Sep 3 2010 4:54pm

Geek Out!

Like when the planets align, there are a few times each year when geeks can fly their freak flags high and proud, in vast numbers, and at the same time in different parts of the universe.

This coming Labor Day is one of those weekends.

On the west coast, we have Pax, in Seattle, a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers and a general celebration of gamer-geek culture. (And in the other corner, Atlanta, we have Dragon*Con. But more on that another time.)

In fact, Pax calls itself a festival and not a convention because in addition to dedicated tournaments and freeplay areas (The east coast version in Boston this spring had a very cool classic arcade game room, which was amazing! All your fave games like Frogger, Galaga and my fave, Robotron 2084), they’ve got nerdcore concerts from awesome performers like MC Frontalot and Paul & Storm, panel discussions like “The Myth of the Gamer Girl,” the Omegathon event (A three-day elimination tournament in games from every category, from Pong to Halo to skeeball), and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers.

But I was thinking that probably the best part of PAX (and similar events like Dragon*Con, the other big fantasy/science fiction fandom event of the year) is this: You get to hang out with kindred folk who love their games and books and movies and costumes. They will argue and defend their fandom universes to the death. They will argue why Tom Bombadil should not have been cut from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. They will battle over Kirk vs. Picard. They will annoy and astound you with their detailed, persnickety knowledge.

In other words, a geek is less what someone loves as it is HOW they love that object of affection. Geeks are passionate about their thang before it became fashionable and long after it’s passed from the public eye. Perhaps that’s the best definition of a geek.

If you’re headed to Atlanta or Seattle this weekend, check here for how to win a free copy of my book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, now out in paperback.

Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of the award-winning travel memoir-pop culture investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, now out in paperback. You can reach him and get more information at his website

Stefan Jones
1. Stefan Jones
How the hell did I never hear about Pax before now? I've been living in the NW since 2002 and it's not like Seattle is that far.

*Sigh*. Well, not that I go to conventions much these days. But I'm writing RPG material again and maybe I can justify the time and expense next year.


P.S. Just finished reading "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks."
Ethan Gilsdorf
2. egilsdorf
hey great news, Stefan. glad you discovered FF&GG. you'll have to catch Pax next year. thanks for supporting my book.
Cathy Mullican
3. nolly
What, no love for Worldcon? Sure, it's in Australia this year, but it's also the granddaddy of big geek gatherings, and really deserves a mention.
Stefan Jones
4. egilsdorf
you're right! I should have mentioned WorldCon. Sorry. I was a little blindered by the cons I'd been to here at home. Totally forgot that WorldCon was going on at the same time.
Cathy Mullican
5. nolly
Next year's is a little earlier -- Aug. 17-21 -- but a lot closer for most of us -- Reno. for more.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to finding out the results of the Hugo Awards this year.

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