Thursday night we had the pleasure of helping put together a small gathering of community friends in celebration of PAX: Prime, and we couldn’t have asked for a more memorable experience. What started out as a casual cup of coffee with friends turned into one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had at a convention.
On November 1st, the unconventional and storied game company Double Fine and creative juggernaut iam8bit teamed up to host the second annual Day of the Devs in downtown San Francisco, California. In the spirit of a family gathering, Day of the Devs opened up the Old Mint building and invited the indie developer and fan community out to a free night of drinks, music, art, and arcade-style gaming.
Within the Old Mint were fourteen rooms stuffed with a diverse offering of indie games from Axiom Verge to Whoa Dave!, including live previews of the much-hyped Hyper Light Drifter, Firewatch, and a demo of Night in the Woods.
When I arrived at the venue, the line to get in already wrapped around the building. Nerds of every stripe bundled up in pea coats and scarves against the city’s mild autumn weather chatted and laughed. I ran into an ex-coworker in the line and we quickly got to catching-up. As we walked through the entrance, I immediately ran into another ex-coworker I hadn’t seen in years.
After that, the evening was a whirlwind of old friends and new acquaintances. And when my friends finally arrived, they ran into old friends of their own. Day of the Devs was just like that—a genuine community space full of exuberant people who just love games and want to share them with others who love games, too.
Every room inside the Old Mint was a new experience. On the ground floor, stately, classic architecture sheltered blue-haired teens, families with kids, adults in second-day Halloween costumes, and the glow of countless computer monitors. Strangers high-fived after a particularly good co-op session in one room, and solitary gamers retreated into the personal, crafted worlds of single player titles. The air inside the Mint was electric with joy and good cheer.
Outside in the courtyard, Disasterpeace, the local mind behind the Fez soundtrack, and Lifeformed, the person responsible for the fantastic Dustforce OST, played electronic music sets while attendees watched live game demos and enjoyed the abundant drink catering. Tim Schafer gave a quick, rousing speech and somewhere along the way Phil Fish, the creator of the indie smash hit Fez, played his own set.
Downstairs in the basement, defunct mint vaults were repurposed to serve as intimate, secluded spaces to experience one game in a wholly separate space. Attendees wandered in and out of the vaults, gathering in their doorways in small groups to peer over each other’s shoulders at the games beyond. Voices dulled by many inches of solid steel rumbled through the space. From one corner of the basement came muffled hollering, proof that something amazing just happened inside a distant vault.
As the evening wore down, hungry revelers decamped to warm bars and plentiful nearby restaurants and the space seemed to heave the great sigh of someone who is finally showing their best pals out after a long night of laughter and conversation. I hope Double Fine and iam8bit will invite us over again next year—fingers crossed it’s a sleepover.