It all started a few years ago. I attended my first Child’s Play Charity Auction (hereby shortened to “CPCA”, I’m going to keep saying it and I LOVE acronyms) in 2009. I didn’t win anything that time. The next year I had a little more cash at hand, but didn’t win anything. I swore I’d save up and at least drive up the price of something next time. Well, the 2011 auction came along, and I got my chance.
My fiancé and myself had arrived early (I worked in Bellevue) and were having a light snack and drinks beforehand at a restaurant. Bellevue is a bit swanky, but a key tenet of the CPCA is to dress fancy. Us nerds don’t get many chances to dress fancy, as we prefer meme or videogame based shirts. So I was in my finest interview suit (really not that nice, I looked awkward) and my fiancé was in a lovely dress with a gorgeous shawl. I noticed a couple of bearded fellows with a petite woman, also all dressed up (but in much better threads than mine). As soon as a few gamer terms were overheard from both sides of the piano (I know, fancy, eating and drinking at a piano!) I asked if they were also there for CPCA.
Success, they were! It turned out they were from a game dev company in the area. I asked what they’d worked on, and one started saying that “Kim had worked on Portal as…“ at this point I could hear a *KICK* under the table, and see a glare from Kim to the speaker “…a tester.” Oh well, I’d been a tester on a few games and thought Portal would have been quite interesting to test! Either I asked or they mentioned that they had an item up for auction, a depiction of the winner in their upcoming game (the name was muffled in the sound of the packed restaurant, but I nodded like I had heard it).
This sounded like a very good item to me! Even if it didn’t go for megabucks, it wouldn’t be an auction item that didn’t even reach its cost point (donated art time). Additionally, videogame immortality for the winner! And I had a chance to win, this studio wasn’t in my everyday vocabulary (a point that I later learned was solely my ignorance). I promised those across the table I’d bid on it; they wished me luck!
Fiancé and myself made our way over to the auction site, and I ran into a friend from high school, Gabe, who worked in a local videogame shop (not a chain, Pink Gorilla , a triplet of shops I’d describe as something more mom-and-pop meets nerds-that-know-what-they-are-talking-about). Damn, even he pulled off the suit better than me (meant to be a compliment, Gabe!). The store owner had bought a table and brought a few of his workers. “Buying a table” is getting multiple seats near the front but at a much higher per capita, showing generosity. Anyways, that’ll tie in later.
Looking over all the wonderful items I put bids down on several, coming back to them throughout and re-bidding, or giving in to the more lucrative bidder. I kept looking for this item the people across the piano/table had mentioned. I even ran into them again and asked where it was at.
It turned out it was a live-auction item, and kept along the long table near the back. I’d missed it before; it was a clever thing: a gorgeous golden frame with a blank image, only a little broken .jpeg was shown in the corner.
Checking the item number I read up the description:
LOT: 209 ITEM: Portrait in Quantum Conundrum VALUE: $100
Contributed by Kim Swift
Get your caricature painted by one of the concept artists from Quantum Conundrum and see yourself immortalized in the upcoming game! The winner will receive a framed and signed custom portrait of themselves in the art style of Quantum Conundrum. And best of all, they will get to see this portrait hanging in the game complete with a custom line of dialog. (winner must provide a picture for the artists to base their portrait on)
Weird, that the tester had contributed the painting. I figured it was a slight misprint and brushed it off. But there was a little nagging thing in the back of my head. I knew I’d read something about Quantum Conundrum, and the name “Kim Swift” was quite familiar. Again, I just figured that either I’d read it in the credits (read the credits, respect the effort of all involved!), or I was deluding myself.
Check in next week for the exciting episode of disappointment, bidding, and surprises!