Gamescom Diary 1: All Roads Lead to Ass
Yesterday morning, the sun rose to illuminate a merry trio of travellers on their way to Cologne. Sure, they were tired, hungry, grumpy and having to travel via Dusseldorf Weeze, but they were enthusiastic about the journey ahead. Or at least they were until our majestic (“I prefer magnificent”) deputy editor was held up trying to get through the gate.
Having watched him being ushered away by a lady who could no doubt snap him in half, Ric and I were left with a choice; we could forge on without him, or hope that he would return to us so we could journey together. I was of the opinion that he could catch up, but Ric – who had printed the boarding pass that left Ed stuck on the other side of the gate – was steadfast in his conviction that we would wait.
Time crept on and the lines of people entering security grew longer, and still Ed had not appeared. We were, in all honesty, starting to get a little nervous. Ed hadn’t done anything to let us know what was going on, and with Ric clearly feeling more guilty by the minute, we decided to get a hold of him ourselves.
The first text we got from him held the worst of news: They weren’t letting him through. Ric’s mistake had cost him the chance of going to Gamescom, and even now he was waiting for the bus that would ferry him back to his car. Ed’s Gamescom was over before it had even begun.
Horrified, Ric phoned Ed, hoping that he was joking, pushing his buttons in revenge for leaving him stuck behind the gates. Even as he begged Ed to admit that he was joking, Ed maintained that his story was true, that things were over for him and that we should enjoy our time without him.
Ric’s heart visibly broke, just at the precise moment that Ed chose to breeze through the gate and join us, almost crying with laughter as he did. Clearly his years as a drama student had not gone to waste.
From then on there was no trouble, with no-one stopped by security, no-one searched. We even found ourselves at the front of the queue for the plane. Extra legroom ushered us into Germany in style, and although I had to argue my way through customs – curse that South African passport – we had managed to find our way into the country without any further alarms. All that was left was a quick journey on the train and we’d be in Cologne. We would be chilling in our little hotel in no time.
A GamingLives trip to Gamescom couldn’t be that simple though.
After a brief, fruitless search for that train station we’d been promised by Ric, we realised that there was something very wrong, and a conversation with the lovely German lady at the information booth quickly pointed out our error: Dusseldorf Weeze isn’t the only airport in Dusseldorf. It’s not even in Dusseldorf at all. Ric’s carefully planned schedule was in tatters, and we had no idea how we were getting to Cologne.
That lovely lady fixed that for us however, and we were soon on our way again, this time on a bus, to catch a train, to catch another train, to catch an underground train. A pretty packed schedule to say the least, and all that needed to be done before pre-registration for the Sony Conference closed at 4pm. We had plenty of time, but already Ed was panicking about how we were going to get back. He’d jumped ahead to Friday, and we hadn’t even reached the train station yet.
It was a good thing we had plenty of time to get there (and that Ed wasn’t panicking about the journey to Cologne) because we missed our first train, which was only made worse by the fact that we had been waiting for it for the previous ten minutes. I’m not naming any names as to why, but Ed says it was totally Ric’s fault.
A short re-telling of Ric’s life story later, we were on the next train and gazing out over the countryside. Ric said I wasn’t allowed to pretend that it was the Bavarian countryside, and shot down my suggestion that we burst into song; the spoilsport. He was obviously taking on a more German attitude in honour of our arrival in their country.
It was well after lunch time by this point, and we hadn’t eaten anything since last night. Stale donuts and iced finger rolls hadn’t much appealed at half four this morning. As such, a trip to McDonalds was in order and, despite a brief incident with the lady taking orders (I’m not naming any names, but Ed blamed Ric), we were soon tucking into McRibs. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a more blissful burger, if you can call a boneless rack of ribs slathered in BBQ sauce and stuffed into a roll a burger. Whatever you want to call it, it was heavenly.
Talk of wrestling, Barenaked Ladies, and Bowling for Soup hurried the time along for Ed and I. Ric, who finally had a full belly, caught some sleep.
With a growing sense of triumph, we approached the pre-registration table for the Sony Conference. We had made it. We were in Cologne and, better yet, we were registering with time to spare. Or at least, Ed was; his was the only name on the list. We were left sans wristbands, exhausted and slightly dejected. Ric and I were told to come back later, in the hopes that maybe there was space for us. I’m not naming any names, but Ed totally says it’s Ric’s fault.
We’re sitting in Hotel Ass now. I don’t know what possessed us to book a hotel called Hotel Ass, but it was the best we could do on rather disorganised short notice. We managed to negotiate with the frankly terrifying little old lady who (wo)manned the reception desk and found our way to our pretty decent room.
It has been an eventful trip thus far, but we should look on the bright side. There have been no wasps, no vomiting, and we went to Dusseldorf on purpose.
I’ve taken two things away from this, and I haven’t even stepped foot in the convention centre yet. The first is a little game we have invented, and which we will no doubt run into the ground over the course of the next week. It’s called Bad Science, and is the freak lovechild of Ed’s tired brain and a Willem Dafoe movie pitch that went too far. The net result is that we have to come up with potentially-wonderful inventions that have horrifying consequences, and in our best (or worst) Dafoe voice, pitch it to the others. If they approve, they formally name it bad science. In celebration, only a tongue waggle and Dafoe-like groan is allowed. By the time we had reached artificially-inseminated pandas only giving birth to polar bears, we had gone too far to turn back.
The second is a bit of advice from Ed: Never, ever trust Ric again.
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