This isn't a bad thing at all. None of it is: It's damned convenient to be able to sit down and shoot, punch, or thunder-shock someone in the face whenever you feel like it without having to drive down to an arcade or lug your gaming rig to a friend's house. You can keep in touch with and play games against friends on the other side of the country; this was all but unthinkable (on consoles) just ten years ago.
What Patrick and the PAX Pokémon League did wasn't a repudiation or rejection of these technology advancements we've seen over the years, but rather a celebration of the old-school, of the face-to-face gaming that seems to have dropped by the wayside lately. This wasn't something that just sprung up; the PAX League took months and months of careful planning as the participants meticulously selected and trained their teams, made costumes, and even designed and manufactured their own badges as awards for the trainers who bested them.
It was a Poké-LAN party - itself almost a relic these days - that encouraged fans of the series to meet up face to face and share in a sense of community all wrapped in a curtain of competition (and more than a bit of pageantry).
It was also a triumphant success, says Patrick, who estimates that over a hundred different challengers earned at least one gym badge, with fifteen of those making it to the Elite Four - and four besting him as Professor Pine to become Champions.
In the end, my own gym challenge never went anywhere; having to work made it difficult to find time to track down more than one or two badges. I did end up giving out an impromptu Escapist Badge (read: one of the "e" buttons I was carrying around) of my own, but my quest for glory remained sadly unfulfilled ... for the time being, anyway.
"We're definitely going to be doing it again next year here and at PAX East," says Patrick. "We're also considering bringing the league to other conventions."
You know what, Patrick? In the name of old-school face-to-face gaming, I don't think anyone would have a problem with that at all.
John Funk would totally have been the Ice-type Gym Leader had he known about this thing in advance. Maybe next year.