December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)
Well, I am inclined to agree with a friend’s post on this topic: I tend to use “party” as a very liberal term. I’ve had so much heartache in my life, so much stress, and doubt, that anytime I’m with my friends or other like minded beings having a good time, I call it a party. Be there lots of people around, or just a few, if we’re laughing and goofing around, it’s a party.
I can think of countless moments from this year where I felt that kind of energy, that enjoyment from being around the people I know and enjoying a nice glass of wine or a pint. But when I think back to the “social gathering” that “rocked my socks off” there is only one: PAX.
For the uninitiated, PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo and is a gaming convention held in Seattle each year. Well, to be fair, PAX Prime is held in Seattle. PAX East happens on that other coast. PAX, apparently, is contagious. And it should be.
I’ve wanted to go to PAX for years but this is the first year I planned ahead enough to buy tickets – three day passes – well in advance of the event. Tickets to PAX, much like ComicCon, sell out rather quickly and I’d always been a step or two behind the rush.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect; I’d seen Wil Wheaton’s keynote from 2007 and read other blogs and such about attending but I didn’t know what it would be like for me. I wrote about what I learned there on my other blog, and how important it was in solidifying my own identity as a gamer. Before PAX, I still questioned my own geek-cred, and to some degree considered myself more of a <gasp> casual gamer. I mean I had only leveled my first WoW toon to 80 a few weeks before the convention, so I felt like I had reason to wonder if I really had the stuff.
But the thing about being surrounded by other gamers was the absolute diversity I saw in the crowd. As we waited for the doors to open to the expo, the multitude of us that decided to forego the keynote for the first chance to see the games, we were a throbbing mass of humanity. And yes, women were a minority but not to the degree I expected them to be. There were young faces, old faces, middle aged, kids, and infants. They had a screen with games for the crowd to play, trivia you could text your answers to real time, and an arcade fan boy who bounced up a ladder as the crowd leaned right and left. People cheered when the Numa Numa guy’s video started up and many of us danced our way into the expo. It was one of the few moments where I felt like I belonged, and that alone was worth the cost of admission.
A week after we got back, Chris woke up one morning and said, “PAX was really awesome!” That’s the kind of “social gathering” it was, one that even a week later you’re still reveling in, and months later still talking about.