Dr. Denisse Morales recently took the time to share her thoughts about the Take This AFK Room program on her blog, Psycholo-Geek. Dr. Morales, a psychologist, cosplayer and blogger, just got back from San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), one of the biggest, and most overwhelming geek conventions around.
As a 10-year (maybe 11-year, I forget) attendee to San Diego Comic Con, I am not exaggerating when I say that each year I have come across at least one person who has become overwhelmed with all the stimuli that the event has to offer. There is just so much going on everywhere you look! Speaking for myself, I have frequently used the Anime Rooms as a quiet space. I love anime, but I have also found that I can sit in a quiet space and be away from the chaos for a short while. As an introvert, this gives me a very much needed break from the crowds, which then allows me to return to the exhibit hall or panels with my internal batteries charged, and continue to enjoy the event.
I recently discovered that some gaming conventions have a designated quiet space, or AFK Rooms. These rooms are there for people who need that break, who become overstimulated, or people who need help.
That is, of course, what our AFK Room program is all about: a safe space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. After looking into the program, Dr. Morales comes to a few conclusions:
1) The people who run AFK Rooms (or wellness rooms) are providing much, MUCH needed services. We’re just people, and whether or not we have a diagnosis, any of us can become overstimulated at a convention. As a community that is beginning to recognize the importance of discussing mental health issues, we need to do more to help from within.
2) I need to go to a PAX.
3) Con-goers would benefit greatly from a wellness room at SDCC. Maybe two.
Thanks to Dr. Morales for her thoughtful feedback. Quiet spaces are so important for those of us that need a little room to decompress at conventions, and that’s just one part of what the AFK Room program provides. If you’re interested in having AFK Rooms available at more events, donations are a valuable way to help us with the resources we need to expand the program.