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Go West, Young Man: What itís Like Attending a Press Event for the First Time...Posted on May 1, 2012 at 12:48 PM.
For those who didnít know, I, along with OS Big Boss Steve Noah travelled to EA Canada in Vancouver this past week to grab a sneak peek at FIFA 13. I canít say much about what I saw, because apparently the EA folks are very serious about having you sign a non-disclosure and then holding you to it. But since I needed something to do on the flight home and also that Iíve been falling woefully short of my OS quota these past few months, I hereby present my sorta-travelogue about my trip to EA Canada.
To start, originally I didnít need anything to do on my flight home, since I was fully expecting to spend three hours of it catching the Blues-Kings playoffs series on Westjetís Live TV. What I didnít expect, however, was that the flight couldnít pick up half of the channels it was supposed to offer, so I had to choose between watching Canadaís Got Talent or write this. It seems Iíve made the right decision.
East, Meet West
The first thing Iíve noticed, as my flight descended into Vancouver, was its landscape. Coming from Torontoó a flat, boring piece of land if there was oneó and seeing mountains towering over the coastlines, bridges extending from one shore to another, was, I have to admit, a beautiful and exciting sight.
At least fifteen of my friends have moved out west to Vancouver. Some went there because they had a job lined up, but most did not. Having now been there and experienced the city first hand, I have to say I totally understand. Getting around is a breezeóthe city is extremely walkable and public transit is cheap, convenient and sensible. However, I again present the caveat that I come from Toronto, so that may not be saying much. The relaxed west coast vibeóI swear there are more people in Vancouver carrying around yoga mats than anywhere in the world Iíve been--is indeed alluring. And food... my God, the food. With pigging out being my biggest vice these days, after realizing that cigarettes and alcohol were way too costly, Iíve found at least four wonderful places to eat in my short time here. Basically, Vancouver really is a wonderful city in every aspect of the word.
Would I go there and stay there? I've asked myself plenty of times ever since arriving there, but the answer has always been thanks, but no thanks. I like my UV rays. It was fine for my three days there, but spending perpetual eternity under a forecast of light rain will drive me absolutely insane.
Kelvin, Meet Steve
It probably wonít come as a surprise to most of you, but for those who may not know, Operation Sports is not a centralized operation. Geographically speaking, anyway. We the writers are, instead, spread out all over North America, communicating via the internet.
In Vancouver, I met the legend that is Steve Noah. Iíll be completely honest, I did have thoughts that Steve may have been indeed just an urban legend whose name is used by everybody to post here. After all, who the hell has the ability to get up every morning (check the timestamp on his posts) at 5? But no, I can finally confirm that itís trueóSteve exists. And heís a pretty cool guy too, as we bonded over our newfound love of Japadogs. I am also proud to say that when we had some down time at the EA Sports headquarters and played some Euro 2012, I beat him two matches to one. Though in hindsight, I think I probably should have thrown the games. Folks, if you donít see any of my articles here again, youíll know why. (And no, smartass, itís not because I write poorly. Though it may be a contributing factoróIím not ruling it out.)
And just in case Steve is reading this, may I suggest an annual staff barbecue, somewhere on the continent? Iím thinking Hawaii, but Puerto Rico would sufficeÖ I guess.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that while 95% of working as a writer on OS is fun, from time to time you still unwittingly fall into the trap where you begin to wonder what exactly is the point of writing about video games. But then you meet Steve, who just exudes so much enthusiasm about every aspect of it, even with soccer, which he wasnít particularly interested in (me schooling him in Euro probably didnít help change his mind). And then you get itóitís a passion. And itís infectious, listening to him talk about OS and how it grew from a little community to the large, passionate group that it is todayÖ then it starts to make sense all over again.
Press, Meet EA Sports
Itís my first time (a phrase that I realize, being so not 18 anymore, I have to use way too much). Iíve never been to any of these press things before, and to be honest, I didnít know what to expect. As much as I looked forward to the trip and getting a preview of FIFA 13, the prospect of this entire journey still seemed pretty unnerving. Remember, Iím a gamer and a writeró thatís about sixteen kinds of reclusiveness. Anyway, I didnít know what to expect. Was it going to be incredibly stuffy and formal? Or was it going to be so unstructured that Iíll be left in the lobby playing NHL 07 on a PS2 while everybody else is off looking for scoops?
It turns out I was worrying about nothing. Say what you will about EA, but they do know how to manage one of these things. Iíd like to use this space to say thanks to the PR folks for being incredibly on the ball for every aspect of this tripóthey do try their best at making you feel comfortable. As we were transported to their headquarters in Burnaby, the thirty or so of us were led to a presentation room (picture your typical college lecture hall, but much nicer, and without the stench of leftover Big Macs), as the devs went into detail about the features of this yearís FIFA. After the session, we were divided into groups and toured the entire EA complex (a stunningly designed place that spans two city blocks), their motion capture studio, and then we interviewed FIFAís producers. The interview part, which lasted a little shorter than I had hoped, was more of an informal chatówhich is greatóas we just talked about the new features theyíve just presented over coffee and sandwiches. It definitely wasn't anywhere near as adversarial as I pictured it could've been, even as I expressed concerns at some old FIFA problems and some of the new features. When you boil it all down, it's just really two passionate gamers talking about what they liked and didn't like. Nothing personal, at all.
So again, thanks to the EA folks who put this together. Not only did I get a glimpse of FIFA (fans of the series should get readyÖ thereís plenty to be optimistic about), but I also got an extra trip to a great city. But conspiracy theorists, donít put your tinfoil hats on just yet, this wonít affect my editorial judgment because a) I have a very short memory, so by the time FIFA rolls around I probably won't remember much of this trip, and b) as my ex-girlfriends and ex-bosses have told me, Iím just not a very decent human being.
Having said that, however, I also have to say this: Itís easy to picture EA-- the corporate entity-- as the evil Bond villain stroking his cat and counting his money. But if nothing else, the tour showed that at the end of the day, the people who have everyday involvement with these games are still just people who really, really love the sport. While sometimes that may not translate fully into the products they stick their names to, and you can perhaps fault them for not doing their job, but as I came to realize, you canít fault them for a lack of passion. From the little time Iíve spent there and with the devs, if you donít love the sport youíre involved with, you wonít last a minute in the place.
And just as a housekeeping note: as May progresses, some of the FIFA stuff should slowly trickle out, so keep checking back on OS!
JOINED: Feb 2, 2011 (2 years, 109 days ago)
MEMBER # 10,105,313
JOINED: Feb 2, 2011 (2 years, 109 days ago)
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