We were somewhere around West Adams on the edge of the freeway, when the Wayz began to suck balls.
I remember saying something like "We can't stop here, this isn't, like, where the place is."
But the Lyft girl had my back, and soon I was 8 blocks away, in an inflatable orange chair in a building with a plaque outside saying "The main issue in life is not the victory but the fight, the essential thing is to have fought well" which didn't make much sense to me but I took four selfies next to it anyway.
I didn't have much choice: there were a lot of people talking in official capacities at Indiecade The International Festival Of Independent Games but mostly about videogames, which I don't make. There were games to play though, so I did. I'd like to think I fought well, but when you're strapped into VR goggles watching ping-pong balls the size of cantaloupes bouncing off a waffle grid, it can be hard to tell.
I met a Pole and at least three Tylers. I know at least that much. I was informed my books either were or were not at the warehouse.
Eventually I had my only meeting of the day--with a company that made games, TV shows and comic books. I knew had read and enjoyed at least one of the comic books. I looked into the rep's blue eyes, eating Twixes "That was a good comic," I said. It was true.
After meatballs, there were prizes. There were game celebrities I didn't recognize making jokes about each other and saying "devs" and "triple A" and using acronyms. "All these other nominated games look amazing," I thought "I don't deserve to beat any of them". I didn't. Zoe Quinn had great shoes though. Back in Culver City there was a woman at the bar on a first date--Mandy and Stokes gave her a lapdance and kept taking their clothes off. We played a game with- but not of- cards.
They still make things at 9 in the morning. It's not just that my books are missing, it's that ALL the merch is missing for all of Indiecade. This makes me feel better.
There are game designers here from France, Poland, Germany, the UK--they ask me why Americans are so neurotic about language, I introduce them to root beer and tater tots. Maybe I am going to hell. The books show up though.
There are a lot of beautiful and very loud machines--a lot of people see a table full of books and just keep walking and I am cool with that, confident that my people will find me. Ok not confident but whatever. I am better off than the guy next to me with the text adventure who has to somehow explain that yes this is a computer but there won't be explosions. It's a good game though. I have his card somewhere. I have a million peoples' cards. I have all cards ever made and there are no cards left on earth. Maybe I should have cards? One day I will have cards. According to this one I met Luke Crane.
Somehow we end up at the same bar where the girls were taking their clothes off the night before. Probably because walking-distance Culver City on a Friday night is like a strip mall in a midwest town with a really important football team. The foreigners ask my advice--I told them art couldn't participate in the societal imperative to suppress the awareness of violence even if it wanted to and also get out of Culver City.
I am fucking Abe Lincoln tired, but I can still pitch Red & Pleasant Land. But can I run it? People seem to think so, except one perceptive girl who notices that due to the Alice's randomized level-ups her thief can't do anything the person running the Alice can't. Well almost--I try to explain that she's got Languages, which is actually a useful skill, and that the Alice's saves are fucked but I'm so fried from talking about croquet balls and rapiers for hours on end with no sleep I barely believe myself. I won't realize I was right all along until I run the numbers the next day--but by then it's been so long since I slept I've forgotten whether you roll over or under saving throws. Seriously I forgot Red Box I am losing my mind. One kid makes a wizard named 'Bread" one makes a fighter named 'Neighborhood Asshole'.
The Red & Pleasant Lands are sold out by the end of the day, though. So I'm doing something right or everyone's stupid.
I come home to a thick and sugary smell which confuses me until I remember I'd told Anne to make a coat out of marshmallows. There it was, dangling from a floor fan to keep it away from the dogs.
There are two things they never mention about marshmallow coats: they're fucking heavy and women look great in them. We were having a birthday party--people dressed as Wolverine and Jarvis Cocker came, and a girl with sequins instead of eyebrows. It all ended with the birthday girl on my lap serenely mumbling about a game where pugs smell each others' butts which is a net win for Independent Gaming I think.
Get away from the marshmallow goo all over the floor. Get in the car. Where am I? Wait: It's preview time and we can preview each others' games. Except I can't because someone has to run this game.
For three days I've sat 20 feet from this video game that looks like exactly like weird spatial nightmares I've been having since I was four and the only game that won two awards and I never get to try it. It looks amazing. I don't vote in the Developer's Choice Award because I haven't touched most of them. People sure do ask a lot of questions. Yes, I drew it. I wrote it. Yes, D&D. It's not technically a game it's a supplement. Where can you get it? Who knows? Stores? I guess? This is Vornheim, get it instead, it's cheaper.
There are at least three other games here with Alice In Wonderland stuff. Meanwhile somebody has a game where you throw trucks that is literally powered by your thoughts.
Event staff tells us abruptly to pack up our gear, there'll be some end-of-Indiecade awards. The People's Choice award goes to Bad Blood, the Developer's Choice award goes to a Macbeth-themed game, the Press Choice Award goes to a game with big colored buttons called Codex Bash, the jury's Special Recognition Award which encompasses not only the normal nominees but everything at Indiecade goes to a fucking book called Red & Pleasant Land by Jez and fucking me.
I'm like what even is that? They give me a trophy with a Nintendo controller and Beavis and Butthead on it. Then I get some fried chicken and explain to some guys who made a game where you power up by screaming into a headset that the best videogame is Space Marine. Then Stokely rolls up EXACTLY WHEN THE SINGALONG PART OF BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY STARTS and we go to a party where we got to smash a virtual reality asteroid and it was scary and then we went to Venice and the only bar on the beach had a Doors cover band and Stokely tells the international game designers about being locked in a vault then there was a bartender in a Green Bay Packers shirt who was like "Oh you did Red and Whatsit Land I liked your game man" and me and the Pole and the guy from Bristol who made the big colored button game finished our drinks in the closing-time light of total exhaustion and weird victory.