Great Panels at PAX West You Probably Won’t See But Probably Should

Every year, at PAX shows across the country, hundreds of panels covering as many topics under gaming. This year marks my 5th PAX West (/Prime), and because I attend these shows for work, I have never attended a single panel. Not one. It’s embarrassing to admit. 

For the first time in my career, I had some time to finally dive into the vast array of panels. The list of offerings this year is long and spans quite the panoply. To that end, I’ve rounded up a list of panels I think sound particularly interesting. I may even try to make one or two! Look out!

This one goes to 11:

What it is: Gaming Mental Health: How I Changed the World From My PC

Why it’s cool: Video games provide more than entertainment for many people. And as awesome as we all are, each of us has something we struggle with. Using gaming to bring awareness and resources to Mental Health, something that affects roughly 2 out of 5 people, is one of the increasing examples of how gaming is used for good, and illustrates the depth gaming has both as source of community and belonging, but also as way to help humans being human.

What it is: The Business of Geek Music

Why it’s cool: Art is all around us and is becoming more prevalent and appreciated in the geek/gaming industry. Musicians, like game designers, create their art to be loved and enjoyed. But how do they earn a living doing what they love? Can they survive on their art? This panel discuss how they earn their living as artists. The struggle is real.

What it is: Awesome Video Game Data 2016

Why it’s cool: Data is beautiful. Especially when it’s about gaming. Crossing the streams on gaming data gives new insight, and more breadth, to what exactly it is we are doing, why we do it, and where what we love is going. That’s really flippin’ cool.

What it is: From Video Game School to the Video Game Industry

Why it’s cool: I am often asked by fans at every event how they can get a job in gaming. Often times, I struggle to provide a pithy answer, and that sucks. I want to include everyone, and I believe every has the ability to contribute. This panel seeks to address what it’s like working in the industry, and how to get there. Caveat: it takes work! But that’s not a bad thing…

What it is: Choose Your Own Adventure: Women in Video Game Writing

Why it’s cool: typical of many artists, I love when I can go meta. So when I found this panel, I got really stoked. From editing to journalism, this panel explore various roles in the industry that combines passion for writing and gaming. Conveniently, this panel is after-hours, so this is one I’m definitely hitting.

What it is: Finding Acceptance and Community in the Gaming World

Why it’s cool: I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend not only with the panels featured in this blog, but in gaming as an industry, about the concept of inclusiveness and acceptance. Particularly with gaming and it’s rough history of being male-only, many of us involved in the industry are seeking to change not only how we’re perceived from the outside, but how we actually operate from the inside. How will history judge the gaming industry on the subject of acceptance? It’s an incredibly important conversation, and top streamers talk about how they are helping drive the conversation forward in this panel.

What it is: IGN Presents: Happy 20th Birthday, Nintendo 64!

Why it’s cool: OK, admittedly, this one is just a bit of nostalgia for me. My favorite console of all-time is the N64, and I was shocked to see that it’s on it’s 20th birthday. Nothing like the big 2-0 to make a gal feel super old. I’m still undefeated on MarioKart64, by the way. Yes, that is a gauntlet. Yes, I did just throw down. Bring it, nerds.

What it is: GeekDad and GeekMom: Gaming with Geek Generation 2.0

Why it’s cool: Tangentially to the N64 turning 20, my generation is now on to that phase of our lives where we’re getting married and having our own baby geeks. That Impostor Syndrome is particularly rife with us geeky-types, since we all basically feel like big kids with an alcohol license. How can we expect to have our own kids when we still wear Batman underwear and play games all the time? This panel digs into that idea a little more, and how games can, again, be used for more than just entertainment.

What it is: Videogame Documentary Filmmakers: The Stories We Tell

Why it’s cool: I’m a huge history nerd. I love me some good, long, meaty documentaries. Since video games now span more than just one generation, I personally feel it’s important to document and take note of the evolution of video games. Every day new stories pop up, and as our industry continues to expand, the preservation of those stories becomes more critical. Knowledge in any form and about any subject should be valued and appreciated: if you don’t know your history, you’re bound to repeat it.

What it is: The Reality of Virtual Reality: A Look at Consumer-Ready VR

Why it’s cool: The future is now! VR has been in our sights since sci-fi grabbed hold of the concept decades ago and only now are we beginning to see the emergence of that technology in a viable way for the average consumer. Because we are all so new to this technology– trailblazers, in a very real sense– this panel seeks to address the growing pains found in the AR/VR sector, and how we are learning how to make the tech found there available for the masses.

What it is: Please Don’t Punch the DM: More Adventures in Gaming Therapy

Why it’s cool: There’s a new wave of love for the classic Dungeons and Dragons game that put gaming on the map in so many ways. But can it be more than just a 12-hour long saga with your friends whilst inhaling cheetos and Mountain Dew? Celebrate the games we love and hear how they can make us better people in this panel.