PAX East: A Modest Success

Editor's Note: There is much to say about the disaster in Japan, but as I'm still playing catch-up, I'll wait on that post and give an update on that thing I've been working on

I hope that next time [Team Respect] goes to a con, there are more of us to hit up the panels and hand out swag, because for as much fun as I had at PAX East, I do wish I'd gotten the chance to play some more videogames.

To that note, I did get the chance to demo the new Mortal Kombat, which was more fun than I've had playing a fighting game in a couple of years (and more fun than I've had playing a Mortal Kombat game since the franchise launched).

I also got to demo Twisted Pixel's The Gunstringer, which is truly fucking astounding. Using the Xbox Kinect, you control the story's hero, who just so happens to be a marionette! As you fight your way through the barren landscape, a narration plays that adapts to the action on screen. It is to puppet theater what Rez was to music.

None of this is to suggest that I regret the other purposes for which I attended PAX. As it stands, [TR] is garnering still more followers on Twitter, with a major spike since the con. We distributed pink wristbands with our twitter name and our URL, collected business cards from a fair number of developers. I was also approached by a teacher from my high school, who was interested in organizing an event there about ethics and hate speech and wanted to know if I'd be interested in giving a talk.

Considering that one of the long-term goals we had from the getgo was doing precisely that sort of thing, I'm pretty fucking psyched.

When we started out, we weren't quite sure what we could accomplish at PAX East with such little time to organize and so few resources. The bar we set for ourselves was thus: Make it absolutely fucking clear that at this con, in this city, the people who are interested in helping greatly outnumber the trolls.

The douchetrucks behind @teamrape managed to stage a "flashmob" consisting of between 15 and 18 people outside a nearby UNO's.  They also managed to get us to give them handfulls of bracelets before we knew who they were, and get themselves kicked out of the Gender in Games panel. They've been at this for a couple of months longer than we have, and are followed by 60 people on twitter.

As of this writing, we've distributed around 2000 wristbands, are followed by 192 twitter users-- including the great and powerful @Themiscyra, who on Sunday became the first woman to take the stage for the final round of the Omegathon, and did so proudly displaying a [Team Respect] wristband-- and have made significant content with the press, the industry, and activists in the community. We also met with the brilliant minds at MIT's Gambit Lab, who in addition to their great work in gaming, created the Hate Speech Project as a reaction to the hostility surrounding the dickwolves debacle. It was put on display at the back of their booth at the expo hall.

A full report will follow over at the Team Respect blog, but in short: [TR] is WINNING. This started as a response to a specific mishap in the gaming community, but it won't end there.

As gamers, we're sick of merely saying "games aren't bad for you." Games are GOOD for you. They keep soldiers deployed in combat zones from wanting to kill themselves-- in fact the only behavior more effective in decreasing risk of suicide is 5 hours of daily exercise.  They treat depression.  They improve confidence and self-esteem, and channel positive energy. If you don't overindulge, they make you a more productive, more considerate, more helpful member of society.  But the catch is, none of that shit works if you're an asshole, or are playing in a space that's dominated by assholes.

We can't sanitize the Internet or online gaming as a whole--nor do we want that power-- but from what we've learned at PAX, it's quite clear what our mission from here on out ought to be: To carve out a space where people can expect to be treated respectfully, and to encourage people to take that attitude out to the gaming community as a whole. To encourage others to lead by example and in so doing change the fucking world. The limits of what can be accomplished by our efforts have yet to be fully defined, but what we already know commands us to press forward.


  1. Just as a minor correction, I was wearing a [TR] wristband on Sunday and proud to do it, but the other pink thing on my wrist was actually my Wonder Woman sweatband (which was supplementing the Power Shirt). :) You guys were awesome the whole con long, and continue to be -- I look forward to watching Team Respect grow through 2011, and pitching in and hanging with you where I can.

  2. I was trapped DMing the whole time, but @Samusclone got a pinkband for me and I haven't taken it off since! Kudos for an awesome idea and Kudos to you @Themiscyra for doing well!

  3. Duly corrected. I am many things, but I am not a person who would ever diss Wonder Woman

    Thanks so much for your support, and congrats on the Omegathon performance.

    The sheer quantity of awesome people--yourself most certainly included-- who showed support at PAX give us high hopes for the rest of the year and beyond.

  4. Thanks for stopping by! The feedback we've gotten has been overwhelmingly positive and we're grateful for all of it. Maybe we'll see you next PAX

  5. I think this is way cool wombat, good for you.

  6. So nobody else finds it comical that there are really some people out there who think they can get 72 virgins in the afterlife by blowing themselves up? I stopped watching when light comedy was quantified as hate speech. Laughter is good for depression too, as is stoicism.