January 17, 2009

Games people play

I spent day one of Otronicon working in the Wii Family Arena. It's a multifaceted job, consisting of telling kids not to run, answering questions, offering assistance, and calling tech support when the Wii Fit arbitrarily reboots itself.

Ostensibly, the job also includes crowd control, but a science center crowd practically controls itself.

In a seven-hour shift, I only twice had to caution a youngster that he or she had monopolized a console too long and needed to yield to the next in line. I never had to stop someone from trying to tamper with a console, although we did do a fair bit of tracking down Wiimotes that got moved from one station to another.

Only occasionally was it necessary to help a youngster with a game, because frequently, the person who had just finished playing remained to coach the newcomer. Just as well, since half the time I had no idea what they were talking about.

There is much good-natured rivalry between gamers--taunts about kicking body parts and so forth--but trash talk notwithstanding, my experience has been that most gamers are eager to encourage other gamers. They are even more eager to encourage nascent gamers.

Granted, the quality of person you encounter in a science museum is usually a notch or two--or more--above the hoi polloi. Still, the camaraderie with which they mutually encourage one another is a pleasant thing to see.

Even when I have no idea what they are talking about.

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