Sunday, March 22, 2015

Post-PAX Reflections

It's only been a few weeks and the kid is already talking about what cosplay to do next year! This was actually the first time I've attended for 2 days in a row.  I don't know about the teen, but I was sore and exhausted after all that walking.  Also, none of the grown up stuff that I usually do on weekends (laundry, grocery shopping) got done. So now that I've had some time to catch up, I will share with you my post-PAX thoughts:

OMG, but was it ever crowded!  Not just the convention floor, but the panels, the handheld lounge, and the console freeplay rooms.  I think the shortest wait we had all weekend was in the classic console room where my son joined some young men playing WarioWare Mega Party Game$.  We arrived an hour in advance for the Runaway Guys: Thrown Controllers panel and the line was already full so we were placed in an offshoot room to wait.  Fortunately we still got in and had pretty decent seats.  If you aren't familiar with these very popular youtuber's you can check out their channel here:  This is the only panel we attend each year; and it's not so much a panel as a game show for, well, gamers.

After the panel, the Runaway Guys had an impromptu autograph session.  Even that was crowded, but the kid wanted to wait and get autographs (for the 3rd time, mind you).  I found a corner in which to hide and charge my phone while the boy held court doing his Hatty Hattington routines.  Couldn't get a decent video, but I think this photo says it all:

You will note that he is surrounded by gamers of all ages, enjoying and appreciating his performance.

And that my friends, is my final takeaway from PAX East 2015.  It is quite possibly the most accepting environment I have ever experienced.  People of all ages, genders, and game preferences interacting without prejudice.  Despite being the tag-along mother, everyone I met, from teen gamer to indie developer was friendly, kind, and patient.  As a parent, I appreciate how easily and willingly my son was accepted by everyone he approached.  The group of 20-somethings playing WarioWare could have easily dismissed him, but instead passed him a controller and welcomed him to their group.  I am proud to say that my son did the same if others wanted to join a game he was playing.

Really, it is a shame that the world doesn't work this way.  Accepting everyone for exactly who they are and what they can contribute to your "game".  Everyone has something to teach and something to learn.  Who knows, maybe gaming is really the way to achieve world peace?  At least for one weekend a year, I can believe it is possible.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Revelation . . . as I sit here dreading spending the next two days at PAX East I have come to the sudden realization that the reason I am dreading it is because I feel like a complete outsider.  My son is now almost 14 years old, an intelligent, independent young man who is completely into gaming culture.  These days he spends all his free time playing Minecraft, Battle Block Theater, Team Fortress 2 and watching videos on You Tube about these games. I am realizing that these people who make and post these videos have celebrity status among fellow gamers.  While I have heard some of the names tossed around by my son, many are unfamiliar.  So while my son gets dressed in his Hattie Hattington costume and prepares for the most exciting weekend of his year; I feel completely old and obsolete because I wouldn’t know Markiplier if I tripped over him.  I will suck it up and deal and spend this weekend feeling like an outsider because I love my kid. 

Revelation part II . . . maybe my son, and other gamers, feel like outsiders for the other 362 days of the year?  When you have such specific and intense passion for a culture, it is hard to find others who share this interest level. My son is fortunate to have a few friends who understand and share this interest with him, but I think overall, most people, most kids, do not relate to the level of gaming culture into which my son is involved.  I see him going to school, boy scouts, orchestra rehearsal, participating in the “real world”, but struggling to connect with people who understand him.  I’ve said it before, attending PAX East is like he is visiting his home planet where everyone understands him.  It never occurred to me before how alien he may feel the whole rest of the year.

IMHO, my son is not yet old enough to attend this type of event without some adult supervision.   So today, and tomorrow, I will be the alien.  I will be the dorky, non-cosplaying mom (side note – I did offer to wear a costume but the teen wanted to be a solo cosplayer) getting a tour of this strange gamer planet called PAX East.  

I come in peace!