The journey to PAX is a trek I try to make each year since I first went in 2009 and is worth the trip if you can make it. That has become increasingly difficult in years past with the growing popularity of the convention and how it has caused badges to completely sellout within minutes (in 2009 badges could still be bought nearly three months after they went on sale). I had recently written a C-Blog with some tips, an attendance roster, and to act as a place for avatar adoption to take place for PAX Prime 2015. For some Dtoiders they wanted to make the trip to Seattle but needed someone to take their avatar in their stead. I wanted to carry on a unique tradition here at Destructoid called avatar adoption. (Avatar adoption is a unique thing that is done here at Destructoid where a community member who wants to go to an event but cannot make it person has another community member take their avatar in their place so it was like they were there.) So I added 8 Destructoid member's avatars to my luggage (including mrandydixon, nanashi, Pixie the Fairy, RadicalYoseph, Krigo, Riobux, Iceblight, and Malthor) and set off on our long trip to Seattle for PAX Prime.
Upon landing at Sea-Tac Airport I was asked if I wanted some Seahawks memorabilia. I am not really a Seahawks fan but I figured I could find someone in town who was. I told them to hand it off to me but instead they decided to pass and it was intercepted. (Yes that was a Super Bowl joke just in case you were wondering). After arriving in town I met up with fellow Dtoiders Thursday night to drink beer and talk about the upcoming weekend.
The first thing that you generally learn when you go to PAX is that you will see or be a part of a lot of lines. Here is the line that forms in the morning waiting to get into the convention hall.
The other thing that is at PAX in spades is the presence of AAA developers like 2K and Bethesda.
There were also other big names in the games industry like Ubisoft, From Software, and Harmonix.
The big three of the console market (Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony) were also there as usual with booth displays of their own.
Outside of the big names in the AAA industry another stalwart at the show has become The Behemoth. They are always one of my favorite booths at the show with all of their past games being playable on arcade machines and having a neat setup for whatever upcoming game they have coming out. They also have really neat merchandise for sale and you regularly see big names from The Behemoth walking around like Dan Paladin, Tom Fulp, and Will Stamper who are always happy to talk to fans.
Another show favorite among many is Yacht Club games. They always have neat merchandise on display and had the upcoming Plague of Shadows DLC playable.
In addition to the bigger names there are also a lot of cool hidden gems in the Indie Megabooth and up on the sixth floor of the convention center. Below, a more well known game by Capy games was on display. There also was a really awesome setup (with the most unique controller I have ever seen) for Butt Sniffin Pugs. You used the giant tennis ball to move your pug around the level. The top two buttons were the two different actions that your pug could do. You played the level with another person controlling another pug and you could sniff the other pug's butt by pressing down on the controller pug's butt to switch around what the two top buttons would do. It was a lot of fun to play and watch.
There are always cool games that you can see in the Indie Megabooth and on the sixth floor. Distance was a really cool racing game that has you drive a car that can fly and has to transfer between different driving surfaces. I checked it out on Oculus and it was an awesome experience. Another fun game I found was Gang Beasts. It is a psychics based multiplayer game where you try and beat-up the other players or throw them off the stage. It always drew big crowds and was a really fun game to play and sometimes even more fun to watch.
I also found a game that I think was based upon Andy Dixon's life. Dragon Fin Soup seems to have taken serious inspiration from the mysterious man in the pink robe who ironically uses his game systems to watch Netflix more than playing games on them. Maybe this game will help peel him away from whatever latest TV series he is hooked on. Then again maybe not. (I realized after getting home that I took two pictures with one side of the page because people walked in front of me while taking a picture of the other side and I never took another one. Just use your imagination that the page on the left is shown with the patron saint of boners).
In addition to getting to see upcoming games you also get to see a unique collection of people and many that are cosplaying.
You also see massive displays advertising different products. For example this monstrosity on display from Magic wreaking havoc on a light post, police car, and the Annex Building of the Washington State Convention Center.
Not only is PAX a great place to check out games and other cool gaming related stuff there are also other people that are a part of the industry. The guys from Mega64 are there every year and it is always worth a visit to their booth each year to check out their stuff they have for sale and to see what hijinks they are up to. I actually went to their panel this year and asked a question and brought a Butter Creamers Activity book for Rocco. (They liked it so much that I got a Razer headset from them.) There are also other groups like Rooster Teeth that have a good showing at their panel and booth.
While being at PAX is fun to check out upcoming games and speak with your favorite developers one of the best parts is to link up with other Dtoiders and people that you usually only get to see once a year. Here is some pictures of Dtoiders at the Elephant and Castle (one of the typical meetups for Dtoiders during the weekend). Here you can see a good showing from the front page with Steven, Kyle, and Brett. You can also see an appearance from an old familiar face in Hamza Aziz. Another old familiar face is Spencer Hayes (of Gentlemen's Club fame from the Dtoid Twitch days) with Dtoid member Macca.
There always is a great showing from the Destructoid community at large. Here you can see Apathy, CrackityJones, and Skate Allday among other Dtoiders.
There was not an official Destructoid panel on site at PAX this year. Luckily Macca and Toneman were able to put together the Officially Unofficial Destructoid Panel. You can the illustrious set of panelists below that included Macca, Toneman, Hamza, CrackityJones, and JJ McCallum. Tim Schafer was supposed to be a special guest but sadly due a scheduling conflict was not able to make it. Also of note, the fake candles Hamza is modeling made a mysterious and unrelated disappearance after that evening.
I figured at some point that I should get a picture of myself with the collection of people I brought along with me so here you can see me and Macca.
After all is said and done over the weekend it is always a lot of fun checking out new games that you have been excited for and finding hidden gems amongst the indie games selection. Ultimately what will bring you back each year is the people you meet and get to know over the weekend. I had a lot of fun this year with Dtoiders including talking to Brett and Steven about how pathetic the support is for Florida pro sports teams (and the recent explosion of popularity of the Seahawks despite their lack of a following during the 2005 Super Bowl era), or talking to Macca about the differences between New Zealand and the states or how most people in states cannot understand his and his girlfriend's accent (evidenced by think her hame is Steven E rather than Stephanie), or staying up until 4 am with Zack Furniss talking about random things that somehow devolved into a discussion about Assassin's Creed, or getting to meet Kyle in person since playing FNF with him so many times on The Last of Us or Rocket League. It is the experience of seeing all the craziness of PAX during the day and then meeting up with all these new found friends and discussing the events of the day over a beer or three that evening that makes you wish the weekend long convention didn't have to end.
If you were one of the ones to be adopted this year then maybe try and make it to a convention sometime and put out the call to adopt another Dtoider's avatar to keep the tradition alive. Hopefully I can make it back to Seattle next year to meet even more Dtoiders in person and keep this great tradition alive.