The lady opposite me is eating a sandwich from Pret A Manger. She is baffled. “What does ‘absolutely no nasties’ mean?’, she asks her friend, who doesn’t know. Pret’s been around in New York for a good while now, but it still makes no sense at all to most New Yorkers. Pret makes sense if you spent most of your first office job exhausting the possibilities of the Boots meal deal. If a flabby Greggs’ cheese and tomato saw you through lectures. If every summer holiday started with a grey British Rail sarnie. Pret makes sense if you were raised on Britain’s triangular, margarine-mortared building bricks. It does not make sense in a town where every corner has a deli which will make you a good sandwich, fresh, on the spot.
Other things you learn fast in New York. Don’t kick off a meeting by asking if anyone’s got a spare rubber. Don’t say ‘not bad’ if someone asks you how you are, not unless you want them to offer you an Advil and a sit-down. Advil is Nurofen, by the way. Tylenol is paracetamol except paracetamol is acetaminophen. Headaches are a headache for an ex-pat.
Coming to a new place is always a bit nerve-wracking. You don’t want to end up the Pret in a town full of delis. But bringing Hide&Seek to New York held none of those concerns. New York is a town which embraced big games faster, harder, earlier than any other. I remember writing Pac-Manhattan up in Edge, back when I hadn’t heard of Area/Code’s Frank Lantz and when no-one had heard of soon-to-be Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley. It’s the town which birthed Come Out And Play, the street game festival which inspired Hide&Seek’s first Weekender. It’s the town where NYU’s No Quarter birthed Hokra and Nidhogg (and laterly, our own Drunk Dungeon). It’s a population that’s embraced Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More with more passion than any of its previous hosts. A place where Babycastles runs a summit where Keita Takahashi redesigns party-sized versions of Pac-Man and Duck Hunt. Coming here has been a little bit like coming home – a chance to find a berth in a game design community which has decades of combined experience but has lost none of its innovator’s passion. We have big plans for what might come out of H&S’s fledgling US studio here. We’ll be able to share the first of them in a few weeks. In the meantime, come say hi at Indiecade, or at The Future Of Storytelling, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise not to subject you to a bad sandwich.