Imagine that one day you are saved by a superhero. You're walking around with your sweet new noise-cancelling headphones and Spiderman swings down and pulls you out of danger before you even realized you were in any. Amazing! Spiderman puts you down somewhere and says 'have a nice day!'
Later that night you go on twitter and you're like '@therealspiderman hey thanks for saving me earlier!' And later he replies '@regularhuman365 All in a day's work for your #FriendlyNeighborhoodSpiderman.'
A few years pass, and one day you discover that you have a superpower. It's not an amazing superpower. Maybe you can control polyethylene with your mind (but not polyurethane or polystyrene). You name yourself 'The Bag' and you say lame things like 'Looks like the cat's out of...The Bag!' and then hate yourself for it later. You tweet to spiderman again, like '@therealspiderman Hey, not sure if you remember me, but I have superpowers now' and he replies '@thebag88 That's great, you should come to the superhero drinkup next week. Will DM details.' WHAT?! YOU hanging out with REAL SUPERHEROES?!
Next week it's the night of the drinkup, and you're looking in the mirror at your shitty costume and your shitty name, and you're thinking 'this is going to be terrible! They're all going to laugh at me. Maybe I shouldn't even go. I'll go later after I've stopped some serious crimes, and I'm more impressive, then I'll go and it will be cool.' But you force yourself to go anyway, and as you walk in the door you brace yourself for mockery, but nothing happens. In fact, Spiderman remembers your name. 'The Bag! You've got to come meet Iron Man. You two will get along.'
So you talk to all the superheroes, and all of them are unbelievably nice to you. They tell you their secret identities like it's no big deal, because you're one of them. And you realize that these are not gods, these are people, and they want to help you however they can. Somebody suggests that if you wore clothes made of polyethylene, then you could fly. 'Why didn't I think of that?' you wonder, but it doesn't matter because when you grudgingly say your goodbyes, you leave a better superhero than you came.
That's what it's like going to NYU Practice.
I was conflicted about writing about my experiences at NYU PRACTICE. It's such a small and amazing group of people, the selfish part of me hopes that the attendee list won't grow too much next year. In all fairness, though, you deserve to know how incredible it is. I tell my friends all the time: 'if you're picking a conference to go to, and you're a game programmer or manager or something, you ought to go to GDC, but if you're a game designer it's more important to go to Practice.'
I hope to see you there next year.