I have never been to a gaming demo event.
My first game demo event was on January 11, 2018. Playcrafting presented the event, and Google Launchpad was the host.
I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
My friend Jabari Alii is the founder of Blue Alchemy Studio. Tonight he was introducing the demo for his first game Planet Rise
. I had been editing the writing team since August, and I was itching to see this other side of the gaming world.
What May Come
I had no idea what to expect, but I had high hopes.
By the end of the night:
I would meet new contacts
See a person possessed by virtual reality
And sit in on a conversation about where a writer’s story ideas originate.
Meeting The Creator
I met Jabari at his building in downtown Oakland at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon and we started packing.
We loaded the cords, fliers, laptops, and posters. Then we folded up the cardboard standout of our main character, Nia.
Actually, I took a lot of photos of it, because I thought it looked so damn cool. And then I had Jabari take pictures of me next to Nia.
Then, me holding the posters, one in each hand and while offering my cheesiest presenter smile.
And then we folded up Nia and walked down to Kinkos to print out more fliers before we boarded BART for SF.
Bright Lights, Big City
We disembarked at Embarcadero station. Then we walked down Howard, then through the glass doors of 301 and up to the third floor.
Inside our hosts guided us to a pair of white folding tables where we could set up and start foraging for more gear. Fenyang joined us. We began setting up tripods for a Facebook livestream and other cameras.
I have only worked with Fen on writing projects, where he is a writer for Planet Rise and I am an editor. On this day we were semi-professional audio and video crew. Setting up a demo was a new experience for which we were both untested, but hopeful.
Setting Up Shop
Soon, the laptops were open and screens loaded. Visitors introduced themselves. Developers came by to say hello and discuss progress. Some had met Jabari at previous and similar events. Our engineer, Kaleb, was preparing for the player-vs-player demo.
I met Uzo, who is a consultant and we sat down for a few impromptu conversations. One of my favorites began when she asked Fen about writing and where ideas and stories come from.
Meeting The Community
In the minutes before the event began, I took a walk around and met some of the other games and developers.
Level Ten Games featured a game called “Check, Please??”
It reminded me of an Uno-style strategy game. Elliott and Katherine Ten created the game and was friendly and engaging when describing it.
After a short summary, some pictures and a business card I realized I needed to hurry if I was going see every table.
The game Closer used image capture to place player’s image into the game.
Hony Tawk’s was a delightful, parody-racing-demolition game.
Games like “Flythru Space”, “Tornado Tower” and “Cardslinger” had a steady crowd. They were close to the entrance and visitors stopped in and then moved on.
Rush Puppy is a table that confused me. I’ll never know what the game was, because the table was empty.
Games like Labyrinth and College Quest had large-screen televisions. Some games had an Apple TV or mobile app configuration.
When I returned to the Planet Rise table, Fen sat between two players. He was recording notes while they pointed out issues that occurred during gameplay. Jabari was talking with a small group of developers about the game. Kaleb was cranking out an update for the game based on initial reactions and questions.
I saw a small group of people lingering a few feet from the table and I walked up with my hand held out. “Hi, thanks for stopping. Would you like to try our demo?”
The rest of the night was a steady flow of Jabari, Fen and I maintaining a consistent rotation. One person was always at the table. The other two moved about, and spoke with visitors who stopped to look or wrote down email signatures or answered questions.
The Pizza Situation
One of the features of the event was the provision of free food. This appealed to anyone stopping in during what was a traditional dinner time. Pizza was the featured entree. I was talking or doing something when organizers announced that the food was ready.
I thought I would only be a few minutes. Then Jabari appeared with a few slices and said that the pizza was almost out and we should hurry. Fen reached up and said thank you, before taking the paper plate with the slices.
Three hours later, the organizers were walking through. They reminded everyone to pack up and that closing time was fast approaching.
I looked around. The crowds were thinning. Tired and excited eyes began to glaze with fatigue. We started packing back up and in minutes we were walking towards the exit.
Already, you could hear the excitement at the response and interest the game had received. Plans were being made for the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March.
We walked out the glass doors of Google Launchpad onto Howard street as a team of dreamers. Sure, we had found bugs in the gameplay. Yes, we realized what we wanted to do differently for next time. But now, now we were looking together with the future in our eyes.
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