It’s been two years since I started attending Penny Arcade Expos. A year ago, I began working as an Enforcer for said events. It’s not a ton of experience, but it’s built on top of all I’ve done before. In light of that, I have to say this PAX East was the smoothest one yet, and one of the best convention experiences I’ve had in a long time.
In previous years, I’ve gauged the success or lack thereof in the experience on what I get to see, do, or play. I’ve had to readjust those priorities. Conventions and gatherings of the like-minded are awesome in and of themselves, and working as part of the staff for such a thing means having a hand in making that experience more awesome for other people. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everyone. But it’s a big part of why I’ve chosen to do it multiple events in a row, now.
That said, I’ve met a ton of cool people doing this. Not just the people I’ve worked with, but the people who make it to the event. I have definitely arrived at a point where I am more excited to meet people than I am to see exhibits, at least when it comes to PAX. I can see that changing when more games arrive that grab my attention, but for this time around my focus was entirely on how things were running in my theatre.
I hope everybody that made it out had an excellent time! I have to keep this short since I have a number of things with which I need to get caught up.
I’d love to have something insightful or meaningful to say about writing or storytelling this morning. The truth is, I’m all but tapped out. I’m gearing up for PAX East 2013, where I will be working as an Enforcer. Unfortunately I am more stressed than I am excited; there’s a snag with the scheduling and things could end up inconvenient for a friend of ours travelling with us. I’m trying to get that untangled so the maximum number of people can have the best PAX experience possible. We shall see what happens!
Between this and my workout regimen I’m pretty beat. Carving out time for writing has been somewhat difficult, but last week I knocked it out of the park. This week, I suspect, will be a little less productive on that score. Tonight I hope to prepare at least a couple of posts to keep us on our schedule here, though I’m unsure what I’ll be reviewing for tomorrow’s post. Thursday I’ll probably blather a bit about dipping back into System Shock 2 and how PC mods make old games just as playable today, and Friday I may talk about the wonders of Boston.
In any event, this is a week I shall not soon forget, for better or for worse.
Things continue to change around here, mostly for the better. The workout regimen is causing some pain, but I expected that. My gym membership entitles me to a free training session, which I will use to ensure I’m executing my lifts correctly, and also that I’m using the right apparatus for attempts at chin-ups. Some of the stuff in that gym is pretty weird, man.
I’ve also nailed or exceeded my 350-words-a-day-in-at-least-one-novel goal every day this week. Today will be no different! I may need to do it after FNM, but we shall see how the day progresses. The best thing about writing with the barest of outlines is that things can develop you did not expect. In Cold Streets, Morgan is not only reconnecting with her estranged father, we’re also getting a bit more of her backstory, which I feel is incredibly important. With everything supernatural and odd that happens around her, I don’t want Morgan to get lost. I like that there’s nothing unusual about her in terms of powers or abilities; her normal everyday nature is a good counterpoint to everything else running around Philadelphia in 2020.
Change is never easy, tends to be painful, and can even be destructive. But without it, we die. To survive, to thrive, and to succeed, it takes more than just having a dream. It takes working towards that dream, every day, with as much effort as one can muster. Be aware of what you do and who it might effect, but never stop making that effort. History isn’t just made by great men and women with innovative technology or fancy hats. History is made by the people who show up, day in and day out, looking to make a change, even if that change is not what one expects.
Next week is PAX East. I believe the hotel has WiFi so I will do my utmost to keep you fine folks up to date with the latest from Boston. Thanks for sticking with me.
There’s a part of me that longs for convention floors. I just love being a part of an inclusive, open-minded crowd gathered in one place for the common enjoyment of a hobby or interest. I’ve been writer’s conferences, anime conventions, and gaming expos, and they all give me this positive, uplifting charge that can last for weeks afterward.
And yet, I know they can be dangerous places. I know people can violate the space of others. I know lines can and do get crossed. And I know that these communities, especially when it comes to gaming, are not as inclusive as I’d like them to be.
To which I have to wonder, “Why the fuck not?”
Creeps do exist, and I don’t mean the sort of guys and girls who are enthusiastic and well-meaning but don’t always say the right thing or aren’t adept at handling meeting new people or maintaining/ending conversations. I mean the ones who think it’s perfectly okay to berate people for being different, to undercut others so they can increase their own sense of superiority, or to introduce their genitals to any situation regardless of circumstances or permission of the other people involved. I’m not sure why these people are so unaware of the fact that this behavior is not okay. It’s not okay on a basic level and it’s also not okay as a means to get attention.
So how do we approach the people we idolize? How do we behave when encountering others of our craft or hobby? What should aspiring con-goers keep in mind when entering the hall for the first time?
Listen to the Rolling Stones, kids. “Have some sympathy, have some courtesy, and some taste.”
It’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when entering the convention, firing up the console, or just walking through town. The people you encounter are people, nothing more or less, just like you. I doubt most people in this world are really dedicated to going out of their way to make your life miserable. Those that are probably have personal reasons for doing so, and that’s a different kettle of fish entirely. When meeting people you haven’t met before, keep in mind that it is impossible for you to know every circumstance of every aspect of their lives that lead up to them meeting you.
If you appreciate their work, tell them so. Say how happy you are to meet them. If it feels like an honor to do so, say so. If approaching someone who’s signing things, and you have something for them to sign, ask them politely to sign it. Ask them if they’re having a good time. After that, if you’ve been standing in line, chances are others have been standing in line behind you, and you should probably move on. Otherwise, let the conversation flow from there; don’t steer it constantly back to subjects centered on you so you can run off at the mouth. Good conversations don’t work that way.
I know, reading it dryly like this, these seem like common sense tips. But when meeting someone we know through work we thoroughly enjoy, it’s entirely possible for rational thought to simply stop working. When I met my first Internet celebrity, I pretty much lost my face. Thankfully, I doubt he remembers me, and as I can’t afford to go to the Escapist Expo this month, it’ll probably be some time before I see him in person again. The next time I encountered one, things went much better. I followed the advice given above, and we had a great talk about Boston, movies, PAX, and various other things. It felt good, and I never got the impression that he was uncomfortable.
Just think before you speak, people. It isn’t that difficult. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. It’s very good to shake the hand of a stranger, introduce yourself, and get to know them and their way of life, but don’t be overbearing when you do it. If you keep talking, you can’t listen. And who wants to talk to someone who won’t listen to them?
Do these things, and not only will you not be a creep, you may find yourself overcoming that awkwardness. A little confidence goes a long way, and it’ll show. Try a little sympathy, courtesy, and taste the next time you’re in a situation with new people. You might be surprised.