The Show Must Go On

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Part 1 of 1, by Jay Watamaniuk

Today I have spent time online looking over air mattresses sold at Canadian Tire. This is not the sort of thing I normally do over lunch here at work as I am usually heading out to get something to eat, facebookin’ or seeing how my brother is doing on that little space game he is working on.

A longtime friend of mine, Adam, has spent a huge amount of time planning out a weekend game that is running this weekend about two hours north of Edmonton in the wilds of Alberta. He says there will be enough room for all his players and all the actors to find a place to sleep and hang out. He is glossy with organizer madness in this final preparation week so much of what he says is a web of optimistic lies. Adam has a long history of not living in the same world as everyone else so I will bring a tent and my new air mattress.

Now Adam is very famous for going to extremes creating very impressive and intricate props for his games. He once constructed a special gem (used to stop a monster), a body (into which the gem was sewn) and a coffin (into which the body was placed) and buried the works in the ground marked with a foam grave stone. Players had to actually get a shovel and dig the coffin up and find the gem inside the body in the dead of night as the horrible monster was stomping across a field towards them. I understand it is very hard to do that sort of thing when hysterical with terror. It is a wonder none of us have been arrested for intense weirdness.

I am acting for Adam which is about the most foolish thing you can sign-up for because once you agree it’s like signing your name in blood to some contract spawned deep in the flaming pits. Actors have been taped to chairs in the woods without bug spray, made to wear latex masks while laying in the wet grass, marched out in the middle of the woods late, late at night in the dead of winter. Adam is apologetic for the hardships but it is difficult to remain upset with a person who so loves to tell a good story. The show must go on.

Last Saturday we were helping to finish up a few details of the game and stopped by his house. His kitchen table is covered in all manner of rigged electronic gear, lights, triggers, traps, bizarre props, fake weapons, documents and things that will all make sense come game day after it is all set in place. Most of his Friday I expect will be spent setting up his game world with fellow organizer Jason. When I arrive on Saturday I will tour the place careful to not slip any plot spoilers to players who will be busy getting ready for a long- and knowing Adam- harrowing game.

I was 21 and attending University the first time I left for the weekend to play a game. I didn’t know anyone and felt a little dumb but once the game got rolling I knew I was hooked. Now, many years later, as I look over my clothing, food, map, costume, BBQ stuff and camping tools I can’t help but look forward to facing whatever trials Adam has in store.

Now back to these sweet air mattresses…

Jay Watamaniuk has lived in such faraway and make-believe places like Thailand, Greece and Japan but has always returned back to Edmonton, Canada to put down some roots and to avoid the fricken’ huge insects that lived in those places. He has been BioWare’s Community Manager for over 7 years and has never once- not once- dressed up like a pirate at work. Shameful.