Bits of Everything: Loading Ready Run

Alright... Welcome back friends. I hope that you all took some time out of your week and caught up with the wonderful world of The Wild Storm. If you wanted to learn a little more about Warren Ellis I would also recommend checking out the documentary "Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts" that just became free to watch on YouTube (embedded here for your convenience)! But this week's article isn't about Warren Ellis (though I am sure that I could continue to write article after article about the man who came to save the internet), it's about some other people who make wonderful things that make me think and make me laugh. And these people, as I think has become the central thesis of this column, are probably not as well known by most of the geeky community as they should be... and boy howdy should they get tons of attention from every corner of not only the geeky community but the world. Allow me to introduce you to Loading Ready Run.

Over the weekend there was a special event just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Seattle on Vancouver Island, specifically in Victoria, British Columbia (Scott, why are you being so specific? Because, dear reader, I must). The event was the "Pre-Prerelease" for Magic: the Gathering's next set Core Set 2019. And that event, along with my consistent enjoyment of the many different kinds of content created by this wonderful group of folks, is part of the reason why I felt compelled to bring to your collective attentions the wonders that is the comedy troupe that hosted, produced, and streamed this special event. Loading Ready Run is an internet comedy troupe that was founded in 2003 by Graham Stark and Paul Saunders and has regularly produced video content ever since. And when you consider YouTube didn't exist until 2005 there is certainly something to be said for creating content when there wasn't even a platform for said content. And how is it that these ambitious young Canadian comedians have come to be the go-to creators responsible for showing off the new cards from Wizard's of the Coast, you may be wondering to yourself? 

Well, the answer comes down to a video from back in 2010 that they created after falling back in love with Magic the Gathering thanks to some of the Learn to Play decks that were given out at one of the PAX conventions that they were guests at. And it's as a result of the videos they've made for Wizards, largely, that I discovered them.. And for a long while I was aware of mostly just their videos in the series of "Friday Nights" which were great but then I started stumbling into other videos they were creating like their Video Game News series "CheckPoint" and then their own hilarious series of videos that are sort of about them but not really about them "Commodore Hustle" and then later their Magic: The Gathering podcast "Tap Tap Concede". But then in the fall of 2016 my fascination with their work and consumption of their content had greatly increased thus I have all kinds of things to tell you about. Namely the incredible amount of content that they create each week on Twitch.tv/loadingreadylive

The thing that is truly brilliant about Loading Ready Live, their Twitch channel, is that they were among the first to use Twitch as though it were their own television station. Much akin to what has been replicated by folks like Geek & Sundry and HyperRPG there is a great variety of content from newly released video games (NewsDay Tuesday), to cooking/crafting/technology shows (Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Fry), to role playing games (Dice Friends as well as Temple of the Lava Bears), to live sketch comedy shows (Loading Ready LIVE), and even more (Live board game play, live paper Magic: the Gathering, live writing and producing of sketches, and oh so much more).

And while I could certainly point you toward plenty of individual pieces of their content (and trust me before the end of this article I will) I would say that if you can find anything from their incredible amount of archived content available at LoadingReadyLive that strikes your fancy that I would recommend just giving it a watch. These people just regularly create great content.

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One of the things that I would feel bad if I didn't mention is their charity work. Every year these brave individuals subject themselves to roughly a week of playing the singularly most boring video game ever created. That's right it's Desert Bus. A mini-game that would have been featured on the unreleased Sega CD game Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors in which the objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, in real time at a maximum speed of 45 MPH. And the feat requires eight hours of continuous play to complete. And these maniacs don't just play for 8 hours. They typically play from well over 100 hours at a stretch. In 2017 they played for a total of 158 hours, starting with the first year the cast agreed to play Desert Bus for an hour for each increment of money donated - the amount necessary would then increase by seven percent each time the increment was reached. Since their first event in 2007 they have raised over $4,400,000 for Child's Play. These funny folk are more than just jesters, they're all about making the world better.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of my favorite shows, podcasts, and streams these wonderful folks create each week (or, sadly in one case not nearly often enough). First there's the wonderful bi-weekly show of "Let's Nope" where Alex Steacy usually plays horror games with Ben Ulmer. It's a great deal of fun because Alex has the best reactions and Ben does not deal well with spooky games all that terribly well. It's a blast. Let's Nope rotates with "Watch + Play" where Graham subjects Alex to the worst games he can find that the internet provides. Another of my favorite of their streams is "Talking Simulator" where Alex and Cameron Lauder play games with the intention of looking at how video games tell stories. It's really rather fascinating to hear smart people talk about how games, good and bad, go about enveloping the player into their worlds. Another of my favorite streams is "Adam's Gamehaus" where Adam Savidan plays games, often hard ones, through to conclusion. Adam is just fun to watch play games. Additionally, they produce non-streaming content, much of which is spectacular. One of my favorites is "Qwerpline" which is a fake morning radio show made by Graham, Alex, Kathleen De Vere, Ian Horner, and Brendan "Beej" Dery that takes place in the fictional town of Nsburg. Trust me, it's hilarious. I'm also a big fan of "North 100" a podcast from Serge Yager, Alex, Liam Coughlan, and Jeremy White where they talk about the Magic: The Gathering format Canadian Highlander. It's informative and helps when thinking about the game of Magic even if you aren't playing Highlander. And the last recommendation I'll make is "The Panalysts" which is hosted by Kathleen and is in the style of a British chat show. It's quite a lot of fun.

Alright friends. I'll leave you all with that this week (Also with the playlist of totally great stuff over to the left). Sorry that the article is later than I've been posting of late, events conspired against me. See you back here in two Mondays. Until then, check out some wonderful Canadian Comedy.