2009 Game Developer’s Conference Journal – Day 1

Yup, it’s the first day of what will likely be a long week.

It started out with the traditional stinky bus ride to Moscone which was made even more interesting by the bus driver. The guy had so many gold teeth and chunky gold rings on his fingers, I’m figuring someone swapped his high school vocational test results because no way should he have been driving a bus. I asked if the bus I was on stopped at 4th and Market street and he looked sidelong at me in a way that made me truly uncomfortable and said, “For you, of course.” Afraid there might be some expectation of recompense on my part for receiving this “special service”, I sneaked out the back door at the next stop.

Arriving at GDC full of pep and vinegar, I went to the Press room where my enthusiasm was immediately diluted by a line and an over-long wait to get a press badge. Once I had my badge and my disposable tote full of heavy free crap though, my flagging energy came back. Despite the current economic downturn, there was still a healthy crowd milling around Moscone. I haven’t been to GDC since 2007 and this time I was fired up with a sense of purpose generated by a schedule of meetings with various publishers and developers. Yay! This year I get to talk to someone!

My first meeting went well but I was hurting for a cup of coffee afterwards. I made a beeline for the closest Starbucks. Walking down Market street, I was totally grossed out by a dude walking in front of me who kept performing the sloppiest sneezes without even making the vaguest attempt to cover his mouth. Being downwind of him I couldn’t help but imagine the billion-germ cloud I was swimming through and my disgust and horror grew with every sneeze. I not-so-subtly increased my speed until I passed him and didn’t feel safe until I darted into the Starbucks.

Standing in line examining myself for spittle-marks, my attention was commanded by an authoritative sneeze from the front door. Sneeze Man had followed me in. Not content performing just for me, he treated all the other patrons to a volley of juicy discharges and then noisily blew his nose over the cream and sugar station. I drank my coffee black.

Back at Moscone, I couldn’t resist my compulsive book-buying addiction and picked up what I hope are a couple of good books on writing for games. I took them to a nearby table in the lobby to look at them but ended up being too distracted by a guy at the table behind me who was holding forth about game education like he was accepting the Nobel Prize. I gave up trying to concentrate and ended up sketching people instead.

Even that was made impossible when another attendee sat down at my table and proceeded to have one of those totally inane, unnecessary, “I’m bored so I’m calling you” conversations on his cell phone. It always amazes me how people can’t just be in the moment wherever they are. They can’t deal with the notion of sitting in an airport, or a waiting room or a laundromat without digging out the phone and driving everyone else within earshot crazy. This guy’s conversation consisted mainly of telling whoever it was on the other end jokingly to “rob a bank”. I think seriously, he must’ve said, “Just rob a bank”, like 25 times. I kept hoping his friend would offer similarly intelligent advice and tell him, “Jump in front of a street car.”

I was saved from listening to this further by lunch time and by two other publisher meetings which went very well. The day was rounded out by a wonderfully absurd encounter with a small asian street performer who had loud techno-music playing and was accompanying it with a flute he played with his nose.

One GDC day down. Four to go.

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