Sunday, February 15, 2009

Epic Fail

The last time I was in New York City, I was pretty much broken. Working two different jobs, a travel agency and a publisher, had finally convinced me that I wasn’t going to get decent work with a liberal arts degree. Of a list of 5 jobs I’d always wanted to try, lawyer was the only one left on the list. 2 years later and I’m not even sure what I think of that one anymore. Still, it's good to be in better shape than the last time I was here.

Most of the trip was friends and family, but I did manage to meet one or two other writers and they were great to talk with. Making yourself into a brand, dealing with rowdy fans, and our collective gamble that yes, this is all going pay off some day. On another note, I once again made an ass of myself to a couple of cool people. I sent out a lot of Twitter Direct Messages to people to see if they wanted to grab a beer with me. The problem is that I usually rely on e-mail to notify me of when I’ve gotten a DM, which is apparently not working anymore. When I flipped my laptop open on Sunday, several messages were there that I wasn’t aware of saying they’d love to hang out. Given how much I’ve been rambling about checking out the city, I’m pretty sure this made me look like a rare kind of mega asshole. I sent apologies to everyone but again, I’m really sorry to have missed these folks. Considering that last week I missed Comic Con because I scheduled my flight on the wrong weekend, this is slowly making me wonder if this isn’t some kind of destined curse or something. I suppose the perk is that I was most definitely taking a break from professionalism. Being cooped up in a library all day breeds a special form of insanity that only shows the symptoms on Friday nights. The best parts of me are in my writing anyhow.

I also managed to visit ‘The New Museum’ in midtown. I told my friend I wanted to see something that pushed my definition of art and she obliged. It was interesting to me how much video game ideas already exist in so many forms. What I constantly saw in the Contemporary Art there was the desire to create a sense of place. It’s much the same thing that video games are trying to do. One exhibit was simply a group of experts versed in the Iraq War. They would sit and talk with anyone who wanted to know what was going on or hear about the experience firsthand. To experience it in a much more personal and real way. Another was a large video of a single shot of the rain forest. The camera just sat there while the volume, which is cranked to painful levels, bursts your ears with bird sounds. There was a huge sign explaining how it was commenting on all of these cultural trends. Arguments about how cameras can create a sense of place and the artist trying to show this through a lack of unauthorized motion. Another exhibit was depicting a hypothetical scene from the future, Israeli refugees in 2048. It wasn’t really a political statement so much as it played with Holocaust imagery in a unique way. The rows of beds and toys were all modern, all recognizable. You could walk around and see into this strange world that echoed one that has now become alienated for a younger generation. What struck me was that these are all things that games have their own solutions to creating. Many of them are quite simple and have been done before.

There was also a refreshing reminder of why games are my favorite past time. Visiting someone for 5 days that you haven’t seen in 2 years meant finding something to do after the update conversations were over. So it was great to plow through Gears of War 2 with my friend on the downtime. Co-Op games like that or Army of Two are rapidly becoming one of my favorite genres personally. The way they make the activity engaging for two people and generate conversation is always fun.

Anyhow, it’s good to have a change of scenery and get some proper Yankee cold air. It was good seeing old friends and to talk shop with some folks. Sorry about the twitter weirdness, learned my lesson with that one. We’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled “twittering as a study break” pacing shortly.

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