The Penny Arcade eXpo (PAX) is a series of gaming festivals held in Seattle, Boston, and Melbourne, Australia. PAX was created by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the authors of the Penny Arcade webcomic, because they wanted to attend a show that gave equal attention to console gamers, computer gamers, and tabletop gamers.
Created in 2004, PAX has been hailed as celebration of gamer culture. Defining characteristics of the festival include an opening keynote speech from an industry insider, game-culture inspired concerts, panels on game topics, exhibitor booths from independent and major game developers and publishers, a LAN party, tabletop game tournaments, and video game freeplay areas. Every PAX also features the Omegathon, a festival long tournament consisting of a group of randomly selected attendees competing for a grand prize. The final round of the Omegathon makes up the closing ceremony of PAX. Past games for the final round have included Tetris, Pong, Halo 3, and Skee ball.
Somehow I had managed to avoid/miss PAX every year–not being a gamer, I never had much interest in it. However this year, in keeping with the spirit of “Adventure Liz”, I thought, why not? Brenna went over the schedule with us and we decided that Sunday (PAX was 4 days long this year) was the perfect day to go. Mike and Jerry would be doing a “q&a” in the morning, and Josh and I have enjoyed watching them banter on their reality show.
I woke up with a wonky back from moving furniture the day before, but applications of ice, stretching on the floor and a little counterstrain worked it out. I wore a 1960′s trapeze-style vintage dress because I didn’t want to wear anything constrictive, neon orange fishnets, and funky little gold sandals that later proved to be problematic. Apparently I have now reached the dawning of Needing to Wear Sensible Shoes, and it STINKS!
Apparently they cracked down on the security this year, because Brenna had a bit of a “kerfuffle” (thanks “Little Britain”) getting us into the VIP section. She kept insisting “I’m Jerry’s wife!” and that was fine with them because she had her VIP badge, but we didn’t. Note for next year(s): obtain VIP badge. At any rate, we were finally allowed into the special balcony section to watch the q&a.
Brenna was shocked that there were empty seats–she said in years past, it was always a full house. Later on we figured it was because the q&a was at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, and most gamers had been up all hours the night before, partying. Those crazy kids!
Closer look at the screen. The q&a lasts an hour and a half, during which time people line up at microphones and shoot questions at Jerry and Mike. Their faces are projected onto the screen for everyone to gawk at.
Josh “ironically” wore a hideous tie-dyed Star Wars tee-shirt (that’s right) that actually received a compliment from someone during our time at PAX. He was going to wear his Utilikilt, but he’s gotten too fat for it. Time for a Spanx Utilikilt!
Weeeeell this camera setting didn’t really work out, did it? There’s Jerry and Mike onstage. Some of the questions were full-on Nerd and flew over my head, but I actually really enjoyed most of the q&a. Someone pointed out that the online gaming world is full of rage-heads and bigots, but at PAX everyone is nice and mellow, and I noticed this to be true as well. Anonymity = assholes. Some weird girl requested that Jerry come down to the audience so she could hug him (she also stroked his bald head…creepily) gave him some sort of pastry in a box. WHO WOULD EAT THAT PASTRY? The price of Internet fame, I guess–weirdo stalkers. Brenna recognized most of the people asking questions, including the weird girl–and seemed unperturbed by the whole stroking-the-bald-head incident. She’s had a lot of years to get used it, I suppose!
After the q&a we went back to Brenna’s hotel room to meet up with my in-laws and the kiddies and went out to lunch at Blueacre, the fabulous downtown Seattle restaurant that Josh and I ate at on my birthday last year. I had a “Nordstrom salad”–smothered in fresh crab, avocado, bacon and blue cheese–it was SO GOOD. It’s a shame I didn’t take any photos at lunchtime because Brenna looked really pretty, in spite of the toe she managed to break that week. She made flip flops look glam!
After lunch Brenna and the kids went back to the hotel room to go swimming and Josh’s parents and I wandered around PAX so I could get a “feel” of it. Josh had been to PAX 3 times in the past and his parents have gone nearly every year, so this was mostly for my benefit.
I’m glad I didn’t wear a wig. The place was packed and the weather was humid, and I would have sweltered. When I asked Brenna what I should wear, she told me it didn’t really matter and that PAX was just a “sea of pale guys in black t-shirts“, and she was mostly right…
…but there were a few costumes and wigs, luckily (for me–you know I love a wig). I felt pretty comfortable wandering around PAX, not a trace of anxiety, and it occurred to me that I’ve always loved counterculture, whether it be my obsession with 1920′s flappers or 1960′s hippies or my own immersion into rave/Burning Man culture in the 2000′s, and what was PAX but another example of counterculture?
“A moneymaking counterculture,” my mother-in-law pointed out, and true DAT, but still. Everyone I smiled at smiled right back at me, and I felt un-judged and peaceful. Thanks, PAX!
Soooooo many gamers. After we wandered around for a while, my adorable gold sandals started to really kill my right foot (I now have a PAX blister), so we left before 4 o’clock. We stayed just long enough for me to get a little “taste” of PAX. I’d like to go back next year, and bring Corinne, who actually is a gamer and would appreciate it.
Hey Cool Beard Guy, thanks for letting me snap your pic! Too bad it’s a little out of focus. Heigh ho. To sum up: PAX is a good time, even for a non-gamer like myself, and I encourage all 1.3 of my readers out there to GO! Or maybe you already do–hells bells, PAX sold out in 27 minutes this year, a’la Burning Man. Next year: PAX Australia??!?!!? I THINK SO!
Happy weekend, blog-logs. I plan on enjoying Nature.