PAX East, Geeks, and Games!
Last weekend was the first PAX East in Boston and I was lucky enough to attend. I carefully removed the shiny, red, three-day badge from the envelope that had been sitting in my filing cabinet for months. I’d taken it out before, just to make sure it was okay, and then tucked it back safely away, but last Friday I took it out of the envelope for good and hung it around my neck for three of the most amazing days of gaming I’ve ever experienced.
I did a lot of research in advance of this con because I wanted to be ready. There was no way I was going to miss any of the things on my “must-see-or-I’ll-cry” list. One thing that was clear from the beginning was that I’d be spending a lot of time waiting in lines since there are no advance sign-ups for events. I think they figure that if you want to see it badly enough, then you’ll sit on the floor of the Hynes Convention Center and wait for 2 hours for the chance. They were absolutely right, and the funny part is, not only was I willing to sit in those lines, I was happy sitting in those lines.
There is something special about hanging around with 60,000 or so folks that “get you”. They understand all your geeky references. They’ve read the book, played the game and seen the movie. Twice. There’s no need to explain what you just said because they were probably thinking the exact same thing. I saw a guy in a big, floppy chef’s hat and a woman in a matching apron walk by and I couldn’t figure out the cosplay. Then I realized that they actually worked at the convention center. Oops, my bad, but the guy behind me admitted he had just thought the same thing. Thank you!
We rode the T into the city each day and on Saturday morning it was full of gamers with shiny PAX badges. I heard references to Men in Black, Predator vs. Aliens, Heroes and Blade before the car even started to move. That was a special kind of awesome. Then on the way home the T did some sort of strange reboot and “9600 baud” flashed on the display leading to a good five minutes of geeky techno-banter. How cool would it be if mass transit was this interesting every day?
Of course, the panels were fantastic and there were plenty of games. I played Frogger in an old-style arcade cabinet and learned that my reflexes have not improved with time. We drooled over the gaming tables at the Geek Chic booth. I got to hear Wil Wheaton’s keynote speech and he signed my books…squeee! I played a game in snazzy 3D glasses, jumped around a board like a human chess piece playing DnD, and found my new favorite game, Zombie Dice. I also have my new favorite quote, “Brains are like Pringles, you can’t eat just one.” thanks to the rep from Steve Jackson games who gave us a demo.
The whole experience was fantastic from beginning to end. I will be buying my tickets for next year the instant they become available and desperately wish I could find my way to Seattle for PAX Prime. So, to those of you that have been considering going to this con, especially if you weren’t sure that the Boston version would be any good, the line for tickets starts behind me. I got me some serious skills at that DnD demo and I’m not afraid to use them!