After a nine-hour bus trip back to DC from Boston at 10:00PM I was so happy to see my wife passed out in bed. The calls from her every night around eleven made me miss what was going on back in DC, and yes, I got teary-eyed at one point. Even with my wifeís persuading words, urging me to just come back home, she understood that I just plainly had to geek out with other nerds. It was an amazing three-day convention that I hope to enjoy again next year with my fellow gaming brothers and sisters. Though next year I will come a little more prepared.
Fatal Error 1: Not bringing my Nintendo DS to party when everybody in the known universe had brought theirs. There were plenty of moments when I slapped myself in the face upon noticing that someone in line with me for a panel had their DS. Nowhere in the convention itself was safe from the DS. DS in the bathroom, DS in the cafeteria, DS in the portable lounge, DS on the bus. It was a missed opportunity to meet a new friend at every corner, all because I did not bring my DS. It was my biggest blunder for the convention, but it didnít bring down the experience of my first PAX Eastl.
Fatal Error 2: Not going to enough of the small meet ups at bars and at the convention center. I spent most of my time in panels and at the classic arcade, which were lots of fun, but not great for meeting new people. Most of my socializing was in line for panels or just goofing around at the arcade. Next year, I will come with a clear game plan for smaller meet-ups at bars or just host my own around the convention center. I am a big Super Meat Boy fan and I wish I had set up my own Super Meat Boy meet-up to talk to some fellow meatheads.
Fatal Error 3: Not bringing enough snack food to the convention. The convention food burned through my wallet even faster than buying video games. $3 sodas, $7 salads, and $7 ice cream just made me a poorer man than I already was. Next time I go to the convention I am just going to bring a case of Lara Bars to tide me over as much as possible. Another key item to tote is a water bottle, since filling up water from the water fountains is three dollars cheaper than buying bottled water each day.
Enough of the bad things; letís get going with the good. First of all, the majority of people I met at PAX were great fun to talk to. If you are an introvert, like me, PAX really is not the time to hide inside your shell. How often are you going to meet people at a bar talking about video games? Even Thursday night, before the convention, I was sitting at the bar with my friend David talking about a variety of video game topics. We began by talking about Pong machines with the bartender, then moved quickly over to the person on my left to chat about Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. This is probably the first time in my life that I could start a conversation about Mega Man at a bar and have everyone know what I was talking about. If I didnít take a chance and open my mouth I would not have had the great experience of meeting the guys from Press Pause Radio
, who do some fantastic work over at their podcast.
The very first panel I went to was amazing. It was an informative talk by the guys from Meta Game Theory
. Basically, the panel went over the ins and outs of PAX East and how to get the most out of your PAX experience. They had everything from how long you should wait in line for panels to the best bar spots and how to find your favorite celebrities at PAX. It was especially helpful since David and I had no idea what we were doing. At the end of the panel I got to talk to Joe from Meta Game Theory and thank him for teaching me the details of the expo. They run a Podcast that everyone should follow if they want to hear an intellectual conversation about gaming, rather than the usual review or preview of a game.
Waiting in lines for panels was a pain but got a lot easier when you talked to the people in line. Itís easy: just open your mouth and ask the person next to you, ďDid you play anything good on the show floor?Ē People love talking about what they did or what they want to do next at the convention. Once you break the ice, the conversations can last for half an hour, while it feels as though only minutes have passed. Those who say gamers are antisocial are wrong, because gamers just love sharing their knowledge and passion for games with other people. Even at the end of the convention on Sunday, when everyone should have been passed out on the floor, people were still socializing and talking amongst themselves about the great times they had. I had the honor of talking to Jon
at the convention within the last half an hour, and it just showed me that being a member of the gaming community is great. We spent a good ten minutes just talking about the passion we had for Earth Defense Forces 2017. Always be willing to chat at the convention, because making new relationships is something that all gamers need.
The show floor was a mad house, but many of the smaller developers just loved the fact that you were playing their new game. One game that I was so excited for before I even got there was Earth Defense Forces Insect Armageddon
. This game is the highly anticipated sequel to the cult classic Earth Defense Forces 2017. Only at PAX would you ever hear the masses chanting, ďEDF, EDF!Ē I got to talk with Michael Cerven, Publicity Manager for D3 Publisher. He loved that we were asking him questions about the game. Any question we had he was happy to answer and even gave us his business card if we thought up any more. The smaller developers and publishers have a great sense of community and love the fact that people are playing and enjoying their games. My plea to anyone who is reading this post: please reserve your copy of Earth Defense Forces Insect Armageddon right now, because if company and any game truly deserves your money, it is D3 Publisher.
What I have learned from PAX is that gamers all come to PAX for a variety of reasons, but at the end of the day we are all gamers. Even with the massive crowds of people you would expect people to be rude, but realistically everyone is happy to see other gamers. I hope that gamers donít stop being social when PAX is over, but continue to reach out to other gamers in their area. It has inspired me to start up my gaming group in the DC area again, because drinking with gamers is an amazing experience. Will you continue to spirit of PAX, or will you let it die? The choice is in our hands and hopefully other gamers will take up the challenge.
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