2009 Game Developer’s Conference Journal – Day 4

I was definitely dragging Thursday morning after that long Wednesday. I thought I might chance getting a few z’s on the bus but I made the mistake of boarding a bus driven by an extra from the Road Warrior. And here we have another installment of…

ADVENTURES ON THE #71 HAIGHT/NORIEGA BUS

This bus driver obviously held a serious grudge against passengers as shown by his propensity for putting the pedal to the metal as little old ladies hobbled to their seats and slamming the brakes on at every stop. It was like being on one of those pirate ship carnival rides – you know, the ones that swing back and forth until you can taste the contents of your lower intestine?

I was already feeling pretty green when a really sharply dressed man got on followed by an almost-homeless looking old woman. The woman crumpled into one of the sideways-facing front seats while Signore Versace chose the seat directly across. I tried to ignore my nausea by studying this impressively fashionable specimen who in his tasteful gray pinstripe suit, silk pocket square and mirrored sunglasses could have just walked off a runway in Milan. I mean, you can’t help but wonder – why does a man like that ride the bus?

Just when my makeshift nausea treatment was starting to work, the old lady who’d boarded with the fashionable man reached into her mouth, pulled out her lower dentures and sat there turning them around and around with a kleenex.

I was relieved when she put them back in but then she leaned forward so she was almost knee-to-knee with Fashion Man and pulled them back out again. She seemed fascinated by them, repeatedly turning them then re-inserting them and pulling them out again. I was wishing I could see Fashion Man’s eyes behind those mirrored lenses because he hid what I assume would be a high level of disgust, extremely well. For once someone else was the weirdo magnet–ooh, that’s unkind–someone else was the …eccentric magnet rather than I because at the next stop, another old woman got on, sat next to him and started convulsing in what turned out to be the phlegmiest of coughing fits. I shouldn’t have snickered, even internally, because as always, Fate had another trick up her sleeve.

Just as we were about to leave the Haight, a semi-homeless hippie dude got on with a huge pack on his back. Despite the relative emptiness of the bus, he positioned himself standing right in front of me. Actually, standing is a strong word for what he was doing. With half-lidded eyes, he swung drunkenly from the nearby pole as the vengeful bus driver did his best to send him through the windshield. As it was, the guy nearly landed in my lap with every deceleration and all I could do was lean back, hold my breath and wish I was sitting by the phlegm lady.

Miraculously, I made it to Moscone without being pulverized or suffocated and went to my first presentation. I accepted a cold bottled water… That reminds me. I find it really hard at these events to avoid taking every free thing that’s offered to me. Even if I’ve already had a free cup of coffee, a free coke, a free bagel, a free beer, a free T-bone steak, I still have this irresistible compulsion to take whatever it is they offer. “Free colonoscopy? Sure!”

Anyway, I accepted a water and settled in for the presentation and then these two other media guys came and plunked down in front of me. Not to be mean, but one of them had the worst neck-and-backne I’ve ever seen. Extremely unappetizing even in one’s peripheral vision and this guy was right in my direct line of sight. It turned out these guys were a feast for all the senses because suddenly I was overcome by the presence of a scent I’ll call “Eau de B.O. and Stale Cigarettes”. That was one long presentation and I didn’t get much out of it since I couldn’t look up or inhale.

Afterwards I retired to a table on the second floor lobby hoping to unwind and gather some notes but I was prevented from concentrating by a guy at the next table whose voice sounded like it was coming out of a bull horn. He went on and ON about all the trials he’s put through on a daily basis at his dev job. I realized pretty quickly he was talking so loud because he was hoping for people to listen, hoping to impress them. Pretty ridiculous, considering he was surrounded by people who already work in the game industry and know what it’s about. It makes as much sense as sitting in the commissary at Universal Studios, hoping to impress people by bragging about your job as an extra.

By the end of the day, people like him and the event itself had worn me down more than I realized. I was like a baby who’d been moved to the brink of temper tantrum by too much sensory stimulus. After attending a great talk about the art of Doublefine Studios’ new game, “Brutal Legend”, I dragged myself to the bus. It came and I sank into my seat, unable to think of anything but getting home as quickly as possible. After ten minutes I realized the bus had hardly moved. I looked out the front window and to my horror saw that Market Street was chock-full of sign-waving protestors, which prevented the bus from moving forward.

Like a 747 waiting for permission to land we circled a while longer until the bus driver took matters into his own hands and drove up the wrong side of Market street in order to turn down a side street which was headed in the opposite direction of where I needed to go. In my dismay, I had a flashback of that old Jack Lemmon movie “The Out of Towners” where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, leaving a normal Midwestern couple broke, hungry and starving in New York City. By the time I made it home I barely had the energy to crawl up the stairs to my apartment and I definitely didn’t have the energy to endure another day of GDC.

You win this time, Game Developer’s Conference!!

Comments (1) »

  • Laura says:

    Hee…Not very empathic of me, but I had such a good time reading about your miserable bus ride. Sounds like all of humanity was there for the watching. I bury my nose in the newspaper on my commutes. I should lift my head and look around once in awhile. Just think what I’m missing!

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