Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 11

Monday, March 21, 2016.

Today I listen to three books by Bill Gates, just in case I run into him at the Imagine Cup Finals, and to better understand Microsoft.  Turns out Bill got his engineering start programming a game for a mainframe, Tic-Tac-Toe.  Compare fellow billionaire innovator Elon Musk of Tesla who developed a game called Blastar at age 12.  Tomorrow, I intend to ask my group, how does Microsoft gain from supporting or sponsoring B.E.S.T., and how can we maximize that relationship for them?  The three books:  Showing Up for Life (2009), Business @ The Speed of Thought (1999), and The Road Ahead (1996).


Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

I put together a second Trello board to show our meeting agendas for the next five weeks along with every class or event day between now and graduation on May 6th, with one extra column called “After EAE.”  This will primarily be used by Eric and I, while providing a simple reference for other team members.  They can also add items to the agenda at any time, and anything we don’t finish or get to one day can be moved to the next.

Eric helps me polish slides for my Imagine Cup presentation, which is starting to look and sound good.  We will likely do a practice pitch with Mark and Brian Thursday.  Mark will likely make the trip to San Francisco with us as our faculty “mentor.”

After Experimental Gameplay ends at five, I stick around to work on the project a bit longer and run into a reporter from The Daily Chronicle, the University of Utah’s official student newspaper.  He was invited to the lab to take photos of students making games, but only two of us were in the room, so I offer to send him to photos of B.E.S.T. being play tested.  This saves him another trip, and also means our team will be in the school newspaper.  It is possible we will get a follow up article about our participation in the Imagine Cup Finals.

I end the night by attending the Utah Caucuses, where I vote for my fifth favorite candidate, since my top three are out of the race and my fourth has little chance of winning.  I am selected as an alternate delegate for the state convention.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

I stop by the Attorney General’s office in a suit and tie and talk to his Director of Communications, who seems very interested in B.E.S.T., especially when I mention the Imagine Cup Finals and what Microsoft says about what we are doing.  We make follow up plans, and I would like to invite him and the Attorney General to The Void in two or three weeks to test B.E.S.T.  Our project can potentially save their office and others like it a LOT of legal work, paperwork, and money, along with lives.

I think this is my first time at the State Capitol building since helping with the extras casting for Legally Blonde 2.  (I was also a Congressional Aide in the movie, dressed a lot like I was today.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016.

A big day at EAE!

Shabaz has added a lot of new textures to the hallways of Scenario 2 and finally finishes the particle effects.  Ahmad continues to improve voice.  I update our Facebook and Twitter pages and pay to upgrade our website to be ad free.

Roger OfficeAt 3:30 we meet with Roger in his office to go over the Imagine Cup presentation.  He is replacing Mark as our faculty “mentor” for Imagine Cup purposes and will join us in San Francisco.  Turns out there are three EAE teams that made the finals out of fifteen nationally! B.E.S.T. Police Training Simulator (World Citizenship category), HealthX (Innovation category), and an undergraduate game called Spire of the Sullen (Game category.)  Because we are in different categories, we are not competing against each other and are in a way one big team.  Each category has five contestants, up one from last year’s four.

At 4:00 we have another Imagine Cup conference call led by Shaina from Microsoft.  The call includes all three University of Utah teams and Roger.  Shaina tells us what to expect when we arrive and on each day of the week.  She also tells us about the Microsoft Reactor in SF, an incubator environment that we will spend part of the week at.

The Finals are a week from today!

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 11.23.00 PMAfter the call, I hurry to Provo for my annual appearance at TEDxBYU.  I would love to speak at it one of these years and was a volunteer usher three years ago when I could not get a ticket.

This year’s event sold out in 38 minutes.

According toThe Daily Herald,  “The 670 tickets for the event sold out within 45 minutes of going on sale and led to a waitlist of 1,300 people. When tickets went on sale, more than 14,000 phone calls shut down the Covey Center and city’s phones, according to event organizer and speaker Alicia Gettys.”  We were privileged to hear from a variety of speakers including Jeff Clark, the surf photographer who discovered the California Mavericks 15 miles from San Francisco, Olympian Kate Hansen, Alicia Gettys, and a relaxing musical performance by Books on Tape Worm.  Their CD cover is an attractive popup book and the tracks include book related names and references like “To Mock a Killing Bird.”

static1.squarespaceAfter the event, I hurry upstairs to try out a VR video exhibit hosted by RYOT.  The most compelling video I watch is called Confinement, and is about what it is like to be in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.  Looking at their website after the show, they have even done research on police shootings

Friday, March 25, 2016.

Two events to report today.

41pJrSW6fzL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_I stop by the Arbinger Institute in Farmington and talk to three members of the staff.  They get me the number and email for the person making a documentary related to police and civilian violence in America.  The release has been postponed until September from March, so there is still a chance they could include B.E.S.T. or its philosophy somewhere in the documentary.  The Arbinger Institute is a world peace making institution, famous for books like The Anatomy of Peace, Leadership and Self-Deception, and the soon to be released The Outward Mindset.

I also get an email from the Utah Attorney General’s office, requesting to talk to us Monday about B.E.S.T.!  My Wednesday visit to their office was definitely noticed.  Our Monday talk will be by phone, since I will be in San Francisco all next week.