Sunday, 30 September 2007

Conversational Chemistry

"So, what about me attracts you then?" she asked.

"Well, the boobs of course, they're GREAT," I answered cheekily, followed by an equally cheeky chuckle, as she pulled an expression of semi-amusement and semi-embarrassment in response to my answer.

She let out a short sigh, perhaps one of resignation to my ever-so-flippant attitude. Silence engulfed us as we watched a plane slowly pulling up to the runway. An all-too-familiar intro of "Breaking my Heart" started playing in the background.

"I'm on the floor, counting one minute more. No one to break the silence," sang the vocalist of the 90s semi-boyband in his raspy tone.

"Conversational Chemistry." I said, aptly and ironically breaking the silence.

"Huh? What's that?" she asked, as the plane took its position on the runway, readying itself for take-off. Its tail squarely faced us, with the silhouette of the plane completely shrouded in darkness, while 3 red lights served as the only indicator of its presence.

"Keep your eye on the 3 red lights, and see if it moves. When it does, you know that the plane is about to gonna take off," I said, momentarily distracting her in my typical randomness. She leaned forward in her seat, watching whole-heartedly.

"Well, I don't really know how to put it to you exactly; but its just something about you that stirs me into a deeper conversation," I said, as she listened intently, expecting to hear more.

"It's like, a kinda feeling that stretches beyond the level of linguistic ability or verbal communication. I mean, I know people who are probably more on par with my linguistic ability; people who can fully appreciate all the sarcastic undertones, witty innuendos and double entendres that I litter in my conversations, and sometimes even match me wit for wit. But yet, despite the compatibility in communication, something about them just doesn't stir me enough for me to want to bare my soul," I explained, as she stared deep into my eyes with her huge, round eyes, nodding in acknowledgement.

"But you are different," I continued. "While I think that quite a lot of my linguistic charm is 'Lost in Translation' when it comes to you, there is just something about you that stirs me to converse on a deeper level with you, something that stirs me to talk; about my deeper thoughts, my honest opinions, my heartfelt emotions." I saw a tiny glint light up in her eyes, perhaps one of joy or appreciation.

I turned in front and stared out at the runway, perhaps to disrupt the intensity of the moment.

"I can't really explain why, but I would guess that it comes down to a level of comfort. Even though you might be totally compatible with someone in terms of verbal communication, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can establish the level of comfort to talk about the deeper things, things that stir your very soul," I said, pausing briefly.

"Barriers of political-correctness, societal-defined tact & formalities, conditioned emotional wariness, and the fear of judgment often stand in the way of the establishment of that level of conversational comfort that would allow you to expose yourself so much to another. And in my opinion, it takes a form of chemistry, a greater connection between two people to be able to converse on the level of the soul. That chemistry, is Conversational Chemistry, understand?" I asked, stroking her gently on the chin.

She gave a resounding "Umm" as she nodded.

"Then again, maybe its just because you don't argue or object very much when I talk about myself, and knowing what a egotist I am, I just enjoy talking about myself," I said sheepishly, as we both laughed.

As the laughter died down, I looked out of the windscreen at the runway, and abruptly exclaimed, "Shit! The 3 red lights are gone. Since when did the plane take-off?"

She shrugged her shoulders, equally puzzled.

......Perhaps Romance has an equally stealthy way of taking flight as well.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

The Perks of Passion: GCA 2007

7th - 8th September 2007

The Price of Passion is a heavy one, beyond a shadow of a doubt, but that is not to say that Passion doesn't have its perks. 11am-reporting times, official game "research" during office hours and a huge amount of creative freedom; all add salt to the main course of a meaty slab of Pride served with Job Satisfaction on the side.

But once in a Vampiric Blue Moon, there comes a perk that out-perks the rest; the rare Latino Ass with the extra oomph standing out from a throng of flat Chinese Asses, like adolescent boobs starkingly contrasted against wrinkly, middle-aged .... uh, nevermind. The point is, this perk of perks came in the form of the Games Convention Asia 2007 (GCA 2007), and the best part? This Vampire played the part of more than a mere spectator to this industrial showcase.

The Asian leg of an international games convention normally held in Leipzig, Germany, GCA 2007 was the inaugural convention held in Asia, with separate showrooms for public audiences and business purposes. Since, the Count is now officially one foot into the grave, uh, door, of the industry, I had access to the oh-so-cool limited access business side. It was heart-warming to see so many familiar faces; members of the same cohort, but in different aspects of the industry. It fed my sense of faux-professionalism to chat with other members of the industry as if I knew what the hell I was talking about, asking seemingly intelligent questions, and seeing the projects in development in the local industry. Of particular notice were the much-hyped Lone Wolf game, which is shaping up to be looking mighty impressive; and the projects by Mikoishi, a company which clearly seemed to know what it was doing.

But the public exhibition centre was where the action was REALLY at. Big names such as EA, Sony and Nintendo all took the effort to invest in huge floorspace at the convention. With lame peformances gracing the stage from time to time, numerous games on display for preview or playtesting, and a pool of the public getting absorbed by the razzle and dazzle of each booth, the showroom was a chaotic flurry of light and sound. But perhaps, this is what gaming is about, an indulgant sensory overload.

The most interesting project for me wasn't any of the commercial games available for demo playtesting or preview purposes, but rather a rather cool F1 Racer that uses 4-D technology from NYP. The racer had 3-screens used to display graphics, and a force feedback wheel akin to a Ferarri 355-arcade cabinet, but the secret weapon of the project was revealed under the hands of a REALLY sucky driver. Driving his car onto the grass persistently, a machine was triggered to release smoke to simulate the engine damage, and it convincingly smelt like a burnt engine. I mean, yes, I've always pictured 4-D gaming to become a reality in the near future, but a working demo of the technology in use opened up the floodgates of imagination in my mind; always the designer, I am.

One man's Folly is another Man's Wisdom

Nintendo had the hands-down most impressive booth, and if using the booth as any indication of the effort that Nintendo intends to put into the Asian market, then it must be really set to woo the consumers with the Wii and the DS. With a simple floor layout, erected posters landmarking the rich history of its consoles, and with memorable Nintendo characters on the backside of each of these "educational" posters, it was almost to bring a tear to my Nintendo-fan-eyes.

Lighter? I seriously doubt it.

But the real reason to be crying had to be Nintendo's choice to litter their booth with secondary-school-ish gals hired to attract people to the booth to humiliated themselves by looking stupid playing the Wii games on demo. My most humiliating moment? Dying in Metroid Prime: Corruption and telling the Booth Babe (Chick, might be more appropriate here) that "that room [was] really dark."

I'd bet they think I suck at Metroid

Overall, the entire convention was a little underwhelming and somewhat disappointing as exhibition hall had a little to much breathing room for the relatively sparse crowd, giving a sense of emptiness, beneath all that sound and fury. Aside from the big names, there was not much else to see, and there sure as hell were no major groundbreaking announcements or key-figure conferences. If GCA was meant to be a leg of the international Games Convention, then it was probably more prosthetic than anything else. But given that it was the inaugural convention in Asia, let's hope it picks up in the years to come.

But little of this mattered to the primate in me, as over the course of the 2-days, I began to give in to my more primal instincts and allowed Lust to oust Passion in the fight for centre-stage of my focus and attention; resulting in an increased focus on the Booth Babes surrounding and wandering the booths than anything that actually was on display in the booths. Sure, Passion has its perks alright, and probably come in the form of perky tits and asses.

Nokia Attempts to mask the Shortcomings of the new N-gage behind a REALLY Tall Model

You would be Smirking in Glee too

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Price of Passion

"You're characteristically late," she said, as I drew my seat to take my place. She lifted the tea cup with her wrinkled hands, lifting them to her visibly dry lips as she took a sip out of the cup. We both peered out of the window in silence, overlooking a view of the surrounding city landscape.

"I heard that you've been praying to the Almighty, my son," she said, breaking the silence with a calm and somewhat callous tone.

"Yes, I have, amazingly," I responded in perfect composure, fitting for my dignified conversational partner. "I've been praying for some form of guidance, now that I have an option lying before me; I've been wondering if this is really what's meant for me."

"I know that you've been striving for this for forever now, to pursue your passion," she said with a little sparkle in her weary eyes. "I remember the time when you were, what? 18? And with all the childish fervour, you said..."

"I'm gonna try to do what I can here to get as close to becoming a Game Designer as I can, and for the rest, I will probably have to go abroad to cover the rest of the distance." I rudely completed with sentence with a stirring sense of excitement.

"Foolishly naive, my son, foolishly naive. But I guess that's what dreams are about; where passion is priority and logic & reasoning take second place. But maybe, just maybe, that is what I like about you; the rawness in your pursuit for passion," she said with a wry, tilted smile.

"Perhaps..." I said sheepishly.

"It must be a Godsend to you for this opportunity now, all without having to leave the comfort of familiar shores. But still, before you make a choice, I have to warn you of the possible consequences of your potential choices," she said sternly.

I nodded slowly in acknowledgement.

"In short, you have two choices: the high road is the road to riches; you'll be entering the rat race and climbing the corporate ladder. Your success will be measured in socially well-defined terms: your career standing and your monetary income, which in turn buys you the high life and all the fancy things you will probably want. It's not going to be easy, you'll burn weekends, lose sleep, and all. But you have the advantage of youth on your side, and more importantly, your uncle; and I have to say, myself as well, think you have the potential to achieve success if you so choose this path."

"I would think so too," I said cockily, earning myself a rather resentful glare from the piercing eyes hidden beneath the telling signs of age.

"The other path," she continued, "is the path of passion; the low road. Obviously, you would be pursuing something that you're passionate about, or at least, you think you are passionate about, very probably against the better understanding of many, if not, most of the people around you. But seriously, how much are you willing to pay for this passion? Have you fully considered the Price of Passion?"

I listened earnestly as she continued. "Foremost, is the Opportunity Cost. Would you be willing to bear a monetary opportunity cost of AT LEAST a good $500 monthly, possibly more if you so choose to take the high road, all in the name of passion?"

Before I had time to answer, she continued, "And what about Prospects? Would you want to risk entering a fledgling industry, one in which its very existence in the local context is not assured for, say, even the next 5 years or so? Would you choose to take this risk over the stability you could find on the high road, or any other established industry for that matter?" she probed.

"Not to mention the Possibility of relocation. Even though you manage to avert going overseas to pursue your passion for the time-being; in the long-run, more likely than not, you would still have to leave the comfort of all that you've grown to be familiar with in order to further pursue this path," she stated.

"And of course, considering your character, there is the issue of Pride. Are you willing to shelf your pride, biting the bullet to take the lowest income amongst your peers? Think about it, if done right, the high road could make you one of the leaders of inducing envy from societal-defined perspectives. Are you not tempted by this possibility?" she challenged.

I sat there deeply in thought, staring at the lipstick mark on her coffee cup. It was red, a bright shade of red suitable for one of her age and stature. The validity of her words sank into my soul as I continued to ponder.

"You probably need time to think about what you REALLY want, my son." She interrupted my binding chains of thought. "My job here is merely to paint the bigger picture of the potential consequences of your available choices; and in this case, it was integral to state to you the full Price of Passion, before you decide to ransom any form of time or commitment. But still, at the end of the day, it is YOUR choice to make, and no one Else's. After all, Man makes his own *ahem* Destiny," she sniggered.

"Oh, look at the time. I really must be going, you're not the only one who has or needs a Date with Destiny; so many more are in need of my wise counsel at the crucial points of their lives, don't you think? And I only have so much time for each one of you children." she said somewhat condescendingly, as she rose from her chair.

I rose from my chair in accompaniment.

"It was a pleasure, my son. Take all the time that you need to ponder about your Destiny, and when you're ready, choose the life that you want to lead, I trust you'll make the right choice" she said solemnly.

"The pleasure was mine, m'lady. I think I know which way I'm headed now." I courteously replied.

"Jeremy," she bidded, as she stretched out her white-gloved hand.

"Lady Destiny." I replied, as I grabbed her hand in a soft handshake.
She turned around to walk away, but not before turning back to say one last thing. "Oh, and for the record, I did give you a little more time that my other dates, simply because.... I like you. You've always dared to Dream, and I like that in a person," she said with a slight chuckle in her voice, as she disappeared from my sight.

I stood there for a few moments, thinking of the conversation that had just transcended. Collecting my thoughts with the aid of a deep breath, I turned around to walk towards the lift lobby. Staring at the buttons, I paused to think for a few moments, before confidently reaching out to press the "Down" button. I took the low road.

Dream On, Dream On, Dream until your Dreams come True.

Sunday, 2 September 2007


26th August 2007

"19. Can you believe it, that we've known each other for 19 years already?" I exclaimed in semi-disbelief as I cut into my New York Fish & Chips. Dinner was spent mostly catching up about our current lives; what we've been busying ourselves with and our current standings in our respective lives. "So what're you doing now?", "How is it?" were the common questions that littered the conversation over dinner.

The real nostalgia set in after we settled into the sofas of the nearby Starbucks; perhaps there is something in the coffee that breaches pleasantries and fosters friendships. We spoke of the common people that we knew, the last we heard of them, who was (scarily) getting married, how so-and-so was doing. We spoke of the memories we shared back in the day; the academic achievements that made us famous, and the strange incidents of mischief that made us infamous: me poking a girl... with a pencil, Zhiwei mining twisted-staples on a certain Honkie-bastard's chair, Jason being a crybaby and always threatening to "tell [his] mother" and Bernard seducing his way to the top in Primary 5 (ok, maybe that is not ENTIRELY true, but we did suspect that he was seeded for his head-prefect shit).

We joked and we taunted each other like old times; key pillars on which we built our friendship upon. Perhaps this was the essence of male-bonding, a stark contrast to the superficial "you go, girl" in so many female friendships. Our verbal exchanges these days matured with us, as the use of more sophisticated linguistic tools like sarcasm and innuendo were deceptively buried in our words; compared to the blatant name-calling we used to dabble in during our younger days. To date, an estimated 3-million taunts have probably been exchanged between the few of us, half of which probably came from me alone. But I knew that it didn't matter, these guys probably wouldn't take ANYTHING I said to heart, after all, these are the people who have seen the Dark Metamorphisis of my Soul, and can probably see beyond all that shit into the core of the person they've always known me to be.

"I really wonder why we used to give in to you during primary school, why did we always let you have the best?" Bernard challenged.

"Probably cause I've always had a stronger opinion than any of you," I replied cockily.

"I think its because we just thought 'fuck it,' no point arguing with you, since either way, you would insist until you got your way." Jason added, with Zhiwei nodding resounding in support of the rebuttal. Yes, perhaps that was and still is true today, but it probably didn't matter even if I was really the worst person in the world, these guys would probably be the last to rain their judgement down upon me, and laugh it off in semi-expectancy.

Perhaps this is the essence of true friendship, a timeless connection that doesn't require periodic maintenance; yet for the rare occasions when the moon turns blue and a meet-up is in order, you feel like no time was ever lost between any of you. They have been friends for most of my lifetime; and I have a feeling that they'll be friends for the rest of my life as well.

As the lights dimmed and we made our way out of the glass door, I thought about us; where we all began and where we were all going. It's funny how we all started at the same starting point, yet now, we are all heading in drastically different directions.

Bernard has continued down the path of academic achievement, going on to become a bloody scholar to top Imperial and leading the cosmopolitan life in Tokyo. Jason has chosen to dedicate most of his life in pursuing a passion, a sport which defines and fuels him. Zhiwei has chosen to take the familial path with the goal of becoming a family man in the next couple of years. And Roder (sorely absent from this meeting) has chosen to put career as a priority and concentrate on scaling the heights of the corporate ladder.

Me? A chose a different path, the path of pursuing a passion and realizing a childhood dream. Perhaps I am the only one that has refused to grow up all this time, perhaps I am the only one that is still chasing ideals while the rest have learned to settle in with reality instead. Still, if we all started out as blank canvases, then I couldn't help but wonder that perhaps I could be one of them today, anyone of them; if the Art of Life had so painted me out to be that way. To each his own indeed, yet regardless of how different our individual roads took and will take us, I am certain that we would always find a way, a place and a time for our lives to converge.

Here's to 19... going on 20.

Never have the Heroes of Light looked so Dicky