Monday, 15 April 2013

PAX East 2013 - where this geek had never gone before

OMG I'm at a gaming con! 
I recently joined tens of thousands of gamers in Boston for PAX East, the convention for gamers run by Penny Arcade.

But I don’t game, so what the hell was I doing there?

I went to PAX East with a friend of mine who does game. He games a lot. But he also has a successful job and social skills, so he’s not the stereotypical gamer boy who lives in his parents’ basement. I introduced him to conventions at Kapow so he suggested a trip to Boston for PAX East. I figured that a gaming con would be a great way to broaden my geeky horizons .

Here are some musings from my first gaming convention.

Mifi is worth the investment when you’re at a convention 
My gamer buddy invested in some mifi during our trip so that we could make full use of Twitter during the convention. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre does have open wifi but as with any giant collection of enthusiastic internetters, things are going to get messy with the signal. Our mifi was brilliant, and only occasionally suffered from wifi signal overload.

My people are gamers too
I was prepared to be out of my comfort zone, but we hadn’t even walked into the convention centre before I saw a familiar sign of shared geek interested – a guy wearing a Jayne Cobb bobble hat. And he wasn’t the only one choosing to dress like a Firefly crew member, I counted many many more Jayne hats and Blue Sun t-shirts over the three days of the con. It was nice to see some familiar signs of my own fandom, and it reminded me that geek culture is very much pick and mix, who was I to assume that gamers don't like my fandoms too?

Excuse me sir, did you check your weapon at security?
Cosplay is amazing wherever you go
One of my favourite parts of a convention is the cosplay. I love seeing the amazing and elaborate costumes people put together and feeling confused when I have no idea what they’re supposed to be. Since I had no frame of reference at PAX (did I mention that I don’t game AT ALL?) my gamer buddy attempted to translate the cosplay for me. We went to the Bioware Base for their cosplay gathering and it was AMAZING (see their Facebook for some pictures).

Dance offs happen in real life
We went to the Wildstar party because a) it was free, and b) you have to go to a convention party. We queued, we got our wrist bands confirming we were over 21 and we got our free drink. About half way through the evening something truly bizarre happened: a dance off kicked off next to where we were jumping up and down energetically to the music. Seriously. A dance off. You’ll be pleased/disappointed to know that I didn’t throw myself into the centre of the circle and shake it like a Polaroid picture. I just stood there and screamed at how amazing it was.

Do you like my moustache?
Impulse purchases happen no matter how much you tell yourself they won’t
I didn’t need a pack of three wooden moustaches, but I bought a pack of three wooden moustaches. I didn’t need to buy more than a PAX scarf, but I bought more than a PAX scarf because I had to spend more to get the free convention patch! Gamifying convention purchases definitely worked on me.

Being a girl at a gaming convention means you don’t have to queue for the toilets
Yes the majority of people at PAX were boys. Hence the awesome no-queueing for the ladies.

Everything at a gaming convention is gamified
The volunteers at PAX, called Enforcers, aren’t just there to tell you where you need to be. They’re there to make the entire experience like a game. They hand out freebies to random queues, get people to play games to win stuff and generally entertain the crowds with their enthusiasm and cosplay.

Kilts are the fashion for gamer boys
 “Get your man out of his pants!” yelled the Utilikilt sales boys in the expo hall. Yes, there is a brand called Utilikilt and yes real boys/men strode around in the BITTER cold of Boston in their skirts.

The Utilitkilts were flying!

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