PAX East Day Two

My wife and I go to Disneyworld in Orlando, FL at least once a year. She grew up in South Florida and went there throughout her entire childhood, and has become adept at finding us the best prices and targeting the periods of lowest attendance for our trips. Our first trips were about working out the kinks in her system, however, and they were a little more expensive and certainly more crowded.

As much as I hate to draw another Disney allusion, PAX East, day two felt a lot like being at Disneyworld before my wife and I knew what we were doing. I felt that I hadn’t done everything I ought to have done, but I also didn’t feel I had missed anything I wanted to do. I was tired and didn’t feel like waiting in lines, and decided that staying just because I’d spent a lot of money to get in wasn’t reason enough if I didn’t really want to hang out anymore.

Had I been in possession of more than three and a half hours’ sleep I might have had more patience, but standing in line for up to an hour to get into the theaters for the panels was not acceptable by 4:30 p.m.. My feet hurt, I was exhausted, and the panel topics just weren’t intriguing enough.

A panel on whether the death of print media means that gaming journalism has lost anything or not. No, I don’t think so. Actually sounds like a debate past its time, as the future feels set in that regard. New media is better – it’s faster, more diverse, and more democratic. No need to attend that panel. A panel on why MMO players behave the way they do. I think I know the answer to that one…megalomaniacism, maliciousness, the desire to roleplay, just wanting to escape into a fantasyland as a break from reality. Don’t need to attend that, either.

The reason I only so little sleep was to arrive early enough to get into “Kotaku and Croal: In Search Of The Best Games Ever” with N’Gai Croal from Hit Detection and Stephen Totilo from Kotaku, wherein they reported on having taken a list of the top 10 games of all time from a metacritic-type site, and then passing the list through various gaming development luminaries to see how they would adjust the list. Very cool to see the audience react to the changes.

It taught me that some people don’t understand that the question is a historical one, not just a matter of personal preference, and that perhaps the question of what makes a “greatest game ever” is a question better handled independently of making up a list.

I then went to go see Wil Wheaton to thank him for yesterday’s speech, get him to sign my writing journal where I was keeping my notes at the convention, and also had him say hello to my wife on the phone because she couldn’t attend today. I got into the Boston Globe. I seem to make an impression wherever I go, like it or not. At least now I’m pursuing a living where talents like that might come in handy. 🙂

After getting lunch I was in the exposition hall watching my buddy Carroll try the pre-Beta of Breach, an absolutely sick-looking XBL Arcade game coming out this summer. $15, great graphics, team-based FPS game with an awesome cover mechanic that switches you from first-person to third-person when you lean out from said cover.

I turn around, and I see Jerry Holkins, also known as “Tycho” – the writer of Penny Arcade, the web comic that founded the Expo – walking the floor. I walked up to him and said “Pardon me, Tycho, may I say something?” He turns around and says “Yeah.”

“I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to shout into a room of 6,000 people yesterday,” I said. He wasn’t following. “I was the guy who had to shout out his question at the Q&A because the mic broke.”

Tycho’s eyes lit up. “Dude, that was epic!” he said, very excited. I smiled. “I felt kind of weird shouting it because I knew what I was going to say was corny,” I began, but he interrupted. “No, it was perfect! It was precisely what needed to be said!” I grinned, thanked him, and he continued on his way.

I found it difficult to get psyched up to stand in line for any more panels, none of which I was particularly excited about, after Tycho called something I did “Epic.” It felt like a benediction. Absolutely nothing was going to beat that on Saturday.

PAX East, I wrote yesterday, is about hanging out with a bunch of gamers and just celebrating games. I know that there are industry demos going on, but really that is beginning to feel almost extraneous to me. That feels like something more appropriate for E3, or the GDC, something industry- or tech-focused. PAX is about the fans, and I’d almost rather see more room for gaming at the event rather than all these game and industry-discussion panels. Or perhaps more panels with live podcasts like the one Major Nelson from XBox held today (couldn’t attend, needed food after waiting an hour and a half to meet Wil), or the G4 event taking place tomorrow.

Or, perhaps they just need a larger venue, or to sell fewer tickets. One or the other. If I had been able to get into the theaters and just sit and play my DS while waiting for a panel to begin, I might actually still be there right now…but waiting in line to attend one of those panels…hell, I don’t wait in line for rides at Disneyworld when I’ve paid thousands of dollars for the privilege of being in the theme park to stand in those lines. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; but if the point of PAX is really to spend time with the fans, then mission accomplished, Day Two.

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