Letters From America: Rubber, Drugs, and PVC

originally posted 26th March 2004

So, here I am in San Jose for the rest of the week.

The day before yesterday, I read a post on a screenwriting message board. It said “I have free tickets for the Game Designers Conference. Who wants some?”

So I said yes, emailed Susannah to check that I could crash at hers, and jumped in the car.

About an hour down the freeway, there was a loud bang and the car started shuddering. I made it to the side of the road safely, and started checking to see what had happened. Turned out my left rear tyre was shredded.

At this time a Highway Patrol officer pulled up and, after telling me to take my hands out of my pockets and return to my vehicle, asked me who I was and if I was transporting drugs from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Fortunately, he seemed satisfied when I told him I wasn’t.

After limping on three wheels to the nearest garage I found an entrepeneurial member of the rescue services who offered to take my tyre away and have it fixed for the bargain price of $200 (down from $260). Having a rough idea of what a tyre costs, I drove slowly and carefully for another 14 miles and got it fixed for $40.

It’s an interesting environment at the conference. There are about 9,000 games developers here: programmers, designers, artists, suits, and even a few writers.

The general opinion of the writers is that writing in games gets no respect and Something Must Be Done. That’s about as far as they’ve got, though.

So there I was in the hotel bar speaking to the representative from the BBC (turns out I know him) when a little man came up and said:

“You don’t want to be drinking here. Why not come across the road to the PlayStation party, where all the booze is free? Use this to get in.”

So we did.

It turns out that a party sponsored by PlayStation is – well, just about exactly how you’d imagine.

Huge paper sculptures, coloured lights flashing all over the place, delicious food, free bars all over, and a fashionable band.

The band was called “Crystal Meth”, or perhaps “The Crystal Method”. An orbital-a-like. I know they were good because a) I liked them and b) Young People around me kept calling friends on their mobile phones and saying “Dude! You won’t believe this, but Crystal Meth are on stage, like, *fifty feet away*!”

But my favourite part of the evening had to be the fact that when the band weren’t on stage, there were Asian girls in short PVC dresses, fishnets, boots, and chokers dancing in cages for no good reason.

Fair made my evening, that did.

2 responses to “Letters From America: Rubber, Drugs, and PVC”

  1. Since my original post, the state of writing in games has improved. It’s still isn’t as respected as it should be, but in some cases writers are now being involved from the beginning of the process.


    The International Game Developers Association now has a Special Interest Group for writers.

    The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has issued a set of guidelines for writers working in the games industry.

    The Writers Guild of America has also established a Videogame Writers Caucus to address the issues of writing in games.

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