Game Developer’s Conference 2007, recap

So, I attended the Game Developer’s Conference 2007 in San Fransisco. Was a rather good time. Hanging out with tons of people who love making games, playing games, and drinking. It hadn’t occurred to me that game developers would be notorious binge drinkers, but it really makes since after some thinking. After all the sessions ended, if everyone didn’t go to an after-party to get smashed on free booze, we just wandered around the expo center and pillaged the free beer from the studios/vendors.  A good time was had by all.

I shook the hand of the man who invented Tetris, saw Shigeru Miyamoto talk about Mario, and Eiji Aonuma talk about Zelda (both of these talks were nothing less than spectacular), and met the directors/developers of many studios who make some of my favorite games.  Most of the vendors/studios were giving out tons of swag; picked up numerous t-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc.  One of the things I got was a free copy of Madden 2007, which I will rant about later.

After talking to many recruiters and other developers I’m feeling much more marketable now.  Not necessarily in comparison to them, but in comparison to what they are looking for.  It really puts the industry in to a slightly more friendly and tractable perspective.

In short, the conference was an absolute blast. Will definitely have to make it a habit.

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A Decent Alternative

I just had the greatest dream ever.  A simple dream.  The dream of the worker.  I threw all responsibility to the wind, ditched everything and without a word to anyone flew half-way across the world to live in a tiny little apartment in the middle of Japan.  I hadn’t given this much thought until now, but its looking increasingly attractive.  Damn responsibility. Damn obligations. Damn The Man. Risky? Sure, but whats life without risk?

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Adventures in The Not So Far East: New York and New Jersey

I just returned from an expedition to the concrete jungles of New York and New Jersey and I must say they are terribly misrepresented by many movies and television shows. I encountered quite a number of people very helpful and polite people while traveling about the area and must say New York really is a friendly city. People aside, I enjoyed many other entertainments during my stay.

Monday, Nov 6th:
Arrived at Newerk Airport around noon and met up with some friends from my latest stay in Japan, namely Erin, Sofie, and Ashley. We ran around Rutgars University’s campus for a bit, met up with one of Ashley’s friends and then watched Borat at the theater. For dinner we hit up this Jersey-style deli called Harold’s, apparently famous for huge cheesecakes and huge sandwiches. We endulged in some of the best pastrami I’ve ever had, and I tried a knish (some sort of fried potatoe-onion thing). We had a rather amusing waiter with a heavy brooklyn accent who antagonized us most entertainingly.

Tuesday, Nov 7th:
We awoke early and enjoyed real Jersey-style Bagels. Fresh. Delicious. Then we headed up for our first day in New York. We met up with our English friend Vanessa and toured around the World Trade Center area and then headed on to Chinatown, where we had a Dim Sum lunch) and then through Little Italy. We then met up with Vanessa’s friend Injy, who lives in the area, and did some shopping, saw Union Square, Time Square, and various other centers. We eventually met up with my friend Colin, who also lives in the area, and watched Evil Dead the Musical. Absolutely fantastic. If you like B Horror movies, or musicals, or really anything that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have done you will enjoy this show emensely.

Wednesday, Nov 8th:
I took a break this day and chilled at Ashley’s parents house in New Jersey. Everyone else went to a sold out Basketball game. By the way, do NOT watch a movie called “The Watcher.” It’s terrible.

Thursday, Nov 9th:
We spent another day in the city. We ate lunch at The Empire State building, and then ascended it, partaking in both their virtual city tour and looking out from atop. We checked out a fantastic chocolate shop (I am at this point still running around with just girls). We then went walking and ice skating in Central Park.  We then headed back to Jersey to meet up with Ashley and go partying at Rutgars.  Rutgars won their football game and rioted.  And I do mean riot, there were torches and more police than I had ever seen after a football game.  OU loves football, but this was just craziness.

Friday, Nov 10th:
Friday we got up and headed back for the city.  We had intended to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island, but there were some problems with the tickets.  Instead we went on a tour of the United Nations; this was quite a sight and I do recommend it.  After the U.N. was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to see some excellent art displays.

Saturday, Nov 11th:
We finally see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island.  I wish there had been more time for Ellis island, but I had a flight to catch.  After spending far too long in airports and trains, I arrived back in Oklahoma.  Tired.  Quite tired.

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Illusions of Japan dispelled

Most people who become interested in Japan, and even many who aren’t have a certain number of assumptions and illusions about this country.  I don’t want to sound overly critical or jaded, but many of these are just plain false, or misrepresented.  When people think of Japan they invision polite intelligent people in a very technologically advanced society.  And they probably imagine all these people watching lots of cartoons, bloody movies with sad endings, and reading manga a lot.

From what I can tell, most Japanese are no more polite than any given American.  Really I mean Oklahoman when I say this as they are what I’ve had the greatest amount of experience with and I’ve heard it said that Oklahomans are quite friendly, but that is beside the point.  They will talk to you if you ask questions, they will offer directions on occassion, and generally helpful if you seem to have problems.  One exception to this is when you are on bike.  While biking you are at best invisible and at worst down right dispised.  People often don’t move for you to get by, and have often moved directly infront of me while looking straight at me.

The technology part is what amazed me.  Aside from making many things much smaller, there really is not a great rift between Japanese technology and the states’.  But then there are cellphones.  The Japanese have us in a headlock when it comes to cellphones.  Most of the features our phones in the states are just now implementing, they have had here in Japan for years.  Nice cameras, mp3s, video, tv, internet, etc.  And the Japanese use these phones constantly.  I would guess that the average Japanese sends 5-10 times as many messages via their mobile than an American.  Perhaps more.  Sadly, their failing in my eyes is their quality of internet connectivity.  Most of the locations that I have tried accessing the internet from have had poor connections, and lousy download speeds.  Not what I would have expected from such a “technologically advanced” country.

From what I can tell, Japanese do not watch many Japanese movies, nor do they listen to much Japanese music.  They too have been inundated with American culture.  I’ve not met a great deal of Japanese that still watch anime either.  Perhaps this is more of a subculture.  Perhaps this is something left to the ‘otaku.’  Although there does seem to be quite a few animated movies coming out.  On the other hand, manga are still extremely popular and you can see people reading them all over, especially on trains.

I still like Japan, its a wonderful country to live in most of the time.  My advice to any of you interested in living in Japan for a stint is this, assume anything you read/saw in a manga/anime is wrong, people are generally nice but don’t want anything to do with you, and get an awesome cellphone.

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