Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or you’re just not that into video gaming culture, you’re probably aware that PAX recently came to Melbourne, Australia. For the benefit of the rock dwellers, PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) is a massive convention celebrating the gaming culture and community, talking about a lot of gaming issues good and bad, and showing off a lot of cool new games and technology. More info about PAXAus is available on the aptly named PAXAus website.
There were plenty of great things about the convention, but the best story I can think of to explain the spirit of the event happened on the second day in the Queue room (named for the great Prof. Waitington Queue, inventor of the social phenomenon known as ‘queuing’).
Day 1: You are not prepared.
When we arrived at the Showgrounds on the first day, we realised we had vastly underestimated the crowd. Having never been to anything bigger than maybe the Ekka or Supanova, this was all a surprise to us!
Day 2: PAXAus Evolution (in that we learned to get up early and not be afraid to line up)
The second day was a lot better, after learning a lot about how these mega conventions work we were much better at the lining up thing, and arrived a few hours earlier than the first day. By the end of the second day we had become Queue Masters, deftly able to predict queue lengths and entertain ourselves for hours with ipads and gameboys. We weren’t the only ones to become masters though, everyone else seemed to relax into it as well, using it as a chance to slow down and meet people.
Something beautiful happened in the queue room on day 2 though; there were thousands of people lined up, most of which would have been wanting to see the PA guys make a comic live on stage (we were), and most of which, having walked in and seen the lines, knowing they wouldn’t get into the theater. Instead of being exclusive and annoyed, or pissed off as you might expect with a bunch of strangers are stuck together in a confined space seemingly for a defeated goal, they made a game of it! The volunteers had brought some blow up beach balls to entertain the crowd, but I don’t think anyone had intended them to be such a hit. The people towards the front started to try to get the balls over an arbitrary sign hanging from the roof – no easy feat with lightweight inflatable balls – and everyone further back started becoming aware of the game going on. Soon, most of the hall was watching and cheering, gasping, or yelling supportive things to the people towards the front within range of the sign. Almost everyone in the hall was playing this game vicariously with the front people! It was amazing to be a part of that totally unplanned game. I almost wanted to stay and watch instead of being ushered into the theater for what we had planned to see that morning.
There’s a ton of other stories I want to archive here while they’re fresh, so stay tuned for more over the next few days.