An interesting evening

Tonight I went to the latest IGDA – San Francisco meeting. Don Daglow from Stormfront gave an excellent talk about their latest project, Demon Stone. I’m surprised by how good it looks, and how fun. It’s in the style of Lord of the Rings, which is no surprise since Stormfront also made that game. But the graphics look better, and the environment is much more dynamic and includes more interesting scripting of events. I think I may pick it up and give it a play. Mindless fun, yes, but definitely looks fun. 🙂
Afterward, Mark Chuberka and Rafael Campana were in town from Metrowerks, so we went out to the Thirsty Bear and had some tapas along with Remi Arnaud and his team from SCEA R&D.
An interesting thing happened on the way home. I was walking back and getting asked for spare change by random people, and I was thinking about the Mayor’s “Care not Cash” policy and wondering how that’s going. “Care not Cash” is a policy of taking care of folks on the street through services, not giving them cash, which is what SF used to do.
I feel frustrated when people on the street repeatedly ask me for spare change or try to sell “Street Smarts” to me. I’m not going to give them each money; I’d be broke! But the number of folks on the street in SF is overwhelming, and I don’t have it in me to ignore them. So my current solution is to smile and nod.
It’s frustrating and bizarre how in my neighborhood, there are many folks on the street and asking for spare change, while at the same time the neighborhood is made up largely of a number of expensive lofts (> $600,000). The garage in my building is filled with BMW’s and Mercedes, and I think most of these folks never walk outside of the building – it’s like they live in a resort community in Mexico, as much as they actually relate to their neighborhood. And that makes me sad. Our neighborhood could be so much richer if everyone took part in it and cared for it, but most folks are checked out. I was too, when I was renting my home, but now that I’ve purchased, something has shifted.
Anyway, as I was crossing the street at 5th and Mission, I saw Mark and Rafi in their car, and waved and laughed. A fellow behind me commented “hey, it’s Mr. Popular” and I ignored him. But he said a few other things and then started following me. This fellow caught up and began talking, telling me that he plays chess during the day near the cable car turnaround, and does good deeds for people at night to pay for his food. I was pretty much immediately on guard, having been mugged in a Chicago subway a few years ago. But I do my best to not apply old schemas to new situations (within reason of course), so I began chatting with this guy as I was walking back to my loft. I adjusted my course slightly so that the trip would take longer, hoping that perhaps he’d get tired and give up.
But he walked with me all the way back to my place (a not-inconsiderable distance), and on the way we chatted about playing chess, what it’s like trying to talk with San Franciscans on the street, how unfriendly people are in general, and so on. He turned out to just be a nice guy who was looking for some cash. I was on my guard til the very end, but gave him a couple bucks when we got to my place, and then he was on his way. Turns out he really was just a nice guy walking me home and hoping for a few bucks in return for a kind gesture. It’s sad that this is so unusual that I didn’t trust him.
Corey says he plays a lot of chess at the cable car turnaround, so I’ll go up there on the weekend and challenge him to a game or two. It would be interesting to talk to him and get his perspective on life, people in San Francisco, etc.
I think there is something to be learned from everyone one meets, and this evening I broke down a bit of a wall I’d put up about talking with homeless people on the streets of San Francisco. Thanks Corey.