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Legend of the One Platform Master
December 22, 2011 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Ulillillia (previously, and previously) is an Internet celebrity who's famous for his writing, videos on Youtube, personal website, and game design. The Platform Master is a documentary that was filmed earlier this year about his life, and is scheduled to be released this coming summer.
posted by codacorolla (25 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit, I can't wait to see this. I am very, very fond of Nick Smith and the stuff he's made. If you've never read his (unfortunately) nigh-unreadable novel The Legend of the 10 Elemental Masters, it's an absolute trip.

The guy is basically the closest thing the gaming community has ever had an honest-to-goodness outsider artist. If you ever make an honest go of reading his website, or watching anything he's done, and just completely preclude yourself from either feeling sorry for him and giving him the Encylcopedia Dramatica once-over, I assure you you'll get the same chills down your spine as you would listening to Jandek or looking at a W├Âlfli painting or anything else made by someone who is so absolutely different and has an unceasing desire for self-expression.
posted by griphus at 8:10 AM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


griphus - can you elaborate on why his book isn't readable? Because I was just about to buy it for my son.

I'm having trouble learning enough about Smith. I watched the trailer, and immediately was captivated. And then I watched some youtube of him explaining 9 different secrets he'd learned on an ancient weird looking game from Playstation where he keeps jumping higher and higher. Where is a really good article explaining who he is and his appeal? (Everything I read and saw made me want to learn more.)
posted by scunning at 8:17 AM on December 22, 2011


griphus - can you elaborate on why his book isn't readable?

The first page (click Preview) describes the main character's coloring using hex codes, with reference to Appendix 5. It's like that for three hundred pages.
posted by theodolite at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thanks theodolite. I am going out on a limb to think my son my not be ready for the next Finnegan's Wake, then.

I am absolutely hooked on this guy. If I get any work done today, it'll be because the internet broke. Is Smith on medication? I just was reading about his sleep problems, and his belief that the video games caused his mental problems. I then realized he lived in North Dakota and was most likely, from the images I could find, poor and probably not receiving very good psychiatric treatment. His sleep cycles struck me as something that maybe could be addressed with proper treatment, but I don't get the sense from what I'm reading he maybe conceives of it that way.
posted by scunning at 8:39 AM on December 22, 2011


Because, in all honesty, Nick Smith is not a good writer in the traditional sense. The dialogue is stilted, the characters are two-dimensional, the plot is completely straight. Everything smith knows about world-building comes from video games from the 8- and 16-bit era, and plotting in that era was only starting to evolve from being wholly perfunctory. I can keep going about the negative points, but the imagery is amazing. It's like a video game fever dream.

Depending on how old your son is, and how aware he is of certain video game tropes and concepts from that era, he might find it either thrilling or boring and confusing. Also, as mentioned above, Smith has weird, baroque little touches like using hex codes for colors.

Here is Smith writing about himself, so you can get a better grasp of who he is as a person. It's sort of hard to get a realistic overview of who he is because he's most widely known on the under-the-bridge parts of the internet (ED, SA and so on) and is treated as a bit of a punching bag there. I'd suggest just reading his website, honestly. He's incredibly open about who he is and what he likes and how he is afflicted. It's eye-opening reading.
posted by griphus at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and he took down the "Doctors and Meds" section, but I clearly remember him stating that he was diagnosed with OCD. Additionally, the Doctor Wikipedias of the internet -- myself included -- think that a lot of his self-reported behavior absolutely screams autism spectrum/Asperger's.
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on December 22, 2011


griphus - ah. Because I could've sworn at one of the 20 tabs I just had open about him, Aspergers was mentioned. But then at the actual site, I couldn't find any reference to it. OCD and Aspergers - are they comorbid often? I can see each of them in the bits and pieces he describes, even the really beautiful parts of what I saw - like his mind games - struck me as the kind of looping I know can occur within OCD.

The documentary looks like it'll be a real experience, and I look forward to it. I am sad to hear that about Something Awful. At least no one can physically touch him, and if he does have autism, then it sounds like he is insulated from the worst of the internet bullying if only by not really noticing it when it occurs.
posted by scunning at 8:48 AM on December 22, 2011


His book is astonishing, because and he's presenting a story (such as it is) through his own lens, from a particular kind of game design, and Nick Smith doesn't think like I do (or presumably like you do). It's aggressively boring, and I don't say that in a derogatory sense. One character jumps to some arbitrary height; another character jumps to an even higher height. Clearly the author cares about these immense numbers and thinks that they are intrinsically interesting, though why is always unclear.

I have to say that the prospect of a documentary worries me a little? There are a lot of ways in which this could be done very, very badly. While it isn't intentional, the book does carry this undercurrent of extreme isolation which it's hard to laugh away.
posted by with hidden noise at 8:55 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI, here is a link to the documentary page, though there isn't really anything there yet.

The documentary trailer spends half or more of the time on this flood that happened. The shots involving Nick, though, don't really seem to be related to that flood except when he is standing in front of the flood waters talking to the camera. That's kind of intriguing.
posted by scunning at 9:05 AM on December 22, 2011


outside of ED (where literally everyone is a punching bag) I've only ever seen sort of awed fascination with him
posted by p3on at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2011


That is a great picture of him on the documentary page.
posted by scose at 9:31 AM on December 22, 2011


Interesting. I didn't know most of this stuff about this guy even though I've been subscribed to him for a while just because of his obsessive Let's Plays of obscure games.
posted by cmoj at 9:56 AM on December 22, 2011


The documentary trailer spends half or more of the time on this flood that happened. The shots involving Nick, though, don't really seem to be related to that flood except when he is standing in front of the flood waters talking to the camera. That's kind of intriguing.

If I'm not mistaken, Nick is manning the camera during that long section of flood footage in the middle of the trailer (we see him with a video camera in a small boat in the earlier montage). And I'm pretty sure he wrote that second piece of music that starts when the "flood" section begins. So even when it's not about him, it may still be about him, in a way.
posted by EmGeeJay at 10:16 AM on December 22, 2011


OMG thank you for posting this. Though I'm kind of feeling right now like the Internets is really small because the top comment on the trailer is by cboyardee of Barkley fame. I was totally going to make a FPP about that game soon after it came out and then forgot.
posted by palidor at 12:38 PM on December 22, 2011


@palidor barkley was a really gross game
he's most widely known on the under-the-bridge parts of the internet (ED, SA and so on) and is treated as a bit of a punching bag there

yeah, they are pretty terrible. part of why i am looking at this documentary with so much trepidation is that i worry it might come pre-infected with SA/ED ugliness? it is a shame that it is hard to talk about this guy, who is a real artist i think, without tapping that shame vein and turning it into gawking.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2011


Oh, wow, I just made an FPP about a different cboyardee project in June.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on December 22, 2011


I'm assuming someone who would have the motivation to go do a documentary on Nick wouldn't have any intention of portraying him in a negative light. Or any more negative than his circumstances may inherently be, at least. I mean I've had the occasional thought "wouldn't it be cool to go make a documentary on him?" and I'm pretty sure it's not coming from a bad place.

But if we're being real, there's an unavoidable gawk factor to being fascinated with him. I mean, do you ever think "it'd be pretty cool to be him!"? I don't, because it's quite easy to infer a lot of depressing things about his life. But it's easy to love him because he's found his own way to be productive in spite of these things, whether he's aware of them or not. I mean this is a guy who appears to have no social life at all, maybe even lacking the capacity for it, and it's hard not to find that deeply sad. I personally relate to him in the sense of like, "this is what would happen if 10-year-old me with all of my insular idiosyncrasies stopped developing in other areas and took those idiosyncrasies as far as they could go."

Is this a case of untreated mental illness? Probably. But it's also an incredible example of the difficulties of defining mental illness sometimes. If he was treated, encouraged to go out and have a full social life, would any of what makes him fascinating still exist? Would he still find joy in all of the number-crunching and videogame-derived worldview? And further, how much of what makes him fascinating to us is holding him back from living a more socially fulfilled life? Are we complicit via our adoration in encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle? These are genuine questions I don't know the answers to.

A while back I read about Chris-chan and his whole saga, which included a good deal of straight up cruelty. Like, I was disgusted by it, how people could take such pleasure in abusing a mentally ill person. I don't think the Ulillillia fan club is anything like that, but there's probably a line somewhere, where one goes from being genuinely fascinated by someone deeply abnormal to dehumanizing them and considering them to be little more than something in a cage (to quote Nick) to gawk at.
posted by palidor at 1:48 PM on December 22, 2011


These are genuine questions I don't know the answers to.

at least you're asking.

awful as it is, the chris chan thing is useful in that it is an exemplar of how fucked up that kind of thing is, at the heart of it, and serves as a way of saying "look at this, this is what you are and are doing".
but there's probably a line somewhere, where one goes from being genuinely fascinated by someone deeply abnormal to dehumanizing them and considering them to be little more than something in a cage (to quote Nick) to gawk at.

i think that the irony/distancing thing you will sometimes see is basically a very lite form of that kind of dehumanization, so there is that to watch out for
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2011


I had no idea about any of this Chris-chan stuff and now I just read about it and for fuck's sake, the internet. For fuck's sake.
posted by griphus at 2:32 PM on December 22, 2011


it is evil and fucked up for sure and is an excellent illustration of terrible internet

also griphus am i missing something because this boyardee guy's stuff is just kind of andy milonakis as a sullen teen boring
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:41 PM on December 22, 2011


Um, Ulillillia is not treated like a punching bag on Something Awful. In fact, I'm reasonably sure SA was the first to notice his website back when he still had Cinos and Silat as his imaginary friends. A little under ten years or so ago. But instead of mocking and invading his space, the people in the thread started to get a little protective of him. They realized he's living in his world on his terms, and more power to him for that if he can do it. I'm not sure if it was unwritten rule at first or an actual "Don't screw around with someone in RL" edict from the mods, but everybody agreed to leave him alone and just watch. And even if someone does poke at him, he shrugs it off. Their criticism is of no importance to him. Just look at his responses to YouTube comments trolls.

There's a current Platform Masters thread in the Games subform on SA. While it does attract its fair share of newcomers who go "who is this freak?" the majority of posters still share this feeling that Nick Smith is someone special and not to be messed around with just for the lulz. There are movements that crop from time to time to try and get help for the guy, but a Prime Directive is a Prime Directive, folks. Don't hurt him and don't get Involved. The best people can do, if they want to do good, is to buy his book and help him out financially. Right now the biggest worry from newcomers is that Uli's diet of nothing but "degreased" cheese pizza is gonna be the death of him sooner rather than later.

Can't speak for ED, though.
posted by Spatch at 7:54 PM on December 22, 2011


also griphus am i missing something because this boyardee guy's stuff is just kind of andy milonakis as a sullen teen boring

The thing that you are missing is Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden
posted by codacorolla at 8:32 PM on December 22, 2011


Ulillillia isn't really a punching bag on Encyclopedia Dramatica, either, which isn't surprising--there's quite a bit of overlap in the demographics for the two sites. His ED page* is practically a love letter by their standards. It also compares Ulillillia to Chris-chan on a few key points. (Executive summary: both are obsessed with video games, but Ulillillia actually does things with his obsession such as coding a game and writing his book, while Chris-chan mainly attempts to get other people to make a game out of his horrible, horrible rip-off characters.)




*Note the .ch domain, because fuck a bunch of OhInternet.com.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:36 AM on December 23, 2011


The coupon code "BLIZZARDS305" gets you 35% off at Lulu.com for the next little while, so if you ever wanted to buy his book, now would be a good time.
posted by griphus at 7:08 AM on December 28, 2011


I was really hoping someone would make a documentary about him, and now its happening.

I can also vouch for SomethingAwful and ED and so on being (fairly) respectful of Ulillillia. I think someone on SA coined him as 'the final boss of the internet'.

He mentioned that the doc might be happening on his blog early last year - then the floods came and it looked like the doc might be off. But it looks like the filmmakers wisely decided to broaden the scope of the film out so that its about the floods and Ulillillia.
posted by memebake at 2:19 PM on January 15, 2012


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