January 7: Scott likes TV fansite WhoWouldYouKill.com, which asks visitors which character on popular shows they hate so much as to wish them dead (and how!), but he becomes so frustrated by the lack of updates that he rips off the concept and starts his own version. Scott's poll isn't dynamic: Members fill out a form that emails their choices to Scott and he manually edits the HTML files. What sinks the concept, not that it could have floated for long on its own, is that Scott grants every request for a show that he gets, and when Lori Lancaster promotes her Sailor Moon request on anime fan forums, Scott is flooded with requests for obscure anime programs that no one visiting the site thereafter has heard of, least of all Scott. Lori's anime goos become a respected (if feared) part of the goo game because they appear in moderation, but too much anime sends Scott's WWYK game to a deserving early grave.
February 8: Within a few months of each other, two humorous pages on Scott's site become minor hits. In The Poet Lando Ate, Scott jokingly writes about torturing Matthew Preston's hamster Lando: Lando, Lando, / You've always been a fighter. / Lando, Lando, / Your glory's getting brighter. / Lando, Lando, / Your smell is rising higher. / Lando, Lando, / Who set you on fire? That summer, Scott finds a muse in his favorite movie with Matrix Haikus such as: The Oracle lies / She says Neo's not the one / He wants his money back. This intentionally bad poetry inspires game elements in later sections of the site.
February 14: Enjoying a politically-incorrect dead pool game on another site (predict which elderly celebrity will pass away next), Scott launches his own version of the morbid game, and thus begins the longest "round" of any game he has ever created. Players can only predict ten celebrities with no overlap, making a point-based victory nearly impossible. Determined to see the game through to its finish once started, Scott keeps the game running for weeks, then months, then years, as ancient figures like Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan cling to life. Eventually, Boston native Dee Roup wins the game on July 7, 2003, by carefully replacing her choices each time one croaked. Can you imagine a round of the goo game lasting three and a half years? With Dee's victory, Scott happily announces that there will not be a Round Two.
February 20: A fan of the Academy Awards tradition, Scott decides to put a contest on his site for the 2000 ceremony, inviting players to predict who will win in each category, with varying point values depending on the prominence of the category, with the highest scorers receiving movie-themed prizes. The format was a hit and would repeat virtually intact year after year from then on. In the first year, Scott plays for fun and is defeated by 1 point by Peoria local Gabe Reynolds, a radio DJ who plugs Scott's site on the air the day after he wins the contest. Scott continues honing his skills and becomes the player to beat in subsequent years of the annual game.
April 20: The sixth incarnation of Scott's Home Page formally introduces a concept he'd toyed with every since the goo game began: Official weekly updates to the site. This time, instead of individual pages updating arbitrarily and independently, Scott would update the whole site every Friday, treating it like a magazine with a cover page and table of contents. This doesn't increase traffic or radically change the content of the site, but scheduled updates continue as a major site tradition for several years to come and lead to an even greater turnout of material.
May 3: The semester-long assignment in Scott's autobiography class is to write a thirty-page essay telling his life story or a particular aspect of it. Scott chooses to write about the 1997 death of his father, the discovery the next day that he had an elder brother, and the 1998 death of that brother, and how the two men shaped Scott into the man he is. The essay is deliberately journalistic in tone but still bowls over his class, unseating (to Scott's delight) the conceited stylist who had until then been the head of the class. When Scott publishes the essay on his site, he receives kind words from all quarters, but none more remarkable than an eBay trader with whom Scott's transaction has gone badly but who backs off from his threats when he reads Scott's essay and is deeply moved. The essay is such a hit that Scott writes a follow-up two years later about his mother and his fiancée Kelly Lee.
May 19: The "adoption" trend sweeps the Internet: You can "adopt" a Beanie Baby, Pokemon, or other cute creature by putting its icon on your homepage and thus linking to the site running the promotion. Scott mocks the fad with his own version: Adopt a Wu-Tang, in which visitors are invited to select a "cute" member of the New York rap supergroup of their very own. (This succeeds a minor Wu-Tang-themed page from the site in 1998.) Matthew Preston, Dave Mitzman, and Scott's new college friend Anna Gregoline jump at the chance to take one home, but the one-joke page is short-lived. Scott later tries to promote the 100th celebrity goo by seriously inviting players to "adopt" goos in the same manner, but mild interest from Matthew Preston is the only response.
July 27: With the TV series Survivor a national craze, Scott creates a contest on his own site, Web Page Survivor, aping the show's elimination concept but without the challenges, and casts his willing friends in the Tugboat and Pogoball tribes, later merging into Rat Honor. The four-way alliance of Effie Schaver, Matthew Preston, Dave Mitzman, and Steve Elliser goes all the way to the end and Effie willingly accepts that she must be the first of them to go, but trouble forms when Dave must choose between his two friends. His relationship with Matthew is forever damaged when he sides with Steve, and all involved (including Scott) learn a lesson about playing "games" of betrayal. Steve goes on to win the game and Scott announces future editions, especially after he becomes addicted to the TV series himself.
August 23: Since his one-sentence Thorough Movie Reviews don't provide enough of an outlet for his profuse love of cool movies, Scott creates a new section on the site, Confessions of a DVD Junkie, in which he expouses at great length about some of his favorite films from his DVD collection: The Matrix, The Haunting, Heat, The Ninth Gate, Run Lola Run, and Pleasantville. The verbose approach is Scott's favorite way to discuss the movies he loves, but it eventually proves too time-consuming to sustain and the project is canceled after four months. Scott resurrects it in more restrained incarnations thereafter.
November 26: Intrigued by a video game that lets you collect cards and play them in a 3x3 grid, Scott turns the rules around in his head until he feels compelled to make his own version. Using characters from his RPG The World Game as card subjects, he first creates a paper version that players use during a weekend convention, keeping track of ownership with colored disks. Soon the game arrives online with the creative title Card Battle, and it's easily the most complex part of the site, with varied rules to keep track of and many cards to collect. But Scott doesn't know how to program a dynamic site and must personally update each html file when a player sends him their next move by email, an arrangement that dooms the game to an early end despite its complex appeal and the work that went into it. Scott keeps considering the rules in the back of his mind for years to come, determined to make more of them with dynamic code and a broader theme than he ever could before.
December 2: Scott's website introducing people in real life doesn't always have a positive outcome. When one of Scott's male friends and one of Kelly's female friends meet in person after playing The World Game together, their strong attraction leads them to spend a secret weekend together in her dorm room without telling their respective partners. When the affair is discovered, the betrayals and lies and accusations send shockwaves through their circle of friends that most parties would regret long afterward. The young woman loses her relationship and quits the game. The young man only saves his relationship by promising to stay offline completely, a promise that he keeps for a decade and a half afterwards. Their lives are no longer the same afterwards, and nor for that matter is the website.
December 27: Scott succumbs to the biggest web fad of all when he moves the site to its own unique domain, celebritygoogame.com, where it sits for almost six years. Besides the new address and the move to a more robust hosting environment, another major change is the shift in focus of the site: No longer is Scott's Home Page the central focus; instead, the much more popular Celebrity Goo Game moves to the forefront. Scott gives the game a major overhaul, putting each archived goo on its own page so visitors could look up old goos, and adding player photos and bios to the site in an effort to give the game a community feel. These photos and bios will eventually morph into the member pages still in use today.
When a section of the site has an anniversary, the sidebar element announcing it now appears in the gray section of the site as well as in the section itself. The 20th anniversary of Thorough Movie Reviews came and went a few months ago without me saying anything because I didn't look at that section that day and I missed the message.
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