“Proper story’s supposed to start at the beginning. Ain’t so simple with this one."
When my apartment’s ceiling collapsed at 3AM that fateful May night, I did not know I was being jolted out of a pleasant slumber by the thunderous noise of gypsum succumbing to the will of gravity. Surely it was a beast from my deepest gaming fears tearing off our sliding glass door and casting it into the shadows. The hypothalamus is a fickle beast at times, and it caused a tirade of thoughts to race through my mind:
“Who could it be? An Enclave trooper? A Darknut? Or worse yet, PYRAMID HEAD?!”
“How did it get to the third floor of the apartment complex? Must have a grappling hook equipped… Damn…”
“It must be here to kill Steve and I. This shit just got real.”
I flung the covers off and intently scanned my bedroom to find how I will defend myself from my impending doom. “My replica Master Sword! YES!” I think to myself, stealthily dropping to the floor and crawling to the corner of my room. I remove the blade from its scabbard, and lift my head to peer out between the slats of my window blinds. My heart begins to race faster when I find nothing. It must already be inside! I turn to face the door, silently planning my final stand against this menacing foe.
I take a few deep breaths and silently palm the doorknob and turn it with the right hand, holding the sword with the left. I feel my arms and body shaking from the combination of crippling fear and the sudden rush of adrenaline. I close my eyes, inhale one last time, clinch the sword and fling the door open. I quickly make a ridiculous attack stance hoping that the combination of hearing the door suddenly open, seeing me brandish my blade of evil’s bane, and seeing me in my birthday suit would either scare off our intruder or incapacitate them from laughter. To my surprise I am greeted by no monster, no moblin, no living thing at all, but rather a cloud of blown-in insulation. Enough to instantly make you cringe from the pieces landing in your eyes or delving into the lungs. My fears of dying at the hands of a malevolent force dissipate and are replaced with a sudden outburst of “HOLY SHIT!” Steve follows suit when he opens his door seconds later and we gaze upon the remnants of our apartment, looking like this:
“Here’s a kid whose whole world got all twisted, leaving him stranded on a rock in the sky.”
We call the maintenance folk for our apartment and begin the process of cleaning out our apartment. Contractors come in and replace the ceiling, and we decided to perform some investigative journalism. Seeing that the contractors have no vested interest in hiding the truth as to why the ceiling collapsed from us, we questioned them as to what — in their opinion — may have caused the entire sheet of drywall to suddenly depart from its lofty home. To our surprise, the answer was not a simple retort like, “water damage, most likely.” The culprit was shoddy installation. Nails spaced too far apart and not long enough to penetrate two layers of drywall and properly hold onto the structural wooden beams. Even worse, my bedroom was the same case. Steve had his ceiling replaced before we moved in (for unknown reasons) but mine was the original, and it needed to be secured. So the contractors gave us a fancy new ceiling as well as reinforcing my room and providing a fresh paint job through the apartment. Now that the work had been completed, I could finally take a good look over my stuff to check for damages. Surprisingly, all the furniture in the living room and kitchen survived the ceiling attack with only minor dents. Even the consoles I owned were no worse for wear. We only had to worry about the fiberglass shower our belongings were given in the incident. My posters, however, did not fare so well. I had been on a bit of a video game poster shopping spree in the months leading to this incident, acquiring exclusive Club Nintendo prints, Earthbound fan art, and — my personal favorite — a Bastion poster of Kid vs. Scumbag signed by Jen Zee, the artist. The posters were tossed around and dinged up pretty bad in the collapse. To make matters worse, the contractors decided to try for a world record in paint time, or wanted to spend their break finger painting, as shown by the giant glob of white paint smeared right through the center of the poster.
I was mad beyond words. I felt that if I tried to explain this issue to the property managers, I would come to an hour later bathing in the blood of my victims. To make matters worse, any damages from the collapse and repair would need to be claimed through the renter’s insurance. Therefore, to make the claim worth our time, there would need to be over $1,500 in damaged goods to overcome the deductible on the policy. Steve and I were nowhere close to that amount.
“He gets up.”
Steve decided to take a chance and contacted Supergiant Games, the developer for Bastion, unbeknownst to me. Just a few days later I get an awesome package with the following letter:
They fixed me up with a fresh replacement of my destroyed poster, plus they gave me another print for me to enjoy. Steve’s action alone was a tremendous gesture of kindness which I am still yet to repay. Moreover, Supergiant Games really had no reason to read Steve’s email, let alone act on it AND go over and above what was asked. These actions really speak to the sort of devotion the indie developer has with their fanbase. Supergiant Games could infer that I enjoyed their inaugural game, Bastion, since I bought the artwork. However, they do not know I recommend Bastion to anyone with a propensity for action or adventure games. They do not know that I have been eagerly awaiting their next release. But Supergiant Games delivered. They understand their fans help spread the word about their game. It certainly helps when critics also rave about the release but I always find personal recommendations from friends are more meaningful to me when making a decision to buy a game. My friends know who I am and know my personal likes and dislikes, so it would only make sense to believe that they would also be more likely to suggest video games that I will enjoy than any critic. This word of mouth form of communication between friends is something widely prevalent in indie games and indie music, where many suggestions come from friends and small-scale bloggers digging up gems for you to enjoy. Supergiant Games understands that a happy fanbase keeps them going as developers, and after all this I am certain to follow anything they up to for years to come.
This awesome gift also rekindled my interest to become involved in the video game industry. I had expressed interest in a career with video games since I was in middle school, but the idea was never supported academically. My guidance counselors did what they could to steer me towards a more “reasonable” career and my high school had no courses available to learn programming. I still attempted to make my dream a reality by enrolling in college as a computer science major, but the first semester really showed how far behind I was with the class from the start. Everyone had a background with programming leaving me with a mountain to climb from the very beginning. Now that I have a career (not in video games) I can still see that my middle school self was still right about one thing: working with video games is the only thing I see that can keep me interested long term. Getting these posters only reinforced that idea. Not that I should expect to work for a company and assume every day will be filled with sunshine and rainbows (unless you work for PopCap), but I can work for a company that creates a product that has a tremendous effect on many people around the world. And knowing that the company also cares about the people that support their game is only icing on the cake.
So without further hesitation, let me finally exclaim:
Thank you, Supergiant Games, both for the posters and for keeping my desire to work with video games alive.