GDC 2008: Cocktail Hour with Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler


… and a couple hundred other people.

Thursday night at GDC, G4’s X-Play hosted a cocktail gathering at the trendy XYZ bar in the lobby of the W Hotel, next door to the Moscone Center. A good time was had by all.

First, I’d like to note how much I enjoy being treated like a king just for being myself. A few minutes before we departed Themis central (in the North Hall) for the party, a young man accosted me to tell me how much he enjoyed my writing. I love this. Anyone taking this tack will be treated well down the road. Sincerely. I can’t overemphasize (enough) the importance of following this advice.

Then, when we got to the party, we didn’t even have to give the pretty, young PR lady at the desk our names. I simply told her that Yahtzee and I were from The Escapist, and she instantly knew who we were, showered us with praise and ushered us inside to where a kind, young man poured us booze. I understand not everyone lives like this. I’m sorry for you. I really am. There’s no substitute for success.

Inside (like everywhere else) Yahtzee, Zero Punctuation and The Escapist were the talk of the engagement. A clip of the GDC Awards video was playing on one of several TVs, and everyone wanted to meet the man behind the voice-over and the silly, animated characters over the yellow background. This never stops being odd to observe, but I was glad to see Yahtzee warming up to the idea of being famous. Being dug by chicks helps.

Valve’s Erik Wolpaw was there, clearly struggling with the sudden intensity of the spotlight thrust upon him by Portal‘s unexpected success. I congratulated him on the awards and he thanked me. All of the intensely talented Valve guys, especially Erik, have this aura about them as if they keep their energy in a lead-lined box, letting it out only long enough to make whatever project they’re working on shine, then stuff it back inside lest any of it get away. He didn’t have much to say – to me anyway – but I was honored to shake his hand. He looked intensely uncomfortable when talk turned to how awesome his game is, so I tried not to gush. But damn it’s hard. He and Portal deserve every award they get.

There was an odd moment when Seanbaby arrived. Yahtzee has been a fan of his work for some time, and wanted to meet him, so we angled over to where he was holding court, surrounded by Valve employees. Yahtzee interposed himself and stuck out his hand. He mentioned being a fan. He said his name was Yahtzee.

Seanbaby, nonplussed, asked Yahtzee where he worked. There was a deafening silence as the gathered crowd tried to determine if Seanbaby was pulling our leg. He was not. Whether he was just being a douche or actually had never heard of Yahtzee is unknown, but he wasn’t joking around.

Yahtzee, ever the gentleman, said he was the guy who made the Zero Punctuation videos. More silence. If there was a glimmer of recognition in Seanbaby’s face, I must have missed it when I blinked. He made the universal gesture of not knowing what someone is talking about, shook Yahtzee’s hand and said he was glad to meet him, then he looked away and continued his previous conversation. Really, the man is a pro. I don’t ever want to play poker with him.

The rest of the evening was more or less uneventful. I had a chance to catch up with a number of old colleagues, including a few who worked on The Screen Savers with me, like the infamous Sarah Lane, who made a surprise appearance toward the end of the evening.

Morgan Webb continued to harass me about that damn email I wrote at TechTV, but we had a few laughs. It was good to see her again. I talked with Adam a bit, who’s one of the most genuinely nice guys in TV. I even met his mom, who seemed pleased to meet someone who had once worked with her son, as any mother would.

“I miss TechTV,” she said. So do I, Momma Sessler. So do I.

[i]Russ Pitts is the Acquisition and Production Manager for The Escapist. His blog can be found at

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