BrokenJPG

A Copywriter’s Blog
In Which I Play A Minor Role Ben Levy 13, March

I have returned from PAXEast. It was awesome.

I don’t think I said much about last year’s PAXEast, the first convention of it’s kind on the east coast. That’s because at the time I experienced the entire event through a haze of mucus and Mongolian Terror Flu. I was so sick that by the time I left, I lost my voice. Completely. For a week.

This year, I was capable of breathing through both nostrils at once, the convention was in an even bigger space, and I fully enjoyed the hell out of it. For the uninitiated, PAXEast is a gaming convention. Yes, this means video games. Also card games. Also board games. Yes, people do in fact still play those.

I am continually impressed by just how nice all the people I meet at PAX are. It’s ridiculous. It’s as if we all shared the same ostracized childhood and are now determined to spend the three days of the convention trying to reassure each other that not everyone in the world is a dick. These people are kind. Polite. Respectful. Which is why I was so shocked when, right in the middle of a staff member demonstrating a new game to me, some dude just walked up and dumped a double handful of dice all over the table.

I glanced at the demo guy, whose nametag declared him to be “ETHAN from STEVE JACKSON GAMES”. He seemed to be standing up straighter than he was a second ago. Like a soldier who suddenly finds himself in the presence of his general.

Then I glanced at the nametag of this impertinent jerk who just-

STEVE JACKSON from STEVE JACKSON GAMES”

Well, look at that. He is a soldier that suddenly found himself in the presence of his general. That’s funny.

My brain began doing that thing where instead of helping me form words and act normally, it starts screaming “OMG OMG OMG OMG” Like a tween girl who just got her first cell phone.

Steve goes “We’re going to learn to play a new game. It’s called [REDACTED BECAUSE I DON’T WANT STEVE JACKSON TO HATE ME FOR TELLING ANYTHING I DON’T HAVE PERMISSION TO TELL].

I smiled at him across the table. “It’s an honor, sir.”
There was a pause. He gave me a blank look for a second before continuing as though nothing happened. DAMMIT, BRAIN.

Steve Jackson is one of those mad geniuses who mutters to himself while inventing, using anyone in the vicinity as a sounding board for his ideas. He barely began the first turn before harping on everything he felt were wrong with the game. The turns took too long. There wasn’t enough risk/reward in the decision-making process. But he liked this mechanic here, and he thought that part was pretty cool. “There’s something there” he said at one point “it just needs more Elvis”.

The rest of us were offering probably-not-at-all-helpful bits of advice, which Steve would absentmindedly nod at or reject for one reason or another. My friend was blurting out all kinds of things, while I was sitting there trying to get my brain to do something besides scream “THAT’S STEVE JACKSON- FOR THE LOVE OF GD SAY SOMETHING SMART.”

My friend suddenly burst out with “What if these were wild?”

Steve paused.

“Aaaaah. Wild. Now there’s an idea.” He began talking to himself about the pros and cons of the change, giving the thought serious consideration. I could feel the excitement rising. We were helping! Steve Jackson was changing a game in development because of something one of us said!

Then he caught sight of someone across the room and- explaining that he hadn’t seen them in years- ran off.

ETHAN from STEVE JACKSON GAMES looked at us. “That was Steve Jackson,” he said.

“We got that,” my friend replied.

He looked at the rapidly retreating back. “In three years, that’s the longest conversation I’ve ever had with him.”

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