While it's a funny name, with some fantastic references to a great book and movie, the name Tyler Nerden has a strange story behind it. Roughly 4 years ago one of my friends noticed that how I act in private, and how I act in public and in regards to the gaming community, wasn't the same. He said, 'Watching you go from the back room to addressing the gaming community is like watching Michael turn into Tyler Nerden.'
There is a truth to that. See, Tyler Nerden was a persona that I made up in my mind as a sort of shield between myself and the community that I love. Why would someone want to do that? Well, the reason is related to around the time where most people would say I started to be a professional in the community.
I had just published my first table-top game ever, a rendition of now VERY successful LARP. We were staring to open branches across country, my game had about 250 people an event, and our book sold thousands of copies. Now with 5 years of experience there were a THOUSAND things I would do differently about the core book, but, all of those things come with learning. Maybe with a second edition. Who knows.
But anyway, I had just started being a 'success'. People were requesting me to do panels, to open new branches all over the country, and to write and do more. But with all this perceived success came two things I wasn't ready for: objectification and negativity focus.
People who did not know me well started seeing me as a concept or a resource instead of a person. I would go to a bachelor party and get pinned at the end of the table with people asking me game world questions. I would get calls at 3 am from people who were arguing about a rule and wanted me to give them a rules call. I started getting emails, dozens and dozens of them, of people telling me how *THEY* would write the world and what I should do to 'fix' it for them. I even had someone rewrite my entire world to include Goblins and Dragons, since they felt a LARP needed them (for those that don't know Dystopia Rising is a Post-Zombie-Apocalypse LARP).
People started taking small things I said and magnifying it out to the community as a whole. I couldn't say 'X' person pissed me off without hearing days and weeks later that I evidently had a long term feud with another person. At one point I lost my voice while running modules, and my tone came across as 'harsh', which caused a young man to break down into tears because he thought I was angry at him.
So I had to make sort of a customer service persona. A face that didn't crack when someone shit all over a passion project of mine. A face that smiled and auto-piloted when I was at an Anime convention and a fan said 'OhmygodohmygodyourPucci' when I wanted to run away because I'm not good with that sort of outside interaction. I needed a face that could deal with people coming up to me and asking major life changing questions, because for some reason they thought I was an adult who had all my shit together, when I would rather say 'Fuck if I know... I'm making up shit about living just like everyone else.'
So, Tyler Nerden is sort of the face I put on as a shield when I can't really cope with the world as a whole. When I would rather retreat into my office, close the door, and not answer all of the thousands of means people have to get in touch with me. It's the face that can cope with people ripping into my work. It's the face that continues unfazed when every part of my wants to scream and yell and run away.
Huh. Maybe I've had it wrong this entire time. The more and more I write this it seems like Tyler Nerden isn't the persona that I put on. It almost seems like the persona I put on is more of the Narrator persona, and Tyler Nerden is instead who I am when I get to let go.
Well, either way, that was the birth of the nick-name and the duality of public me verses at home me. Part of the reason that I am telling you this is that as I update this blog, I anticipate that eventually you are going to come across something that you don't agree with. You may come across something that makes you angry. You may come across something that makes you want to corner me at a bachelor party and tell me all of the reasons why you think I am wrong. However, under the guise of full disclosure and the need for letting things out, you will get posts from the real me.
I just need to figure out which of the two of us the real me is.