PAX, short for Penny Arcade Expo, is the first and largest gaming (video games, board games, card games, etc.) fan culture convention. Originally a 4,500-person event in 2004 in Bellevue, Washington, PAX has grown into multiple conventions: PAX West, in Seattle, Washington; PAX East, in Boston, Massachusetts; PAX South, in San Antonio, Texas; and PAX AUS (no relation to Antioch University Seattle) in Melbourne, Victoria, in Australia. In addition, there is PAX Dev, which is a two-day extension of PAX West, taking place the Wednesday and Thursday before the start of PAX West, which happens Friday-through-Monday of the American Labor Day holiday.
As the school that launched the founders of the tabletop gaming mental health therapy organization Wheelhouse Workshop, it may be no surprise that our students and alumni created a strong Antioch University Seattle presence at PAX West this year!
The mental health nonprofit Take This organizes and provides AFK Rooms at PAX and other conventions.
“AFK” is an internet slang abbreviation of “Away From Keyboard” and in this context, the AFK Room is a quiet, safe space, staffed with mental health volunteers, including licensed therapists, inside of a convention, including every PAX… Even PAX in Australia!
AFK Rooms are open to all convention attendees, and people use AFK Rooms to recharge, get mental health support, or even just to take time out from the convention to sit down and recharge their electronics.
This year at PAX West, when The AUS eNews visited the AFK room, approximately half of the volunteers and clinicians in the room were graduates or students of Antioch University Seattle! The AUS eNews did not take any photos of the inside of the AFK Room, out of respect for the privacy of the space. However, we have been granted permission by one of the clinical volunteers, Antioch University Seattle alumna Paulette de Coriolis MA, LMHCA, to use a photo of her standing outside of the AFK Room, next to its sign, taken during this year’s PAX West!
Antioch University Seattle community members who are interested in volunteering for AFK Rooms are encouraged to contact Take This directly.