Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do you believe in Magic?

So, I went back to PAX for a second day.

Sunday seemed a little less crazy than Saturday, but it was still an exhausting mess. I try to allow as little waiting-in-line into my life as possible, but it seems that cons are all about lining up. I know that there are some really popular events, but speaking as someone who has had to do more than a little crowd control in my time, it sometimes felt that the queuing was somewhat over-managed, which created a sense of  anxiety in many attendees, resulting in a bit of "queue-creep," when people line up earlier and earlier even for events that may not even fill.

I might not have minded it as much if the sessions I was lining up for had been more productive or enjoyable. The first was under-moderated and, like yesterday's session, devolved into a series of anecdotes vaguely related to the topic, late-career entry in game design. The second was supposed to be about gaming in higher ed, but was actually about higher ed for gaming; that is, it didn't focus on how to incorporate gaming into the classroom, but described a program for learning how to do game development. The last session I attended was at least actually about gamification of the classroom, but all of the panelists were from K-12. I did glean some recommendations for games that work in a classroom setting:

Um, okay.

While people are waiting to enter sessions, staff come by, engage line-standers in impromptu games, and hand out prizes; or to put it more accurately, they hand out many instances of the same prize, to wit:

I had gotten one yesterday, too... 

Yes, I'm such a good gamer at things like D20 Challenge, Win, Lose, or Banana, Cowboy-Ninja-Bear, and some kind of match game that I won eight Magic the Gathering decks: two red, two black, two green, one white, and one blue. I don't even play Magic!

I spent part of the day that I wasn't on line wandering with buddy Sahar, who had snagged a free ticket late in the game, and some of her luck rubbed off on me. We were at a vendor table with Liz Spain, who was demonstrating her steampunk find-Atlantis board game, Quest for Atlantis (part of a projected Incredible Expeditions series). After the spiel, she invited us to draw a ball from a gum-ball machine.

The prior visitor had drawn a clear ball (we could see the balls were mostly clear, with just a few blue ones) and had gotten an art print, so I told Sahar to hope for a blue one. In fact she drew one and won a USB drive with a kraken on it.

It was my turn, so I clicked the little handle around and out popped a beautiful marble. Our eyerows went up and Liz's eyes got wide, and she said that I had won a free copy of the game!

Autographed, no less!

I was pleased beyond just getting lucky for a change, because it actually looks like a really cool game. Its art design is just fantastic, the theme is awesome, and the gameplay looks creative and workable. We'll set up a playdate and I'll report on it later. Thanks, Liz!

Well, that was about it, besides a little more hunting for cool tabletop games. I'm not sure I'll go back to PAX next year, but it did make me eager for Geek Girl Con in month or so.

I wonder how long the lines will be there...

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