PAX East was this past weekend, and I already want to go to the next one! Anyway, I’m going to sum up my trip the best way I know how: in a Top Ten list. Yeah, I like those.
10. The Expo
With the new venue at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), there was lots of space almost everywhere: except smack in the middle of the Expo Hall. Of course, that’s mostly because there was a great deal of fun stuff, however, the crowd did keep me out of there most of the time, and I didn’t want to wait for any games. There were 3DS‘s to try, and I got to take a look at people playing them. They look cool. Ours is pre-ordered. I didn’t wait for any games, but the exhibits looked great and there was a flying Pikachu.
If you didn’t gather from my previous post about her, I fell in love with this year’s keynote speaker by reading her book. She was also pretty great in person. She talked a lot about what was in the book, but also brought up some new ideas and new games in her talk. She called up “contagious vectors of awesome” which I really like the idea of. I even took some notes (on my Droid in Evernote) while she spoke. I still would love to talk to her about games and college education, but I didn’t catch her this time.
My husband and I have a bit of a running thing with Justin McElroy. He probably thinks we’re stalkers or something, but really, we just think he’s really cool. Anyway, we barely went to any panels this year, but we did go to both the Joystiq Podcast and the Joystiq Blueberry Muffin Tops (BBMTs) breakfast sponsored by Malt-O-Meal. The podcast was great fun, they had a big green dinosaur running around who turned out to be voice artist Bob Ball (who is hilarious). Afterwards, we redeemed our official Justin hugs. The breakfast was also great. If you have never had BBMT cereal before, go try and hunt it down (good luck, it’s hard to find) because it’s delicious! Of course, I could only have two pieces because it’s made with wheat (sad face). However, Dawn and I had a suggestion for Malt-O-Meal: lemon poppyseed muffin tops cereal. You know you want some. After that, we ended up chatting with the guys for a while, including Griffin McElroy and Chris Grant, which was awesome!
7. Old Friends
I got to meet up with some people who I’ve been chatting with on twitter for a while finally including nerdsherpa and PhysicistLisa, which was great! I also ran into at least one person who I met at PAX Prime 2010. I also had breakfast with a few of our GeekDad and GeekMom friends, including Natania Barron our blog inspiration. I wish I could have met up with more people actually, and next time I’m making much more specific plans to do just that!
6. New Friends
PAX is like a big family, and everywhere you go you meet new people who are also awesome and typically very much like you. We met some fun folks on the pub crawl, including a couple who we kept in touch with to play games on Saturday. We made friends in every line we stood in from all kinds of places, including Holland!
Other than a small amount of getting too old for this stuff, my husband and I had a blast on the Pokemon themed pub crawl. We were on Team Squirtle or Blue (team B for other Pokecrawlers out there!) and we met up with and challenged members of the other teams at various Boston bars near Quincy Market. We shared some shots, including a challenge that ended up being 5 shots split between two of us, and my partner decided to do 5 different colored shots, of which I had three: blue, green, and black. Don’t ask what was in them, I didn’t. We also chatted and danced (more or less) and generally had fun with fellow geeks. Some of the bars even played music just for us including the Pokemon Theme Song and the Mario Bros music.
Also known as Mike and Jerry, these two guys are the reason PAX happens and why it’s so great. We always go to the Q&A after the keynote to hear them because they always have interesting things to say and they want to talk to their fans, which is awesome. I also love their commentaries on the Omegathon Events. We got to see Jenga this year, which included giant size Jenga blocks and Gabe and Tycho just going nuts over them. Then, we always go to the final round to see them off. We tried to track down Kara this trip, but she is a hard woman to find, and we didn’t get to the Make A Strip panel. Next time we’ll make a plan, okay Kara?!
Interestingly enough, our crowd spent a lot of our time hanging around Table Top Gaming this trip, which was awesome. We spent most of it testing out the biochemistry based board game created by friend-of-the-blog Brandon. It was actually a ton of fun, and got very competitive at the end. I apparently also spouted a lot of science! talk and drove people nuts. It’s a good strategy game that needs a better explanation so people don’t realize they are learning biochemistry. I also learned Ricochet Robots and chatted with Munchkin guru Andrew about some possible future Munchkin games. We tried to pick up Munchkin Zombies, but there were issues with the games being lost in transit. We’ll get it, eventually. Andrew did tell me that somewhere in the pipeline there might be a mythology Munchkin with God-like power-ups. I would play that!
I love the concerts at PAX. Now, I’m a musician, so that makes me more interested immediately, but it’s so much more than that. I think Paul and Storm actually explained it the best when they said that twice a year, they get to be rock stars. The bands who play at PAX are niche bands for sure, but we are their niche. Where else can you hear rock music based on MegaMan, a rap song about a Final Boss, Frogger the Musical, an orchestral Zelda melody, and watch a whole room sing about zombies? Only at PAX.
The Protomen were amazing. I saw them last year, but the show has gotten even better, especially the guy who pays Wiley, wow! I think they are my new obsession, so the next time I see them I want to be able to sing all the words, therefore I am listening to them nonstop right now. He. he. MC Frontalot and company was also incredible. You already know how much I like Bl4k Lotus, but we had both of the keyboard players Vic20 and Gm7, who tag-teamed 1st World Problem! That was amazing, and difficult, I’m a pianist, I know. Vic20 was absolutely on fire and hit two incredible solos. Even if you don’t love hip hop, they are always a fabulous show. Jonathan Coulton sang new music that I hadn’t heard before. I can’t wait for his new album to come out. I already love Sticking it to Myself and the song about shopping. I love the way the whole PAX audience can sing the last verse to Skullcrusher Mountain.
The over-riding theme of PAX is Welcome Home, and that’s because no matter what the panels are or what games are there or who plays at the concerts, what makes it home is that it is full of us. At work, I’m the oddball who listens to strange music, plays DnD, and makes Star Trek references. At PAX, I’m just part of the crowd. I wasn’t the only person relating life to a Venn Diagram constantly. I wasn’t the only person referencing science fiction in daily conversation. I wasn’t the only person in a video game t-shirt. We are what makes PAX great and I hope we can keep that going!
Thanks wizzer2801 for the great photos!
Thanks again Mike and Jerry (and the Man Khoo who makes it all happen logistically!) for the fabulous weekend!