Thursday, February 17, 2011

GAME DESIGN TV - Part III: the Moderators

See here for Part I and Part II in this series.

There were already “parking reserved” signs on the street in front of the Spielwiese early that week. These are usually reserved for moving trucks, and dreaded by most Berliners, as they take up valuable spaces and it’s not always easy to remember the dates scribbled on them. When the day usually arrives, in fact, the first order of business is for the police and towing service to remove the many cars that are still parked there, in order for the moving trucks to drive in. Bernd and I were even towed once during a game night there.

As far as I know, no cars were forcibly removed this time, and instead of moving trucks, a large van with the X:enius logo drove in and parked outside, as show moderators Dörthe Eikelberg und Pierre Girard popped out. Fredérique and the moderators’ camera/lighting/makeup team were there, too, ready to put the finishing touches on their show’s segment about the German boardgame scene and how a game idea is developed, published and entered into this competitive market. The Spielwiese is a good picture of how crowded that market is: the walls are crammed full of game boxes of every size and shape, and anyone unfamiliar with the popularity of the hobby here is immediately taken aback by the sight.
The moderators and team were no different, amazed by the height and breadth of it all. They began by interviewing Michael, at home behind his coffee bar. They asked him typical questions about the gaming hobby and the concept of his gaming cafe/store/rental service. Meanwhile, Fredérique asked me to set my game up in another corner–one in which they had not yet filmed. Apparently, they were trying to record each scene or interview in a different corner of the room in order to change up everything a bit.

Then the woman in charge of make-up came over to me with a tiny white tube. “Do you mind if I put a little bit of this cream on your nose and forehead to take some of the shine away?” she asked politely. She demonstrated on her hand how it would turn the “glossy” into a “matte” finish, then added, “Most men in particular feel uncomfortable if I come at them with powder, but this cream works just as well.”

During a break in the shooting, I joked with Fredérique that it was a good thing the shooting hadn’t been scheduled for two days earlier. During that time, this whole district of the city had been taken over by left-wing protestors, sometimes instigating violent clashes with police in riot gear. The reason: nine squatters were being forcibly evicted from a run-down six-storey apartment building so that the owner of the building could finally renovate it and charge rent for the place. The event attracted just about anyone who was anti-establishment (and there are quite a few of those in Berlin), or any other person who fantasized about throwing a rock at the police or setting an Audi on fire. Thankfully, everything was in order again, just in time for the filming, although it would have made for an interesting backdrop.

Then it came time to play the prototype of Würfelburg with Dörthe und Pierre, both of whom were very enthusiastic. Without the benefit of practice–or any experience with flicking games, for that matter–Dörthe unfortunately used too much strength, and the dice flew off of the table each time.

After a couple of brief rounds, we sat down around the table and they asked questions about how a designer gets games like Würfelburg published. After the interview finished, they continued to ask questions, demonstrating that theirs was more than a “professional” curiosity. Looking at their shows online, I think I would enjoy having their adventurous jobs, learning about so many different things and participating in such a variety of activities.

This adventure into boardgame development was over, however, and they moved outside to shoot a couple of closing scenes. The Game-umentory should appear on TV and online in a couple months, Fredérique assured me.

Until then, "Cut!"

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