A few days ago I presented The Shivah at a Jewish film festival in Madison, Wisconsin. Here is a report. Sort of.
I was standing outside Port Authority on the corner of 8th and 42nd street. It was 6:30pm Sunday evening. The night was cool but pleasant. To my right, the bright neon lights of central Times Square beamed at me. To my left, countless buses approached from the West Side Highway. Not one of the buses was the one I wanted.
I was heading to La Guardia Airport, and I was getting impatient. It seems to be the one airport in the New York area that doesn’t want you to reach it easily. I saw dozens of Newark Airport buses approach me, and a subway station on the corner provided easy access to JFK airport.
Then my cell phone rang. It was Northwest Airlines, telling me that my flight had been canceled. The next flight? 6am the following morning. The bonus? I’d have to make a connection in Chicago. Well, great. At least I hadn’t been en route to the airport already. Thanks heaven for small miracles. Still, I’d have to wake up at 3am in order to make a 6am flight. Not a happy prospect, but what could I do?
So, I set my alarm for 3am and went to the airport like a good little drone, only to have that flight be delayed even further and make me miss my connection in Chicago. What was originally supposed to be a quick two hour jaunt to Madison was transformed into an 8 hour wrestling match with Northwest Airlines, whom I will never fly with again.
Suffice to say, I made it. I had enough time to take a nap, shower, and then make my presentation at 7pm. I then went back to my hotel, went to bed, and woke up the following morning to go back to the airport. All-in-all, I spent more time in transit than I did in Wisconsin!
All right. I know. Enough bitching and moaning, Dave. What about the presentation?
It went quite well, all things considered. Matt, the festival coordinator, did everything in his power to make me welcome and comfortable – even going so far as to getting me a giant sub of a sandwich when I told him I hadn’t eaten. They hooked my laptop up to the A/V system, and Rabbi Stone was beamed up onto the huge screen behind me. Definitely the largest that pixellated Rabbi has ever been.
I didn’t design The Shivah with a live audience in mind, and I was worried how an audience would react to something like this. I figured I’d just play through the game, and when the game presented me with an important dialog tree I’d ask the audience (by show of hands) which one to choose.
Another concern I had about presenting the game was a chunk of the story was told through text narration, meaning it was just words on the screen. I figured just waiting for everyone to finish reading would get very boring, so I decided to read them out loud myself. Matt dutifully provided me with a massive bottle of spring water.
The audience itself wasn’t a large one, but it was a very enthusiastic one. It was also a very bloodthirsty one, as the most violent and foolhardy actions in the game ended up being the unanimous choices.
It took me about 90 minutes to get through the game, skipping all the extraneous dialog options and extra bits that aren’t important to the story. This left about 20 minutes for some Q & A, and we ended at 9:50 sharp. Bang on time.
Verdict? Great fun. Travel issues aside, it was a very unique experience and I’d do it again!