For most of us, the completions of some tasks are always a joy to read. Even the not-very-good proofs are engaging and fun. Other tasks seem doomed to be eternally uninteresting. "Why would anyone want to read that," we wonder.
I've never met an Object Annotation
or a Seeing Beyond Sight
completion that I didn't love. The worst ones are always interesting and vote-worthy. At the same time, I've yet to find a One Blank White Card
praxis that held my interest until the end. This despite a long list of elaborate, beautifully written, carefully documented completions by some of my favorite players. Like travel writing, I just don't *get* Journey write-ups. Perhaps it's because in both cases the thing itself is so much better than any written description, and thus the text always feels dull and lifeless. Or perhaps that's just a lame rationalization for a senseless emotional response.
Whatever the reason, it puts me in the novel position of submitting a praxis for which I not only wouldn't vote, but which I probably wouldn't even read. None the less the event was great fun, and it would seem rude not to document it and thus congratulate and thank the people who made it happen.
Oh, and also, who's gonna turn down a free 50 points for doing notmuch? Gotta level up somehow. (In Los Angeles, they got gold just growing on the trees, man. All you gotta do is reach out and take it.)
The event, and the stuff I did, and some stuff I didn't do.
I traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles with Lowteck, Lank,
and Sturm und Drang
in Lowteck's car for this event. Saturday afternoon I met up with Lincoln and C.M. in Hollywood and kept them company while they put the finishing touches on the last few Journey preparations.
I originally planned to run or chase, but cancellations and a badly timed theater production left the organizers short on checkpoint crew, so I was given dominion over Checkpoint 5. Non-player Nancy and I were stationed on the patio of El Gran Burrito, a fantastic 24 hour taqueria, where we offered final signatures and free burritos to runners before their sprint to the finish line.
Since our checkpoint was 90% of the way to the end of the race, it took several hours for the first live runners to arrive. Nancy and I chatted, munched fantastic $1 tacos, and watched a fair sample of the population of Los Angeles pass through the restaurant patio. A non-player friend of mine stopped by to hang out and visit for a bit to keep us company.
Just over an hour into the game, our first player came through. Lefthandedsnail
, a runner who'd been nabbed by the bicycle chaser early on in the game, decided to stake out checkpoint five as a chaser. She and her satchel of tasking supplies kept us fine company while we waited for runners to arrive.
Over the next few hours several additional chasers arrived and began distributing themselves along the city blocks surrounding our checkpoint. Finally, at almost midnight, the first batch of live runners rushed in. They sipped sodas, collected signatures, and carefully planned their next move. Only a few blocks from the finish line and surrounded on all sides by chasers, they spent a long time devising exit strategies while chasers swept past the chain link fence and taunted them.
Meanwhile, the checkpoint staff struggled to remain neutral and tried to avoid aiding either side. I screwed up once and foiled a stand-off between two runners and two chasers pacing each other across the safe-zone by distracting one of the chasers with conversation. Whoever you were, I'm sorry.
We also spoke with the taqueria security and manager a couple of times. They were pretty relaxed and willing to let us have our fun, once we convinced them the gangs of weirdly dressed youths taunting each other across a chain-link fence were playing a friendly game and not preparing for a bloody street fight. (The security guard was pretty cool actually - I think he got a kick out of the whole thing.)
By about 12:45 we decided that everyone still in the race had made it through our checkpoint and headed to the party at the finish line.
Deep insights, profound truths, and cheap shots.
I really enjoyed meeting a bunch of players. Not only El Capitan,
whom I've been jonesing to meet since I was a wee n00b, and MKII,
whom I'd always assumed was a sock puppet, but also a long list of fantastic newer players, several clearly showing the early signs of chronic drive. I have a suspicion that LA0 is going to become a praxis powerhouse in the coming months.
Lincoln and C.M. did a fantastic job organizing things, and I'm grateful to everyone else who pitched in and made the event happen. Thank you all. It was well worth the trip.
On the structure of the game itself, I haven't much to say. We came up with a hand full of ideas for future variations on the Journey theme that could be interesting, but the basic pattern hammered out in previous Journeys seems to work quite well. Two or three people were a tad disappointed that there weren't any hidden secrets revealed as the game progressed; having a couple easter eggs along the route might add a bit of spice to future games. There were a couple disputes involving restrictions on chasers, and at least two runners were in favor of handicapping the bicycle chaser in some way. Several people debated whether or not public transit should have been allowed, but I didn't hear any clear consensus on the matter. On the whole, things went very smoothly. The race was challenging but not overly so, with a satisfying number of captures, and a decent runner/chaser ratio.
As far as the city goes, I'm told by otherwise reliable witnesses that there are many things in Los Angeles which are not horrible. They may be correct. As an existence proof, I can tell you with certainty that there are some fantastic people there, as well as the best tacos in the US and the best burritos in the observable universe. They also run a mean street game. I heartily recommend that anyone with time to spare join us for next year's Journey LA.