Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Extort The Escapist
Posted by Vino on May 4th, 2011
It can be difficult to get attention when you’re a struggling indie game developer. The video game press tends to focus on the AAA titles. Little guys like me get lost in the rush. Publishers have a hojillion dollars to spend saturating the market with ads for the next big thing, but I have only my wits and questionable ethics, and really I don’t have much in the way of wits.
With this in mind I endeavored to resort to what I call “alternative” means of persuasion to get Digitanks into the public spotlight. You know, perfectly legitimate and convincing marketing counter-measures – bribery, blackmail, extortion. (Fact: these are legal in 48 states.) I’m not above certain methods if it makes me a hojillion dollars. Think indie game developers are only in it for the art? Not this one. I’m in it for the cold hard cash. Show me the money baby. I can go to confession when I’m famous.
I just needed to find a good target. Joystiq? No, they’re too nice. Destructoid? No… I don’t want to think what would happen to me if I crossed them. The Escapist! They will do nicely. They’re usually pretty well-humored. I was at a game developer meetup a while back and I remembered one of the editors from The Escapist speaking at a panel session; she mentioned that she could be bribed with cookies. With this information, I began to formulate my dastardly plan. It would be called The Cookie Caper.
I needed to form a team. A super-team that could pull off this most dangerous heist. But where could I find reliable, trustworthy experts willing to commit to my entirely legal schemings? Every good team starts with “The Informant.” Adam, also known as the artist who created the models for Digitanks, lives close to The Escapist’s main offices. He could provide me with valuable clues about their infrastructure. Perhaps he could furnish a map of their ventilation systems. Next I needed someone capable of creating “The Goods.” I would need the best cookie cooker in the world, someone whose cookie recipes make grown men foam at the mouth. I knew just the person: my mom. Finally I needed the proverbial “Inside Man.”
Or, perhaps, Inside Girl? What about that girl who was working at The Escapist’s booth at that conference that one time? She was gorgeous. What was her name? I think it was Claire. Yes, she’d do nicely. I dove into my stack of old business cards, and sifted through the people I didn’t remember until I found hers. Yes! Time to send her an email.
Subject: Hello Claire
No, that’s creepy. She doesn’t know me that well.
Subject: Take My Cookies
No, that’s even creepier.
Subject: Re: Inside Girl
Okay clearly this email was not going to work out. Forget about her, I could be the Inside Girl and deliver the cookies on my own.
To do that I would need more intelligence about the target area. I had Adam make a reconnaissance sweep of the area around the Escapist’s headquarters. The intel came in as a text message:
High security. Cameras. Armed guards. Only one entrance, through the lobby. Address follows…
Adam’s a good man to risk himself for a covert mission like this. The intel was solid, and I now had the geographical location of the target. Now for the Goods.
The plan was contingent on delivering the highest quality home-made-from-scratch cookies that money could buy, and the world expert at cookies is my mom.
Mom’s a tough cookie: She can sell sand to an African; She can bargain a catch away from a wild leopard. She was a lead negotiator for the police during the 1997 Chatanooga Hostage Crisis. After she was through with them, the terrorists ended up surrendering for fear of upsetting their mothers. I would need a rock solid plan if I wanted to get her on my team, so I prepared my position and confronted her.
“Mom, I need you for a secret, covert mission. You need to bake a batch of cookies. For this service I’m prepared to offer–”
“Sure sweetie, anything you want.”
“Oh. Uh, okay. Thanks mom.”
“Don’t forget to water my plants on Thursday.”
Operation Cookie Caper was a go. By the next morning the cookies were done. This is my photographic evidence of the goods:
I managed to break a ceramic plate in the process. A casualty of war: sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get your hojillion dollars. I promised mom I’ll pay for it when I’m famous.
Then came the most devious part of my plan — I took each cookie and cut it in half. That’s right — In half! Then I placed all of the halves in the delivery box and on top of them I placed this note:
Escapist Magazine, We have your cookies. We have included their severed halves as proof.
Give us one article in Escapist about Digitanks and one guided tour of your headquarters or you will never see your cookies again.
- Lunar Workshop Team
Cookies under arm, I went to the Escapist building. On the way in I passed the “armed guards” – an overweight mall cop with a taser. Clearly Adam had been exaggerating, so I confidently strolled past him to the elevator. It opened with a Ding! and I stood aside to let the current occupant out.
Out of the elevator stepped Claire, the girl from the conference. My mind raced, nagging for me to say something! But what? Anything! She walked past me, apparently not recognizing me, heading towards the main doors. I had to say something!
Ding! The elevator door closed and I ascended to the second floor, kicking myself in the butt. Forget about her. Eyes on the prize. Nothing can stand between me and my hojillion dollars now! I puffed out my chest, burst out of the elevator, and stormed directly up to the receptionist, a cross-looking middle-aged lady with a phone to her ear, clearly completely uninterested in me.
“A package for you.”
“Do I have to sign?”
With that I turned around and got the hell out of there as fast as I could. The cameras would be watching. When I was out in the parking lot I flipped open my cell phone and sent a text to Adam to confirm mission success:
The eagle has landed!
The eagle has landed!
With a screeching of tires I tore out of the parking lot, high-tailing it back to the safety of my home office. Sitting down in front of my comforting bank of monitors I put the next phase of my plan into action:
Yeah. I actually don’t know what to do at this point. Pulling capers is fun and all, but what to do after it’s all said and done? Did they even open the box today? Will they write it off as a dumb gimmick and just eat the cookies? Or will I get that tour and an article about my awesome game? Will I get my hojillion dollars? I suppose I’ll have to wait and see.
And what about Claire? Maybe I’ll see her when they deliver on the tour that I strongly requested? Maybe I should ignore her and pretend like I don’t know her. Or maybe I should just stop thinking about it.
She’ll notice me when I’m famous.
Update: My rotten bribery appears to have worked.