"YOU LOST ME AT ORIGINAL"

A MESSAGE TO OUR PLAYERS

      It's the lubricated speech that fills early cocktail hours at these conventions, eddies of conversation with all the buzzing words of the moment, all implying the same: I'm the smartest one in the room. 

      I ordered a whiskey at the bar. The first whiskey must come clean; it's a simple homage I pay to the bruised and voluptuous past of San Francisco.

      The bartender is Patrick. Patrick with a good face and a good smile. Genuine Patrick. 

      "You part of this game convention?" 

      "I am."

      "Everybody's talking about this stuff. Everybody's got playing with a smartphone."

      A small group is standing by me drinking Anchor Steams wrapped in damp napkin squares. Their talk is lit with hope. They're signaling all confidence when the man in the suit and white button-down holds up a hand to stop them. 

      "You guys killed it in there," he says, "the passion is there—it's awesome. This is something I would actually play, and that says a lot. But we can't get behind it. You're not gonna like this, but you lost us at original."

      I poured whiskey over those words: You lost us at original?

      The room was swimming with other people's ideas; the drinks were bought with other people's money. Fail fast was fast becoming fail often—the indiepocalypse was upon us. The Spirit of Invention that found a new frontier on the ubiquitous smart device had been usurped by the artists of imitation and compulsion. Their job was simple: shamelessly ape the latest success, beat it like Raskolnikov's horse for all its worth, and whip it some more. The new boss was Risk Aversion, resplendent in a tin foil crown and attended by brow-pinching quants. Who needs discerning when you have these careful masters of cold calculus?

      I told Patrick to give the crestfallen another round and left the pageantry behind me.

      I stepped out into the cool evening light. My mind returned to the deep, quiet shadow-realm of Muir Woods at first light, an experience some twelve hours in my wake but feeling far more distant now. Hard to believe that a forest primeval could lie so close to the streets of San Francisco. 

       Drawn to a commotion on the opposite corner, I regarded the same Japanese woman I had watched the morning before doing tai chi at the Yerba Buena Gardens. She wore a one-piece veil of chiffon, bright red in the grey evening. She was entirely composed, immaculate, as she held the hand of a homeless woman by the fingers, childlike. The woman sat on the sidewalk, head down, rocking slowly against the legs of her protectress.

       The source of the commotion was a homeless man, who beneath motley layers of clothing, loped like a bear on two legs around them. With every bluff, the Japanese woman looked up and lifted her angular chin with subtle defiance. She closed her eyes to the rain-cool gusts of wind carried up Powell Street. For a moment, she stood like this, strong and statuesque, with all the time-ravaged traffic of people braiding around her and her ward—a greater spectacle required to make the San Francisco pedestrian flinch. There was majesty in her poise, a soft and meaningful eloquence in her movement. The man circled, barking nonsense, using all he had to provoke fear. Nothing worked. His efforts rendered silly, he abandoned his mischief and staggered off across Union Square.

       Raincrow is inspired by the magic of the real world, the magic of everyday life. We believe Yeats had it right that "the world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper." We are watchers, storytellers, artists, and gamers who delight in the beautiful mysteries of our world. 

      And, to our dear players, we promise: the fate of our games will be up to you, never the man in the suit.