I'm not really much of a writer so you'll have to excuse my terrible structure, grammar and whatever else I'm doing wrong. It's also about 2AM so I'm tired and will miss many of my mistakes.
Tonight I watched the latest episode of PATV, which was about PAX East. I’ve been meaning to write about my experience at PAX East but as always, life has a tendency to bring up various annoying tasks to get in the way so I’ve been putting it off. But as I watched this episode and saw all of the familiar sites from that glorious weekend, a rush of good feelings came back to me.
Every so often (when I'm lucky), something happens that justifies why I'm pursuing this particular type of career and life style as oppose to blending in with the rest of the world. It can be anything really. A special moment, a new film, art etc etc. Since I've been home in New York (again) it’s been harder to have those moments. I've been out of school since December and am waiting anxiously to move to Vancouver. I've taken a part time job doing shitty office work for a family friend. The few classes that I have been taking in the city are not as mentally stimulating as I originally thought they’d be. Most of my friends are away at school or working so I've been spending a lot of weekends alone.
Long Island appears to be sucking the life out of me.
I decided would take the time I had off to do some stuff for myself. One of those things I planned was PAX. When Name Game started off with Sunday Funnies I really wasn’t sure if it would last. I promised myself though that if Name Game did get a full contract with the Escapist, I would go to PAX East to try and meet my editors. Surely enough Name Game did proceed to a full contract. It looked like I was going to PAX. I didn't know that much about PAX other than it was a hug convention, celebrating nerds through the creators of Penny Arcade. So in preparation I had Name Game stickers and posters printed to promote myself while I was there.
I had never been to any sort of gaming convention before. I was expecting the whole experience to be good fun for a weekend. Taking a load off while seeing some new toys. What I didn't expect was how it would restore my sanity and show me again it's okay to be who I am. Going to PAX was one of the most surreal experiences I've had in a very long time. It didn't feel like a convention of strangers. It felt like a community. A close one at that. I felt more at home there than I did living with my family in New York for the past several months. I was actually appalled by how nice everyone was. I realized later it was so easy to talk to anyone because they had similar interests in mind; something I've had trouble finding since I’ve been separated from most of my close friends.
I spent my first day wondering alone since my friend, Patrick, wasn’t flying in until that night. I didn’t really have much of an agenda so I kinda wung it. After seeing the Portal 2 booth and going to the Penny Arcade Q & A I didn’t have anything in particular I wanted to do. I was exausted since I had been carrying heavy posters in my bag, along with a makeshift PodiBama picket sign (a podibama poster taped to a piece of cardboard, taped to a broken light saber toy) which was stupid inconvenient to carry. I decided to go to the Blanimations panel to have a place to sit while listening to some good comedy. I parked myself in the back, fairly isolated from the rest of the audience. As I relaxed for a bit I could see people getting up and walking through the isles to leave the panel. Through the light coming from the entrance doors I realized that two of those people were oddly familiar. They were none other than Graham and Kathleen from Loading Ready Run. After frantically grabbing my stuff and following after them I found Graham outside talking to some fans. I decided to introduce myself. I was a tad fan-struck and nervous. I stumbled over my words a bit but then we just got a conversation going and he felt like an old pal. Shortly after Kathleen and Paul joined us and I ended up hanging with them for most of the day. At one point when we were talking to some fans that came up to them for pictures and autographs I said they (LRR) are being nice enough to let me follow them around. To which Kathleen replied, "You're not following us. You're hanging out with us." I was humbled. These were the people who I would crowd around a computer with my friends in high school at lunchtime to watch every week. Now here I was not only hanging out with them but they actually enjoyed my company.
Soon after something really unexpected happened... I met a fan of Name Game. A guy, Brian, had recognized my PodiBama Poster and stopped to say he was a fan. I think I was more excited then he was. The best part was he wasn’t the last one. I continued to meet more fans throughout the day and the rest of the weekend. But for the rest of that whole first day I was shaking. I couldn’t believe all of this was entirely real.
The next day I finally met my editor, Susan Arednt, who greeted me with a big smile and a warm hug. I met other writers and staff of the Escapist including Greg Tito, MovieBob and Shamus Young. They were all just as amazing. Since almost all of our communication is done through email it was nice to see that these people had faces and real personalities. They were all warm, welcoming and entirely too funny. For the rest of the time there I enjoyed playing new games, meeting more new people and going to various panels. I even hope I might get to talk at one some day.
Going to PAX East was probably one of the most important decisions I’ve made since I’ve been off from school. It was one of those times where I was reminded why I do what I do. A feeling I hadn’t had since I took my first game design course at art school. In those three days I felt more alive then I ever did back home. It reminded me that there are other people, a lot in fact, that are just like me. Nerds, artists, and writers who are all really big kids with a lot of love to give. A community I want to continue to stay a part of. A truly genuine and honest community (extremely hard to come by in Long Island). A community that restores my life and spirit.
I must thank all of those who helped make Name Game what it is today. My editors, The Escapist, my friends, my family, and most importantly my fans. My community. By keeping Name Game going you have given me opportunities like this. You have also given me something to look forward to creating each week when home life seems bleek. Something that keeps me on my toes a bit and helps me grow as an artist.
And thank you PAX East for bringing all this back to me. I can’t wait to go to PAX Prime.
The aftermath of my PodiBama Picket sign.