PAX was interesting. Our friends Kate and Aron who run the Dreaming here in Seattle had secured some tables for RPG demos. I only ran one game, because after my game I did a turn through the expo hall and came back sort of stunned.
People were, for the most part, very well-behaved and polite at PAX. There were a few cos-players, but not as many as I’d feared, and mostly young guys showing off their HALO armor. There were a couple of Waldos (of Where’s Waldo? fame), several Mario and Luigis, and a scattering of Moogles, I think someone called them, from Final Fantasy. For having 75,000 nerds crowded into a four block radius, the crowds were exceptionally well-mannered.
So, after running a game of 1,001 Nights, which went very well, and having lunch with some friends, I decide that I need to check out this here expo hall I keep hearing about.
The expo hall is like a cross between a nightclub and a battlefield. It’s dark. There’s loud music and flashing lights, and the press of many, many bodies, and, periodically as you pass certain booths (and calling some of these set-ups booths is a vast understatement) gunfire sounds right next to your ear. I wandered up to Kate at the Dreaming’s table, and I must have looked absolutely stunned. She laughed and said, “What do you think?”
“I think this is an ADD nightmare,” I answered. “I can’t fucking think.”
The majority of the booths were for videogames, videogame consoles, or computer game companies. I did get to see Diablo III. Eeeeeeeee!!! Didn’t play the demo, the lines were kind of long. I also got to play around with the Warhammer MMORPG a bit. Thought very seriously about picking up a PacMan necklace from the Namco booth. But mostly I just wandered around in a daze. I did get a demo of the Hello Kitty MMO, which I am so very, very tempted to load up and play, just for the sheer absurdity. A friend of mine was one of the beta testers for it, and she says it’s actually pretty fun.
My friend Rachel, who goes to San Diego Comic Con, said that PAX was far nicer. People were more polite. There were far fewer booth babes. She didn’t fear being sexually harassed. And PAX has an anti-harassment policy printed in big letters in their programs.
The PAX Enforcers, who act as security and guides for the clueless, are all very able, polite people. They are incredibly helpful and have a surprising amount of agency. They are encouraged to act first, and ask for forgiveness from management after defusing a situation or resolving a problem, rather than having to track someone down first. In fact, as we packed up the gaming stuff from the room the Dreaming ran demos in, we just flagged down a random Enforcer who helped us load stuff into the storage closet across the way.
I only went the one day, because I do not have a temperament that can handle those kinds of numbers for more than one day in a row. The Husband What Rules, however, went back on Sunday and ran Mouse Guard and Lady Blackbird all day. Oh, and I finally got to meet Luke Crane, the creator of Burning Wheel and the Mouse Guard game.
I’d like to congratulate the Penny Arcade guys for running a damn fine convention, particularly considering the scope of it. And to congratulate the Enforcers for being genuinely nice, helpful people.
Oh yeah, I did find time for one round of Rock Band, in the Rock Band lounge. A group of us did Ratt – Round and Round. It was kind of fun, if nerve-wracking.