Part 2 of 2 PAX Unplugged: Thank You
By Dr. Brian Quinones, LPC, ACS, RPT, Autplay Certified
Full disclaimer – I do own copies of many of the games that I will be talking about, but I do not own any stock in their companies, did not create, or help create any of these games for profit. I will mention whenever I mod a game or change it from its original intent to fit my client’s needs. It is important to note that yes, I am a therapist, but this blog is not intended to be therapy. I will offer advice, tips, and other guidance on my blog with the intent to illustrate important life skills, provide entertainment, inform, and at times empower the reader. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness or are facing any kind of crisis seek local professional help, and/or contact authorities or emergency professionals for assistance.
Part 1 of 2 PAX Unplugged: Thank You
This blog post will be a little more laid back than previous posts. It will have three parts, the first two will be thank you letters from myself and Timothy. The third part will be for lack of a better term, a call to action. While at Pax we got a lot of requests to speak more about similar topics and we need help knowing what future panels people want to hear and see. Our summary section will talk about what is coming up and what we want to see for ourselves in the coming weeks and the new year.
I really cannot start this without thanking Tim. As an old friend of ours noted this weekend, I would not have been at Pax without him pulling me kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone. The same could be said of Heather O’Neil from 9th Level games, for years now she has been trying to get me and Tim to be more than just wallflowers at the back rooms of Metatopia. She said this year we are getting on a panel or two and she was right, because she made sure we had no excuses. Honestly believe that it hit me for the first time this weekend, but the Metatopia group have become like family and old friends to me. I ran into Omari Akil while at Pax Unplugged from the company Board Game Brothas, and one of the creators of the board game Rap Godz. I immediately thanked him again for his advice from thirteen months ago. At that year’s Metatopia he told me I needed to go to Pax Unplugged. As I explained to him, I am more therapist than game designer, he said it does not matter, go. He was right. I went and it sent me down the path that lead to me becoming a Registered Play Therapist this year. That road alone is its own story.
There were several people I saw in passing like Peter Petrusha who I creeped and lurked. It is a long story, but us and Pete from Imagining Games have played a game of cat and mouse for years now. Whoever can sneak up on who first is the winner. I also want to thank Misha Bushyager from New Agenda Publishing and Black Girl Gameworks. We met for the first time two Metatopia ago, we met on the same live cast as Omari. Since then we have talked several times and played a round of Kids on Bikes as siblings. It never gets old taking turns introducing one another our twin. We look nothing alike. Misha you have no clue how you coming up to me at lunch on Saturday and just sticking around meant to me. It was the first time I sat and talked with Dr. Megan Connell and Jack Berkenstock together. It just meant a lot to have people there with me as we went down the rabbit hole.
Therapy and Education Peeps
Speaking of that education and therapy rabbit hole. I have a bunch of education and psych nerds to thank as well. I feel like the last six months was a blur but I wanted to take the time out to thank Dr. Robert Grant of Autplay, and Dr. Jessica Stone who recently released Game Play Therapeutic Use of Games with Children and Adolescents. Both are Registered Play Therapist Supervisors (RPT-S) and learning about their work has encouraged me to continue to stick with the RPT route and begin to pursue an RPT-S soon. Even though I feel like what I am doing does not quite fit in one-part of the field or the other, both explained that I should keep pushing forward for the RPT, if only to help push the field in a new direction. Since Heather started forming our various panels, I got the opportunity to discuss education and therapy with Doug Levandowski and Shawn Roske. Both are in the field of education, Doug designed RPGs like Kids on Bikes, and Shaw is known for combining LARPs and yoga to help build one’s self esteem. In the short amount of time that we have had to talk and just brain storm before panels I have found it amazing how great it is to just sit, talk, and debrief in between each epic adventure. I think we have started a tradition of an after-panel meal with Shawn that I want to keep going.
As I mentioned before I got to sit down with Dr. Megan and that was all Jack Berkenstock’s doing. We were talking before our panel and he just happened to see Dr. Megan and invited her to eat with us. It was so cool to see everyone in their element, sitting down and discussing some of the less glamorous side of this constant hustle we have each signed up for. Afterwards we were on panel with Jack and got to spend some time talking back and forth. I started talking to Jack when I was looking for trainings earlier in 2019. The idea was to use the continued education units I needed for my license to build towards areas of interest for our company. Since then we have been trading ideas for the use of games therapeutically and how best to get G.A.T.E. to ebb closer to not for profit status. Oh, and Woody Harris and Brian Peace from the Rolling for Change! Podcast. Watching for grown men play Rhino Hero as seriously as we did was priceless. I mean yes, we talked therapy, education, and gaming but the moment when myself and the other Brian began conspiring against the rest of the table in a deadly alliance was inspiring.
Lastly, I must thank the crowd. I am still spellbound by how quick that hour went by and how long lasting the effects of being on panel was. So far I have thanked people by name because I know they are comfortable with having their name out there such as writers, educators, therapists, and game designers. I have a couple of close friends that I need to thank but I do not want to use their names. It was great seeing some of you in the center, left, and right of the crowd. It meant that everywhere I looked, I was not too far away from a friendly face who knew me personally and was there to support me. I could not have made it this far, anywhere without my friends. I wish there was a way I could have recorded you guys so you could see how often I looked to you for support.
I cannot understate how important it was to see that room filled with as many people as were there. None of us knew what kind of turn out to expect for a panel that was scheduled so close to dinner, and with several panelists who had never been on a PAX stage before. That kind of support was mind blowing. The questions we were asked could easily have been panels on their own. Thank you so much for being there, everyone who sat through the panel or watched it online. Shows us how much more work we have left to do.
Almost forgot! Thank you, Adriel Wilson and Chris O’Neill, for making The Excellents! I cannot wait to share it with my staff so they could run a couple of all girl RPG groups.
For the most part Pax Unplugged marked the end of the first leg of a very long race. The last two years have been hard, with very few moments of rest in between. We got a lot planned; we are still doing everything we can to grow in our community. As it is, most of our clients come from neighboring towns throughout Middlesex County, it is our goal to specifically build up the community we are currently in. Next year we want to at least triple the number of clients we currently have from Perth Amboy. That means we need to do a lot of free community events. We hope to create a couple of trainings regarding in-home, in-community, the autism population and game play therapy. It is our sincerest wish to find more ways to provide therapy to those who are uninsured, under insured, and too afraid to receive state aid because of their immigration status. We want to do everything we can to provide a service that our clients do not have to worry about the price of. To do all this, we need feedback and support from our growing community. Let us know where we can find the help we are looking for and the content you need. Tell us what future blog post you want to read, what panels you want to watch, what podcasts to listen to and how best we can grow together as a healthy community. Thank you for making 2019 a year to remember, we all get by with a little help from our friends.
Brian and Tim thank you so much!