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Overheard: GDC afterhours

Scott Sharkey is phoning me.

“Is that you over there? Standing lonely at the corner?”

“I am not lonely,” I tell him. “I was twittering.”

“Well, come over here, where we are,” Sharkey tells me. I squint at the intersection. A hundred feet away, Sharkey is waving.

Inside, I sit down across from Cactus. He frowns at me.

“You’re… Sharkey’s friend,” he says.

“You ate my snack mix,” I remind him.

Later in the night, Cactus will offer me potato chips.

Cactus presents Derek Yu with canned herring from Sweden.

“That isn’t legal,” I tell him.

“It’s legal… if I… didn’t show it to anyone at customs,” Cactus says.

Too late to worry about that now: we ate it all! Verdict? Pretty tasty, actually.

Phil Fish is standing outside, next to the bonfire. He’s worrying.

“Here, since I won’t get to actually see it,” I say to him, “I’ll write your speech for you right now. Hello, I am Phil Fish. One cool way to keep promoting your game, keep it fresh, is by giving exclusives to friends. Here’s another cool one: generate your own rumors! Be a rumor mill!”

“Are you talking about me?” Phil looks genuinely confused.

“Not really,” I admit to him. “I just really like rumors.” Like that one that I inadvertently spread.

Oh. About that. Phil says: “The Fez screenshot? That was old, really old. The green ‘A’ button has always been there. Since last GDC, even.” I think he’s a little annoyed that I helped spread that rumor.

“Are you mad at me for inventing fake news? I’m just helping!” I tell him.

“A little mad,” he nods.

Most of the party is being recorded, and it’s streaming live on TIGSource. I seat myself at a laptop in the next room. “There is a thirty-second delay,” I type into the IRC window, “so Andrew is here, now, watching himself hopping in front of the camera thirty seconds ago.”

“LOL,” a TIGger types.

I ask Derek Yu about the Game Over: Continue show, for which game designers Yu, Petri Purho, Anna Anthropy, and Cactus are making playable game art installations. “We’re working right up to the last minute,” he explains.

I cannot contain my apparent shock, and Yu continues, “That’s when the artistic… brilliance… you know, that’s how it happens.”

He starts to tell me about Petri’s entry, but I clap my hands over my ears.

Then we hatch a brilliant scheme in which I make my own videogame and bring it to the show. Derek will distract Adam, curator and friend, for several minutes—long enough for me to install my uninvited art on the gallery wall and then flee.

This will never work.

Perhaps I shouldn’t give away what Trileet is working on, so I’ll only say this: your iPhone. Plus Breakout. Equals amazing.

“No one’s really done ‘gonzo’ games journalism yet! I’m waiting!” Phil Fish is telling me. He actually looks impatient as he says this.

“It’s, uhhhhhh—no, I was thinking more like fake names, uhhh, satirical, um, Bukowski. Henry Chinaski.” I’m floundering here.

Real names!” Phil shouts. “You use real names, and you take mushrooms!”

This will never work.

“How many indie rockers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” I ask Brandon McCartin.

He’s game. “How many?” he asks.

I cross my arms and slouch. “What, you haven’t heard this one yet?” I ask him apathetically. Ha, ha.

“Oh, God,” Sharkey says, rolling his eyes. “Next you’ll tell the whale joke. Don’t tell him the whale joke.”

“It’s a bad first impression,” I agree. “You know, in college, my friends and I all thought it was really funny, sincerely. Then I graduated and found out, yeah, no one in the real world thinks it’s funny.”

Then I explain to Brandon: “I’m not telling it, but. It’s just me squealing for about a minute anyway. Like a whale.”

I think disgust is the right reaction.

During a pleasant conversation with musician David Kanaga, I mention Prodigy.

“Prodigy?” David asks. “The band?”

“No! Prodigy, Compuserve, A-O-L,” I say, shaking my head. David looks at me blankly.

“How old are you?” I ask him suspiciously.

I am so, so much older than I think I am.

Phil walks over. “Did you say Prodigy?” he asks me.

I nod.

“The band?” Phil asks.

“Yes,” David says. “No,” I say simultaneously.

Later, I say to Phil, “Phil, I am going to quote you saying Eliss is your most favorite game, OK?”

“On the iPhone. It’s my favorite game on the iPhone.”

Phil did say this: he wishes he could invent a completely new award to give to Eliss. “It’s beautiful,” he gushes.

Five hours pass. I never once remove my scarf, sweatshirt, or jacket—I never even think to.

7 responses to “Overheard: GDC afterhours” »

  1. Kevin Bunch says:

    Thank you for making me think of Prodigy for the first time in god-only-knows how long.

  2. Adam says:

    Oh, man. I’m onto your game.

    And that weird text I sent you last night was because I was watching you eat the herring on the TIGcast. But I think you already figured that out.

  3. This reminds me of something recent I can’t quite put my finger on, and now it’s going to bother me for the rest of the day.

  4. Well, now you HAVE to tell the Whale joke.

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