Forty-One

Oh, right, I’m totally old now.

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To be fair, I did say, out loud, that I wanted to be at a Disney park for my birthday. But I’d just kind of assumed that it’d be Disneyland, and that I’d be on vacation for a couple of days.

Still, it’s hard to complain about being put up in a sweet hotel that, for as long as I can remember, I’d look across the Seven Seas Lagoon and swear that one day I’d have enough money to be able to stay there.

Also, seeing as how it’s central Florida in late June, it’s hard to complain about working inside an air conditioned building. Especially when your “work” consists of 90% sitting around waiting for something to go wrong. Follow that up with watching fireworks by a volcano pool every night, and feeling no shame in getting a cookie to accompany every meal, and it puts it pretty damn high on the “rad jobs to have” list.

Sure, it would’ve been nice to be with friends or at least my cat on my birthday, but come on: not only is it 41, it’s on a Wednesday. That’s about as boring a non-event as a birthday can be. I’m not sure I know many people who’d be in that celebratory a mood on a Wednesday anyhow.

I’m going to be otherwise detained most of the day, so this is being written on the night before, which I’ve been treating as pre-birthday ramp-up. And it’s been a pretty nice evening, enjoying the lack of rain and relatively cool temperatures, keeping it low-key and relaxing around the hotel while the precious few moments remaining in my brief time on earth drift away into unused nothingness.

Plus I’m totally getting one of those big “it’s my birthday” badges on my way into work tomorrow morning.

In case anybody’s had a comment and not had it show up: try posting it again. The site’s been overwhelmed with spam so it’s entirely possible I’ve been deleting good comments along with the bad.

Forty

I’m going to need another 30 or 40 years to figure this shit out.


The two weeks leading up to a 40th birthday are pretty depressing, but it turns out the actual even hasn’t been any worse than having to pay more expensive health insurance.

Just as I did for my 30th, I spent most of the time leading up to the horrible day going over my to-do list of all the things I’d supposed to have accomplished by the time I got Old, a list I’d started when I was 20. I’m starting to realize that the trick isn’t accomplishing all these things; it’s not worrying so much about the ones that are left undone.

  • Become an animator: F
  • Grow a beard: C (didn’t really commit until it’d already started to turn white)
  • Write a novel: F
  • Get married: F (still illegal thanks to intrusive jackasses)
  • Own a house: F (highly unlikely in the bay area)
  • Learn Japanese: C- (still at a preschooler’s level reading, can’t understand spoken at all)
  • Go to Japan: A (I got to go twice!)
  • Go to Ireland: A (Dublin’s a fantastic city)
  • Work for LucasArts: A
  • Make a Sam & Max game: B+ (still too recent not to focus on what I would’ve done differently)
  • Release my own game: D (it’s in the works, though!)
  • Learn to play banjo: D- (I can play a tortured, basic version of Cripple Creek)

So I’d get an incomplete, which is probably for the best considering either alternative. I could even see myself embracing the whole “Life Begins at 40!” thing. If by “life” you mean “taking lots of fiber supplements.”

Collective Chocolateness

I’m genuinely impressed by the global, decades-long lie that is Nutella

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Tonight out of curiosity I bought my first jar of Nutella. I’m sure I’ve had it before in pastries or some such, but never had my own supply. It was never in the house while I was growing up, and I’m not sure I’d even heard of it before I visited San Francisco and its baffling abundance of crepe restaurants.

So let me see if I’ve got this right: at some point during World War II, some Italian guy decided to put cake frosting in a jar and sell it as something a reasonable person would eat for breakfast. And everybody in Europe said, “What the crap how come we didn’t think of this earlier?” All they had to do was take the picture of a big-ass chocolate cake off the jar, replace it with a picture of a sandwich, call it a “spread,” and then move it a couple of aisles over, next to the peanut butter.

They can even claim it’s part of a “balanced breakfast,” as long as everybody plays it cool and doesn’t ruin it for everyone by pointing out you’re giving kids chocolate cake icing for breakfast. They don’t even have to jump through the marketing hoops that Cookie Crisp had to go through.

My favorite concept from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, and plenty of games inspired by them, is the idea that gods are actually created and powered by faith. I love the idea that if enough believe in something hard enough, it will actually become reality. And I love the idea that if you say “a hint of cocoa” enough times and talk about breakfast, people all over the world will smile and nod and absolve themselves of any guilt over eating the stuff.

Sour Milk

A writer suggests that the It Gets Better project is toothless, feel-good slacktivism, and I’m reluctantly forced to play the “you wouldn’t understand” card.

Note: On re-reading, I regret that this post can seem like it lapses into personal attacks instead of staying directed at the article itself. See the comments for more details.

Earlier this month, a writer named Tom McCormack posted an article titled “Milking It” on the Museum of the Moving Image’s blog. He talks about the It Gets Better project as opposed to the progressive politics of civil rights as depicted in the film Milk. I was kind of hoping that after a couple of weeks preoccupied with work and another writing assignment, I’d be able to respond to the post more objectively. That hasn’t turned out to be the case; it still just rubs me the wrong way all over.

McCormack’s main point is that the videos are a perfect example of how the civil rights movement — in particular the push for gay rights and women’s liberation — has transformed from the radical and militant views of the late 70s into a push for patience, tolerance, and feel-good statements that everything’s going to be fine if we all just work together. He fears that the videos’ attitude will let us all become complacent, convinced that we’ve done something positive when we’ve in fact done nothing to help. And he points out that the need for the videos should be a dramatic warning sign that everything’s most definitely not all right.

And that’s a valid point, and probably something that needed to be made explicit.

Where the article falls apart, though, is when McCormack starts speculating on what effect the videos are having, and starts picking targets and speculating about how much more they could be doing. Unfortunately, it all reads like a pitch-perfect parody of the Clueless Self-Absorbed Liberal. I’d think it were some kind of GOP plant if the vocabulary were less sophisticated.

For instance:

I’m not entirely sure of the effect the It Gets Better videos are having on LGBT youth throughout the country. It’s conceivable, even probable, that they are doing unimaginable good, possibly literally saving lives. But I am sure of how these videos are functioning among young, liberal, educated urbanites like myself: they’re comfort food. […] they also offer a chance to momentarily step into the role of disadvantaged LGBT youths stranded in unwelcoming communities […] The liberal city-dweller is allowed a Clintonian “I feel your pain” moment, without actually having to feel any pain, and, as a bonus, is told that these kids will be just fine—when they move nearby.

Well, I hate to break it to you, Mr. Straight White Male Cinema Studies Major, but maybe these videos aren’t all about you.

Now, of course I realize that the article’s addressed to a very specific audience, those of us who are watching the videos from a safe distance instead of being directly addressed by them. But still, holy smokes! It’s astounding how quickly and callously he acknowledges that maybe the videos intended to stop suicides might actually be stopping suicides, and immediately puts focus back on what really matters: how it affects people like him.

You really can’t give it a pass, because we’re talking about a group of people who are trained to make themselves invisible, and who are told through adulthood that their problems don’t matter. Gay men and women’s desire to serve in the military isn’t as important as some vocal minority worrying they’ll get ogled in the shower. Their desire to get married isn’t as important as some well-funded church group ignoring the first amendment and complaining that their religion is under attack.

And when there’s story after story of young men committing suicide after being outed or even suspected of being gay, and a video series is created in response, what’s the reaction we keep seeing over and over again? “All kids have it bad! Man up!” “We need to put a stop to all bullying, not just for gay kids!” No matter what the issue, there’s always some moron who pipes up with “What about the straight people?” Even simply acknowledging that you’re homosexual is instantly decried as “shoving it in people’s faces” and “asking for special treatment.”

So you want to put a stop to all bullying? Fine, just do it on your own time. Don’t try to steal the attention away from gay kids who really need someone to listen to them and tell them they’re not alone. And when an article like McCormack’s effectively says, “Yes, suicide is very sad, but what about the zeitgeist?!” it trivializes the issue; it diverts attention away from people who are seriously in crisis. It’s basically doing the same thing that the article accuses us all of doing.

To illustrate the difference between 70s “radical leftism” and the modern-day “more accommodating liberalism,” McCormack uses a scene from the film Milk. In that scene, Harvey Milk receives a phone call from a kid who’s planning to commit suicide because his parents are going to send him to a hospital to “fix” his homosexuality. (And in case anyone out there hadn’t heard of this: that’s not just a 70s thing; there’s still a very vocal “ex-gay” movement and it’s still fucking horrific). In the film, Milk doesn’t tell the kid to wait it out and be confident that his life will get better. He tells the kid that there’s nothing wrong with him that needs to be fixed, and that he needs to leave home and get to the closest big city, where he’ll find people who will support him.

McCormack does concede that leaving home to live on the streets was a different prospect in the 70s than it would be today, but I’m not sure he — or the other detractors of the project — fully appreciates what the “It Gets Better” videos are trying to address. And at the risk of diverting attention away from kids who need help back to myself, I can only explain what I think the videos do and why I think they’re important.
Continue reading “Sour Milk”

Seven Days

Sometimes you just have to know when to quit.

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It’s only been about seven days since I quit smoking, but I haven’t actually wanted a cigarette in years. That’s one of the (many) problems with smoking: it doesn’t take long for it to turn from a vice into a full-blown addiction.

Where I’ve always failed to quit before is by thinking of it as giving something up. Even though I didn’t ever enjoy it any more, I’d gotten convinced that I’d be missing something if I quit. So here’s all the stuff I’ll really be missing:

  • Having every cold last an extra two or three weeks because I can’t stop coughing
  • For that matter: being absolutely miserably sick with a cold, coughing so bad I’m retching, and still feeling the need to go outside for a cigarette every hour or so
  • Walking a few steps behind whatever group I’m with, so the smoke doesn’t blow on them
  • Missing the last minute or so of every conversations because I’m already planning how and where I’m going to have a cigarette as soon as the conversation ends and I can get outside
  • Instinctively reaching for the cigarette pack the moment I step outside, whether I want one or not
  • Making people wait for me in or around smoking areas before we can go inside or keep moving
  • Leaving my new bike in the garage, since I always had a permanent excuse not to exercise
  • Finding stray cigarette buts all around the trash can in my kitchen
  • The big black spot on the heel of my shoe
  • Having to go through security twice on flights where I have a layover, since I have to head outside the moment the first leg of the flight lands
  • Getting rained on
  • Getting rained on in the cold
  • Teeth the color of butterscotch pudding
  • Having a layer of ash that looks like dandruff on the chest of every dark shirt
  • Taking five times as long to write anything, since every time I get stuck I have to go outside and have a cigarette

I can’t get excited about saving money yet, since I’m still on the nicotine patch, and those things are at least as expensive as a half-pack a day. But that’ll be another bonus in a few weeks, once I no longer need to be able to furiously rub the patch every time I have a craving. Not to mention all the other crap that nicotine addiction adds to the mix.

Of course, I won’t look nearly as cool as I used to, sucking down a known carcinogen that gives you bad breath yellow teeth and can cause high blood pressure and impotence, but that’s a sacrifice I’ll just have to make.

Better

My own meager contribution to the idea that life is pretty awesome.


The It Gets Better Project has thousands of entries, and I think it’s frankly wonderful that it’s gotten ubiquitous enough that individual entries don’t stand out all that much. But I haven’t felt like I had anything to contribute. I talk about all kinds of mundane, personal stuff on here, but I’ve never talked about being gay except where it intersects with politics. Partly because it’s not really anyone’s business, partly because I never felt that there was much to tell.

Besides, plenty of people have already covered it more eloquently than I could: there’s the moving address given by Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns. Employees of Facebook shared their stories in a compilation video. The pastor of a church in my hometown sacrificed his privacy to explain his situation and explain how he reconciles his sexuality with his religion. And there’s the amazing video above from employees of Pixar, taking their personal stories of the difficult times they went through, and turning them into a message of hope.

And that’s when I realized I was missing the point. These individual messages are powerful, but the most powerful thing is the outpouring of support for the cause; the real power is the number of individuals willing to come forward. The thing that strikes me the most about the videos is how much they have in common, how many of the same experiences we’ve all shared — gay, straight, or otherwise. The message is that we’re not alone, we’re not the only one in the world going through this. I can’t help but wonder how my life would’ve changed for the better if I’d seen these videos when I was 13, or 16, or 23, or, in my case, even 32. And when doing something as simple as sharing your story can have such a profound effect, then keeping silent no longer seems like staying private or showing decorum. Keeping quiet just seems irresponsible.

So here’s some of my experience, and some of the stuff I’ve learned over the years. Stuff I would tell myself if I could go back in time to the most miserable points of my life, before I came out. And it starts with the promise that your life can be absolutely amazing, if you let it.

I was relatively lucky: I was bullied in middle school and teased in high school, but more often for being a nerd than for being gay. The worst I got was “sissy.” Other kids had it far worse, and to the kids who’ve had the courage to come out while still in school: you’ve got my respect. My own response was to try desperately to keep it hidden. The most horrifying thing I could imagine was how I’d be abandoned and my life would be ruined if anyone ever found out. I found out later that the people who I genuinely cared about already knew or suspected, and they didn’t care.

You’ll frequently hear people talk about choice when they talk about being gay. And there is a choice: you can choose to accept who you are, or you can choose to build your entire life based on other people’s expectations of you.

For my part, I put being gay into the “unacceptable” category, believing I could compartmentalize it and keep it from ruining everything else. I thought if I denied it long enough, I’d eventually get “better.” I thought if I prayed hard enough, it’d go away. I buried myself under schoolwork or, later, regular work, convincing myself that it was an acceptable substitute for having a personal life. I convinced myself that nobody could ever find me attractive, because it was easier than admitting to myself that I wasn’t attracted to the people I was supposed to be attracted to.

And I got better at convincing myself I was happy, because I was doing The Right Thing. I believed what I’d been taught. Gay people all act and talk a certain way, like they do on TV. They’re all promiscuous and hedonistic, because they lack willpower. All they talk or think about is sex. And they’re so tiresome: they all define their entire lives around being gay. There were all the made-for-TV movies and documentaries about how horrible it was for women when their husbands or boyfriends came out; how selfish could those guys be? I didn’t have anything in common with that! I just wanted — desperately wanted — to be normal, so surely that couldn’t be me. Those people were different. So I could be an ugly social reject with no possibility of ever finding love, but at least I was better than them.

That was my choice, and I lived with it for over fifteen years. I heard my friends talk about who they were attracted to, and I’d duck out of the conversation or become silent and sullen. I’d see them start relationships, get married, have children, and realize that that was never going to be an option for me. I’d see someone I was attracted to and I’d go quiet, because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I hadn’t done a better job of suppressing it. I convinced myself that I was happy and that everything was fine, without realizing that I’d lost all hope.

When I was younger, I would’ve said it was melodramatic to compare it to dying, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it. I’d effectively killed a part of myself. And over time, I got more preoccupied with thoughts of how to finish the job. There wasn’t any one event, but a long, gradual process of just giving up. I’d withdrawn from my friends. I’d lost around 40 pounds because I just didn’t care about eating. And for months I’d spend every night in bed staring at the ceiling, asking myself what was the point of going on like this. What was the point of living when there’s no hope of ever being anything but broken and lonely?

But then, the part that I never, ever would’ve believed: it got better. I met another gay guy and actually got to know him instead of dismissing him as a stereotype, which had always been easier. I realized I didn’t have to talk or behave a certain way, or let it take over my life. I could stay every bit as boring and nerdy as I wanted to be, and I didn’t have to be ashamed of myself for it or anything else.

For years, I’d been afraid of how my friends would react if I ever came out. The reaction from the first friend I told? He said “Really? Good on you!” without skipping a beat, and he bought me a beer. What about the friends I’d had for longer, would they be angry that I’d been lying to them for so long? They said okay and made a joke. But of course my friends in San Francisco would be okay with it; what about my friends from home and college? I got congratulations, and then they returned to treating it as a non-issue. I’d spent so many years withdrawing from my friends for fear of losing them. Not only did I not lose anyone over it, but I’m a better friend now that I can be open and happy.

And now, six years later, I can honestly say that I’m open and happy. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much has changed in the past six years. But there’s a world of difference. I don’t feel the constant need to watch what I say, out of fear. People complain that gay people are always going on about being gay — I used to be one of them — but they just don’t understand what it’s like to be surrounded by people casually talking about their relationships without the fear that they’ll slip up and use the wrong pronoun. And now, even at my lowest points, I can go to bed looking forward to what’s going to happen tomorrow instead of feeling the hopelessness of having to face everything alone.

It’s no epiphany; it’s an ongoing process, and I’m getting better. At first, I was happy that I could still be normal, but I’m getting better at understanding that there’s no such thing. I put so much value into not conforming to a gay stereotype, that I didn’t realize how judgmental I’d gotten. But if normal’s what we value, then we’re always going to be valuing ourselves and others based on how well we conform to other people’s expectations. It may be a while before I stop feeling a little apprehension at the sight of a Folsom Street Fair or pride parade, before I’m able to remember what each of those people had to go through in order to be open. “Be True to Yourself” is such a simple and overused concept, but so difficult to practice. And sometimes, even more difficult to respect in others.

So to the younger me, and to anyone reading who’s been going through similar stuff: believe that it does get better. Nobody can guarantee your problems will all disappear. You’ll still run into bullies. You’ll encounter people who will judge you based not on who you are, but on a part of what you are. You’ll be pressured to conform to what other people expect of you. You’ll be told, either explicitly or more subtly, that you’re sinful, lustful, weak, confused, selfish, mentally ill, or undeserving of love or family.

But I can guarantee that you will also experience moments of such profound joy that you’ll find yourself with tears in your eyes. Moments of inexplicable kindness, or unexpected beauty.

And they’re compounded, as each one builds on the last. You can’t predict them, and you can’t control them. But you have to choose them, and to do that, you have to accept that you deserve them.

The greatest moments of my life have always been simple things: time spent with friends. A message of encouragement that I hadn’t expected. The exhilaration that comes from finishing a project. They’re all better now, because I can be more honest with my friends. I’m getting better at accepting encouragement with grace. I’m better able to appreciate work I’ve done, without immediately looking for faults because I must’ve done something wrong. And now I can add the simple things I’d long thought were unavailable to me: holding someone’s hand in public, or just plain talking to a friend about a guy I like. Add up enough of these simple moments, and you end up with a pretty spectacular life.

Si, so low we can’t hear you

Travel don’ts for the solitary urbanite

Down Main StreetIt seemed reasonable enough: I had to be in Orlando for business, I just left my job and felt like I could use a vacation, and I like Walt Disney World. Love roller coasters, love Aerosmith, hello. I still stand behind my logic leading up to this decision.

Perfect logic or not, I can’t recommend it. It’s not even like I’ve never been to places inappropriate for the Lonely Planet treatment. Paris? Just hit the Louvre, take photos from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and skip the moonlight walks along the Seine. Venice? Just glare at the guys trying to sell you roses and go to the next museum. Disneyland? I can’t really recommend it, but they get enough annual passholders that you can make a go of it solo. But Disney World may be the most inhospitable place for the single guy outside of a Lamaze class.

It’s not as if the parks failed me somehow; the place is just plain designed for families or couples on their way to being families. And the result of going solo is that you end up at the Orlando airport going through what felt like every single side effect listed in ads for Abilify.

But hey, Disney World! I’ve been at least thirty times and I still see something new each time, and this trip was no different. One of the unexpected highlights was the “Gran Fiesta Tour” in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, formerly “El Rio del Tiempo.” It’s still not an E-Ticket, but it’s got exactly the right touch and tone: still all the charm or the original ride but without feeling embarrassingly dated, and still a tourist promotion for Mexico but without feeling too dry. Plus they brought the characters back, which is something Epcot’s always needed, and they did it the cool way by using the Three Caballeros.

The Main Street Electrical Parade isn’t new, but it’s back, and it still does a great job of making me feel like a six year old again.

I finally got to play through all of the missions in the final version of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, and it’s pretty cool, and it seems to be pretty popular. It also gets you into parts of the pavilion you haven’t seen before. In the Japan pavilion, I found the other new-for-me thing, an exhibit called “Spirited Beasts.” It has a display devoted to different types of Obakemono (creatures of Japanese folklore) with representations from traditional art, toys and anime. And it’s the perfect kind of exhibit for Epcot: it teaches about Japanese folklore by making it relevant to the audience. I was very impressed.

Plus it was the first time I’d ever seen the hotel I stayed at, and they let you take a riverboat to Downtown Disney. And the only advantage to going alone: they’ve got single rider lines all over the place, so I got to ride Expedition Everest like five times in a row. That coaster gets better the more I ride it.

So I still recommend everybody take an extended trip to Disney World, just take a buddy. And deodorant.

Thirty-Nine

One more year until I have to grow up.

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There are worse places to be on your birthday than Disneyland. I had to be in LA around this weekend, so I figured that a trip to the parks made perfect sense — I could wear a big “It’s My Birthday” button around San Francisco, but I doubt it’d have the same impact.

I have yet to see the new World of Color thing that all the kids are talking about. I haven’t seen all that much yet, actually, since I got in too late for Fastpasses and I didn’t have enough patience to wait for stuff. But that’s turned out to be a good thing so far, because I’ve seen a lot of the great live entertainment.

At any point, without warning or provocation, I’ll tell you about the differences between Walt Disney World and Disneyland. One of them is that Disneyland feels a lot more “full,” as if there’s always something going on everywhere you look. I’ve only been here half a day and I’ve already seen all manner of parades and other shows break out all around me, plus other stuff I’d never seen before or hadn’t seen in years.

One of the “new” things is the “Captain EO Tribute,” which I’d only seen once before (right before it shut down, if I remember correctly), and which was a billion times better this time. In the line, they have scenes from some kind of making-of documentary showing George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppolla and about a billion dancers who look like they just got finished filming the video to “Warrior” by Scandal featuring Patty Smythe. As for the movie itself: I can’t honestly say that it’s aged well, but it really is just an amazing thing; it’s hard to believe that it even exists. I can’t remember where I saw it the first time (maybe Orlando?) because I definitely didn’t remember all the thumping in the seats and the early 80s 3D that hurts your eyes to even look at it. The funny thing is that I distinctly remember thinking, at several points throughout the 80s, that we were living through a cultural wasteland, and dreading the point at which people got nostalgic for the 80s. But here we are, and I can’t help but love it.

Not long after I saw the College All Star Marching Band playing in front of the train station, and they were terrific. Keeping up the Michael Jackson theme, they did a tribute medley, right down to performing the zombie dance with drum kits, tubas, and saxophones. That was followed by an Earth, Wind and Fire medley that was almost as good.

Over at California Adventure, they’ve got some kind of “Glow Fest” going on that turns the Hollywood Studios section of the park into a big street party/rave. I came into the park while a bunch of dancers were doing faux-Bollywood routines in front of the sun fountain, to several tracks including some from Slumdog Millionaire. And they never stopped, is the weird part — I had to go off and ride something because I was getting winded just watching them. When I came back, they had stands set up all down the street, and each one had one of the dancers still going at it, and a Disneyfied version of Bootsy Collins acting as DJ on the top of a dayglo colored Volkswagen Bus. I could imagine cynics or purists scoffing at it, but I loved every single bit of it. And the crowd did, too — the street was packed with people going nuts, taking the whole “dance like nobody’s watching” thing to heart. (Plus I was totally crushing on one of the dancers, which is completely inappropriate for somebody my age).

So yeah, the inexorable decline towards 40 doesn’t seem so bad, as long as I can keep getting away with not acting my age.

Something Different

Turn and face the strange

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One of the problems with having a blog (apart from being pegged as a narcissist who’s easily swayed by internet trends) is that I’ve gotten completely dependent on it. I genuinely need this thing in order to remember when stuff happened. Pretty much everything that occurred between 1971 and last week is a big jumble of barely-connected memories that I’m assuming were spaced out fairly evenly, but as far as I’m concerned might just as well have all happened in 2002.

And because my journal is splayed out on the internet, it makes it seem like everything is an announcement, even when it’s really not. More of a “reminder” or a “notation” or maybe a “fun fact” for the world’s most boring “what happened on this date?” calendar. Today’s entry: my last day at Telltale Games.

Not my last day ever working with those guys, I’m hoping, just my last day as a regular full-timer. I’m extremely proud of the games we made while I was there, and the teams continue to exceed my expectations. And I think Telltale is regularly doing stuff that games desperately need to have — storytelling moments, and concentrated chunks of originality and imagination (and just plain weirdness) — and doing them at a level than no other studio is matching. Even those with multi-million dollar budgets.

It’s absolutely no exaggeration to say that I’ve wanted to work on a Sam & Max game since I was a sophomore in college. First from reading the comics in the back of The Adventurer that came with my Star Wars games, then playing Hit the Road and being amazed that a game like that could even exist. (It always felt kind of like sacrilege to say so, especially when I was working on Monkey 3, but I was always a bigger fan of Sam & Max than anything from Monkey Island or the other LucasArts games). I don’t know if I wanted to work on thirteen Sam & Max games, but maybe that was just a case of getting enough chances to get it right. So thanks to Dave Grossman and Kevin Bruner at Telltale for giving me the chance to work on a Sam & Max game that was actually released. (And to Brendan Ferguson for being an excellent puzzle designer and a pretty tireless lead).

And huge thanks to Steve Purcell for letting me spend so much time messing around with his characters and trusting us enough not to ruin them. Getting to do season three brainstorming with Dave, Mike Stemmle, and Steve was one of the best things that I’ve gotten to do in my career so far. (And that’s saying a good bit, considering how lucky I’ve been at stumbling into great jobs).

But it’s been pretty clear for a while that I wasn’t going to be content unless I could get out and try to do my own thing. A while ago I wrote a bunch of over-long posts about storytelling in videogames, and the more I wrote, the more I came to the obvious conclusion: the people who are really making a statement about videogames aren’t making statements; they’re making games. I need to start trying out ideas and attempting to make something more experimental than even a smaller studio like Telltale could practically take on. Maybe nothing will come of it — it’s entirely possible that I’m ridiculously over-estimating my own abilities — but with all the tools and support for independent games right now, there’s no better time to try it and see.

Plus, I’ve never been one of those people who thrive on an accelerated schedule; I’m more the type of person who ruminates and meanders. Moseys, even. There’s an episode of Star Trek called “Wink of an Eye” about a race of aliens who’d become “hyper-accelerated” so that no one else could see or hear them. I’ve felt like that quite a bit over the past few years — especially driving over the Golden Gate in the morning and seeing all the sight-seers stopping to check out the bay, and finding myself wondering “Where do these people find the time?” It seems like a good time to slow things down a little so I can get productive again.

And in case anybody’s wondering about the rest of season three of Sam & Max, which is still in progress: don’t worry. I think the season has been some of the company’s finest work so far, and what I’ve seen of the rest of the episodes carries on at that level. My work on the final episode is pretty much done, and it couldn’t be in better hands to wrap everything up. I think people are going to be impressed, disgusted, and horrified.

I hope the people who wandered on here as a result of my work with Telltale will keep stopping by, and will check out whatever game I happen to come up with, assuming this whole scheme works. (And if you know of any game contracting gigs to help pay the bills, let me know).

But for now, I’m planning to get reacquainted with being bored; it feels like it’s been a long time since I have been. Enough time with that, and I’ll be even more motivated to get off my ass and try something different.