San Francisco

Some San Francisco thoughts:

Despite being a fairly small city, it’s very difficult to get around. We used a car for most of the time, but this only worked because we had a person who was happy driving us around all the time. As for public transport, it was initially very confusing. Here were some questions: What’s the difference between the MUNI and the BART? Do they run on the same lines? Can you get passes for both? Does the MUNI include buses? Are those metro trains in the MUNI or the BART? Is the F-Market tram a bus or a train? All pretty ridiculous, and a far cry from the relative simplicity of Transport for London.

Cycling seems like it might work, although that depends on whether you can bypass hills. It’s a much better bet for exploring the surrounding areas – I cycled for 20 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and Tiburon, which was an excellent and healthy way to decompress after the event.

San Francisco has the highest number of crazies per square foot than any other city I’ve been to. I can think of a few explanations for this, but I’m not convinced by any of them.

With the weak dollar, food and drink everywhere is positively cheap. In fact, rents and house prices also seem fine. Of course, this is compared to London, the most expensive interesting place to live in the world, but still – let no San Franciscan complain of high prices ever again.

Organising the largest Perplex City live event ever, in a city that’s over 5000 miles away from our base, was incredibly difficult. It was even more difficult given that we didn’t have any staff based on the west coast – which is, of course, also eight hours behind the UK. Despite all of the pain incurred while setting it up, I think it was a success – we had a great response from people there, who were glad to see us hold a major event in the US. Indeed, it’s worth noting that there are now about as many Perplex City players in the US as there are in the UK. Not everything worked as planned, which I am sorry about, but the event was incredibly ambitious (major offline live event simultaneous with online event? It’s tricky when you do it for the first time) and the important thing is that people had fun.

With 40,000 players, Perplex City is no longer a small game by any measure. Expectations have risen, and we have to raise our game to meet them. I read all the feedback that I can, and have already spent a lot of time thinking about how to do better for future events. However, the fact that we had such a good response from the players in San Francisco means that we’re obviously doing something right.

One of the best things about the event was the sheer mix of people there – there were families galore, from babies and infants to grandparents, all working together; there were men and women in equal number; and there were people from all backgrounds. There aren’t many games out there that’ll bring people together like that for a common (and fun) cause.

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