Victorian Values went to PAX Aus

Here from the depths of my PAX pox, I wanted to write a little about my second-ever PAX.  It’s a companion piece of sorts to Fake Gamer Girl, because once again I felt overwhelmingly welcomed in a community where I should feel like a complete intruder.

I didn’t push myself too hard this year, given that the con was wedged between two major deadlines at work, but I am proud of myself for actually making it inside the expo hall this year. Although not til Sunday, which meant I missed the gorgeous Nimble (who I met at the Dog Lover’s Show earlier this year) and Scarlett from Australian Working Dog Rescue, who were brought to PAX by the people behind Destiny. I was jealous of many selfies with the pups over the course of the weekend, not that I’m bitter or anything.

For me PAX kicked off for the second-year running with co-op drinks, organised by Jason Imms, which has both been a great social kick-off and vague ruiner of weekend, as neither time have we managed to leave before the bar closes. Co-op drinks for me could be renamed to Do I Recognise That Person Off Twitter? Uhhhhhh I Don’t Know What To Do I’m Horrifically Socially Awkward Drinks. But nonetheless it is an opportunity to meet and catch up with a bunch of Sydney people from my wider social circle and I would probably continue to sneak along to co-op drinks even if I wasn’t attending PAX. Good god, am I gamer yet?

First thing I did with my vaguely-hungover arse on Saturday was plonk it down at a panel. This year The Great Debate was on Watching People Play Games Is More Fun Than Playing Them, with Ally McLean, Burnie Burns and Jesse Cox playing ‘for’ and Rae Johnston, Lawrence Leung and Jordan Raskopolous playing ‘against’. And Liam Esler attempting to act as general chaos manager. As neither a gamer nor an enthusiastic watcher I wasn’t sure what side I’d come down on, but Rae really convinced me of the legal pitfalls of staring through someone’s window.

One game I found insanely fun to watch at the AGPN Presents: Partymode panel was Nidhogg II (I think, please don’t hurt me anyone. How many games can there be about being eaten by a giant worm???). It had the crowd roaring and possibly rooting for the giant chopping machine to chew up to contestants.

I spent most of the next two hours after this event just shitting bricks about our own Let’s Play Some Bad Dating Sims panel. I was so lucky to be on the panel with a bunch of lovely ladies who did not seem to be worried at all – Tegan, her co-workers from Allure Media, Hayley and Amanda, and the wonderful other Katie Steggy, who when she ordered a burger to be delivered to the stage made me feel sure that everything was going to be a-ok. Being an anxious weirdo I’d turned up at the panel room early, and got to see the line growing and growing until about ten minutes before we were due to start, we were told the queue for our panel had been capped. So I guess we worked out where all the people who weren’t out drinking or at the Saturday night concerts were. We had a lovely, enthusiastic crowd who made me feel incredibly welcome despite admitting to being the token non-gamer, and who really got in to audience participation, which was delightful. And the panel was such fun for me. Tegan had asked us to research and pitch a dating sim to play, and mine was Panzermadels. I don’t want to spoil it too much except to say that the concept is a boy who thinks he’s going to learn about military warfare ends up at a school filled with WWII tanks that look like Japanese schoolgirls. We ended up playing the sim for the entire panel and spoiler alert, I did not spend money on this game, so our run-though was my first experience of it (a few audience members were happy to admit they’d played it!) and it was just…a real eye-opener. Shout-out to Hayley for her voice acting as our main character Erwin Lemmor (yep….that’s Rommel spelled backwards).

Here’s a photo stolen from Tegan’s Twitter, I suspect taken by Rae!

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Because when you think ‘bad’ you think Comic Sans – nice one Tegan.
(additional shoutout to Alex for clicking buttons for us so we could just mock the game)

And from the other side, terror looks a bit like this:
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Because I skipped the insane idea of more drinking on Saturday I was able to haul in to the convention centre at a reasonable hour on Sunday – note, yes, it’s nice when cons are on in your city, but trying to motivate yourself to commute in to the CBD from where you can actually afford to live for the seventh day in a row is not the easiest thing in the world. First I decided to learn about Making Names In Games from Seamus Byrne, Rae Johnston, Jesse Cox, Holly Conrad and Ashley Jenkins. Partly because my friends were still getting breakfast, partly because this is obviously important stuff for me to learn because I am clearly going to be a big Name In Games.
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Also, I actually played a game! I entered the expo hall with some trepidation – holy mother of god, that front area is noisy – and poked my way back to PAX Rising where the indie games live. Partly to visit my pals at Inflatality, who had just released their game on Steam and had an enthusiastic crowd wanting to play, and partly because I really like seeing the creativity and visual aspects of these games. I may not be a gamer, but I’m still a huge effin’ huge nerd with a communications degree. I can appreciate. Once I met up with Alex and Tegan she managed to tell multiple people that I’d really enjoy the new Orwell game because I’m great at internet stalking. While this is absolutely true, I played the game and I sucked pretty bad, needing the developer to stand behind me and offer hints (and straight up cribbing off Tegan). Very interesting reflection on the current political environment, that one! Anyway, it was really nice to meet lots of friendly faces and exhausted devs at PAX Rising. I hope you’ve all got cracking on sleeping for a week, because you’re the real MVPs.

As expected, there were heaps of panels I would have liked to have seen, and people I would have liked to have caught up with, but I hope PAX is never extended beyond three days. Because I am 31 years old, and I will die. Stay tuned for my ‘Tinder is totally a mobile game’ thesis, and see you next year.

Fake Gamer Girl

The finalists for The Lizzies were announced today. For those not in the know (aka me until a year ago or so), they are IT Journalism Awards, with categories for business, technology, gaming and the like. Scanning the list of people up for awards was a bit like looking down my Twitter ‘Following’ list, and it was a bit hard not to wonder, ‘How did I get here?’

I’m a lot of things. I’m a data nerd. A sometimes-pinup. A rock ‘n’ roll fan. A Whovian.

I am not a gamer. That is a straight-up fact. I have no distaste for it, and back when I was younger and had acres of spare time, I would in fact play games. No consoles to speak of in my house, but my parents have both always worked with computers (programming and IT consulting). Honestly I don’t think the copies of The Sims and Age of Empires in our house were bought by or for me, but I devoted plenty of after-school hours to enjoying them. But after high school it didn’t develop beyond there. My passions simply lay elsewhere – if I had spare time, I wanted to spend it listening to music, reading books, and watching movies or television. I felt a greater connection to those mediums (particularly having studied English Literature and Cultural Studies at university), and that’s how I wanted to idle away my hours when they were there to idle. Even in tabletop games, because I am not the least bit competitive, I consider my main role to be less ‘engaged participant’ and more ‘Chaos Monkey’.

But I have always been surrounded by the chatter. In news that will surprise no-one, the girl who has a blog based on Excel charts was part of the geeky group in high school. Everyone around me gamed – guys and girls. And since high school, I have considered gamers to some extent to be ‘my people’. I try to show an interest in their interests – I always like to ask questions, even if I know the answer will wash over my head. My best friend Tegan, her consoles and I moved in together for a while after university, and the sound of people dodging cars in GTA became standard background noise.

Tegan – now a host of Sass Effect, a gaming and advice podcast where Victorian Values found its start, as well as a staffer at the company that publishes Kotaku and Gizmodo….and honest-to-god Lizzie nominee to boot – has become my entry to this world. In 2015 I headed off to Oz Comic-Con to cheer her on in a panel, none of the content of which I understood. Last year I somehow found myself (slightly bewildered) at the Titanfall 2 launch, and attending PAX for the first time. Unsurprisingly I have met dozens of excellent people – both IRL and online – through her, that I would not otherwise.

But I don’t strictly know where I belong in this world. Am I some sort of gaming WAG (despite being neither wife nor girlfriend)? Fake gamer girl? Hanger-on? Or have I, as someone who gets the references, listens to the podcasts and sometimes goes to the events, become a gamer by default? There was a very small campaign (of two) last year to get me to take this title on. You’ve got to admit, you’ve found yourself a special bunch when members of the community want you to call yourself the thing, without you having to actually do the thing.

But if I take it on, it’s a slippery slope before I started referring to myself as an international fashion model.