A Fine Day for a Picnic

My alarm rings. It’s 7:00am on a Sunday. My game-developer work ethic won’t even let me sleep in on the weekends. The IGDA picnic isn’t until one o’clock, so I set another alarm for myself and get in another hour or two of sleep. When the time finally comes, I double check the event details eleven times and catch a bus up north. Burying my head in a book, I reemerge at my destination, like a zeppelin ride in World of Warcraft.

Lincoln Park is big (the place, not the band), and I feel like I’m checking a quest log when I take out my phone, forced to read through the quest description to know where to go. Luckily, Patrick “Event Planner” McCarron planted a big marker at the south tip of the lake. Thank goodness for mindful game designers—I make my way there without incident.

“We’ve got some chipotle lime marinated flank steak and pineapple teriyaki chicken skewers with cilantro cream sauce.” Pardon me? The silhouette of Master Chef Eric Shofe gleams in a brilliant aura. I try to imagine which stamina boost the food will provide and sadly realize “pleasantly full” is the fanciest buff I’ll receive in the real world, still hoping we have someone who can cleanse “food coma.”

The rest of the picnic cheerfully greets me and the other guests slowly trickle in. Looks like it isn’t too hard to spot big group of nerds. I desperately try to remember the cascade of names rushing down on me and jot down a few. We sit in the cool shade of a large tree and I overhear someone comment, “Whoever invented shade was awesome.” A programmer, probably. A passing breeze reminds everyone of the perfect day. Did the Board plan that too? Looks like someone invested a few skill points in clairvoyance.

Once most people have eaten, a bag filled with board games rattles as the pieces shift within, and the ears of every developer, partner, and child turn in its direction. Sheri pulls out half a dozen hidden-gem board games and asks which one we’d like to start with. Is that Tsuro? I open a text from my brother sent last night and read with uncanny suspicion, “Play ‘Tsuro’ NOW!” I send him a picture of the game board with the note, “On it.”

A few hours later, I grudgingly relinquish my reverie after narrowly losing a game of Can’t Stop. I really don’t want to, but real life buzzes on my phone like an incessant fly. Thanking the incredible organizers and bidding farewell to all my new friends, I head back toward the south-bound zeppelin and embark on my journey back home.