Not the meaning that might first come to you!
I went to PAX on Saturday. Penny Arcade Expo, the largest gaming oriented gathering in the US. It was at the Seattle Convention Center.
Most of you know I don’t game. I went because Journey Quest, a webisode movie, was getting its first screening there, a sneak peak at the first 3 episodes.
Journey Quest is brought to us in part by The Dead Gentlemen, the same fine folks who brought us The Gamers and Dorkness Rising. It is also (ahem! Parental brag warning!) co-produced by my daughter Kat Ogden. So we obtained passes and went up to view the preview, and to tour the convention.
Regarding the convention: I am OLD! Incredibly old. I was probably almost the oldest person there. The demographic was about 65 to 75 percent male, and went from teens to 30’s, for the most part. They were dedicated gamers, and there was a ravening horde of them. It was a veritable anthill of gamers. I will also mention that they seemed to be a notch up in courtesy from the more recent cons I’ve attended. People waited in line patiently, chatting and gaming on their phones and other devices. They took turns without complaint. They assisted clueless people (like me!) It was a very enjoyable gathering.
Gamers, I observe, are much more singled minded than the fans at SF conventions. There were some gaming related costuming, but not much. I saw one rack of wooden swords for sale. T-shirts and hats were swag, and lots of buttons. But by and large, the whole gathering was about games. Tabletop games, computer games, LARP’s, console games, on-line games, gaming in every possible form. It was going on everywhere, in every available space. I had my 5 year old grandson with me, and he was intent on trying every game that he was allowed to try. So he did KUNG FU LIVE! In which they mapped his body, and he appeared as himself on the screen, leaping and kicking and punching the bad guys. The stunning young woman and the fellows running the booth were very good-natured about the difficulties of body-mapping a five year old in an area seat up for adults. My grandson quickly caught on to striking the forms so the mapper could find him. And then the fight was on. He did, of course, conquer the bad guy, to a great deal of good-natured cheering from on-lookers in the area. He walked away feeling as if he were 7 feet tall.
Then we went on to test drive the new Sonic game. There, he was having a tough time with an unfamiliar controller. No one got impatient. Instead, a young man leaned over and without attempting to take the controller from him, walked him through the moves so that he could complete the level. How cool is that?
And PAX had a great DS area for winding down. It was a large lobby, carpeted with beanbag chairs. Bring your own DS, hand over your grandmother’s driving license as collateral, and try out any DS game they had there. Great fun and a wonderful way to know which games to buy.
As Journey Quest was a late addition to PAX, the showing was not in the exposition booklet. So we had hundreds of postcards to hand out that not only advertised its debut but its upcoming release FREE on the internet. So as we wandered about, we were accosting people and thrusting postcards at them and saying, “Free movie tonight! It’s not on the schedule! Wander up to the Unicorn room at 9.”
At 8:30, we went up to the Unicorn room. I was nervous that we wouldn’t have any viewers,but 300 people showed up! The preview went very well, there was much laughter in all the right places, and my grandson was extremely proud of ‘my mom’s movie.’ (Of course, in his mind, she did it all, you know.) And afterwards, there was a panel for question and answers. People were interested, the session was lively, and I managed to spirit my grandson away before he collapsed from exhaustion.
Plus, I had the final pleasure of running into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in 16 years. It was great to see that Tracy is doing well and is a real, live grown up, with a 16 year old of his own now. So, that was the frosting on the cake that was PAX.
My younger daughter and one of her close friends attended PAX and gave it very high marks in all areas. They are both enthusiastic gamers and found the expo very much to their liking. I undestand that PAX EAST will be in Boston soon. If you game at all, I suspect you would greatly enjoy it. The energy and vitality of the gathering was contaigious,even to someone like me. It made me aware, yet again, that gaming is something I’d love to do . . . if I dared!
I had to firmly remind myself that I already had an obsession, and that mine comes with deadlines!