Working for a strategy guide company is like being from the future. It’s a very narrow, specific sort of time travel but I suspect it’s just as disorienting as the more general warping of causality made popular by Michael J. Fox 23 years ago. (A brief aside: “Holy crap, Back to the Future was 23 years ago? Hearken unto me, children, and I will tell you of the ancient times…”)
So. Time travel. Imagine I’ve just finished working on a project, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl for example. Weeks of constant, focused effort. Days saturated with images and text and brightly colored pages with the SSBB characters and their details splashed across them. And then the book goes to the printer. We are done. The files are emptied; my desk is purged of all traces of the frantic, funny fighter. The next project slithers from the shadows where I’d banished it earlier while my energy was focused on the more urgent task of informing the public about the details of SSBB in all its glory. I flush my mind of all things Brawl to concentrate on soothing and smoothing the next guide’s many elements.
Two weeks pass and I see a copy of the book bound with glue and wrapped in its shiny cover. Flipping though it with coworkers we ooh and aah for a few minutes and it goes on the shelf as yet another guide project wails for attention with red exclamation marked e-mails in my inbox. Another week passes, and then I see a commercial for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Or a magazine ad or a web banner.
Confused I stare stupidly at the marketing material and the time-vertigo hits me as I wonder (usually out loud to my tolerant wife) “Didn’t that game come out like…a month ago?”
The hype that I experience for a game comes so far before the general media hype that I honestly forget that the title hasn’t already been on the shelves. With every project I see the future of gaming. Sadly, I can’t bet on it.