This last weekend, I had the great pleasure of going to PAX, or the Penny Arcade Expo held up in Seattle. It was a ton of fun, and it gave me the opportunity to geek out in a way that I don't get to do very awesome. The sheer saturation of nerd-ness forced my own nerd-ness out, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Regarding the Expo, I still find it hard to believe that gaming is a spectator sport, but the Omegathon proved that it is not only a spectator sport, but a burgeoning one at that. Still, I think comparing it to watching baseball or football is a little obscene. One person at PAX said that, "It's just like watching baseball, and I'd much rather watch [gaming] than [baseball]". I can understand his point of view: We like to watch the things that we're good at or understand. However, I have yet to see any real skill involved in the gaming world. Sure, some people can kick ass while playing Halo, or win all the time with any other game you throw at them, but that doesn't mean they have any skill at it. Running the 100-meter in under 10 seconds takes skill. Kicking a 60 yard field goal takes lots of skill, as does nailing a 30 yard free kick. Athletes possess a lot of physical skill, and so do the gamers. The athletes also possess the mental skill to think out their tactics, or find the hole in a D-line, or put the football through the uprights.

Mental skill isn't something that's completely unknown to the gamers. Chess is a game that would probably be among the contenders for top mental game, but Go would probably win the title. Those games require little to no physical skill. Just ask Stephen Hawking. I'm sure he could be good at them if he tried. Every game that is played on a console is a mental game. They require very little physical abilities to play well. Granted, many of them require fast reflexes, and the ability to understand your situation that is common in sports. However, nothing I've seen to date actually tests a person physically and that's really what makes a sport a sport. The Wii is starting to blur this line, and DDR is actually pushing it even further, but nothing has made the connection between game and sport.

For comparison, I used to be damn good at Unreal Tournament. I would play with 16 bots in deathmatches at 150-160% of normal speed, and pushing the difficulty higher and higher everytime. I'd play against 15 or 16 bots in CTF, and still kick butt. Insta-gib was the most fun for CTF, but it was a mixture of hardest and easiest. It was easier because I could actually kill the bots, and more difficult because they could kill me pretty quickly as well. On the other hand, I've done a ton of sports as well. I've played soccer semi-competitively, I've rowed, and I am now a sailer. The most difficult thing I've done to date is run a half marathon. That tested my limits physically, and when I met those limits, it tested my mental capacities to run through the pain and complete the course.

This is why I will never acknowledge that gaming is a sport. It's just too easy. For better or worse, it comes down to whoever has the most free time to practice/play becomes the best. You can spend two hours a day playing UT, or WoW, or Halo, and you'll get pretty damn good. You can also spend that time exercising, and you'll get stronger and faster, but not competitively so.

Enough of that tangent. Some people at PAX reveled in their nerd-ness to such a degree that they had no concept of the real world. The most pronounced of the clueless gamers came from one guy who I overheard telling another gamer how it ruined his life. He claimed that WoW caused him to lose his job and his girlfriend. Lack of a concept of the real world made it easy for him to bury himself in a fantasy world, which made everything go to shit in the real world. But from some of his comments, I would say that WoW didn't cause him to lose all that, it was his obliviousness that did him in. For example: "Instead of playing WoW, go get a job so you can make enough money to buy any kinda girl you want. Because boobies [sic] are nice." Makes me want hurl. Basically, he wants a prostitute. What about a human connection? What about enjoying the other person? What about being excited about just being together?

This is why I try to not be a gamer nerd. It's too painful to think about. And there are much better things in the world. Just one that comes to mind is being able to see Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle all from one point on Mt. Rainier.

I'm rambling now, and I have no direction, so I'm stopping.

Aside: Everyone calls it PAX, but it should really be The PAX, because if you expand that, it becomes The Penny Arcade eXpo. Just using PAX is bad grammar if you think too hard.