At the Expo: Diversity and Togetherness

| 17 Sep 2012 00:26

Love is in the air on the expo's second day.

On the first day of the Escapist Expo, I attended a panel staffed by a born-and-bred Bostonian, two British expats, a Canadian, and a displaced Oregonian, hosted by a man from Texas. That night, we all gathered on the lawn of the picturesque American Tobacco Campus to watch a cheesy 80s movie, and frankly, it was too dark to tell who anyone was - all I could make out was their raucous laughter whenever something bizarre happened onscreen or MovieBob made a particularly incisive comment.

By the time Saturday morning rolled around, I found that this trend only continued. Like the first day, I spent a good chunk of my time at the Escapist Expo helping loyal editorial assistant Paul Goodman man the tabletop RPG signup table. Spurred on by a number of encouraging roleplayers, I had decided to put my Deadlands book to good use and host a nice old-fashioned RPG in the Weird West. My players were black and white, and hailed from New England and the South, but all they cared about was having a good mix of combat and non-combat classes.

I knew I had to hit up another panel or spend the next year regretting it, so I chose one called "Fanboyism." This one, which involved MovieBob, Jim Sterling, Yahtzee, Dr. Mark Kline, and executive editor Susan Arendt as hostess, discussed the sometimes subtle differences between enthusiastic fans of a property and those who take their love to irritating or even antagonistic levels - "fanboys." Fanboys, the panelists agreed, are people who seek to set themselves and their property apart from those who would dare to criticize it; in other words, fanboys deliberately take an exclusionary attitude. They want to create an insular community where their opinions exist only in an echo chamber.

That night, when Gavin Dunne gave his highly anticipated Miracle of Sound concert, a swirl of colored lights surrounded him as he sang song after song inspired by North American and European developers. He stopped at one point to give heartfelt thanks to his fans for giving so much love to a man from a small town in Ireland and invited anyone who knew the words to "Mining All Day Long" to come onstage and sing with him.

The theme of Day 2 at the Escapist Expo was clear: The people at this convention do not care much about race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, political beliefs, or outward appearance. If there is some facet of nerd culture that you love, you are not only welcomed, but embraced. It'd be a cliché to say that the convention is all about the games, but it's not entirely true, so I'll use another cliché instead: It's all about the people.

Image: American Tobacco

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