2009 Game Developer’s Conference Journal – Day 3

Day three proved to be my busiest. It was 10 hours of meeting after meeting with game publishers showing their products, some more interesting than others (the products, not the publishers) followed by a two hour awards show. All told, I was at the conference for 12 hours and that far exceeded the limit of my endurance, delicate flower that I am.

I could feel myself flagging about midday while walking around the crowded expo hall. Tired of the noise and the crowds and the gray-carpeted walls, I elbowed past the hordes of game school students jockeying for position in the Blizzard recruitment line and made it to the exit. Out in the lobby, I was immediately disoriented. All that time I’d been thinking I was in the North hall when I was actually in the West. It was like coming out of a Vegas casino; the way they orchestrate the environment to make you lose track of time, thus keeping you from realizing you’ve been inside long enough to start drawing social security.

Anyway, I had some time to kill before my next meeting so I milled around the lobby looking for likely candidates for my “Game Developer’s Dress Code” blurb. It wasn’t easy because I wanted to find people who looked like they’d spent a few minutes on their appearance–at least as long as it takes to bathe and put on a clean shirt. Surprisingly, I found it easier to approach women than men although one german girl with fabulous otter-pop-blue hair looked at me like I had a booger hanging out of my nose when I asked to photograph her. In the end, I chickened out and didn’t talk to as many people as I wanted to. I guess I should have settled for more of the people in the “unmade bed” category.

I decided to walk to my afternoon meeting which was at one of the nearby hotels. At least I thought it was nearby. Actually it was quite a hike and unfortunately I was wearing one of my fashionable made-for-looks-not-for-walking pairs of shoes. By the time I got to Battery street, I was footsore, out of breath and sweatier than a glass blower’s ass. It was embarrassing going into that nice hotel in such a wilted state.

That brings up an unexpected side-benefit of going to these meetings. I’m getting to see the inside of some of the nicest hotels in San Francisco, something that would never happen otherwise. It’s kind of cool to see how the prosperous class lives and kind of fun to go into a fancy lobby bar and act like you belong there. I should really do it more often. Why work in my crummy apartment when I can set up shop in a crystal-bedecked piano lounge with plush couches and a granite fireplace?

After my last meeting of the day, I headed back to Moscone for the Game Developer’s Choice Awards and along the way was accosted by some guy dressed like a rodeo clown wearing a woman’s thrift store wig and yellow Marilyn Manson contacts.

He was running around handing out flyers printed with conspiracy-theory stuff and climbing the traffic signal yelling, “I’ll have the safety beam back on in just a minute!” When I pointed my camera at him, he insisted he “couldn’t show his face”. Oy vey. When performance art is bad, it’s really really bad, and this guy’s antics were just about screaming, “Undergraduate Art School Performance Art Project”. I guess my tolerance for such things has diminished in my old age because in the past such things might interest or amuse me. These days they just make want to punch someone in the face.

I crossed the street to escape the art student and sat down in the Esplanade Ballroom to watch the Game Developer’s Choice Awards. I was a half hour early and so I got a good seat near the middle, behind some guys whose group was book-ended by one dude with a big basketful of dreads piles on top of his head and a dude with a wide, poofy afro. I positioned myself right in the middle of them so I had a good clear view of the stage and waited for the show to start. Half an hour later, as the show was starting and the host was already on stage, an usher showed up and asked me and the people next to me to move down in order to accommodate these yahoos who’d shown up late.

That’s one of my biggest peeves, and actually the reason why I don’t go out to movies anymore. I’d always go early in order to get a good seat and inevitably, some jerk would show up as the show was starting and would expect me to accommodate him by moving. As a result, I’ve adopted a “you snooze you lose” policy which means once my butt is in the seat, it stays there. There was no way I was going to move and have my view completely blocked by Afro-Dude so I refused to move. After a moment of uncomfortable back and forth staring between me and the usher, the pushovers–er…nice people next me clambered over my lap to the seats further in.

I should have known the newcomers wouldn’t be satisfied with the level of disruption they’d caused thus far because after making people move so they could have their seats, they spent two-thirds of the ceremony talking. Not even commenting on the show – just talking, nonstop. Man, if it was up to me every theater seat would be equipped with an “eject” button.

Despite the chatty Cathy’s next to me, the two hour show was entertaining, especially the latter half which was hosted by Tim Schafer. Awards shows are always goofy, even high-falutin’ affairs like the Academy Awards, where presenters flub their lines and winners don’t know when to get off the stage. This awards show was no different–unless you count the noticeable lack of breast augmentation. At times it was “awkwardness on parade” as trophy winners not accustomed to public speaking (or speaking of any kind) tried to articulate their thanks or attempted bizarre jokes that fell totally flat.

The show got out at 8:30, and I got to the parking garage right as the last of my energy was seeping out of me. There were as yet two more days at GDC–or so I thought.

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