(note: this was originally titled "everything is better with pirates." I changed it to more accurately reflect the content of the post. However, the point still stands: everything is better with pirates.)
My story on So-Cal Gen Con for the Geek In Review comes in at 2200 words this week, which is twice as long as I wanted it to be. In my efforts to cut it down while keeping the story intact, I excised the following story, which I love so much, it actually made me cry just a little bit when I hit control-x:
I waited in line for registration behind a man with his three small children: a boy who was about six, and two girls who were eight and nine. The boy wore a Pokemon baseball cap, and the girls were dressed as fairies. Any doubt that they were geeks in training was erased when one girl said to the other, "I'm level nine thousand."
Her sister looked back and said, "You can't be level nine thousand. I'm level nine thousand."
"Okay," she said. "I'm level nine thousand ninety-nine, then."
The boy, who had been listening quietly, spoke. "You need to make one more non-dark power move," he said, matter-of-factly, "and then you can increase your level to ten thousand."
They all agreed that this was the most logical solution to the level problem, as they were called to one window and I was called to another.
As I passed them, I looked at their father. I couldn't tell if he had brought them, or they had brought him. Either way, the next generation of gamers was right there with him, and though I wanted to warn them to avoid the filking and the furries, I didn't want their dad to get any strange ideas about me, so I stayed quiet. I bought my badge, put it around my neck, and walked into the hall.
Of all the things I saw at SoCal GenCon, the addition of families to our world was the most unexpected. However, it was clearly not unexpected by the organizers, who embraced the level 1 humans, and did everything they could to make them comfortable. They had a giant pirate ship bounce house, all sorts of age-appropriate arts and crafts, and games like Memory, Rock'em Sock'em Robots, and Hungry Hungy Hippos (Hey, even kids know the waiting game sucks) set up in the middle of the floor, like a giant daycare for gamers with families. This is a great idea, exposing kids to gaming and to pirates. Everything is better with pirates!