Come for the Games, Stay for the People
Once, about 5 years ago now, I was sitting in a crowded hall watching a Far Cry 3 presentation from Ubisoft. I was at the first EB Expo to appear in Sydney and I was very new to the games industry myself. Sitting there taking notes about Vaas, I was tapped on the shoulder. I looked around and there was another guy with a press pass on and a notepad in his hand. He grabbed my hand in a firm handshake and said “Hi Matt, I am Jason. Nice to meet you.” That Jason turned out to be sometime Player 2 Podcast contributor and accomplished freelancer Jason Imms, someone I am happy to call a friend. A couple of years later at the same event, Jason introduced me to Lance, developer of Black Annex and husband to Player 2’s Stevie McDonald. He greeted me with a warm hug and while I have never been the hugging type it seemed impolite to push him away. I am still not a hugger, but where Lance is concerned exceptions have to be made. These are just two people that without a gaming expo, I would never have met.
The point I am getting to here is that there is more to these Expos than simply games and cosplay. Every year people ask me why I bother even going but that is easy to answer. It is for the people. Don’t get me wrong, the chance to play unreleased games, check out the latest tech or see industry figures make keynote speeches are all great reasons to come to EB Expo or PAX but I can say with a hand on my heart that without the chance to catch up with these people there is every possibility that making the effort to get to Sydney or Melbourne would be too much and I just wouldn’t bother, no matter what games were promised.
Now that I am the Editor of my own gaming site these events have become even more important to me. Not only are they great for website content but they give me a chance to catch up with my writers, who are stationed all around Australia, and just hang out with these people that are a massive part of my life. We get to have drinks, record podcasts, talk shit and of course play games. The chance to bond and form stronger friendships is something I cannot afford to miss. The only regret I have is that I can’t do this more often, but because of the enormity of Australia that would almost be impossible.
You see for me this is a journey into the world of my people. My friends and family at home are not gamers at all, so my giant passion is quite often misunderstood or requires explanation to them. I can’t talk about games in anything but broad generalities and if I try most look at me like I am talking Swahili. I don’t have a problem with this at all, in fact, variety is the spice of life, but sometimes it is nice to be around people that have similar loves, thoughts and interests. It is a very easy thing to do, slipping in with a group of people that share passions, and it can make for a wonderful escape from the day to day. For example, this past weekend at EB Expo a group of games media were sitting around a table, having a beer and chatting away nicely. One person asked the simple question, team Triss or team Yen? Instantly everyone at the table knew what was being discussed and was able to give their answer. If I had asked a family member that same question I would probably be looked at like I was one of the monsters from The Witcher.
So when you are pondering on whether or not to go to one of these expos, especially if it is your first time, please think of them as more than simply a game show. They are a melting pot of people from all walks of life that share a passion. They are a massive group of souls that are excited and keen to meet like-minded people and talk about their latest gaming exploit. They are, simply put, a great way to spend a day with friends both new and old. I implore you all next time you attend a show to shake a hand, strike up a conversation or compliment an outfit. It could just lead to a great friendship or two. It certainly did for me.