The Path Not Taken

02 May 2014

I don’t believe in the butterfly effect.

Nor do I believe in the “self-healing timeline”, the idea that, regardless of major decisions, fate will inevitably take you back to the same place.

Instead I think that when the path forks, the two usually come back alongside for long enough that, for a moment, you can see across the gap.

A long time ago, Fire Hazard ran a game called Heist. We’d give teams of eight players maps, radios, wire-cutters, hacksaws, security codes and (fake) stunguns, and invite them to burgle a complex we’d set up with guards, motion sensors, cameras, combination locks and even a prisoner.

It was a gigantic effort, and a spectacular success. We made Time Out. We sold out our second and third runs in a matter of hours. Despite episodes of heavy snow, car clamps, police intervention, technical failure, player sabotage and crew collapse, we pulled the entire thing off without a hitch. We’re still telling the stories, and so are our players.

We were triumphant. We were exhausted.

We were constantly asked when we were going to do it again. For years.

We looked into it seriously. We location-scouted warehouses, ran the numbers, worked out crew schedules, ROI, equity deals, marketing guidelines. I’d have had to quit my job, front the cash to rent a building for a month, hire an operations team, fully commit.

We didn’t do it.

And someone else just did. From what I hear, it’s basically the same game - the same mechanisms, the same theming, even the same name - done by a different team, who might perhaps have played our version, but who otherwise have no connection. Based on the reviews, the near-instant sellout, they’ve done it really well.

So now I get to see where the other path might have led. And, this time, I get to play.

Which is really what I wanted, all along.