Five cool things from PAXU

I’m a little late to the party on this, but the holidays and life have gotten in the way!

I attended my first board game convention – PAX Unplugged – last November/December. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous going in – would I be overwhelmed by the crowds? Would anyone attend the panel discussion I was part of? Would I spend way too much money on games? Would I have a good time?

Spoiler alert: I had a blast! Here’s a list of five things that stood out to me.

1Presenting on a panel. One of the main reasons I went to PAXU was to present on a panel titled “Space on the Table: Education, Enjoyment, or Both?” The panelists were all people who work in the space industry and who love gaming. We had a game designer, tabletop gamers, role playing gamers, scientists, and a system administrator.

We started by discussing a few questions we had come up with – are there games that can teach people about space? How much realism should there be in a space-themed game? What role can games play in boosting enthusiasm for space exploration? Then we took several questions from the audience – and that filled our entire time slot. (I’ll delve into some of these questions in future posts.)

2Playing a ton of awesome games. I went to the convention with my husband, Andrew, and our close friend, Tracey. We were the perfect sized group for demo-ing games in the exhibit hall. We walked nearly the entire exhibit floor on Friday and took in several demos on the way.

On Saturday, we checked out a few games from the huge PAXU game library and staked a claim in the gaming area – trying some new-to-us games that we had wanted to try.

I’m not sure I could name all the games we tried, but it felt like a lot!

3Great food. The convention center where PAXU is held is right across the street from the Reading Market, which has an amazing selection of food! I’ve been there once before when I was in town for an education convention, but had someone completely forgotten about the Reading Market. It is perfect for breakfast and lunch – and has a number of selections for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. There were also a myriad of restaurants in the area, and we checked a few out for dinner.

4Patchwork Tournament. Tracey talked me into participating in the Patchwork Tournament with her. I hadn’t played Patchwork much lately, and most of my recent experience was on the tablet, so I wasn’t sure how I would fare. In fact, I fully expected to get knocked out in the first round.

Instead, I made it into the third round – the top four players – and then made a fatal error (I bought a piece I knew better than to buy, and I knew it at the moment I did it). Still, it was a lot of fun, and all of the other competitors, while set on winning, were very friendly.

5Great times with good friends. Andrew, Tracey, and I are all big gamers, and this was the perfect trip for the three of us. We respected our own limits – recognizing when we had had enough crowds and when we needed to escape for a while. We also split up for a while so that Andrew and I could pick out and order a new game table (from Geeknson!) while Tracey explored some games and exhibitors she had wanted to see.

All in all, a fun time that we’re looking forward to doing again.

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