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A Glitch in the Matrix
How the Glitch Mob convinced me to drink Ayahuasca
It was the spring of 2015. I was burned out from working in the video game industry. After moving back to the U.S. from Asia, I was interviewing for jobs at Free-to-Play game publishers, which was pretty depressing.
But, I had a plan.
I would get a job lined up, push back my start date, go to the jungle, drink Ayahuasca to cure my burnout, and jump right into the corporate video game world.
My good friend Sergio calls me up and asks, “Are you going to GDC?” I reply, “I’m not sure.” I was feeling lazy and didn’t really want to spend the money for it either. The Game Developer’s Conference tends to be an alcohol-haze business development extravaganza, and I was burned out of those too.
“I’m not sure either. But, Rita thinks we should go and hang out. She thinks you’re good for me. And I already bought a ticket and booked the hotel.”
“Ok. But let’s blow off the actual conference and we can go hug trees.”
So, I drive my Miata convertible on a road trip from San Diego to San Francisco to meet up with Sergio. On the way up, I listen to the Tim Ferriss Podcast, and in particular, the episode with Justin Boreta, from The Glitch Mob. On the drive up the Californian coast, I thought to myself, when I get back from GDC, I’m going to find out if they’re touring and go see them.
The first day, I take Sergio up to Marin County, my old stomping grounds from when I worked at LucasArts in the nineties. We have lunch at the Marin Brewing Company and go to Muir Woods to hug trees.
We literally hugged trees. It felt good.
The next day, we decide to go to Napa Valley, and explore wine country. On the way up, as we are cruising with the top down on a narrow two lane highway road, a dump truck in front of us suddenly swerves and hits the brakes, tire smoke filling the air. Time slows down. In the rear-view mirror, I see a large sedan barreling up behind me, and luckily, I have the presence of mind to maneuver my little convertible off the road, onto the grass to the left. We pass the truck and hear a loud metallic crunch behind us as the sedan smashes into the truck at high speed.
We sail on, slightly in shock… and have a spectacular afternoon in Napa. My iPhone GPS wasn’t working right, so we stopped randomly and had one of the best meals of my life at the Rutherford Grill. The near death experience was definitely a factor.
I was planning to take Sergio to the Coppola winery, but we got lost and ended up at Delectus. A young couple in the restaurant business from San Diego showed up at around the same time. They had booked a private tasting there and invited us to join. We spent the afternoon drinking amazing bottles of wine, learning about the history from the manager, met the owners and winemaker. We find out from them that the Rutherford Grill is where people “in the business” go.
It was a beautiful day.
On the drive back, Sergio says, “Today could have been really different.”
That evening, I had dinner with three art director friends, one from Blizzard, one from Riot, and one from Valve. After dinner, the one from Valve asked, “You guys want to come to the Valve party?”
Game industry parties are a strange status game, where getting an invite is based on how strong your industry connections are, or for some, how well you can sneak into a venue or penthouse suite. Passwords, badges, tickets, wristbands, it’s like getting access to a secret level in an actual video game. The musical acts at these parties are usually kept secret, and rumors build in anticipation.
We get waved past the line into the party, grab some drinks in the back room, and talk shop until the musical act comes onto the stage.
The Glitch Mob.
I’m standing there, a few feet from the stage, as they perform.
After I got home from the conference, Sergio’s words kept echoing in my head.
“Today could have been really different.”
I contacted Don Howard and arranged my trip to Peru.