One week ago today at midday, I was nervously preparing for my first of four panels at PAX. It was the Geek Parenting panel alongside four other inspiring humans that I really admire and respect – Dan Donahoo, Rae Johnston, Craig Peebles and Giselle Rosman. Here’s a quick insight into my thought process five minutes before the panel:

Jane: “What am I doing on this panel?! I’m nobody! I know nothing!”
Jane to Jane: “It’s ok, Jane, you’ve got some stuff to say! It’s just a conversation with friends about stuff you love, you just happen to have a mic. It’s aaaall good.”
Jane back to Jane: “What if they all point and laugh?! What if they shout “IMPOSTER!” ?!”
Jane to Jane again: “They won’t :)”

(and then I did the panel and it was awesome)

These are just some of the feels that I learned to challenge over the course of the wonderous weekend that is PAX. And I challenged those thoughts because I have never felt more included and more supported than I did amongst all my new friends and old. And for me, that’s what this was all about.

PAX is a celebration of culture. It is a gathering of the tribe that you didn’t even know existed. It is a community for all of us that value the importance of play, discovery, diversity and inclusivity. In short, it felt like home.

Anyway, I just want to share with you a very quick wrap up of one of the panels that I moderated. At the very least, I have embedded the slides here that might jog your memory if you attended on the day…

More Than a Game: Playing for Mental Health & Wellbeing – #PaxMTAG
Panelists: Jane Cocks, Jess Hodgson, Jennifer Hazel, Eve Beauregard, Charlie Francis, Leigh Harris

This was an incredibly memorable panel. It was a full house, and the passion for games & mental health issues was pulsing through the crowd. For me, my feelings of Imposter Syndrome, all the discussion of mental health, inclusion, diversity – well, it all felt like a theme to me. It all felt like we were gathering to do more than just throw dice or push buttons; we were gathering to connect with each other. And we did it in a really genuine and magnificent way.

I don’t want to tell anyone’s personal experience or story with mental health here, but if you were there, you will know that many highly personal feelings and stories were shared. If you know the panelists, you will also know that their journeys are incredible and I was so proud to sit up there alongside them.

Quite apart from personal mental health journeys, we also shared stories of our favourite games. Games that made a difference to us in some way. Connected us to a social network of likeminds. We talked about how games are not necessarily just escapism, but self-expansion. Games can be a way for us to express our desires, express our inner hidden self – our ideal self perhaps? Games can be a way for us to be challenged in ways that we *know* we can overcome, if we just persist, and learn. These are great life skills to practise. Games can help us flourish through challenge, connection, immersion and flow. Games are so much more than just entertainment, they are what connects us to our community, they are what help us to express our potential in new ways, and this is why we called our panel ‘More Than A Game’.

During the panel, we conducted a short survey on gaming & mental health. Within ten minutes, we had almost 400 responses – wow. Here is a quick summary of our results:


And lastly, here are our slides…

Thank you for being part of the community that I call home.