Tuesday, December 23, 2014

IAAPA Day 4: Kung Fu and Stockholm

Wake up: DayQuil, coffee, breakfast, busses, tradeshow, yada, yada, yada, lobster bisque.

Day four is my second day at the show, and time for a bit of a solo act. I stroll into the wrong side of the pavilion again and head on a route towards some booths I’d missed the previous day. 

I took the long way around the northern edge of the show, past the shop of horrors and the alien space-craft, when I hear a young man’s voice call out through the din. “Nice Hat!” I rather like my hat, having saved it from the monsoon not two days earlier; I was feeling particularly protective of it. I thanked him for the compliment and shook his hand. “Hey, I’d like to show you something.” Oh dear, I’d been caught. Our gentleman friend guided me over to his booth and began and began a very nice showcase of his customer survey software.  It was nice. The problem is I’m a mechanic and not the one to be talked to about this sort of thing. We have Marketing people for that. I continued to listen. He showed me the system in use. When did I get my hand back? It was actually very nice. Suddenly, I’d been there all day. I was working the booth with him. My name was Tanya.

Would you like to hear about our software? It’s actually an amazing product. You see, It’s a very simple to use touch screen system that interacts with your customer and asks questions in a very friendly way… I had to get out of there.  I took his card, a brochure, and I said this, “You sir, are very good at your job. Thank you.” He thanked me for the compliment and I moved on to other things.

Slightly shaken from my brief bout with Stockholm syndrome, I head to familiar territory. Back to the Coin-Op Pavilion! I needed to punch, kick or otherwise damage something to regain my original identity. It’s now time for my second review: Kung-Fu Panda Dojo Mojo. It’s not just a movie it’s a redemption game. This means that you not only play, you win tickets.

I sidle up to this machine and give it a good once over. There’s a giant flat screen, several light up pads on the outside and a majestic pagoda above the whole thing. I watch a young woman hesitantly bap the pads while making little Karate sounds. Amateur. I stroll up to the machine and enter Dojo Mode. Your job, strike the targets as quickly as possible. The problem, some of the targets are big metal spikey balls that you really don’t want to hit, avoid them. I wait for the game to begin, the crowd looks on. I exhale slowly, dropping my heart-rate to just above that of a fresh corpse. I unfocus, things begin.

A vase pops out of the left corner of the screen. I hit the top left pad. It is destroyed. A pizza, bottom right. A noodle bowl, bottom left. This is easy. Something jumps out from the side, I swing at it: Spikey ball. Not good. Suddenly Po is paralyzed. He’s hopping, holding his foot, bouncing around like he just stepped on a tack. Well, He did just kick a morning star with his bare foot. I’m not really surprised. The action starts again. I am a blur. I pass the first round, the second and I’m onto the final showdown with Master Shifu. He’s popping out from every direction, in one hand a Chinese dumpling is delicately held in a pair of chopsticks. Your job, eat them all. Top, Bottom, Top, Bottom, Left, Right, Left, Right, Middle Left, Middle Right, STOP! I got 31 dumplings. I needed 32. I straighten my tie and turn around. One of the gentlemen showing off the machine is staring at me. His mouth is open. “I’ve never seen anybody play that fast!” “Thank you sir, I’m a professional.” I move on, thoughts of surveys now completely gone. The game is awesome. I wouldn’t tell you about anything that was really crap. Why waste your time? If memory serves me, it’s about $11K for the base model, another thousand if you want to get the Pagoda. What’s $12K among friends? We’ll take one with the pagoda, thanks.

I’d wasted a lot of time running around moving crossways in no particular order. Over the course of the day I’d probably walked about twelve miles. I should take a pedometer to these things. It was nearing 5pm and one of The Compatriot’s contacts invited us to another vendor event. Ho-hum.

I give him a call and try to confirm a meeting place for us. I’m what you would call directionally impaired. If there’s a wrong way to go, I’ll take it. Maps help but only so much. I really could use a personal Sherpa. “Where are you? I’m on the south side. You’re probably on the north, aren’t you?” “Oh Yeah I’m in the north, I’m by Coke.” “Ok, I’ll head your direction.”

So I walk. And walk. And walk. I’m still walking. I go the 1200 feet from one end to the other, trying to get a bead on the Coca-Cola booth. It feels like a mile with all the people dodging I do. Ten minutes pass. I pull out my map. I’m 5’6” and the map is bigger than me. Let’s see, I’m at booth 5695. Coke is at 4800… I’d just walked as far away from the Coke booth as was humanly possible without leaving the show floor. He’d sent me the wrong way. I use the map and chart as direct a course as possible to my target: The Compatriot. I’m now a little depressed that we couldn’t bring anything sharp or stabby on the plane. I take a bundle of brochures and roll them up like an old newspaper. Someone’s been a bad puppy. I come up behind him and raise the punishment device. There was a disturbance in the force. He turned around and raised an arm, easily blocking me. I really didn’t swing that hard. “This is the north! I’ve walked the damn floor twice and my feet hurt before I called you!” “How was I to know? I thought you knew where Coke was. I thought it was south.” I took three steps back, raised my arm and pointed to the left. Directly behind him was a 25 foot long sign that said: Northern Concourse.

“There better be some good food at this party.”

Well, the event was within walking distance and we thought another mile in our shoes wouldn’t kill us. We sat outside a restaurant for a while. We are overtly punctual, so much so that we’re often sitting around because we show up early. We were the first people to enter after the hosts. It was very nice. We were at the Hilton right next door to the convention center so travel wasn’t that bad. The hors d'oeuvres were Fig Jam with Gruyere slices on Dark Toasted Rye. Salads and cheeses were ubiquitous. Mains were Beef tenderloin (overcooked for my taste but I am ever the savage) with BĂ©arnaise sauce, heavy on the butter, and slider buns. What took the cake here? Open Bar. The Compatriot had several Manhattans. My beverage of choice is Ginger Ale. I don’t drink but I do appreciate when people go the extra mile. A vendor came up to us, touting his new management position and smelling slightly of good scotch. I love Florida.

A friend of ours from ages past was there. She’s a sales rep that has worked all over the industry. “You may not think it but you guys are a big deal. Trust me, you guys are big.” I look at myself as a working stiff. Sure, I’m good at my job but I don’t think of myself like that. She gave us hugs and talked about lots of things, past and present, all the jobs we’ve done, new things we were up to and what we though the next few years would be like. She paid our cab fare back to the hotel. Why? I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we’re kind of a big deal.

Ego well in hand, I welcomed another night’s sleep.

The Lopez is an Amusement Park Industry Professional, Artist, Gamer, LARP GM, Member of the Gamer Geekus gaming troupe, and occasional guest star on the Ace of Geeks podcast. You can find Gamer Geekus at www.Facebook.com/Gamergeekus or email him directly at retheon@gmail.com.

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