RTX: Where gaming meets the Internet.
Photos and text by Jonathan Murthy
I heard this at a panel on the psychological history of video games at RTX, and, for some reason, it resonated with me. Well, not just some reason. I think video games are more than just a way to waste time, but that’s an article for another day. So, when I hear a group of people raise their voices in support of something—anything—that means something to me. It gives me the “feels.”
I’ve always been a skeptic on the amount of people who share these so-called “feels” with me. But when I look at what the Internet can do (looking at you, Anonymous) rather than what it shouldn’t do (looking at you, social media), a person gets a feeling of oneness. That’s what the Internet is—interconnectedness. And when we see the people behind the usernames gathered together to bask in their nerdy glory, making the same jokes we make, liking the same videos we like, occupying a space in society we previously thought society didn’t have room for, we remember something about ourselves, something we forgot: We are not alone.
Where Gaming Meets the Internet was the tagline of RTX, an annual convention hosted by Austin-based production company Rooster Teeth. For the uninitiated, Rooster Teeth is most famous for the web series Red vs. Blue, which uses the camera utility inside the Halo games’ engine to tell the story of the not-so-main characters’ journey outside the campaign missions. Since Rooster Teeth started making the RvB series 12 seasons ago, posting them on early 2000s video hosting sites or selling DVDs to stores like GameStop, its staff has grown tenfold. Rooster Teeth has come out with five volumes of shorts, two seasons of reality shows, one season of RWBY (an anime series), three YouTube channels grossing more than 13 million subscribers, and just finished its fundraising campaign for a feature-length film.
At RTX, artists that are eclectically inclined to all things Internet can exhibit and sell their work. I viewed an Intergalactic Nemesis booth, an artist who builds life-sized celebrities out of Lego, Internet sensations, cosplayers, graphic designers, video-game designers, table-top-game designers, merchants and charities. The convention also hosted panels consisting of alternative careers in gaming in a post-network media environment, which particularly whet my palate. I even met a doctoral candidate who studies video games and mental health. Exciting, I know.
More than the exhibitions and the panels, RTX is a place where all the people who somehow fell in love with a small, independent production company can meet one another; people from Scotland, Michigan, Australia, New York, Missouri, England, New Zealand, South Africa and throughout the world. And this is what struck me: This is a community. Even the people who made their company successful stress this idea of community. To be successful, you must have a community, listen to the community and care about the community. Everyone I met was interested in what I was doing and I was interested in what they were doing. It felt like we all knew each other, and even if we didn’t, we all wanted to.