For one key reason and a number of other more or less related reasons there are many, including myself, that are very understandably angry at Penny Arcade and are seeking to avoid one or both of this year's Penny Arcade Expositions (PAX). However, I have come to highly value the great community of people that I associate with PAX and think that it would be a shame if the actual act of communal gathering were to disappear altogether due to its association with recent events. To that end, allow me to propose a new East Coast-ish venue as an alternative to PAX East for us to convene outside of the shadow of influence of the Penny Arcade corporation: ConGlomeration on April 22-24 (Easter weekend fortunately/unfortunately) in centrally-located Louisville, KY.
Admittedly I am biased as Louisville, KY is my hometown and my current place of residence, but I've only attended ConGlomeration once (last year) and I'm not currently involved in its operations (although that will probably change; see below). What little experience I've had of the convention and the awesome people that run it have given me confidence that ConGlomeration is a perfect antithesis to our community's angst with Penny Arcade and a great place to convene and to, well, conglomerate. It won't be what we've come to know as PAX, but hopefully in some ways it will be better. It certainly won't replace PAX for a majority of people, and that's fine.
While the About ConGlomeration page, I think, makes a great case for the convention, allow me to contextualize it with respect to our community of once-PAX-attendees:
ConGlomeration is a not-for-profit convention with roots as a science fiction and fantasy convention, but which picked up gaming and art and whatever else fandom (in the niche subgroups sense) was interested in (hence it became a melting pot or a conglomeration of fans). ConGlomeration, unlike PAX, is run entirely by volunteers and they are a wonderfully diverse and unique collection of great people who are doing it for the love of a geeky community.
ConGlomeration is small, but spunky, and worth supporting. Moreover, I think it is a good match for hosting our diverse community of gamers, game developers, and everyone else that we enjoy seeing at PAX. ConGlomeration, I feel, would be a very welcoming host (and is somewhat in need of a strong attendance).
ConGlomeration seeks to remain a very family friendly environment and the Committee and its volunteers are more than willing to show bad elements where the door is.
ConGlomeration already has a 24-hour board and card gaming room, which is one of the positive things I associate with PAX. It doesn't have the programming that PAX has, but given that they are crowsourcing programming at ConGlomeration I can see our community filling that gap easily. I'm expecting/hoping to lead some efforts at programming cool better-than-PAX things and would love whatever support I can find. (Top of my list is to truly give Deirdra Kiai the awesome hour she requested-- I presume anyone that isn't already a fan of her work will be at the end of said hour of awesome.) ConGlomeration seeks to equally balance other areas like science fiction and fantasy so there is room to stretch outside of "traditional PAX topics" as well if we have good ideas.
Granted that Louisville isn't as exciting as, say, Boston or Seattle, I can promise you that it is a great host city. Louisville is the biggest "small city" in the country. It is just Southern enough to provide great Southern Hospitality and just Northern enough to temper that with some refinement. Louisville is the western edge of the Eastern time zone and a reasonable drive from much of the East Coast, Midwest, and South.
Louisville is a big city with a great arts scene and many wonderful museums. Particularly related to the discussions at hand, I believe, is that I will make a recommendation to schedule some time to visit the Ali Center which discusses issues of racial and religious tolerance. (Although it is in the context of sports history, gaming may still have a lot to learn from what it has to offer.)
Louisville knows how to host conventions. Louisville hosts many large conventions every year (even if they aren't as exciting as PAX), and I promise that it will happily host our community, even if it grows a lot bigger (and I'd like to hope that it will).
Y'all Are All Invited
I'm going to spend some of the money that I was considering saving for one or more PAX trips this year and grab at least one hotel room for ConGlomeration and probably some other more direct means of supporting ConGlomeration. I'd love to see many of y'all, my friends and internet acquaintances, that feel similarly to join me.
I'm going to start immediately working on what I can do to build awesome programming and help ConGlomeration prepare to host any and all that wish to take up my offer. I know the hospitality rules of my city well enough to know that offering this invitation has already made me an implicit member of ConGlomeration's committee, and I will be working to make that role explicit.
Anyone interested in joining me to work to make ConGlomeration a better "PAX" than PAX (one without the PA) are more than welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org.