This weekend I went to PAX for the first time. PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo, and it’s a convention devoted to nothing but gaming. I guess I didn’t know what I was getting into because I don’t hear as many people talk about it as San Diego Comic-Con. I figured I would have a good time, but it was many times better than I thought it would be.
I drove to Seattle Thursday night after working at home for the day. I didn’t know that anybody I knew was going until the week of the con, so I had already found roommates on the hotel share thread on the PAX forums. This was a mistake. I should’ve just ponied up the money to get a room by myself. The guy who booked the room asked for my share of the money soon after I responded to his post because he was short on money. When I got to the hotel, we didn’t have a room because his card got declined. He said that he was getting a direct deposit around midnight from his job and we would have a room then. He was there with his online gaming group. They were split into 3 rooms. Our room had 5 people and the other two rooms had 4 each. These people were freaking weirdos, and that’s coming from me. I hope they don’t see this. They even admitted that they were strange and apologized for how strange they were. The guys in my room were okay, but the others in their extended group were out there. I left my stuff in one of the other rooms and we went to a bar while we waited to get our room. As I expected, his money wasn’t available at midnight. He asked me if I had a credit card that I could that I could use and he would forward me the money later. I said something vague like “I can’t do it”, but the truth was I just didn’t want to. I thought about getting my own room somewhere nearby. I guess he found someone else willing to use their card. We finally got into our room around 1AM. One guy snored so loudly that it was hard to sleep. I think I got about 2 hours of sleep that night. At least somebody called him out on that. Not that it did any good.
The next day I got up to go the convention center. I had an idea of which panels I wanted to see, but I didn’t know what else I would end up doing. My roommates had talked about getting up early to get in line to play games, but I didn’t really know what they were talking about and I wasn’t really interested. When I got to the lobby, I asked the front desk to call me a cab. I saw some guys in Telltale Games shirts outside and they got in the first cab that came. It turns out that was supposed to be my cab. They invited me to share the cab with them and they paid for it. Neat, huh? When I got to the convention center, I just followed the flow of people. I ended up in the line for the Exhibition Hall where you can view and play games and see other stuff. While we waited in line here and everywhere else, the staff gave us stuff to do and entertained us. Comic-Con could learn something from this. I decided I wasn’t going to try to play any games because I didn’t want to wait a long time to play a demo I could play in a few months. Mostly, I walked around and watched other people play. I heard the wait to play Borderlands 2 was around 8 hours. I focused a lot on the cosplayers and props/decorations. I did see one of the Telltale guys I shared a cab with at the Telltale booth. The whole weekend I played maybe 2 or 3 games, but I did get cards with codes for games. I didn’t get much schwag other than this. There was so much to see. I tried to at least walk past every table. I spotted some guest stars from Supernatural at one point. Between visits to the Exhibition Hall I went to a couple of panels, like the Destructoid Live panel. I went to a party that night and had a great time.
The second day wasn’t as interesting because I had seen the Exhibition Hall. I went to the Major Nelson Live panel. There was stuff going on all over the convention center. Even though I had seen much of it the previous day, I was still discovering a lot of things. I found a dark arcade (the way it should be) and I played some board games. I really want to get into board and card games now. People were playing them in dedicated rooms and on the floor while in line. I bought 1 game at the convention and I’ve bought another 1 since I got back. I ended up going to a Harmonix panel late that because I wanted to sit down for a while and I didn’t want to go back to my room yet. It ended up being the best panel I saw the entire weekend. Right when I was about to leave the convention center for the day, I stumbled across the console freeplay room where they had tons of consoles setup and you could checkout games to play. I wish I had known about this sooner, because I would’ve spent a lot of time here.
I decided to come home Sunday instead of Monday morning. I had seen everything I needed to see and I wanted to give myself more time to recuperate. Also, I didn’t want to spend another night in that room. I was thinking about going to a popular museum in Seattle, but I’ll have to do that next time.
I had a great time at PAX. It’s a lot more relaxed that Comic-Con. I did learn a few lessons. Never go in blind on the roommate situation. That threatened to put a damper on the weekend and I’m glad it didn’t. Also, I shouldn’t go to cons alone. It’s a lot less awkward when you know someone there and have someone to hang with. I either need to make more friends who like to go to these things or convince more of my current friends to go. Lastly, this isn’t really a lesson, but I need to dress up for a con one time. I think it would be a lot of fun. I’m glad that I’m fortunate enough to be able to go on these little adventures. I’m looking forward to the next one.