One of the nice things about working for a publication is that you get to attend promotional events. These events are usually flashy affairs conducted in domiciles of high society, and are accompanied by lavish feasts, famous people, and other forms of pampering. You also get to see the latest products firsthand, shake hands with industry professionals, and people generally pretend that you're someone important.
At least, this is what you're thinking when you become a journalist.
Doubtless, events like this may actually occur once in a while, say, with the same frequency that the average person can expect to be offered several million dollars. You have to remember that most game companies don't have unlimited funds to throw around - the money spent on renting out the Luxor could doubtless be better used paying the poor programmers slaving away on the next title.
This is not to say, however, that such shindigs can't be fun. Thus, it was with much pleasure that I recently attended the official preview party for the upcoming Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, thrown by the rocking crew at Aspyr Media. While Alanis Morissette wasn't in attendance (sorry Mike!), the food was free, the staff was friendly, and there were a slew of iMacs running most of Aspyr's just released or upcoming games. In other words, everything that a Mac gamer needs to sustain his life.
Is this the right place?Tuncer's information indicated that the event was taking place in San Francisco, in a club that went by the moniker Sno-drift (http://sno-drift.com). While I'm familiar with SF, the club scene escapes me completely, so I arranged to pair up with my brother James. Being an SF resident as well as a part-time DJ, he was more than familiar with the club's location, and had actually played there on occasion.
Hopping a train from San Jose to SF is normally not a big deal. Except, of course, when you plan on attending an important event. In that case, the fates will that you be held up by a parking permit machine, which insists on only taking quarters, of which you will be in short supply. After hiking several blocks, you will manage to acquire quarters from a bemused gas station attendant, hike back to the evil permit dispenser, and feed it quarters, only to find that it refuses to dispense permits. After much swearing, you will realize that you've missed your train and must wait for the next one.
After deciding the Aspyr event would be worth risking the towing or ticketing of my car, I managed to catch the next train, and was quite pleased to discover that each seat was accompanied by an electrical plug. This made my Gameboy SP very happy. The discovery I made in the bathroom was decidedly less pleasant, and I won't scare you with the sordid details.
After arriving at the 22nd street station, I hooked up with my older sibling and drove down to Sno-drift, complete with mini-disc recorder and digital camera in tow. The trip was somewhat complicated by my insistence on calling the place Sno-cone instead, which I think you'll agree sounds infinitely more pleasing. James didn't see it this way, however, and seemed fairly annoyed after correcting me for the 50th time.
When we got to the Sno-co...er, drift, I had to wonder if we were at the right place. I'm not a club expert, but the place was just a bit underwhelming, looking more like a small shack than a rocking nightclub, as the pictures on its website would suggest. James assured me that this was indeed the place, so in we went.
The first thing that greeted our eyes was a long row of iMacs, each running a different Aspyr game. This made me happy. The iMacs were all situated on a long bar which seemed well-stocked with various brain numbers. This undoubtedly made James happy. Getting back to the games, some of the titles that immediately caught my eye included SimCity 4, Medal of Honor: Spearhead, Spy Hunter, Tiger Woods 2003, and Bloodrayne. To be honest, I was ready to chuck Tony Hawk out the window and spend the rest of the day in front of Spearhead, but the thought of Tuncer sitting on my head made me reconsider my course of action.
In the back of the club was what we had come to see. Various Aspyr crew members were busily setting up a series of booths featuring Tony Hawk 4, complete with Macs and PCs networked together in some 3 player action. The computers themselves were covered up with black cloth, but my brother managed to snag some pictures of the two platforms working side by side in harmony before a disapproving fellow caught us and yanked the cloth back over the computers.