With my homie Andy in his Luigi costume.This weekend’s VGU Convention in Washington, DC was a spectacular event. It was chocked full of cool things to experience for young and old. It brought out the inner gamer in me that I had not seen in some twenty years.
My go to game of choice?…Ms. Pac-Man! I can play it all day every day. As long as I can remember it has always been a source of joy. Every time my cute little yellow avatar is bitten I feel it at my core and I jump. My other all time fave, Mario!!! Who doesn’t love that little red plumber and his brother Luigi? When he saves the Princess, we save her together and the joy of victory against King Koopa is as real as any. In the gaming world it’s so easy to be totally lost in fantasy and live a life beyond your wildest dreams. It was nice to experience this all over again and share the joy with my son.
I had forgotten the power of gaming to transport you into an alternative reality where you write the outcome of your existence by every move you make, a world where a second chance to right your wrongs is as simple as pressing the reset button.
VGU had set up an incredible free-to-play arcade that included modern consoles and old school consoles, and even included stand-up machines. There were games for every interest, for every level, for every age. It was the perfect event for family time. I was able to play the games that made me laugh as a kid as well as new games that made me feel like I was in the middle of some Hollywood epic. My son taught me all about the games he loved and we were able to suspend reality for a time and just get lost in our own little worlds.
My lil gamer .Luckily, we also had the bonus benefit of access to the VIP lounge where I was able to be bitten by a vampire (True Blood’s Riley Smith), my son sat next to an NFL all-star (Clinton Portis), I snapped a pick with Rufio (Actor, Danté Basco) and we were able to lose ourselves in the fun and excitement of the gaming world. There was wonderful catered cuisine, an open bar, plus a chance to do the cha cha slide with Spider-man. Talk about living the dream!
MsPacMan Playing the eternal Ms. Pac-Man.Ironically, I remember when video games were thought to be brain drainers, something smart parents steered their kids away from. That is certainly the stance my parents took. Books, books, and more books, is what I was given. Indeed, all things in excess can be bad; however, this event showed how powerful video games were as a tool to teach creative thinking, logic, and reasoning. What my parents, and others, missed was that video games are just like books in that they tell stories of adventure, that challenge the mind, that infuse imagination. Additionally, games have the added benefit of forcing players to make the tough calls, to use their intuition, to be adaptable to challenging situations, to become logical thinkers and learn to formulate patterns. When you play a game, you don’t just read a story, you are the story!
Video games are not bad for kids but rather something parents should value as part of their kids’ routines. Players are not only the actors in gaming but they become writers and directors of their characters realities. Any child exposed to such an expressive outlet has access to a tool that can stretch them without limit, where the only boundary to their exploration is the one they create themselves.
I can’t wait for next year’s event. I’m filled with anticipation to see what new worlds will be created for gamers to explore and what new platforms will have evolved. This is an exciting time for the world of gaming and I’m so happy to be a part of it and to be able to share it with my son.
True Bood Getting bitten by avid gamer and True Blood star Scott Foley.Batman Posing with the real Batman!Rufio Selfie time with Dante Basco voice of Avatar’s Zuko and the one and only Rufio