Last Thursday, I found myself, all alone, at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac for intimate friends) fighting with a transit pass dispenser machine who wouldn’t take my Canadian credit card.
The stupid transit pass dispenser machine forced me to run all over the airport to track down a (ridiculously overcharging) ATM machine to get American money to put in the slot so a ticket will come out so I can take the train and get to PAX.
Transit pass dispenser machine suddenly forgotten.
I ended up at PAX almost by accident. I hadn’t seriously planned on going, but a friend and I were talking about it one night. The next day, mere HOURS later, someone mentioned on Facebook that PAX tickets were up for grabs. Not only was it RIGHT after our conversation, but I also happened to have the day off work and be within viscinity of a computer. “It must be a sign!” I exclaimed. Half jokingly, I queued.
2 hours later, I had tickets for Friday through Sunday.
My friend did not go to PAX.
It’s Not Too Dangerous To Go Alone
(Well deserved plug for Kenna of Geek Portland and the ladies of todays panel – which I wished I could have attended – on finding the courage to start your own projects in the gaming world.)
This was my second solo-convention. I have this friend on Facebook (We’re not exactly friends since we never talk. I mean NEVER talk. We were both at PAX. We did not talk. But she’s cool and geeky and fun so I like reading her.) who shares every article/post/paper ever written on women being mistreated at cons. I wouldn’t say it makes me nervous… I’m a badass paladin. I eat pervy little boys for breakfast. But, you know, it makes me…curious?
My first solo-convention was this year’s Calgary Expo and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I shrugged off the friendliness to being a Canadian convention. My second solo-convention was this PAX, which was not a Canadian convention. But it was also one of the best experiences in my life.
“Gamer culture” gets a lot of criticism (and, sadly, rightfully so), but the gamer culture at PAX was way closer to the first gamer culture I stumbled across over a decade ago, when the internet was young. A culture of “you’re not alone“, of “it’s okay to be yourself” and of “contrarily to what your parents tell you, video games do not rot your brain“.
I counted 6 panels on Gender Issues (plus two on Gaymers – three if you count Bioware’s unofficial panel), at least 3 on dealing with unsavory types (5 if you count the Community Management panels), one on Mental Health, and countless, COUNTLESS panels (and informal discussions!) on contributing at any level to the gaming industry and/or community.
Everywhere I went, there was no pushing, no fighting and a huge respect of personal space. (So much respect for personal space, OMG! At some panels, it was hard to tell where the line was!) All around me, I heard rich, interesting (and sometimes gently humourous) conversation. Sometimes I’d jump in. Me! Me who never talks to strangers! I had talk after talk with the most excellent, insightful and intriguing people. Honestly, I had no idea there was so much awesomeness in the world.
I’ll admit I was a little sad when I realized, after PAX, that a few people from Twitter met up, but it was my own fault for not asking around. But even at that, it’s not like I was deprived for social interaction!
PAX – There’s Gaming Here Too Right?
I’ll admit I didn’t try any games. I was too busy, running from panel to panel, dodging the (hugehugehuge) crowd, avoiding 10-nerd pileups (term borrowed from Calgary Expo 2013’s guidebook), working on my lifelong goal of LEARNING ALL THE THINGS.
I did, however, attend a few of Bioware’s panels on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and watched them play the game, which was amazing.
DAI is coming out while I’m supposed to be on a cattle ranch in Australia with no computer/internet/free time, so I won’t be able to play it with everyone else, but I’m still excited. I’ve been drinking the news, line by line.
I love the attention to personal preference (seems like everything except Flemeth’s armour – panel inside joke -, for now, will be customizable, from character appearance to overall strategy to combat style), the size of the world (although it does mean that when I do get to play, I’ll have to book another year and a half off work so I can see everything) and that we can play Qunari. (Or Kossith, depending on how specific you like your terms.) While I’m probably a human (and mage) player through and through, I think having Qunari as a playable race will with be a big part of story depth. I absolutely love the Qunari. As a travel and anthropology lover, the Qunari and the culture shock surrounding them has done tons for my personal enjoyment.
On a sqeeing fangirl note, I got to meet Patrick Weekes (who wrote Garrus!!!!!) which was a huge highlight of my trip. (Also marked the first time I was actually able to say something to someone I really look up to.) I have to say that Bioware’s entire delegation was fantastic. They were warm, patient and kind, and it seemed like they were just as excited to be there as us fans were.
There were a few other games showcased that I wanted to try (hi SpyParty! I love you!) and the morning makeup sessions in the hostel bathroom with the excellent Phedran made me curious about Indie games. Indie games are, like, this entire world of gaming that I’ve always wanted to try, but I had no idea where to start. Now I think I will start with Rogue Legacy.
Has It Really Been 1000 Words Already?
I have to spare your eyes and stop writing, but, really, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of my time at PAX. I hope to find time to write again (famous last blog post words), but in either case, if you’re sitting at home feeling all sad and miserable about missing PAX… Know that you’re right. You really did miss out. /bigmeanie