Oh Lord, where to begin. After yesterday's official business closed up, what many consider the real work began. Parties erupted over downtown San Francisco, clubs filling with a 70-30 mixture of GDC attendants and confused, well-dressed people just out of college. We kicked off our night in Australia.
After we made a run to the hotel, Dana, JR, Russ, my San-Fran buddy Ian and I rendezvoused downstairs and compared party notes. It was international night: Australians, Nords, Canadians and the IGDA were all throwing bashes to promote life beyond the U.S.'s comfortable borders. The Nordic and Australian parties were running at the same time, so we weighed our options and figured the Australians were our best bet, at least to start, if only because the stories I've heard about the Australian approach to pretty much everything is something that needs to be experienced to truly grasp.
So off we went, to the rooftop of the W hotel. There was a chance of rain last night, so they'd erected a tent over the scene, which pretty much defeated the purpose of having the party outside. There were two barbecues firing on opposite ends of the 100 by 100 agora, and in case that didn't warm things up enough under the tarp, they'd set up space heaters in each corner. Toss in a couple hundred bodies into that mix, too. Sure made a guy thirsty.
I made my way to the bar in search of exotic Australian fare. The only thing left was Fosters, which is actually brewed in the States. But hey, man, beer's beer, and there's a real live Australian barbecue going on. At least, that was the rumor. After bumping into a few friends and making a few more, the food line we were in wasn't moving. I mosied up to the front to see what the deal was just in time to see the cooks breaking everything down. Since it was pushing 8:00 and we hadn't eaten yet, we said our goodbyes and made our way over to a restaurant to eat.
JR wasn't feeling the whole cuisine thing, probably because he (I can't confirm this) actually ate at the Australian party, so we left him to go in search of another place to hang out. As we wrapped up dinner, JR called me, screaming over the din only a good party can generate. He directed us over to Fluid, where a group of Canadian developers were having their shindig. We ran into some trouble at the door - our invites were all screwed up, and I didn't actually know we were at the Canadian party when we got there, so when the bouncer asked me who were were there to see, I told him the name of the company who had the place the previous night. No entry. Oops.
Luckily, we'd gotten friendly with the bouncer the night before, so he let us get a hold of JR, who was able to straighten things out inside while we made small talk with the doorman. When JR re-emerged with our name tags, and the name tags of a few big industry names, we headed in.
This place definitely had a better vibe than the Australian one, but that was more than likely because I had food in my stomach and the bar was more accustomed to handling the throng of people inside. We ordered up a few drinks and started mingling.
It was a pretty laid back scene. We spoke to a lot of indie, small-team shops, all of which were brimming with enthusiasm about the products they were making. We also spent some time with a very nice woman who worked for the Canadian government; she organized the whole thing. She gave us a rundown on the Canadian development scene, which we were happy to learn extends beyond EA and Ubisoft Montreal. She also promised she'd send us Canadian flags if we were able to sing the Canadian national anthem in both English and French. A few more circles of the bar later, the party was winding down, and we decided to make our way to the IGDA party at the Zebulon, which started at 10:00 and was sponsored by Themis Group, our parent company.
The venue was small, but that just made it easier for the place to reach critical mass, which it quickly did. Some old familiars were there, as well as a lot of new faces we got to meet. After speaking to a few folks who went to the Nordic party before making it over to the Zebulon, I wanted to kick myself for missing it. As the story goes, they had a badass DJ playing house techno, as well as an opera singer who was dressed in some elaborate costume and singing along with the music. She made friends with one of our contingent who attended that party, but she wasn't able to come along to the Zebulon. Shame we missed it, but hindsight's 20/20.
Once the bar started pouring, the place loosened up considerably. We all did a Jager bomb to kick things off, and I lost track of the team from there. By the end of the night, I ended up in the back of a friend's car, on the way to our hotel, where Tom, one of Themis' bossmen, and I capped off the night inside the hotel's bar with one last drink before heading upstairs to sleep.
All in all, it was a great time, and tonight's vibe sounds beyond crazy. Reps from CCP have been feeding me tidbits all week about Suicide Girls and cage dancers, along with an on-site tattoo parlor and a hair stylist who specializes in mohawks. Gamecock, the new face on the defunct Gathering of Developers, a company famous for its raucous parties, has been playing their cards close to their chest, but what little I've heard on the floor sounds promising. Provided I don't wake up with just a strip of hair on my head, you'll be sure to hear about it.