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Game for a laugh: The Road to Stand-Up Pt.1 - MCV

Game for a laugh: The Road to Stand-Up Pt.1

Indie dev Byron Atkinson-Jones may have made a mistake. One errant thought now leadshim on a year-long journey towards his first charity stand-up performance. If only for the lols.
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I am doing something incredibly stupid. My friends and colleagues all claim it's a brave thing to do but that's just code for "yeah, you're stupid but we'll have fun watching this spin out – pass the popcorn”.

I’m nobody special, just another indie developer making their way through the world, making games. If you need more insight into who I am then just look me up on twitter (@xiotex). In summary: I’ve been a game developer since the 90s, where my first claim to fame is the development of the Target Manager app every Playstation developer used to make their games. Sorry, try not to hold it against me!

What is all this about and what have I done that’s so stupid?

Just as I’m drifting off to sleep the sudden realisation that I’m doing this hits me. How could I have been so stupid? I blame the cider

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Byron Atkinson-Jones

Every year the Comedy Store runs a charity event called Stand up for GamesAid, hosted by Imran Yusuf. Imran started his career in the games industry as a QA tester and then moved into stand-up comedy. For some reason. Maybe it pays better? The event is great, you can watch excellent stand-up comedians for one night and all the proceeds go to the games industry charity GamesAid, which is all about raising funds for charities who help disadvantaged and disabled children and young people. It’s a great event for a great cause.

I don’t drink. Alcohol, I mean, not stuff like water. Because that would be daft and extremely life limiting.
This all started one day after a good business meeting. We ended the night by going to the Comedy Store to watch Stand up for GamesAid. I was at the bar getting drinks and instead of my usual water for some reason I decided to get a cider. I took a few sips. The rest is a bit of a blur, but one idea took this opportunity to burrow itself deep into the darkest regions of my mind. It anchored there shouting “YOU SHOULD DO A STAND-UP ROUTINE FOR CHARITY!”

That voice was still shouting in my head the next day, which wan’t great, because I had a hell of a hangover. The worst bit? I’d only had a few sips!

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As I sat down to work on my latest game Promethium the voice refused to go away and, in a semi-dream state, before I knew it, I had sent out emails to the relevant people telling them the idea. The next thing I know I’ve got a meeting with Imran to pitch to him.

I’ve mentioned I’m an indie developer, right? I can code, I can design, I can do some art and I’m getting there with music and SFX, but I’m spectacularly bad at pitching. I’ve tried to pitch games to people for games funding and to publishers but I always fail terribly. In fact, I’ve only ever had one game published and that’s because the publisher approached me. So I wasn’t hopeful about my idea getting past stage one with Imran.

Our meeting was at BAFTA and to ease my tension I thought it would be a great idea if we discussed the idea over food. The menus arrived at the table and looking through it Imran said “I’ve recently become a vegetarian; I hope there’s something here I can eat”.

“I could never be a vegetarian. How do you cope without bacon?” I said. “Never been a problem, I’m a
Muslim.” Great, I’d just failed pitching 101: research who you are pitching to. After some wrangling where I attempted to take my foot out of my mouth, the evening went far better than I expected and Imran was all for the idea. Before I know it, we’re drawing up plans of what to do next. One thing is for certain, at the next Stand Up for GamesAid night at the Comedy Store I will be there on the stage for 5 minutes trying not to die.
At bed time, just as I’m drifting off to sleep the sudden realisation that I’m doing this hits me and I spend the rest of the night staring at the ceiling.

How could I have been so stupid? I blame the cider. Did I mention this was for charity? No? that was a bit daft of me, here’s the link, give generously, as it’s for a great cause: https://www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/Byron-Atkinson-Jones

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