You are walking up a mountain path. The midday sun shines high on a quilt of endless blue. Twigs crunch underfoot as you proceed ever higher. Fallen trees and rocks offer momentary diversions to clamber over. Somewhere among the trees deers are grazing. Finally upon reaching the summit, the massive expanse of the land rolls out beneath you, seeking out the horizon. Not far off the city sits serenely; the hustle and bustle of thousands of lives is temporarily hidden.
How do you compare Grand Theft Auto V with Papers, Please? Or Assassin’s Creed IV with Gone Home? These are the kinds of questions that have defined 2013. In the year after small studio games dominated the conversation, we’ve not entered the Indie Promised Land. Instead, we found ourselves in a strange landscape, of new consoles no one cares about, of endless debates, of thoughtful AAA games and ephemeral indies. We spent several annoying months hearing people ask, “Is this even a game?” This is all good news. The binaries – indie vs AAA, formalist vs zinester, LOL vs Dota
Knowing something is one thing. Grasping it can be something entirely different. I have long known that parents are hard-pressed for time. There’s a lot that goes into keeping a small child alive. You must feed them, change their diapers, stop them from crying and keep them from accidentally killing themselves in a world pretty much designed to harm small, incompetent creatures. These mandatory tasks don’t leave room for things the childless might take for granted, such as an afternoon spent playing a videogame or an unhurried bowel movement.
There it was, shattered as if by a falling tree branch, except there were no trees nearby to do the shattering. Someone had pulled into my driveway to turn around and hit the corner post of my fence. They hit it so hard that they dislodged the concrete mooring and the force shattered the top crossbar, splaying the pickets out like pick-up sticks. Then they drove off. It was the middle of the afternoon.
In 1932, actor Peg Entwistle jumped to her death from the “H” of the Hollywoodland sign. Her suicide note read, “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.” It wouldn’t be the last time a superficial city took someone’s life.
A few days before my flight to Los Angeles, I was sitting in my office working on the poster for Geek Flea VI. It was early evening and I was vaguely aware of the room darkening apace with the sky. Without warning and for no apparent reason, my heart starting pounding and my mind started racing around a singular thought: “Do not go to Los Angeles.”