Gamers and Booze

Live from GDC

Where’s the Tourism Department on this one? There has to be an annoying commercial in here somewhere.
Where’s the Tourism Department on this one? There has to be an annoying commercial in here somewhere.

Luke Nihlen is sending the Alibi updates from the 2008 Game Developers Conference.

I emerged from a BART station in downtown San Francisco shortly before 11 p.m. to walk a few short blocks to the hotel where the International Game Developers Association party was supposedly winding down. The crowd on the street was a mix between drunken nerds talking excitedly and homeless people.

Downtown San Francisco from a New Mexican set of eyes looks like unimaginable wealth. The beautiful architecture glides in and out of late-night fog. I feel my skin loosening from the desert dry. A sudden wind smells of ocean.

The party is on the second floor of an opulent San Francisco hotel called The Argent. The large room on the second floor is comfortably full with partiers. I canvassed the room for other New Mexicans and, finding no one, grabbed my single free drink from one of the many impromptu bars.

The night before I left, my wife and I printed up a bunch of business cards with “New Mexico Game Programmer” written on them right under my name. My goal for this party was to hand out as many as I could to total strangers. The wisdom of adding alcohol to this party became apparent—gamers as a rule are a pretty awkward bunch.

I started a lot of conversations with different people and got job prospects in most. The industry is booming, everybody is hiring. It’s nothing personal. These people haven’t seen my resume; they just need warm bodies to fill seats. Of course, with each job offer came the relocation requirement. I was asked to move to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Shanghai.

Some people hadn’t heard of New Mexico, and nobody was aware that we had started an IGDA branch there. I began to understand better the significance of starting that chapter last year. When I told people we had a branch, I could see them registering Albuquerque as a place. Most only knew it from the classic Bugs Bunny joke, which I heard a grand total of 4 times.

I had to catch the last BART ride to Oakland where I’m staying with a friend, so I left early. What a pleasure to be in a room full of people with a passion about video games like myself. It felt like coming home. But in the back of my mind, I knew I had left my home back in the desert.