Trip Report: Penny Arcade Expo, Seattle
During the last weekend in August, I went to Seattle with my two sons to attend the Penny Arcade Expo, a three day get together for "gamers" of various types. And believe me, there were many types of people there. Without further ado, here are some lessons learned and observations from my foray into the world of gamers and the people of Seattle:
1) Of most interest to bloggers and those who read them, we actually met and had lunch with the incomparable ninme!
The boys and I met ninme and her partner Peter for lunch; since they're locals, they knew a really good, non-touristy place in the bowels of the Pike Place Market. Good conversation and good food was had by all. While it's well known that ninme doesn't want to trade in on her good looks for increased blog traffic, I can report that she easily could if she wanted to. My oldest son rated her as "hot" -- and he's very selective when giving out that label.
2) There were probably over 30K people at the Expo, and while there were quite a few of the stereotypical "gamer" guys who would be recognized as "nerds" from miles away, there were a surprising number of "regular" people -- mostly, they seemed to be tech workers at various Seattle companies like Microsoft. The ratio of guys to girls seemed to be about 4:1; a good proportion of the girls seemed to be dressed in what I can only describe as a "goth schoolgirl" style. Short plaid skirts with dog collars made for an interesting visual.
3) The gamers themselves were divided into video gamers and table gamers; there were quite a few people clustered around tabletops with arcane symbols and playing pieces, with die of between 4 and 20 sides flying around everywhere. While I admit to having played "Dungeons and Dragons" back before I joined the Navy, I found myself hanging out more with the "video game" people (since my sons were in that category). Here I am kicking butt on Guitar Hero 2 -- (Level of Difficulty: Easy):
4) "Geek music" and "Nerdcore rap" are actually pretty good. One of the best parts of the expo for me was discovering a singer named Jonathan Coulton, an ex-computer programmer who now writes and performs songs about various things that interest geeks. Do yourself a favor -- if you ever see that Jonathan Coulton is coming to your town, go see him. He's coming to Austin tonight, so I'll be there. The various geek celebrities (including keynote speaker and celebrity gamer spokesman Wil Wheaton) made themselves available to their fans throughout the weekend. Here are the boys with nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot:
5) Despite what some on the right might say, the gamers I saw there were anything but anti-social. If your kids like video games, it's not a bad thing. If you like video games yourself, don't be ashamed. Just see if you can get your kids to take you on in some of the old games, and kick their butts.