AGDC 2007: Inside Garriott's Playground

Russ Pitts | 6 Sep 2007 17:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

"We'll Need Your Cell Phones Because of the Blasting Caps"


The evening began much like any event of the scope of Logos Academy: 100 or so people, having met at the predetermined place at the predetermined time, milled about in a hotel lobby far too small for the purpose. The assembled guests were a motley collection of professional and amateur journalists, peppered lightly with various game industry dignitaries and friends of the Garriott family. We were wearing nametags and handed a sheet of paper with a Tabula Rasa logo and a few indecipherable symbols on it. As we waited, a homeless man wandered around handing out flyers covered with a seemingly random collection of hand-written symbols and gibberish.

For those unfamiliar with North Austin, this was not the sort of place you'd typically find a homeless man, but even if it were, hotels have security and one of their favorite things to do is remove transients form their property. The bum, therefore, was obviously part of the show, and a careful inspection of the flyer revealed it was a key of sorts, explaining various symbols on the other sheet of paper.

The symbols are part of Garriott's invented language, called Logos. Matching symbols from the official sheet to the one provided by the hired bum revealed that the fancy piece of previously indecipherable paper was actually an invitation to the party, explaining, in Logos, that if we arrived at a certain place at a certain time, we'd be transported by bus and fed. It was our first taste of what the evening had in store. It was only after we'd boarded the buses that they asked for our cell phones.

It should be noted that in spite of the fact that we'd been asked to set aside seven hours of our time, we'd been told practically nothing about where we were going, or what we'd be doing when we got there. Most of us assumed we'd be driven to Garriott's mansion for an extended preview of Tabula Rasa. We were wrong.


"One of the locations we'll be taking you this evening is a construction site," said the NCsoft representative at the front of the bus. "Because they're using blasting caps, there's a very real danger of injury. So we'll need to collect your cell phones."

We were then informed that the evening would consist of a guided tour of Richard Garriott's home, that we were on a schedule, that we would be fed, but that we'd be informed when we could eat, when we could drink and when we could use the restroom. We were also informed that once the buses departed, we would not be allowed to leave. This is the kind of experience writers live for. Fully expecting to be horribly mistreated, I nevertheless remained on board, confident that at the end of the night, I'd have a hell of a story to tell. I wasn't wrong.

Next Page: "We're Being Pulled Over"

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