PAX East 2011 thoughts

Just returned from PAX East, which I attended with my old friend Eric. I have a boatload of videos to edit and post from the show, which I’ll hopefully have up soon. In the meantime, here are some thoughts:

* This was my second convention, and my first big one. I think I’ve been spoiled. The atmosphere was fantastic. People were friendly. Everyone was coming together to focus on common interests. Nobody (as far as I observed) was focusing on differences or rivalries. It was a truly social experience. The least enjoyable part was the exhibition hall, which was wall-to-wall marketing–something that makes up the entirety of many conventions.

* I was shocked at how friendly and approachable Mike and jerry were (or at least acted during the Q&As). Considering the characters of Gabe and Tycho are usually fairly malicious, it was refreshing to see how polite and welcoming they were to their fans. Of course, the abundance of gifts they received from the fans may have helped (and got just a tiny bit over-the-top).

* There were four interviews I was hoping to get this weekend. I emailed all the prospects, and only heard back from two of them, only one of which was a definite confirmation. And yet, I thankfully managed to get all four interviews, so you’ll have to put up with a LOT of me babbling at people whose work I admire. Thanks to everyone I interviewed for being so generous with their time!

* The video game stuff was fun, but for me the real joy of PAX was the board, card, and tabletop gaming area. Not only were these games more pure in their social aspect than people sitting next to each other playing video games, but I was exposed to an amazing collection of games I had never experienced before. While the games library had the typical Parker Brothers/Milton Bradley stuff, there was a wonderful selection from smaller developers and publishers, featuring fully original gameplay I had never seen anything like before. What interested me the most is how many games featured the creator’s name on the box, like an author’s name on the cover of a book. It reinforced that an original board game is a work of art, conveying an experience and even a worldview. When I’m impressed by a movie or story, I still understand the creative process that led to its development, but really original fun gameplay comes from a type of creativity I can’t possibly understand, a creativity that leaves me in complete awe.

* I didn’t record any full panels (indeed, we didn’t even attend any panels except for the Keynote, the first Q&A, and the Make-A-Strip), but I did record the full Saturday night concert (although I still have to see how it turned out before deciding if I’ll upload it or not). This was the only time I’ve ever seen Paul and Storm mess up “Nun Fight”. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened much before, considering how complex the lyrics are and how dependent on synchronization the performance is, but hey, sometimes Paul and Storm failing is even more entertaining than watching them succeed. This was also the first time I’ve seen Jonathan Coulton perform with his band in person. I’ve always admired Coulton’s ability to rock the house with just himself and an acoustic guitar; the band just makes it that much more awesome.

* I budgeted a large chunk of money for this weekend for travel, food, etc, but we ended up bringing peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars, which saved a lot on food. I used that saved money to finally splurge on the PVP Awesomology, signed by Scott Kurtz. Carrying it around in my backpack can’t possibly have been good for my posture.

* As fun as the weekend was, we were done after two days. We slept in after the concert until 11:30 (which was magically transformed into 12:30), and just went straight home. PAX East is a blast, but it’s a very exhausting blast. If I go back, it may be just a one-day pass.

I am now going to sleep for several days. Hopefully when I wake up, these videos will have edited and posted themselves.

2 thoughts on “PAX East 2011 thoughts

  1. couldn’t agree with you more! Tabletop was definitely the highlight of the con this year. I know there were a couple of panels I would have liked to have seen, but you just can’t beat getting to hang out with new friends and bond over a good game – and find new games to add to the ever growing wishlist (like blokkus!)

    I’m amazed you guys hung out for the whole JoCo show – when we finally left tabletop to go to sleep, he was still performing. We managed to crawl out of bed at 10.30 to get out of the hotel by 12, but man – Sunday was a loooong exhausting day. I’m still tired!

    But it was great to meet you and Eric! I’m looking forward to more videos too – Love the preview!

  2. Ha, staying through the JoCo show was a bit of an endurance test. 😛 Fortunately, he puts on such an energetic show (as do Paul and Storm) that it wasn’t TOO hard to stay awake.

    It was great to meet you both as well!

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