Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Five dollars twenty in silicon valley

Five dollars twenty cents. Thats the price of the medium size latte in the hotel lobby. The hotel room has a coffee machine, but I don’t like the coffee. I sell lots of games, I can treat myself. I buy the coffee. I forget to pick up the cardboard surround for the heat. I could go back and ask for one, but I’m done with interaction today. I’ll get hot, I’ll burn my hand.

Day one of GDC is over, at least for me, at just 9.20PM. I was awake at 5PM but thats no excuse. My real excuse is I’m like crocodile dundee here. Most people in the village back home seem to know me. Cars are rare, we walk in the road. Trees are everywhere.

I am on floor twenty seven and I see no trees, just skyscrapers, glass and concrete. The aura of business, of finance, of money, of work, of technology. This should be my world, I’m in silicon valley, I’m actually HERE.

Breakfast is with fellow coders. I miss a lunch with friends because collectively me and google suck at calendars.  I miss another meeting for the same reason, but meet up with old friends and grab food and a coffee, then later there is more food, then drinks. I’ve met new people, an alarming percentage of whom know who I am and read my blog. This always feels weird, flattering but weird. I’ve met people whose games I admire. I don’t mention this. Do they think I’m being shy? or arrogant?

Most people are here to get press, or learn about new technology, or hear the tales of success (and increasingly…failure) from fellow developers. People come here to network, to make contact with people known only as disembodied twitter and facebook avatars. If you ask me why I am here, I have no answer. Is it to get press? maybe a bit, but that won’t happen. Will I learn much from the 5% of talks I am allowed into for $300? not really. Am I here just to go to parties? me in bed at 9.30PM?

GDC is weird, and I am weird when I am here. I sport a brilliant white (practically glowing) jacket festooned with Production Line logos. I am a walking billboard, happy to say hello, but terrified of not knowing what to say after that. Everyone seems confident, but most of us are shy introvert geeks. Fully alive when discussing multi-threading, never happier when swapping stories about memory management, awkward to the point of terror when meeting new people. I still notice the accents. Not clique but ‘click’ not ‘mobile’ but ‘mow-bill’.

So far its been really nice, great to see old friends, interesting to chat about the industry, yet still tiring and in some ways scary. So different to a life of quiet coding and the occasional meow.  GDC is great (nowhere near as good as steam dev days…but great), but I’m glad its only an annual event. My inner introvert couldn’t take anything more.

Every day I think about giving some money to some homeless people, whose continue presence in the land of billionaires never ceases to shock. I spent five dollars twenty on a coffee. Should I have given it away? Maybe I should but even that social interaction is overwhelming when I’m thousands of miles from home and surrounded by people, so many people, confidently talking about monetization strategies as they stride down the street.

I’m not in kansas any more.


2 thoughts on Five dollars twenty in silicon valley

  1. Seriously. I’ve been to lots of conferences (although first time at GDC) and I still get really shy. I refused to introduce myself to people at lunch and sat and ate in silence on my own instead – not because I wanted to be anti-social, but because I felt too nervous to meet anyone new.

    I think there’s a myth at places like GDC that everyone knows everyone and we’re the only person feeling like this, when I’d estimate at least 85% of people feel exactly the same – overwhelmed and a little scared of it all.

  2. Good summary, I’d really like to go someday, hard to decide whether GDC would be more valuable or the Business Of Software event (east coast).

    I know what you mean about the shyness element. Perhaps add text under your PL logo saying ‘I traveled a long way to get here… For God’s sake talk to me…I don’t bite!’. Like you say I think people are just scared sometimes of whether they *can* talk to person X or person Y, especially someone with a public profile like yourself. They probably fear wasting your time.

    If you have no idea what to say, just say how in these situations isn’t it bizarre how nobody ever knows what to say… Ice broken.

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