Spent some time tonight doing a video thing with Chris and Ben. We were going to play some games together, but ended up spending the first part of our call catching up and just talking about the state of our lives.
Earlier in the week, Allison texted a bunch of folks about an idea she had for a website. After some back and forth, the concept turned into a “let’s talk about this in person” get-together for the weekend. And next thing you know, it was a party.
Everyone has moved further away, families and responsibilities have grown, job situations have changed. Coordinating a gathering is harder, but a recurring “come if you can” type of gather seems like it makes that process easier. We’ve only pulled it off once, a few months ago. But tonight, we got together again in Bridgeport (an area I really don’t know at all).
Funny thing about this place – it was very nice, and on the fancier side. Definitely nothing like Shamrock at all. I joked to Chris that had we come here 15 years ago, my reaction likely would have been “I can’t afford this place.”
The box is called a “Caja China Box,” and interestingly – I had just heard about this on Friday, at 20×2 Chicago. Someone had answered the question “How Does It Work” by describing how a Caja China box works – and here I was looking at one!
Ben ended up arriving about 5 minutes after me, and luckily for us… we had no problems at all with registration. Aside from our name tags being missing. All that rushing made for a really stressful start to the day.
On Saturday, Liz and I headed over to Ben and Allison’s to meet up with many folks gathering to celebrate Ben’s 40th Birthday. It was a great chance to celebrate, and to meet up with many friendly faces I haven’t seen in a super long while.
The Last Defender: A Live Action, Team-Based Puzzle Hunt to Try to Save the World from Nuclear Annihilation
At the start of the evening, we were told that “Tight lips sink ships.” And that a key component was for everyone to communicate with one another. If you can imagine the fun and chaos that ensues when 16 people are trying to figure things out collectively… you can imagine what went on.
The Game Hall is essentially an old school arcade, filled with pinball machines. Each machine is set on “Free Play,” so no money is needed. The Game Hall was closed off for the morning’s tournament, but opened on Friday at 1PM. And get this: it remains open until Sunday morning. So if you felt like playing at 3AM… you could.
On Saturday, we had plans to hang out with Ben and Allison for a noon lunch. To our surprise, Chris was also over there when we arrived (he had swung by to play some pinball, as two of his machines are stored out in their garage).
Thankfully, the terms of the bet weren’t so complex as to require the use of spitshake.com. The overall wager was very straightforward – at the end of each game, the person with the highest score wins. After all our tokens are done, person with the most wins is the victor. The loser then has to change their Twitter profile to say something about how the other person is the greatest video game player in the world, name-checking the winner using their full name and Twitter handle.
Over the weekend, I ended up catching a ride with Chris and Leslie to the suburbs, where we went to go pick up not one… but two pinball machines that Chris had purchased, out in Hoffman Estates. We got some coffee, a rental van, and headed off to some random guy’s basement.
I have to say – these guys definitely know their target audience. The game selection, combined with the music and shows on TV (old episodes of American Gladiators and WWF). The drink menus were kind of spliced into old comic books, and as I ordered… I saw Randy “Macho Man” Savage fighting the Ultimate Warrior on the main TV. The whole place reeked of a certain late 80’s and early 90’s nostalgia, and it was pretty fantastic.