One of the themes of my PAX keynote was Welcome Home, which everyone who had been to a PAX before could understand. For the first timers, though, I wanted to help them understand exactly why it is we say that, so I said:
All of the things that make us weird and strange in the real world? Those things that people tease us for loving, those things that we seem to care about more than everyone else at work or school? Those things make us who we are, and when we’re at PAX, we don’t have to hide them or explain them or justify them to anyone; instead, we celebrate and share them.
We have come here this weekend, and we will go to PAX Prime in Seattle in August, and we will be back here in a year, and back there next year, and the year after, and the year after that, because just playing games isn’t nearly as fun as playing them – together – surrounded by thousands of people who love them as much as you do. The next 72 hours are going to go by faster than you realize, so make sure you stop and look around a few times every day and appreciate this time. It will be over before you know it.
I'm glad I took my own advice, because the weekend flew by and was over before I knew it. I'm truly grateful that I carved out some time for myself, and spent nearly all of it playing in the classic arcade and classic console rooms. I even played 4-player Warlords on Atari for the first time ever (2-player being the best we could do in the 80s, since nobody I knew had 4 paddle controllers - well, two controllers, since ... aw, forget it. If you know what I mean, I don't have to explain it to you and if you don't, it's not that important.) and made it farther in Dragon's Lair than I think I ever did when I was a kid.
I was completely exhausted by the end of the day on Sunday - but not sick! HA! HA! I WIN AT NOT GETTING SICK AT PAX! - and as I sat on my bed in the hotel, zoning out at something stupid on television while my HP and Manna bars slowly climbed out of the red, I began to feel a familiar sense of ennui. I feel this way every time a PAX is over: a sense of sadness and loss that I've never really been able to identify more eloquently than "post-PAX blues." A fellow PAX attendee e-mailed me this morning, though, and summed up the feeling in one word: Homesickness. I'm home, yet I feel homesick. I know that may sound weird, but it perfectly sums up how I feel today.
I spent a lot of this weekend feeling grateful, and that feeling continues today: I'm grateful for my friendly local game shop, I'm grateful for my game group, and I'm especially grateful that I only have to wait about 3700 hours for PAX Prime, instead of the usual 8760.
Uh, not that I'm counting down, or anything. (Except that I am.)