Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My PAX08 Experience

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is an annual gaming convension in Seattle put on by the guys at Penny Arcade.  It covers all aspects of gaming from consoles to PC games to roleplaying and tabletop games.  It is big.  Very big.  40,000 tickets pre-sold kind of big.  This was my second year attending.  Last year I dipped my toe in the water.  This year I came back and dove in fully.  I was there all 3 days for most of the time the doors were open.  I had a great time and intend on attending again next year.  Here are some of the highlights:

Felicia Day and The Guild.  The Guild is an online video series which pokes fun at MMORPG players.  I had only seen 2 episodes before coming to PAX.  We watched the whole thing and then it was followed by a Q&A afterwards.  The video is hilarious.  The Q&A great.  Felicia Day is a fun speaker and her cohorts were quick-witted, especially Sandeep who plays the "love interest" in the show.

Wil Wheaton.  Last year's keynote speaker was back.  He was available for book signings and was on 2 panels that I'm aware of.  I saw him on the "Is casual gaming killing hardcore?" panel and on his panel of one.  For his own panel he read a selection from his latest book and one of his ST:TNG reviews.  He then took Q&A from the audience.  If you ever get a chance to see him in person, jump at the opportunity.  I'm still kicking myself for missing his keynote last year.

The Expo Hall.  Filled with the latest in gaming goodness.  Gears of War 2?  Check.  Starcraft 2?  Check.  Fallout 3?  Check.  ChronoTrigger DS?  Check.  Even some board gaming companies like Wizards of the Coast and Fantasy Flight Games were there.

Ken Levine's keynote.  The lead designer of Bioshock gave the keynote.  I didn't really know much about him beforehand and didn't expect a whole lot.  He exceeded my expectations and gave a great speech.  Mostly it was a humorous approach to his biography.  He tells of when he first encountered D&D, first got hired at Looking Glass and found people like him, etc.  If you can find the audio of this online, give it a listen.

Omegathon.  The Omegathon is a 6-round competition through all aspects of gaming.  This year involved Peggle, Pictionary, Geometry Wars, Rock Band 2, Jenga, and Vs. Excitebike (on a 1986 Nintendo Home Computer no less).  Watching 3,000 people cheer for Vs. Excitebike is an experience like none other. 

Overall, it was great fun.  I'll definitely be going again next year.

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