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6:30pm on Wednesday, 29th June, 2011:

Gamelab So Far


My theory about Spain is that although the clocks all operate on Central European Time, the people actually behave as if they were on Greenwich Mean Time. Things that would happen at 9am in the UK happen at 10am in Spain. Lunch is an hour later than we would have it, as is dinner, which is to say we eat simultaneously.

There are differences, though.

I was told last night that this morning I should pick up my Gamelab welcome pack from the hotel reception. That seemed a little unusual so I queried it, but was assured that yes, it would be there ready for the conference opening at 9:30.

Well, it wasn't there. The woman on the desk called Gamelab and they denied all knowledge of its being there. I went over to the conference venue, only to find it shut. This is the venue snapped from my hotel room: its quite close, as you can see.

It's on the top floor of a converted bullring, the doors to which were all closed. I returned to the hotel: still no sign of the bag. I went back, changed out of my jacket (it was getting too hot to wear outside of air conditioning) and still they had heard nothing. I returned to the venue, found one of the doors at the back was now open, and a security guard was letting people in if they were going to Gamelab. I went in. I got to the top, where the conference is being held, and found this queue:

Hmm. I was really hoping not to have to stand in that.

I pushed in to the desk, pointed at my name and asked for my ticket. They said it was at the hotel. I said it wasn't. They made a phone call, and agreed that it wasn't. It was with someone they couldn't contact. I was let in without a badge.

Inside, I met Jason della Rocca, whom I've met before so recognised. He did have a badge, only it had someone else's name on it. When he noticed, they took it off him and gave him another badge with a different other person's name on it.

We went into the first talk. It was a panel in Spanish. I can understand some Spanish, but when spoken at speed I can't always make out the words. I got a translation headset, but it didn't work. I swapped headsets with the journalist sitting next to me but it still didn't work. I took it back and got a new one. This also didn't work. I went back and swapped the headphones. This combination did work.

The panel was quite interesting in that it seemed to have some regional politicians on it. The gist of it seemed to be that the politicians wanted the Spanish games industry to get its act together so they had hard data to work with instead of disparate pieces reluctantly supplied by individual companies. For their part, the games industry panellists wanted tax breaks so they could throw off the yoke of Anglo-American gaming oppression. Oh, except for the local Catalan guy who wanted to throw off the yoke of Spanish gaming oppression. This seemed a bit of a missed trick to me: given how much of the world speaks Spanish, they should be developing games for those people so that 10 years from now the Argentinians will be holding conferences demanding much the same as the Catalan guy. Oh well.

After the first talk, I had a series of interviews. The first one, with Edge magazine, started 15 minutes late because the Quiet Room we were taken to had some bloke drilling holes in its wall. I had about 5 or 6 interviews all told, by which time it was gone 2pm. So, time for lunch! Around then, my badge arrived; I was told there were two people on the reception desk in the hotel, and only one of them knew about Gamelab bags. With the bad was a free lunch ticket. My experience of free lunch tickets is that it means long, long queues. Sure enough, when I got to the resturant all the seats were taken. I decided to have a look round the industry floor (I finally got to use a Nintendo 3DS — yay! Now I know how bad 3D pictures will look on it) and return. At 2:30 it was still just as bad, so I figured I should try somewhere on a lower floor in the bullring. There were no talks I wanted to go to until Trip Hawkins' at 4:30, but having heard that some talks had been cancelled I asked one of the members of staff if Trip's was one of them. She said yes, he was ill.

OK, so bad news for Trip but good for me because it meant I could go off and be a tourst, which is exactly what I did do. That, however, is a different blog post.

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).