Presume not that I am the thing I was

In Games
June 1, 2007

Very many things have changed for me since I published my novel. My life sometimes seems completely unrecognisable to me. It can be quite unsettling. So I hoped that I’d manage to keep some things that were important to me just the same; but life doesn’t always work out how we hoped. One of the things I most wanted to keep in my life was this game I’ve been working on for the past three years: Perplex City. It has been, I think it’s fair to say, the best job I’ve ever had. Like all good things, though, it’s come to an end. Not forever, they say, but indefinitely enough for me and the other members of the Perplex City team to have been told our services are no longer required. Endings are hard, even endings that are called “indefinite postponement”. So, if you’ve come here looking for thoughts about the book, apologies – I just want to take a little bit of time to mourn Perplex City. To think about what it’s meant to be involved in it.

It’s funny, but I’ve always been a bit invisible in the Perplex City world. I think I thought that the *writer* of a game that tried to pretend it wasn’t a game *ought* to be invisible. I haven’t taken part in the fan forums or appeared in public as a spokesperson for the game. When I wrote that I knew where the Cube was buried, several of the players decided I was probably making it up. But, despite my invisibility, Perplex City has been important to me.

It has been a real privilege to work on something so groundbreaking, so innovative. It’s been exciting, stimulating and rewarding to be able to pursue so many different projects. From graphic novel writing to puzzle design, from episodic fiction to live writing improv (who even knew such a thing was possible?) Perplex City has pushed me in dozens of new directions. To say it’s been an education is to say too little. I have heard the chimes at midnight.

But most of all it’s been the people. We’ll all say this, I expect, in different ways. Perplex City hasn’t just been a place to work, for me, it’s been a community; and coming from where I come from, I value community more than most. It hasn’t been so easy for me to be part of the Orthodox Jewish world this past year, and Perplex City has been my safe place. I have felt held by it, sustained by it, even while so many other parts of my life swirled and dissolved. I have never ever worked somewhere where I’ve made so many real friends. I never even knew it was possible.

When I left Freshfields to write full-time I always imagined that my ideal life would be one of pure writing; endless days of concentrating on my own work. And that life is great, really it is. I just never imagined I’d actually find something even better. I think we all feel – Adrian and Andrea, David and Jey, and me – that this has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’ve been so lucky; so many people never get to feel this passion. It’s worse, when something you truly loved is over, than if you didn’t really care. But it’s better to have cared.

So, if anyone happens to know of a ground-breaking geeky game mixing skills from role-playing games, treasure-hunt books and video games with a stonking narrative who happen to be in need of a writer then… ah, I could be the bitter curmudgeon sitting in a corner saying “yeah, this is fine, but it’s not as good as Perplex City”.

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