Like many things in life, my Sunday at PAX did not start according to plan. After three and a half magnificent hours of sleep, I awoke early to ensure that I made it in to the State of the Game panel at 10:30am. I should preface this by stating that last year’s Saturday night SOTG panel filled up an hour and forty-five minutes before it actually started. In my 2011 naivete, I thought I would be perfectly fine getting in line an hour and a half early, so I missed it. I was determined not to let that happen again.
I hopped on the train around 8:30am, only to realize after making it a single stop that I’d forgotten my Sunday pass at home. I exited the train and elected to run the ~1 mile back to my apartment, where I grabbed the pass, drank some water, and repeated the process. Upon arriving at the silver line stop for the convention center, my pass decided it would be an opportune time to fall off its lanyard. Fortunately, a very friendly passerby pointed it out on the ground to me, and I was able to recover it before entering the BCEC and beginning my final day at PAX East.
Of course, this year’s SOTG panel did not remotely fill up, perhaps a byproduct of it being early in the morning on Easter Sunday. Day9 also was unfortunately too sick to travel, and did not make it to Boston. As a result, we had JP, Artosis, InControl, and several special guests including DJWheat and another Twitch guy, along with a writer for GiantBomb and a rep from MadCatz. The energy level was understandably low, both for the panel and the audience. InControl, to his credit, powered the turbine for the hour. His sense of humor was not diminished despite the general lack of energy in the room. Artosis remained largely silent until the Q&A portion. DJWheat was fiery and indignant about the LAN issue after the previous evening’s IPL debacle. The panel also decided to broaden its usual focus on SC2 exclusively, and discussed a number of larger eSports issues. Occasionally, these discussions degenerated into repeated mentions of the Brazzers sponsorship debacle, but at least that was funny.
All in all, it was just barely worth it to drag myself out of bed. Hopefully next year they find a happy medium between Saturday night and Sunday morning scheduling.
After SOTG wrapped up, I made my way down to the SC2 tournament in the PC freeplay area. Last year’s tourney was a logistical nightmare involving substantial delays, numerous no-shows, and Battle.net issues galore. This year things were much tighter, with a significantly smaller player pool (64) and a more efficient match-timing system. As I waited for my name to be called, I noticed PokeBunny hanging out not too far away. He’d won last years tournament and looked poised to do it again. I had a quick chat with him and a few of the surrounding players, then they began calling out our round 1 match-ups.
I made the significant mistake of not bringing a keyboard and mouse, and as a result had to take quite some time to adjust to the setup that was given to me. I’m a bit of a cheap traditionalist when it comes to my gaming, so I just use the most inexpensive keyboard and mouse setup from Microsoft that I can find ($10 total!). As a result, “Gaming gear” tends to kind of freak me out. Once I’d acclimated to the neon blue LEDs all over everything, I began my ZvZ matchup against my opponent. I was able to quickly take a lead by forcing a cancel on his early attempt at an expansion while expanding myself, but he managed to put together some very solid macro as we entered the midgame. I made the somewhat classic mistake of trying to follow up my lead with massive roach aggression, which he was able to hold off while regaining a macro edge. When he counter pushed, I just barely didn’t have enough. A well fought game overall, but sadly a loss that knocked me out in round 1.
Despite being a little down, PAX has a way of making your quickly forget any disappointment. I met up with some friends and we made out way to the “From Pixels to Props: Creating Realistic Gaming Replicas” panel. This panel featured Harrison Krix, Zander Brandt, Bill Doran , Matt Munson, and was moderated (with authoritah!) by Kelly Jean. Harrison, Zander, Bill, and Matt all look to be pretty effing badass prop designers. They carried us through a rapid-fire PowerPoint featuring tons of tools and materials I’d never heard of. Apparently, 1/3 of them will kill you if you breath their dust. These guys are not fooling around.
After that it was back to the Expo hall. Sunday is the best day to hunt for free stuff, as many companies HAVE to get rid of it before packing up and heading home. I also got a chance to check out a few cool titles from smaller studios. In particular, Antichamber really caught my eye. It’s a psychedelic first-person exploration game where the world bends and twists based on your perception. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not as convoluted as it sounds.
Instead of attending some of the final events, I opted to go out for an early dinner with some of the Penny Arcade forum folks. In a strange way, this seemed a more appropriate conclusion to PAX than anything else. The event is, in the end, about bringing people from all over the place together based on shared interests. I sat at a table with several people I’d met IRL only the previous day and we had conversations as if we’d done it dozens of times before. The shared experience of participating in a hobby can forge immediate, potent bonds. Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins have no doubt met hundreds of people at PAX throughout the years that they now regularly talk to and play games with. The PAX volunteer enforcers also express a strong, almost familial sense of community.
If you’ve even a passing interest in gaming, whether it be digital, tangible, or simply imaginary, then you absolutely must attend.