On Friday, I tried writing an impromptu joke in the car. I gave myself a random topic: the Invisible Man. Maybe it was the distraction of driving or I’m way out of practice, but this is the best I came up with:
Q) Why did Santa put the Invisible Man on “The naughty list”?
A) He couldn’t see the good in him.
I can’t promise to do anything better than a pun on a Popsicle stick, but give me another prompt and I’ll try to do better next time I’m in the car.
Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at PAX Dev. Two days later, I’ll be on a panel at PAX Prime.
In 2004, I attended the first PAX in Meydenbauer Center. I wasn’t in the games industry then; if I remember correctly, I was a banker in a call center. But I was a gamer who wanted to experience a gathering of the like. I waited my turn and played Halo 2. I got in a game of Guillotine with some strangers while we all waited in line for the concert. I saw the Minibosses. And I went home sure that this was my community.
The next year, I signed on as an Enforcer, a role I was proud to hold till 2011, when work demands at ArenaNet took me away. Manning a booth at PAX was different than volunteering, but it was still a connection. I don’t think I’d be happy if I wasn’t doing some small part to put on PAX. Last year, when ArenaNet didn’t have a booth and I was too late to sign up for Enforcer duty, I worked for a day in the Ska Studios booth, showing people the joys of Charlie Murder (now available on Xbox 360).
This year, I’m speaking, and it feels…awesome. I won’t deny the extrovert’s delight at being onstage, but there’s something else. When I was a kid playing Moon Patrol on my Apple IIC, making games meant copying Basic programs out of 3-2-1 Contact magazine. When Curtis and I came up with an idea for how to improve Final Fantasy by adding sports, it wasn’t more than a fun thought experiment (with rad doodles).Even that first year of PAX, I didn’t wander through the exhibition hall thinking, “One day, I’ll make these.” There’s a satisfaction that comes from fulfilling a dream, but there’s a different kind of excitement that comes with achieving something you never dared to dream.
I get to design games for a living and that’s obscenely lucky. That I can also enter into conversations about the industry’s direction and help put on a great show for the fans of those games, well, that’s a no-brainer. You don’t get lucky and keep it to yourself; this isn’t that kind of community.