Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Conversations in the Car

Here it is, the first day of my vacation. I haven't taken a vacation in about a year-and-a-half, and what do I do? I come up to hang out in a game store. In Albany. In the middle of December. I have the money to afford a trip to Cabo, even Aruba, but I wanted to spend time with George and my buddies up here in Albany. In a game store. In December. Oddly, my last vacation was in a July... in Albany... hanging out in a game store. I may not be right in the head...

Yesterday, I spent a good four hours driving up here with George Vasilakos. Now, the thing you may not know about game designers and industry professionals is that when you put two of us together, we end up talking about the hobby games industry. (When you put three of us together, you get a game! No, actually, you get three game designers bitching about the business, but there's a 43% chance of more alcohol.) People like to talk about what interests them, so I imagine it's the same for professional football players and podiatrists; they talk about football and feet.

The topics were far-ranging: Kickstarter (we talked a lot about Kickstarter), POD, printing, .pdfs, falling damage, sales and fulfillment, deck-building games (really?! A game about building your deck?), and catching up on the business gossip. Because almost as much as gaming professionals like their booze and strippers, we like to gossip. See, there's a secret history to the hobby games industry, one that we don't let you civilians know about. Trust me, that's a good thing. We talked over recent events, much of which I was unaware. Who moved to where, and why; who left where, and why; who should have gone bankrupt, but didn't, and why. So I have a lot of stuff swirling around in my head.

If you're hoping for juicy gossip, however, it ain't gonna happen. One of the things that game designers never do, or at least should know better than to do, is say unkind things about other games (or other people). At least in public. Because one day, the shoe will be on the other foot, and the tables turned, and other metaphors...

Okay, okay. One quick story. George was telling me about a new game called Zombie Outbreak. Now, you may not know it, but George publishes a little game called All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Apparently, when he went to their booth at a convention, and asked "why should I buy your game instead of AFMBE?" the answer was "because they're out of business." To which George replied: "Gee, that's strange, because their booth is only three aisles over..." Okay, so they were asshats. George doesn't hold a grudge, and he's a gracious man, and he stocks the game in his store. Face out. In the new games section right in the front of the store.

But then things move on-line, at, of all places, RPG.net. Big surprise. So the gamers are debating zombie games on the discussion boards, and the question comes up again: Why should we play this new zombie game rather than AFMBE? Someone posts "because there are rules for playing yourself..."

Uh, what?! Can't you do that with any RPG?

"No," says George. "Apparently, there are RULES for playing yourself."

Now, we don't know what that means. Will someone come to your house and beat the shit out of you if you give yourself more strength and charisma? Do you really want to play some pasty-faced fat guy with poor social skills during a zombie outbreak? Didn't you watch Zombieland?

So, for the rest of the trip, whenever we started talking about a game, my first question was "but are there RULES for playing yourself?!" When I got to Zombie Planet, I picked up some random RPG, and George would say "Dude, you don't want to play that. It doesn't have RULES for playing yourself..."

Because we're idiots, and that kind of humor appeals to us.

1 comment:

  1. Damn, that is one hella funny close. :D

    I guess that makes three of us now, since I did laugh out loud. And now cat is somewhat annoyed that I am typing this over him. Tough shit for him, it deserves comment.