Daily Archives: September 29, 2007

Tokyo Trip DiGRA summary

I didn’t get around to posting for every day of the confernce so here’s a general overview of my experiences.

On the first full day of DiGRA 2007 I gave my paper and it was givetastic. They say it is better to give than receive… I didn’t do a very good job of fitting it into the time period so what little point I had was probably garbled. Oh well.

On that day I saw someone cite CMCL grad Bob Rehak and I really really wanted to deliver a version of that famous line about knowing Kennedy and you not being him. Unfortunately, the person citing Bob didn’t misuse Bob’s paper or anything and I didn’t have the guts just to randomly say that!

I started Wednesday by heading back to Akihabara. I just couldn’t get enough. Either that or I wanted to go buy this Matrix limited Edition DVD set that I had seen.

I decided to take the train over to Akihabara instead of walking. Unfortunately I got a but turned around when I got off the train and ended up accidentally walking nearly half way back to the hotel before I realized what I had done! But once I had figured that out I was able to go back to the store where I had seen the Matrix box and it was less than 1900 yen! Sweet!

Then I went to a 6 story arcade that I had somehow missed on my earlier trip. Because it was fairly early in the morning there weren’t many people there so I nearly had the place to myself. There were lots of games that I had no idea how to play. Then, on the 4th floor, over in the corner, I saw two of the following machines:

It was Half-Life 2: Survivor!! So I had to play a bit. I played through the Ravenholm level and I can see why, aside from being part of a genre that isn’t all that popular in the East, why the game was not all that successful. One reason is the controls. It is weird in that there is a chair and the controls are kind of like a bulldozer or something (and that it is yellow and orange and black also gives it a feeling of heavy machinery). There is a control on each arm rest. One for basically the equivalent of the WASD keys that was basically a big knob you moved forward, back, left, and right and on the right arm is a joystick that you can twist to turn left or right, pull forward or back to look down or up and with a trigger to fire.

Another reason is that the game is basically designed as a quarter eater. The game itself is broken into levels and in the attempt to make it more like House of the Dead or one of those rail shooters they put labels and arrows on the bad guys. Each “level” is broken into 3 areas which are the highlights of the level. At the end of each level you have to put in another coin (a 100 yen coin in this case). As far as I could tell there isn’t a gravity gun and so all the puzzles that require it are either gone or shown in cut scenes. There are a lot of cut scenes. In between is the physics stuff or the switching from a vehicle to on foot. Alex and the other NPCs don’t seem to exist.

After that I went to get some more tasty Indian food and headed off to DiGRA.

That afternoon and Thursday I attended panels and such. Fellow IU person Edward Castronova gave a well-received keynote one day. He asked for volunteers from the audience. Of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take the stage. The next day Marc Prensky gave the keynote. Many seemed to think that he talk was better suited for a different audience but I think it was a good idea to bring someone in to try to talk about the useful potentials of games.

Friday morning I checked out of the hotel, drug my luggage over to the conference to get the cd of the proceedings and then hit the airport. Luckilly, I ran into a couple of Canadians and we were able to help one another find the station and our seats on the train so I was able to get to the airport in time. Of course when I got home I found that my cd of the proceedings had been smashed in my luggage! Oh well I have the printed proceedings and I can only assume that pdfs of the papers will be made available on the website since every other year has been put online.

The plane ride was as horrible as you could imagine a 11 hour plane ride for a 6ft 4in 255lb man would be. At Narita I chose the slowest line to get through Japanese customs — the people were literally counting how many people would get through other lines for every one person that got through ours. I think the final count was 3 to 1.

I had a transfer at the Detroit airport and let me tell you, the Detroit airport is horrible. I’ve never had such a pain in my ass at an airport as I did at Detroit. First we had to get our passports checked. Again I got the slowest line. This time people were counting7 people for every one in our line. At one point the guy actually got up and walked out of the booth! Then we had to pick up our bags even though we were getting on another plane and go through customs. Because I made the mistake of traveling alone I got picked to have my bags hand searched. Yay! That only took an hour to get up to the front of that line. The actual customs guys barely even looked at my bags but it was enough to make me have to hurry to make my connecting flight.

I finally got back to Indianapolis, got my vehicle out of long term parking and made my way back to Blomington. Then I went to sleep for 16 hours! Today I’ve just been recovering from the jet lag. It is good to be home.

Tomorrow I will post about my overall thoughts on the conference and post some things that they don’t tell you about Japan (like the fact that they have awesome Indian food!)