My PAX 2010 experience.
A day late (and many dollars short), but I am slowly and steadily recovering from the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo. It being my second PAX, it was a different and more sociable experience than it was before. I got to met various gamers and games writers, even if it was being near them and not greeting them (Sorry, Dan Amrich, Frank Cifaldi and Karen Chu), I also got to play video games. But I’ll save that for later.
First, I make crappy choices when it comes to choosing hotels to the event. Last year, I took a hotel near the airport. This year, near the University of Washington. Granted, Silver Cloud Inn is a great hotel, but I should’ve chosen somewhere closer. Third time’s the charm for next year? But anyway.
I went to a bunch of panels during all three days. The first one I went to was the Rock Band 3 panel because I love Rock Band. I also love Guitar Hero and even the bastard offspring of similar plastic instrument music games (Rock Revolution, PowerGig). While there wasn’t anything mind-blowing at the panel, it did bring me insight on how they do games like that. Funny enough, they showed an early version of the Rock Band 3 “pro” guitar trainer, which was literally drawn out step-by-step as if a person is too dumb to understand how a guitar works. It was kinda hilarious in that respect.
Later into the day, I went to a panel called “Memoirs of a Triple Agent,” a panel hosted by Greg Kasavin, a former editor at GameSpot and now a producer on a small development company called Super Giant Games. I talked to him after the show and we both agreed: Doom 3 was an utter disappointment. And it was funny, he mentioned that (at the time, anyway), his was the lowest out of all the review scores for the game.
The last panel I went to Friday was for Giant Bombcast Live, since I love the guys at Giant Bomb so much. It was the typical funny and insightful Bombcast, complete with guest appearances by some game developers, and even a brief transition to a small podcast segment with analyst Michael Pachter, former GFW and EA writer Jeff Green, and former PC Gamer editor/writer of The Book of Eli, Gary Whitta. No Rich Gallup this year, though, which was disappointing.
Later that night, I tried to shoehorn myself into the 1UP/Deus Ex event, but I just talked with a bunch of gamers and heard from various games writers about stuff. I left somewhat dejected, but that went away by the time I went back to Seattle on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, the first panel I went to was for Destructoid Live, a crazy live panel consisting of a few famous “Dtoid” personalities. I’ve been periodically writing blogs for the site, and I have lambasted the site before here and on Dtoid itself. But then I had an epiphany: Before, I had partially written the site off because the quality of the writing on sites like those were usually below average. By the time I had asked a question, I had understood Destructoid’s MO: It is meant simply as a quirky, eccentric way into the world of video games by gamers who don’t take things seriously. That is something I can appreciate, and am willing to accept. Telling them that they’re better than Kotaku by a longshot was good enough too.
Later that day, I poked my head in for GameTrailers’ Bonus Round Live, which featured a panel of Warren Spector, Ed Boon and somebody from 5th Cell whose name I forgot. It was basically about the philosophy of design between the three developers. Stupid fact: Spector’s been a designer on some games that he eventually took his name off. Which ones those are we’ll probably never know, but it was an interesting segment. By the time we got to the Q&A though, I got somewhat bored and left early, the only panel I did that on. Nothing against GT or Geoff Keighley, it just felt kinda boilerplate like most other panels by then.
I had considered going to a panel that was sponsored by The Geekbox and Rebel FM, but by then I was somewhat worn out and was disinterested. Nothing against those guys as those panels are unique for having different ideals, but it was 6PM by then. I wanted to play some more games at the Exhibition Hall before it closed, only to find out it closes at 6PM.
After PAX was winding down for Saturday night, I went to the Destructoid meetup at The Chapel Bar and Grill and met some Dtoiders there, including one I’ve known way back before I went to Dtoid, which was a real treat. I got tipsy drunk! I got to talk to random dudes and see hot chicks put on a Destructoid headmask! But then I left early to head back to my hotel.
Sunday was a one-panel affair: Seeing Idle Thumbs cast its final pod at PAX. It was an interesting event considering of people talking about board games involving wine and host/editor Chris Remo sing us acoustic versions of The Wizard and Space Asshole. I snagged a few posters from there, and I had asked a question about Far Cry 2 that I didn’t get a clear answer to. I hated the game, but they were surprised when they found out I actually had finished the game and they hadn’t. Whoops.
Other than that, it was me playing a few more games before the show ended, then went to the last Destructoid meetup at Rock Bottom Bar and Grill, meeting more random Dtoiders and even a few staffers, which was pretty sweet.
After that, it was time to pack and get ready to head home. It didn’t set in that it was over until I left for the airport. I had done a lot of things, met a lot of people, and played games. It was a wonderful experience, and it was a nice change of pace. It also gave me a different outlook on things: I have anxiety problems where I’m reluctant to talk with people, but that became something I had to abandon if I didn’t want to be some social outcast who does some dramatic suicide pact that appears on the 11PM news. And I feel grateful for it. I didn’t get the opportunity to say hi to everyone, or see everything, but that’s okay. I feel good for what I did see.
So if you’re wondering if PAX is worth it. I say this: Go to PAX. Live on the East Coast? Go to PAX East. Live outside the US? You have no excuse, I met various gamers from Europe and Canada. You will have a blast that you will always remember. Hell, after last year’s PAX I was still remembering it almost every day until this year’s PAX, and I expect it will be the same until next year.
Lastly, I will say this: Make sure you know your video game characters when you ask to take photos of them. I accidentally called a Crimson Viper cosplayer “Bayonetta.” Whoops.