My invitation to the Game Developers Conference arrived via email shortly after I returned from England. It would be a two day pass that would allow me to walk the floors of the Convention Center. If I wanted to attend any of the seminars, I would have to buy a ticket. I was happy with my gratis pass, and printed out the confirmation.
The previous week, however, was the ITExpo. Unfortunately, sheer interest and gawking, does not allow entrance. Fortunately, there is an exception to every rule. We had received a paper to serve at the convention, and were given the website, and code, to receive a pass. Dana had filled out the relevant details, and once he had printed the confirmation, he was given the option to invite three more guests. 'I want one', came the shout from the other room, as Samantha heard I was about to receive an email, unaware of the content. She was quite delighted when he added her name, but realised that she would be out of town for most of the time.
We had been given instructions to attempt the paper on Thursday, at 1pm, but the actual convention started on Wednesday. Samantha and I registered and received our 'welcome bag'. Upon entering the hall, we saw the, 'what on earth', stand. For the uninitiated, this is our own term used for the company that uses the most bizarre method of attracting punters. It usually involves some form of high powered concept, and scantily clad girls. No matter how many times I try and find a connection, motorbikes and models do not convey telecommunications, but then I am a middle aged woman with no particular passion for a Harley. Most of the stalls were a little hi-tech for me, and I welcomed the challenge. The 'new egg' stand ladies wanted to give us as much information as possible, along with a selection of freebies, and many others were just as friendly. We walked back to the office with a year's supply of pens, several mugs, and a pack of golf balls.
The following morning, I ventured alone to the Convention Center, and walked around the stands. The models astride the motorbikes did not seem keen on having me around. Dressed in my usual 'get up', a nice grey trousers suit, I was not in keeping with the trend. I doubt that I was cramping their style, but they did not seem to want to take the chance. I picked up one of their freebies. 'Can I have a pen?' I asked politely. 'It's not a pen!' grunted the Kate Moss wannabe. I took it anyway. Try as I might, I cannot see the connection between models, motorbikes and a miniature multi piece screwdriver set has to do with telecommunications, but then again, I am a middle aged woman without a passion for unscrewing a Harley! Keeping my hand firmly under my chin, so it did not fall the ground, and cause my ignorance to be totally transparent, I ventured further into the hall, and asked a few questions, to decipher the next level of technology. Having been told last year that the correct term for 'gaming translation', was 'localisation', I proceeded to converse using what I thought was the correct turn of phrase. The blank faces were not encouraging. Back at the New Egg stand, I found solace, and a polo shirt, and a computer bag. They were not particularly interested in my line of work, as they had many people who were interested in theirs, and advertising appeared to be their main object. (Please don't hold me to this!) After about an hour, I left and walked back to the office. Second round was just before one o'clock. The server whom Dana had originally designated the papers, was accompanying his wife to an appointment, so he asked another server, Jerry, if he would like to take up the challenge. Upon affirmation, Jerry and I walked around to the Center and he signed in, while I collected another couple of welcome bags. We walked in and went our separate ways. Within minutes, I was chatting to a couple of very nice ladies, who found the courage to say, 'What is localisation?' I explained the concept of translating American to English, and they asked me many questions. We could not, unfortunately, be of help to each other, in our current line of business, but they felt the need to reciprocate and showed me how their 'forwarding calls from a virtual office' worked for other customers. During the demonstration, Jerry came to tell me how he was 'done' and going back to the office. I continued to wander.
It appeared that only one paper was served, as the other person was not there. We received a call around 3.30 to say that the second defendant had arrived back on the scene, and as Jerry had gone, I drove Kelly around to the Center, so that she could attempt to finish the job. I would have happily taken up the challenge, but as parking was at a premium, someone had to stay with the car. The man was not at his stand, so I left my post, upon request, and went the the courthouse, where my trousers suit was not out of place, and the only Harley was the security guard at the entrance.
Our second defendant was rather elusive, and he disappeared before Kelly could reach the stand, and so Jerry and I ventured again to the Center on Friday morning. It appeared that the model bikers were the plaintiff's and the blunt reception, that could have been localised as 'whaddya want?', quickly changed to moderate decorum, as they realised we were there on their behalf. The defendant was still not in attendance. 'Do I tell you how to ride a bike?', was slipping off my lips as they ventured to tell us how best to get the paper served. 'Perhaps you need one of these, to unscrew the situation', I joked with Jerry, and handed him the item that was not a pen! The joke fell on deaf ears, and we could hear the silent chant of, 'go away'. Jerry decided he would wander for a while, and after a few gentle pushes, and encouraging remarks of 'you really need one of those', he became emboldened and collected some 'fun stuff' for his grandchildren. After a while, he left me with the paper and I continued to roam. The exhibition was winding down, and the last couple of hours appeared to be dragging for many who were not looking forward to packing up their goods. Suddenly, the explanation of localisation seemed to be the only thing anyone wanted to talk about. I was not opposed to being the cure for the boredom, especially when stopped by the company who were promoting their stand with candy floss (cotton candy). 'Yes; thank you', was my reply when asked if I would like to relieve them of the several packs they did not want to ship back to their place of origin. Of course, I would like a t-shirt, and another pen. I needed magic markers almost as much as I needed the sugar intake, and whom in their right mind would not want a stress ball shaped as a sumo wrestler! Although the defendant never showed, I felt my mission had been successful.
The games conference, this past week, was just as interesting as I had expected. I was now in possession of a little more knowledge. Although I am very serious in trying to obtain a little more business in the translation world, my independent status and my previous naivety has been a deterrent. Armed with the additional information, I started to fight back. 'I understand completely; a company at the ITExpo last week described it as plumbing!' I ventured to inform a young man from Iowa. It was a turning point. 'You were here for last week's convention', he said, looking surprisingly impressed. As I left his stand, I was greeted by members of another. I left my card, upon request, and moved from interested party to interested party. I was able to thank one of the promoters, whom I met last year, for his explanations which helped me understand the industry. He graciously accepted my appreciation, and suggested I take advantage of the coffee and cake that was on offer. Edward had joined Samantha, which gave me an opportunity to stroll alone, and talk without being corrected! My 'over enthusiasm' that is apparently not geek like, was accepted and rewarded. My bag was packed with t-shirts and pens, most of which I was given without begging! I did get stumped at one stand, however, when I noticed the name of a company that had sent me an email. 'Oh, you are the company that invited me to your cocktail party', I exclaimed. The poor child behind the desk bit down on his bottom lip, presumably in an attempt to stop crying. I wondered if he had personally sent out the invites, and was going to get the blame. He scampered off soon after, perhaps to add to the welcome sign, 'mum's keep out!'
I almost won an I-pad....twice. We returned for the finale at 3.00pm, and waited for the first draw. With several prizes up for grabs, they finally came to the star gift. 'This goes to Tr.....' I held my breath, '...evor'. Samantha managed to catch a t-shirt. We went to claim our free cocktail. Cranberry juice and sprite is not considered a very exotic combination, when tequila, vodka, rum and a variety of beers are on offer, but to an almost tee-totaller, it is a stimulant! We then went to the second prize draw, where my card was pulled with another, but mine was dropped. So near, and yet.....! My contribution to the gaming world is still very limited, and only then if someone requires the services of a translator. American to English is not as sought after as it once was, but I live in hope. I will also let Dana do the advertising, by wearing the t-shirts provided!
Next week I do not have an extra-curricular activities planned, although I will be playing hookey on Wednesday to have my nails done. My baby girl celebrates her 26th birthday, which pushes me further and further away from being eligible for the Gamers cocktail parties, and I have to find enough material for.........another story.