I love being a nerd. Being deeply interested in fantasy novels, video games and anything comic book-related is something I embrace as part of my personality. As such, an integral part of “nerd-dom” is conventions (cons) for any- and everything you could possibly imagine. This past weekend I volunteered at the Orlando Science Center’s annual Otronicon (Orlando Electronic Interactive Convention); this was my first time attending this convention, but hopefully not my last.
The convention is centered around established and emerging video game and electronic technology. Games from every platform were setup next to the latest military, medical and interactive technology advances. Though only there for two days of the 4-day convention, I was constantly in awe of the different technologies I encountered, particularly this virtual reality sphere (aptly named Virtusphere) that had users walk in a huge cage-like sphere and wear a head-mounted display that responded to the user’s movements, making them feel like they were actually moving.
My favorite part of the convention though was when I was volunteering. Today I was assigned to Dance Dance Revolution and loved being able to share the enjoyment of the game with a mainly 6-12 age group (thanks to there being no school). But yesterday I was assigned to the “Rated E for Everyone” floor, which held games targeted for children ages 6-10 – and it was fascinating to see those little kids get as excited over games like Super Mario Sunshine, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Dora’s
Pinata Party as older kids and adults get about games like Madden, Call of Duty and Halo. While there are obviously issues that can be raised when it comes to monitoring age-appropriate content and addictions, video games and computer interactions truly are age-blind.
While I don’t think I will be buying myself Super Mario Sunshine or a Virtusphere anytime soon, for different reasons of course, I will say that Otronicon game me a renewed appreciation for technology and has me eager to see what advances will emerge next, both for entertainment and applied purposes.