For both my digital artefacts, I took advantage of the fact that I had two panels approved for PAX Aus. For those who dont know, PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo, and is the biggest gaming festival in Australia. In the US, there is PAX East, South, West, Unplugged (for tabletop games), and here, PAX Aus.
PAX is held over three days, and part of PAX consists of community driven panels, and that’s where this fits in.
The panel I am focusing on for this DA is the panel on Pokemon Go. Chris advised me that one of the best ways to go about making this panel my ‘group’ DA is to present to you my experience with pitching and making this panel come together.
Panels can be submitted by anyone, regardless of their place in the games industry, and can be pitched about any topic – as long as it relates in some way to gaming (tabletop or video) or games culture (like journalism, game dev etc).
With your submission, you list your panel title, the panelists, what your panel will be about, and why you think it should be at PAX. Once panel submission closes, all the panels are assessed by PAX staff who decide which will be presented that year.
In a way, these panels are user generated content that represent participatory media culture, as content is interpreted, deconstructed, and reconfigured in the form of a panel.
When putting together any sort of event, you can always run into problems. The first ones come with the pitching.
First off – it is incredibly hard to set aside the imposter syndrome when pitching a panel, or putting it together later when it gets accepted. There is ALWAYS the thought of: “Should I be doing this, am I the right person to put this together, there are other people more knowledgeable than me” and that’s REALLY hard to set aside.
Secondly is finding people to be on your panel. As it is all community driven, it is unpaid, so if you find a high profile person who would be great for your panel, it is difficult to approach them and say “Hey I have this idea, but you have to pay your own way to make it happen”.
It is also important to remember to have diverse voices. And this doesnt just mean people from diverse backgrounds, but also just people from different circles. It happens a lot in the games industry, because it is such a small community and everyone knows everyone, that you go to a panel and it seems to be just all inside jokes. All the panelists are best mates, and instead of feeling like an audience that is watching and learning things, you feel a bit like a third wheel.
It can also be difficult to find panelists, knowing that you have to find panelists BEFORE your pitch, meaning you are asking someone to commit to something that theres only a chance of it actually happening – PAX get hundreds of panel submissions a year, and there is only so many that can be accepted.
A final problem comes from criticism, and trying not to take it personally (even if it IS personal).
When you are up on stage, it is incredibly obvious when people sneak in late, or sneak out early. And you just have to try to remember not to take it personally when people sneak out early. Maybe they have another panel to get to? Maybe they just aren’t interested? Or maybe they hate it and everything to do with it? My brain always defaults to the latter.
And then there IS the personal criticism. One comment on the YouTube video so far is “That photographer lady is so self absorbed lol. Get over yourself woman.”
And as much as I like to think I am thick skinned, it does really hurt when you put so much passion and so many hours into something that you end up being really proud of – I think I put about 15 hours into the two panels, researching, planning and writing – to have someone turn around and say “lol get over yourself”.
So that is the overall picture of how I put the panel together. The full video of the panel is on YouTube – the PoGo YouTuber ZoeTwoDots has been on my panel the last two years and has been good enough to upload the panel to her channel to bring it to the masses.