I became a geek this week, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. It would appear that the title 'geek' is now desirable. It is cool to be a brainiac, especially in the world of Information Technology; and I was given a pass to the Games Development Conference!
Although I have always had an interest in the topic, and managed to get an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) in the subject, my brush with the lady from a company called Game Salad, at a convention in March, whetted my appetite to a new level, or should I say 'Platform'. Edward had been volunteering at the same convention, and had introduced Samantha to one of his colleagues. The nice young lady remembered (as if you could forget) that Samantha was from England, and asked Edward, a few weeks ago, if she would be interested in some editing work for a computer game; American into English. Of course, she said 'yes', before immediately letting me know that WE had a job to do! It was a very interesting experience. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which basically disallowed me to discuss the content of the game. Seriously! It was totally unnecessary, as although I read the entire informational data, and spent time translating, I still didn't have a clue as to the contents of the game!
However, the experience was worthwhile, and when I received my complimentary 'Expo Pass', for the Games Developers Conference, I was raring to go. We left the office for the Austin Conference Center, and walked to the registration desk. There didn't seem to be much of a queue, and we waited patiently for the attendant. 'Are you for GDC?' we were asked. With, apparently, far too much enthusiasm, I replied in the affirmative, and was told to go to the other end of the Center. There were two conferences this week, and it was the larger that we were not attending. We walked through the masses of well dressed 'Dell' employees and attendees, past the several olympic sized conference rooms, to the back of the building. Tucked away in the corner was a considerably smaller room, for the more casually attired 'gamers'. asually attired 'gamers'. Dressed in my rather smart, yet rather understated, grey trousers suit, I felt reasonably comfortable. Earlier in the day, I had looked the part. The tap in the kitchen at the office had become loose, and fallen off. In my usual uncoordinated fashion, I had attempted to stop the water with my hands, rather than turning off the tap, and consequently was dripping wet from head to toe. Hearing my high pitched shriek, Dana had come running into the area, and his helpful remark awarded him the prize for stating the obvious; 'You look like a geek now!' However, I digress!
Once inside the conference room, we made our way around he stands. I attempted to look nonchalant, but I don't play that part very well, especially when something takes my interest. I had learned that although I considered the work we completed to be editing, the correct expression for integration is localisation. My confidence surged when I saw a stand which promoted the said localisation, where two women, around my age, were eager to chat. They gave us a bag in which to carry our samples, which had been collected from other stands. I perfected my speech which was accepted by most of the vendors. My opening verbal paragraph turned out to be a stroke of genius! 'I was born too late', was the sentence I would enter when I thought I was not being taken seriously. Being employed in the localisation department allows for a certain naivety. Editing data does not necessarily mean you have to be interested, or be able to participate, in the general fervor that is exuded by the writers. However, once my field of expertise was established, and the chuckles ceased at comments about my age, I would explain that I was, indeed, interested in the big picture. Admittedly, a lot of the time I tried not to display a totally vague expression, but the more I was told, the easier it was to piece together.
Our second quest, to accumulate an inordinate amount of gimmicky objects that were being given away, was also a great success. Each stand had its unique draw to potential customers. Most had pens and sweets/candy, but some had additional objects for which we had to have our badges scanned. 'How do we get....' generally followed the explanation from the vendor as to their wares. They did not anticipate being taken at their word, when they kindly suggested we, 'take as much as you want'. We had enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a cubicle that had no such futile, but very practical magnetism. I discussed, with a modicum of knowledge, the cure for buffering, and ate finger sandwiches and a selection of cheese with crackers. It was not surprising that this stand was constantly busy. Complimentary food was being served all day. After four hours, I returned to the office to assess our collection, and relay the day's events. (Samantha stayed as she was attending an after conference party, to which I was invited but sensibly declined.) The odd shaped 'finger nail clipper', of which I had two, turned out to be a four gigabyte flash drive. I ascertained that my knowledge was not as vast as I had first thought and was grateful that I had not asked for a third 'manicure accessory'!
Being aware that I would never have to buy another t-shirt, or beverage container ever again, did nothing to stop my wanting to return for the second day. Walking past the 'Dell'-agates, I held my head high. I took Samantha's arm and whispered, 'They are looking down on us, arent they?' She confirmed this was the case. I'll show them, I thought! 'This is my daughter', I uttered. 'She is not only a computer genius, she makes cakes as well!' Samantha suggested that everyone could hear me, but I told her it was not a problem, as no one would understand me! I continued, (in true Ab Fab style, for those that are familiar; if not, try 'You Tubing' it), 'Go on, sweetie, darling, tell them. She whips up the batter, and while it's cooking, she edits the data!' Quite unable to stop, the flow, as is my problem, I further commented that she iced the cakes, while the data was sending! I did receive some strange looks, but that was probably because I was talking in a foreign language. Bytes in this area had absolutely nothing to do with texture, nor flavour!
I spent the next couple of hours discussing a variety of subjects. I leaned how to sell my games in Brazil, using a new credit facility that had been created in South America. Unfortunately, the explanation that my localisation skills do not include any form of Portuguese translation, did not stop the flow of the nice young man, who was delighted to share this innovation. I received a pair of Havaianas flip flops for my attention (I had no idea flip flops could be so expensive!) Breakfast ,and lunch, were at the same free food stand, where we were joined at a table by two Game Salad employees, who decided the food was both mysterious and delicious! My dialogue with a producer contained much discussion about platforms, without once mentioning shoes! Finally, a rather charming naturalised Ugandan empathised with my need to add the letter 'u' to color, and other Americanised words (and the need for his company to perhaps employ my localisation skills, which was probably more exciting than all the freebies we collected).
The collection of unnecessary objects will clutter my house until I can find a suitable home. If stress balls are effective, I will never have another occasion to suffer anxiety. I could lose a pen a day for the next three years and still have some to spare. I cannot fathom when I would have occasion to wear a green masquerade mask with flashing lights, but then you never know. Perhaps I can match it with something that requires a star wars laser sword.
My new-found knowledge will probably not advance me in the technological world, even though I am able to differentiate between an emory board and a compact portable data storage unit. My need to coordinate my clothes will prevent me from becoming totally accepted in the gaming community. (My excitement at spotting another female attendee wearing grey trousers was not considered 'cool'!) In fact, rather than being excited about the way the future is being predicted, I am rather apprehensive about the speed at which it is growing. It is all about the Platforms! Am I getting old, or just cautious! Most of the games do not interest me, but the development does. Perhaps I will need to learn Portuguese. Wouldn't that be interesting for....another story.