first got to know one another, bonding over our love of Kinda Funny, TV shows like Doctor Who and Chuck, and video games.
Fast forward to today, when upwards of 50 people joined us at that same location today. While another batch of Kinda Funny Best Friends were filling up the outdoor seating at 21st Amendment across the street. And the fact that I knew so many of them was an incredible feeling. I enjoyed a delightful conversation with a couple from Colorado who I hadn't met before. And of course their name's escape my mind now. I wrote them down in my phone but it's plugged in and charging right now and with all of the bodies in the room, I'm making the executive decision to just add their names in tomorrow. Regardless, they were delightful. EDIT: There names were Ryan and Emily. And Emily was a real trooper tagging along despite not really watching too much Kinda Funny content herself.
KFL2 X IGN
Then we all headed down the street to IGN.
Sean worked closely with Kiersten Slader to organize this special IGN tour and while it was open to anybody, pretty much everybody in attendance was there because of Kinda Funny Live 2. There were so many of us in attendance that they had to divide us up into four groups, led by Peer Schneider, Kyle O'Connor (my group), Kallie Plagge, and Jared Petty. We were informed up front that because of the holiday weekend, everyone at the office was leaving early and the people who stuck around for the Q & A were all doing it because they were awesome and knew how cool we are (and many of them of course are friends of the Kinda Funny guys and will be at Kinda Funny Live themselves).
The tour itself was nothing particularly new to me. As described above, I got a personalized version of it last year when Jared Petty led Sean and I around the offices (I even accidentally walked into the background of an IGN News video and got to sit in the Podcast room). Kyle showed us around as we walked passed some of the IGN Meeting Rooms (all themed around different video games like Portal or Fallout. We walked through the sales side of the building and heard about all of the less glamourous work that goes into maintaining the site, like the ad sales team and the product management team, as well as a brief overview of Code Foo internship program, where people who are interested in coding can get experience and possibly get hired on full-time at the site.
After that, we walked through the large lunch/break room and it's mini-arcade. Editor-in-Chief Steve Butts stopped for a minute after a trip to the vending machine to say hi and answer a couple of questions. Next it was on to the Ziff Davis portion of the building, where more of the behind-the-scenes business of the IGN parent company takes place. Lastly, we headed back through the main editorial hub. Brian Altano was the first familiar face to the group and took some time to chat and give hugs and pose for pictures. Given the recent cancer diagnosis of Brian's mother, I decided to take the Box of Hope/Hope Shield I picked up from TakeThis.org at PAX East and give it to Brian. We've had a few Twitter exchanges about The Legend of Zelda and I know it's his favorite series so it seemed like a fitting gift in an effort to help him through these tough times.
Then we moved on and walked by Marty Sliva, Alanah Pearce, and Andrew Goldfarb (with Max Scoville's dog in hand since he's overseas at the moment). It's of course always nice seeing them but as someone who does more than the average person on the tour, I didn't want to take away time from them interacting with other fans so I moved along and stumbled upon Miranda Sanchez's desk. Even though she was not present it was impossible to mistake.
That pretty much wrapped up the tour for our group. I saw pictures online that at least one of the other groups got to go into the studio where they film The Daily Fix, Up at Noon, and Game Scoop!
Then came the Q & A portion of the event, where a lot of the editors and other staffers who were cool enough to stick around for us took some time to answer fan questions.
A couple common themes arose out of the questions we asked. With a lot of the Kinda Funny Facebook, Twitch, and Forums moderators present, part of the conversation steered toward keeping the community positive by engaging and empowering the positive members (who will then in turn help fight your battles and self-moderate the group) and kicking out the bad apples ("You are under no obligation to give trolls a platform." - Kyle O'Connor, Social Media Content Creator). Another common theme that came up was being a woman in gaming: how to deal with the extra scrutiny thrown up you and how to support other women. Along the same lines as the social media conversation. Being the anti-trolls, as everyone in that room was, we were encouraged to take the time to be the positive voices on the internet, rather than the silent majority and not allow the haters to take up all of the air in the room. Additionally, the women in the group were encouraged to reach out to the women on the panel and share their experiences and support one another. Lastly, a lot of praise was thrown from the Kinda Funny fans to the IGN staff and from the IGN staff back to us. "You all are the physical embodiment of the anti-YouTube comment." - Kyle O'Connor
Kiersten Slader, who is amazing and brought this whole thing together for us in the midst of planning for E3 and San Diego Comic Con then took a big group picture before everyone split apart for a brief meet-and-greet.
KFL2 X Gamespot?
Shortly after heading outside, a Kinda Funny fan reached out to Neha Tiwari at Gamespot to see if he might be able to get a tour of their offices. She told him she wasn't there, but Mary Kish could probably help him out, which led Mary to tweet out
She only expected a couple people to see it or take her on the offer. But Greg Miller retweeted it and most of us were literally five minutes down the street and reached out to take her up on the offer. So what was originally planned as a few people, turned into 50+. They broke up our masses into smaller groups of 25 and took us through the CBS Interactive Gamespot offices. Gamespot just recently moved offices in the building from the fourth floor down to the first and they weren't completely unpacked.
Mary repeatedly pointed out how impromptu this whole this was and that she doesn't normally serve as the tour guide. And we repeatedly shot back that our bar was pretty low. Like. Garbage truck on fire low. So we were just happy to be there. Mary walked us around a little bit. We got to meet Danny O'Dwyer and head into their studio for a bit of trivia. People who got trivia questions right got to pick prizes.
All in all, it was a great little extra impromptu bit of kindness to the Kinda Funny community. And just like IGN, a lot of the Gamespot people will also be joining us at Kinda Funny Live 2.
Dinner and a Movie
Rounding out the night, a lot of us were fortunate enough to attend a special dinner celebrating Alfredo Diaz and Jackie Butler at a spot right next to the movie theatre where a bunch of us would be seeing X-Men: Apocalypse. The highlight of this might very well have been the musical performer at the venue - a ukulele player who started taking requests throughout the evening. As Ginuwine's "Pony" has become a recurring theme of our insanity, I mentioned at the table how great it would be if he knew it. After hemming and hawing for the next ten-fifteen minutes, champion-of-the-night Danny Juarez went up and asked the guy to perform it.
Oh yeah, Greg showed up at the dinner too by the way.
When the ukulele player realized we were a bunch of video game nerds, he ran through a series of gaming theme songs to try and stump us. We won out every time.
When we headed next door to the movie theatre, it was almost immediately apparent that we had pretty much taken over the screening. I'm not really going to go into a review of the movie but I think this sums up how unique how screening was.
The 20th Century Fox logo got a huge laugh from 90% of our theatre, while the rest have clearly never seen Colin & Greg Live to know of Colin's love for the theme as covered by a recorder.
Please please PLEASE go check out the video highlights my roommate Christian Puente - aka @pixelbrave - has been putting together all week. Here's his video our our time at IGN yesterday. He's basically been foregoing sleep this week in order to get these out and they're always incredible.