GDC 2007, ARGFest, Google…

Updated with a link to my Google presentation.

Flying from west to east, I can recover from jetlag at about 2.5 hours per day. This means that when I come back from San Francisco, 8 hours behind GMT, I take a little over three days to return to my normal circadian rhythm. I once read that you’re supposed to recover from jetlag at about 1 hour per day, which I really find hard to believe, unless it’s based on some strange sample or is measuring some more obscure physiological parameters. Anyway, I’m pretty sure it’s not health, flying east. If I had it my way, I’d just do short hops westward, lengthening my day instead of shortening it. Preferably on some sort of dirigible.

In a true race against time, I spoke at GDC this year, in a 20 minute session. You can download a PDF of my slides; I’ve added some notes to them so they’ll make more sense. They don’t, however, reflect the tortured thought processes that went into them. When I heard that my session was going to be only 20 minutes (this was after having an abstract designed for 40 minutes accepted), I preferred not to think about the problem. How hard can it be, I thought.

As the day approached, I realised that I wasn’t all that keen on talking about ‘The New Alternate Reality Games’ and the way in which ARGs associated with physical products were the way forward. Not that I don’t think the topic is interesting, but I submitted my abstract nine months ago, and that’s a long time in the ARG world. There was a bunch of other stuff I wanted to talk about as well, such as how to reach a wider audience, and a post-mortem of Perplex City Season 1.

This is when I hit upon what I thought was a brilliant idea – I would make a ‘Choose Your Own GDC Presentation’ talk! I’d give the audience three choices of topic, and I’d talk about whichever they picked. It’s interactive, it’s topical, it’s cute – and it’s really stupid. The reason it’s stupid is because the audience would never unanimously back one topic, and so I’d probably end up disappointing a large fraction of them. And doing the vote would waste valuable time. And I really wanted to talk about all three topics!

So I bit the bullet, and just crammed all the most interesting topics of all three topics into the 20 minutes. I don’t think I’ve done a faster presentation in my life, and which I know that speaking quickly is against the Rules of presenting, I was pretty pleased with the amount of raw information density that I showed – this was no fluff talk, it told people stuff that has previously remained internal at Mind Candy, and a lot of the reasoning behind what we’re doing in Season 2 to boot.

Still, I would’ve preferred 40 minutes.

Thankfully, that’s what I got when I presented at Google last week on How to Make an Alternate Reality Game or Perplex City: A Look Behind the Scenes. There are also videos from all the ARGFest sessions online now, and if you’re interested in ARGs, I’d advise you to take a look – I found them generally very interesting and useful.

I had a great time in San Francisco – so many new ideas!…

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