A report from PAX 2006, one that has forced me to ask a very simple question:
Am I a Gamer?
Yes, I play games. Make no mistake about that, but that’s not the type of gamer I’m talking about. A lot of people drive a car around town yet they are not Drivers. A person can spend every day in front of a class lecturing but still not be a Teacher. I play games of all types: PC, console, board, card, whatever… but am I still a Gamer?
I went to PAX on a whim this year. Sort of a whim. For the last two years I planned on going and just never got around to it. Today, after a trip to the MINI dealership for floor mats and a run at the gym, I said “I’m should go.” I knew Major Nelson and Trixie were working the Microsoft both this year but I was also curious to see what we were showing… also the Red vs Blue guys were going to be there too and Gabe & Tycho of course. So I got off my ass and drove to Bellevue.
With Trixie being on site, I was very deliberate when deciding on what to wear; it would save yet-another-jean-shorts-suck lecture, so it was the path of least resistance to dig out a pair of cargo shorts. And I knew there would be a couple of cosplay types there, too – people showing support for games and cool swag from other expos was a given. But… well. Holy shit. Every fifth person had a sword, a kilt, a school girl outfit, Japanese school girl uniform, or a radiant hair color that was decidedly not black, brown, red or blonde. As a car pulled by I heard one of the younger guys in the front seat say, “Look at all the nerds, man! It’s a nerdfest!” And the Mohawks that were floating around just looked dumb. Even a couple of NJ 1980-esque mullets made an appearance.
Then I decided to go into the expo center, to check out the sponsors’ booths and stuff. OMG. The line was huge. Like around the building and down the sidewalk huge. This is where the the definition of gamer and Gamer starts to come into play. I mean, sure, I wasn’t in cosplay, but I didn’t bat an eye at the people that were. No, for me, I felt the Gamer label fall off my shirt because when I looked at that line I said “fuck that”, turned away from the line, and went in search of some Thai for lunch. A Gamer would have whipped out a DS or PSP, plopped his/her ass down on the concrete and waited.
When I came back from lunch, I found that the line had just about disappeared, so I took a trip or two around the exhibitor hall.
I didn’t expect so many people to be selling stuff. Microsoft and Nintendo weren’t. Sure, Trixie was actively promoting the GamerchiX
cult club and Usability was advertising for testers, but that’s normal. The other booths were selling things like t-shirt, posters, books, cards, stickers, weapons – even import stuff like Naruto shirts, Bleach swag, and pink DS Lites. That was simply astonishing – so glad that I had cash on me! [I placed in a tie for 2nd in a poker tournament on Thursday night, so I had some of the green stuff handy, for a change!] Thanks to the Cock Bite Rooster Teeth peeps I picked up a copy of Season Four of Red Vs Blue (signed by four of the voice actors, to boot – oddly enough, the actress that plays Tex is as hot as she sounds (if not hotter)) and a new Hat-of-Shame for our Halo 2 tournaments at work (nothing like a hat with -1 to highlight a session of betrayals).
And then, on the way out, that’s when “it” happened. I popped back by the 360 booth to say g’bye to our ppl there and Trixie took a moment to slap a 360 sticker on m’arm. I was like “err?” but didn’t think anything of it. Sure, she showed off my farmer’s tan – why is she always undressing me? – and slapped my arm but that wasn’t so bad. I mean, my arms and legs are very, very muscular, but, um, well… I’m Italian. And well. Italians are rather hairy. And. Erm. I went to take the sticker off later today… and. Grr! There will be payback for the now bare patch on my upper arm! *g*
Overall, it was worth the trip. I should start going to any Geek Expo that’s held in the area. I mean, if I can drive there, why not, right??? I was especially hopeful for this one: I was looking out for people to recruit for our team at work, but this was an all consumer conference. I’m sure there were a lot of industry people there but they weren’t in the collection of attendees; this was the time for players to be the center of attention rather than the manufacturers. But still, it was a good time, albeit a crowded one. Butts to nuts and all that.
And while I’m not a Gamer any more, never forget that I’m still a fan.