How a middle-aged man became obsessed with The Show. PART ONE.
It’s Friday night in Hollywood, and for the first time in months, I am drunk.
It’s not just the IPAs warming my throat; I’m drunk on the scene and everything around it. My fellow cast of characters for this night are unrealistically flawless, and even if they’re not, they’e interesting in a way that makes them seem that way. Caterers carry trays of artisanal pizza from table to table, each with an eye on getting closer to the various television and film stars who dot the room. A DJ in the corner effortlessly mixes The Talking Heads into Lana Del Ray, somehow winding back into The Fleet Foxes. As if the night couldn’t get anymore cliche- the sky is clear and the stars are out. A rarity for this part of LA, but there they sit, flooded by moonlight and the endless string of Edison lights criss-crossing the patio garden.
This may all sound a bit too pretentious, too on-the-nose… and maybe it is, but that somehow doesn’t take away from the magic of the moment.
Did I mention this was a last minute wedding celebration? The kind you see in the movies where two flawed, yet hopeful people get married at City Hall on a whim? Yeah, I’m at that type of party, and they really did get married at City Hall.
Somehow in the middle of this magnificent soiree, I sit at a small table, surrounded by men with far more success than I have, regaling them with stories of dramatic nail-biting baseball games. Games played by men in darkened rooms in the middle of the night.
Games where men turn to their spouses and say, “just one more.”
We all say it. Even if we know that really means “two more”, we all say it.
“This one will be different. I won’t get fooled by the high fastball, the changeup in the dirt, or that bullshit slide-step move.”
“One more win and I can close out the Red Sox and get that Ted Williams. Surely that acquisition will get me to the hallowed World Series.”
Ted Williams has been for dead 15 years. He hasn’t played a baseball game in well over 50 years. His head is frozen.
See, I’m not talking to these men about actual baseball games, I’m talking to them about video games. Specifically, I’m explaining what Diamond Dynasty games are and how I somehow managed to squeeze into the Top 50 in the world. Now before I continue, it’s important to emphatically state that this Top 50 position lasted less than a few hours, and that I fell off a cliff within the following weeks. Trust me, my fellow Show gamers take this seriously and will have no problems calling you, me, or anyone else out on any exaggerations or bullshit. So to be clear, I am in no ways a Top 50 player. These days, I’m lucky to be Top 300. But for a brief shining moment, I was inarguably on the World Series charts within those 50 spots. And these were the charts before Diamond Dynasty had something called Ranked Seasons, which is a fancy way of resetting the standings every month or so and giving gamers just one more necessary accomplishment to feel whole, just one more way the team at San Diego Studios tapped into our accomplishment psyche and made us play even more. Clever bastards.
With their vests, beards, and tumblers of bourbon, the grown men I’m speaking to could collectively pass for Mumford & Sons. Either that or a smattering of Guy Ritchie movie extras. Regardless, they sit around me asking questions about how someone of my age became so emotionally invested in such a community, how I find time to play and still write screenplays, how it all works, and where it’s all going.
And they are, without question, enthralled.
I’m in my late thirties when this conversation happens, and within the next two years, I will have started a weekly MLB The Show podcast, made friends with like-minded fanatics, receive acknowledgement from the developers, and arguably have one of the most important conversations in the community about the flaws of the 2017 edition.
I will have played the best players in the world, sometimes even beating them. I will be loved by some and loathed by others. I will get into passionate arguments with one of my closest friends, my podcast partner The Weasel. I will plan social gatherings around whether I need to be streaming. I will play for days. I will stream. And most recently, I will build a small set in my garage for my content creation hobby, as if somehow saying the word hobby will make it so. It’s clearly more than that.
And throughout this unforeseen adventure, I will continue to have conversations like the one I’m having on this blissful Hollywood night, with men of all ages and types. They will have a few drinks, and then they will start asking…
“So, I hear you do something with video games? Talk to me about that…”
My eyebrows will arch because I know all too well where this conversation is going. I know we will inevitably talk about Twitch, streaming, community interaction, and how it all works. For millennials, this is common knowledge. For people of my age, learning about this world becomes a portal into what could be. They’re desperate to know more, but afraid to ask, afraid of how silly it looks. I’m beyond that, I don’t care.
I am telling you all of this as a way of setting up the fact that I have no idea how I got here. It is as inexplicable to me as it is to my curious colleagues.
So, exactly how did a middle-aged man come to be consumed with a simple video game?
Well, for that, we have to go back a bit…
Cooperstown Kurt is the co-host of This Week In MLB the Show, a podcast devoted to all things Diamond Dynasty related. He and his team are planning on bringing the podcast to Twitch in Spring 2018.