The Human Embodiment of Exhaustion

by Eli Hodapp

I’ve been soldiering through my jet lag like a champ, making sure to be 110% on my game during the day for all my meetings here in Finland, but I hit a brick wall like you wouldn’t believe right around 6:00 PM every day. I was so exhausted today and mentally fatigued from these rapid fire meetings operating on a few hours of sleep that I started to see the real effects of sleep deprivation. It’s actually been sort of an interesting experience, because typically speaking I never have any problems sleeping. That’s looking at it in a major glass half full sort of way, but in that same way it’s good that I now know what it feels like to be so tired that I can’t write my name on the form they gave me at the hotel. It’s an experience, that for sure. I had hoped to have more time to write today, but I’m afraid that this will come off as the ravings of some kind of sleep deprived lunatic so today’s entry is going to be a little abbreviated.

Today I woke up at 5:00 AM Finland time, and when I get jet lag I experience this weird phenomenon where I’ll wake up in this intense adrenaline-fueled panic feeling like I’ve entirely overslept. I’ll grab my phone, look at the time, and realize, “Oh, I have hours until I need to do something.” I’ll have worked myself up so much in these few seconds though that there’s no going back to sleep after that. Whenever I’m on business trips I’m always really concerned about representing both myself and TouchArcade in the best way I can, so this is just the manifestation of that and really not wanting to be late or unprepared for things.

We checked out of our hotel in Helsinki and loaded our luggage on to the party bus we’ve been riding around in. The first stop of the day was a meeting with an investment outfit to continue to hear about all of the crazy opportunities there are in this country for essentially anyone with a half way reasonable idea and a team that has a chance of executing on it. It’s really refreshing to see that even on the super-early angel investor level there isn’t intense pressure for turning a profit. They seemed A-OK with things failing, which isn’t something I think you’d ever see in the USA, or at least, I’ve never experienced.

I feel like they thought I was giving them a hard time with my line of questioning, but that wasn’t my intention. I kept trying to drill down on the fact that the example investment they mentioned was a top-end of 25% of a company for an investment of €100,000. This puts the valuation of the company, that might not even be a company yet with anything more than a bullet list of ideas, at €400,000. That seems crazy, but maybe that’s just how things are done here. All my experience with investors back in the .com days have taught me that the less you bring to the table, the more your investors want from you for funding. This seems remarkably generous, but, I suppose I could just be missing something.

From there we met with an onslaught of additional game developers, the coolest of which being a stop at Remedy, the makers of Alan Wake. They were super cool guys, and the entire atmosphere of the studio had this sort of magnetic hyper-creative air about things that really made you want to stick around to just soak it in. Everything I saw there was super secret, at least until later in the month, but it was equally cool and creepy how much the areas around Remedy looked exactly like the woods and the sky in Alan Wake.

Following Remedy we went to this incredibly cool organization run by a local university called the Startup Sauna. I wish I would have snapped some photos, because it was so well designed that it almost felt like the people who curate the Ikea stores came and built this whole thing from the ground up. The basic gist of the Startup Sauna is that any entrepreneur can just swing on by, access the internet for free, and call dibs on any unclaimed office space for the day, all for free. There’s even local established entrepreneurs who regularly swing in to give free advice to people. I was blown away, and really wished we had things like this in the USA.

It was already dark out by the time we left the Helsinki area, or, more accurately, the Espoo area. From there we were supposed to have a two hour bus ride, but thanks to traffic and snow it was closer to a four hour bus ride. I tried so incredibly hard to sleep on the bus, but it just wasn’t happening. I’d doze off for seconds at a time, then instantly would find myself awake as we hit a bump. Exhaustion slowly crept into just feeling physically ill, and by the time we reached our hotel in Tampere I was mentally spent in absolutely every way imaginable.

Northern Finland seems surprisingly different from southern Finland so far, as our hotel is highly utilitarian which is an amusing contrast between the somewhat lavish Hotel Fabian the night before. Regardless, I’ve got a bed, WiFi access, and a bathroom, I don’t need much else. Upon actually getting to my room, I somehow summoned the ability to publish all sorts of things on TouchArcade, and record an entire podcast. I’m really not sure where the energy for that came from.

Time for bed, tomorrow will be another full day followed by a train ride back south. Then I’ll have the whole weekend to myself in Helsinki before flying back home on Sunday afternoon. I think a week in Finland will be more than long enough, and I can’t imagine the sense of relief I’m going to feel as I’m back home being interrogated by Homeland Security. As silly as the USA is, it’s home.