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Adventures in Las Vegas Concurrent With GTS

posted Jul 28, 2012, 11:42 PM by Douglas Sun   [ updated Jul 28, 2012, 11:44 PM ]
Originally posted: March 16, 2011

GAMA’s annual GTS trade show continues for the rest of the week, but I returned home earlier today. I freely admit that I have no real business at GTS, since I’m not a hobby market game publisher, distributor or retailer. I went to Vegas concurrent with the show mainly to renew acquaintances with people whom I knew, or at least suspected, would be there. While they took care of business during the day, I’d sleep late, gamble and eat; and then we’d hang out after the show closed for the day. So the theory went, and I knew that more than two or three days of both would blow out either my bankroll or my liver (or both), and so I planned on leaving town before that happened.

Things worked about as well as I had devised, I must say. I hung out, to varying degrees, with Owen Seyler, Ken Hite, Sean Lashgari, James Ernest, Hyrum Savage and John Nephew, all of whom I had not seen in several months or more. And I left town with a not-entirely-empty wallet and a functional liver. A satisfactory outcome all around.

Facts, figures and anecdotage from my trip:

James Ernest tells me that he still hopes to break into designing slot machine games (something I noted here), but that that particular industry, despite the growing complexity of their products, still doesn’t see the need for actual game designers. As he put it, “They have an art guy, and they have a math guy,” but they don’t understand why it’s a good idea to have someone to design gameplay. If this blog reaches anyone associated with IGT, or Bally’s, or WMV, or any of the other slot machine companies, I say unto you: Hire this man. You will not regret it.

From there, dinner at Golden Steer with James, Ken Hite and Owen Seyler devolved into Ken and James riffing on The Maltese Falcon like “MST3K” without the visuals, which had me laughing so hard that I thought the convulsions of my diaphragm would have it backing up against my stomach. Ken’s Sydney Greenstreet is amazingly effective as long as he’s mocking whatever character Greenstreet is supposed to be playing.

Golden Steer is one of Vegas’ just-off-the-Strip wonders, a wonderful dark wood grain-and-leather steakhouse located in a mini-mall just around the corner from the Stratosphere. It’s so old school, it ought to be filled with mobsters in dark suits, not the likes of us.

Hanging out with John Zinser for 15 minutes cost me $200. The next time I let him talk me into shooting craps, I will insist on picking the table.

GTS is at Bally’s once again, but I stayed at Planet Hollywood (as I did when I came out for Neoncon in November). After two stays there, I appreciate what Ceasar’s has done with the former Aladdin, but it feels at times like a fresh coat of paint and wallpaper, and little more. The furniture is new and elegant, but you can still see some dings in the doors and cabinets. Caesar’s main achievement is creating a compelling house style for PH, anchored on the “Peepshow” topless revue and accentuated by a part of the casino that features dealers wearing silk corsets and bustiers and, late at night, go-go dancers and a live DJ. Given how easy it is to let your attention wander from your cards in such surroundings, I’m sure those ladies more than pay for themselves.

My first real adventure in Vegas this trip was ordering the huevos rancheros for breakfast at Planet Dailies, the coffee shop at PH, on Monday morning. Quite tasty, but do not expect the usual salsa-topped mash that you’ll get at hash houses here in LA. Their idea of ranch-style eggs is to take this dense mixture of diced scrambled egg, chorizo filling, refried beans and cheese and build it into something like a 6 inch-tall 3-layered cake, with lightly crisped flour tortillas marking the layer boundaries. I enjoyed it, but in retrospect I would suggest partaking only after you have fasted for no less than 12 hours, and plan on not eating for at least another 12 hours afterward. Unless you share it — it probably makes a nice breakfast for two.

And finally, I did wander over to CityCenter, which, I have to admit, exerts a strong fascination over me. And what did I find in the Crystals shopping center, but an enormous rabbit looming over us all in a sudden burst of surreality. It is a tribute to the CityCenter aesthetic that I couldn’t tell at first whether it was Pop Art, or just kitsch.

The Colossus of Easter