This past weekend was a real eye opener for JT and me.
Every year since we moved to the Pacific Northwest we have gone to PAX West (or Prime as it used to be called). We wander around the expo hall seeing what is new in the gaming world and playing a few. We occasionally go to panels, we might paint a DnD mini for an hour just so we can sit for a while, and over the course of the weekend we will play a ton of new board games. JT and I have done these things together and it used to get both of us pumped about the next year of gaming and our potential future as indie developers.
We went this year as well…with Gem in tow.
There are a lot of factors contributing to the fact that none of us enjoyed it very much.
Wizards of the Coast and Paizo (famously of Dungeons and Dragons/Magic the Gathering and Pathfinder) were not there, for various financial or political reasons.
Which means that Pathfinder Society wasn’t running, the paint and take area was no where to be found, the Magic tournaments where absent, and no DnD games were being played. Since these were a significant part of our PAX experience, they were sorely missed and I hope for future attendees that they will come back.
Being a parent has put gaming time on the backburner.
I used to love gaming with JT, but these days we are too tired for anything that requires even a little brain power, so we usually end up on the couch watching TV after Gem goes to bed. I haven’t really gamed other then some silly phone games in over a year. Not only did I feel out of touch with gaming, I also wasn’t sure I even cared anymore.
Any game I play now needs to be able to save at a moments notice so that I can quit and care for Gem in case she only takes a 15 minute nap instead of a 2 hour one. I need to be able to play it with the volume off so that it doesn’t wake her up and I can keep an ear out for the sounds of her waking. I haven’t found many console games that cater to the 5-minute-player except puzzle games which are only enjoyable if they require brainpower…which I have very little to spare.
Babies don’t typically like crowds, flashing lights, and loud noises.
And there were an abundance of all of these things at the conference. Gem was okay in the expo hall for about an hour at a time and then would be quite overwhelmed (as was I honestly) and we would need to take a break somewhere quiet. Except that finding somewhere quiet can be a huge challenge at PAX.
They had the amazing AFK room (sponsored by Take This), but that is a place for adults to go and breath after the rigors of PAX and I felt uncomfortable bringing my baby, who would most certainly make some noise, into a place where others were trying to relax.
We finally managed to find an out of the way alcove where I felt comfortable with Gem crawling around without being underfoot. It was quiet enough for us to take a breather and there were also no screens around so we weren’t assailed by flashing lights. Of course people kept walking through and distracting Gem, so there were no real naps for four days.