PAX-ified

Pax was AWESOME.

I could seriously make this the shortest post-con wrap-up EVER with just that sentence and a slew of pictures. But I like you more than that, so I will endeavor to describe in greater detail just how awesome the awesomeness was.

Friday we arrived at the Washington State Convention Center in the early afternoon. The plan was to simply get a lay of the land and figure out where we ultimately wanted to spend the majority of our time throughout the con.

First of all the crowd-size was NUTS. It reminded me of San Diego Comic Con back in 2004, when it was still crazy packed but not mind-meltingly ridiculous. My wife and I were forced to adopt the “Dodge-Duck-Dip-Dive&Dodge” method of perambulation. It was bordering on the overwhelming; I think our eyeballs literally WERE bigger than our heads as we struggled to take everything in.

photo credit – Kiko Villasenor

photo credit – Olin Olmstead

As we attempted to navigate the Expo Hall an “Enforcer” (PAX volunteer) leapt out in front of us and gleefully announced, “Hi! We’re about to start an autograph signing with G4’s Kristin Adams! Would you like to get in line?” Now, here is where I have to admit… neither of us had any IDEA who Kristin Adams was. We don’t watch G4. Not that it isn’t a cool network with lots of nifty, gamer-y, tech-y shows, we just seem to spend most of our time on SyFy and BBC America – because that’s where we can find Face-Off and Doctor Who. Anyway, we shrugged amiably and hopped in to line to meet someone we had never heard of before. Kristin Adams is super nice! Super-duper nice! I have a (newish) rule that at cons I won’t shake hands with anyone (even celebs) in an effort to avoid the dreaded Con Crud. Instead, I fist-bump or “daps” with folks. Kristin had been shaking everyone’s hand, but when I offered her a daps instead she smiled hugely and shared that she had just taught her little girl (who I believe she said was two) to daps and now she fist-bumps everyone and it’s adorable. I’d have to agree. It was a nice little diversion and even though we didn’t become instant G4 watchers, I can definitely say that I’m now a fan of Kristin.

This is Kristin Adams. And now we know.

After the Expo Hall has closed, we ambled over the Paramount for the Friday night concerts, featuring the Video Game Orchestra. We ended up right at the front of the line because we thought that the show started an hour earlier than it actually did… and for a solid 90 minutes I was seriously confused as to why there were only about 200 of us in line for a 1200 seat venue, but, sure enough, about an hour before the concert (actually) started a herd of happily-fed and rested con-goers began to gather. Because we were accidentally at the front of the line, we got a couple of the most awesome seats in the house in that they were actually seats.

The Paramount theatre is a really nifty venue because they can actually sink the seats in the “orchestra” section of the auditorium into the floor, and then cover the space with large floor boards… so a normally seats only location can become a “standing-room” venue for rock or pop concerts. So, while this is awesome for increasing capacity, it can suck a little for weary-legged folks who just want to effing sit for a while and enjoy the tune-age. Once the doors opened, the wife and I bee-lined to house-left (stage right) where we knew “box” seats would have remained in place (because those can’t sink down) and happily nabbed the seats closest to the stage. Our feet, butts, eyes and ears were overjoyed.

The opening act was newcomer Sam Hart. Sam has a gentle tenor, a masterful command of the acoustic guitar and a small stack of “geek-folk” original songs that are at once funny and adorably sweet. He’s been gaining a lot of traction in the world of gamer-music with his track “Mario Cart Love Song” which you can check out HERE. While you’re at it, tune your earholes to my favorite of his songs so far “The Kitty Song”. If you like what you hear you can buy his ENTIRE album for $1(!) at bandcamp.com.

The Video Game Orchestra was awesome, but the sound guy for the Paramount needs to take a lesson is setting levels because we seriously could not even HEAR the electric clarinet (which is a seriously important instrument for a large number of video game suites). Super cool thing, though. The VGO is running a Kickstarter Campaign to raise money to film and distribute DVD’s of their upcoming concert in Boston. You should totally check it out and donate a couple of bucks.

Saturday morning we hauled our butts out of bed and managed to get to the con about 40 minutes after opening. We chose to dedicate most of this day to table top gaming, which is our favorite. We took part in a Pajaggle demo and seriously impressed the game developer with one of the most intense games of “Block’n’Bridge” (one of the 8 games you can play with a Pajaggle set) he’d ever seen. He provided color-commentary throughout the 30+ minute game and we invited him to come to our house and do the same for all of our table games because it was both motivating and hysterical.

We ended up buying a Pajaggle set… we’ve played it at least 10 times in the last 4 days, it is seriously fun and I highly recommend it.

Wandering around the lower levels of the convention center, we found ourselves in the hand held gaming area. Seeing an Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion for 3DS demo stand, we sidled up and proceeded to give it a whirl. Dude. This is not a “DS’d” version of EM. This is its own game and it. Is. FANTASTIC. It’s a retro-style side-scrolling adventure with touchscreen elements. Remember the Sega Genesis?? Well, back in the day Disney came out with a game called “Castle of Illusion”. This new game is basically a follow-up to that one and it is fun, fun, FUN! We don’t own a 3DS, but now we might have to start a savings fund for one… and for this game. We had so much fun playing it, and interacting with the Disney employee who was talking us through the finer points, that in the end he snuck us each an exclusive Mickey and Oswald which I guess he wasn’t supposed to be handing out willy-nilly because he whispered ,”don’t tell anyone, k?” as he palmed them to us. The wife and I casually collect Disney trading pins when we go to the parks, so we were grinning ear-to-ear as we conspired to add them to our Disney lanyards at home and to never EVER trade them. Ever.

On a Disney-high, we headed up to the main Expo floor and the large Epic Mickey 2 booth and hopped in line to see if we could get our own personally-drawn-by-an-actual-Disney-artist picture. I’ll save you the suspense and sadly report that after standing in-line for TWO+ HOURS, we did not succeed in getting a picture. However, we did get Oswald ears. Which was awesome. And which now reside on top of our entertainment center like a couple of felt, floppy-eared, sentinels.

Now, ya’ll have heard of Con Crud… but are you familiar with Con Stink? It’s a known fact that B.O. is a problem at fan conventions. Whether it’s a comic con, a game con or any other pop culture-y con, smelliness is a fact of life. I, personally, don’t get it. What is going on that certain attendees are seemingly forgetting basic hygiene? Deodorant is not expensive, some hotels even offer it for free if you’ve forgotten to pack your own. Also not difficult? Wearing clean clothes. But you wouldn’t know this at a con. Even on day one of PAX there were some pretty stinky people on the Expo floor. We joke that the guilty parties are folks who’ve never left their mom’s basement and thus have never had to worry about their lack of daily ablutions, but seriously, ya’ll, what the heck?

The one place where Con Stink is not an issue? The Queers in Gaming panel. Why? Because gay men are neat and clean (in general) and they usually have some sort of nice, not overwhelming, cologne on. And us lesbians (being girls) would never be caught without deodorant and clean clothes. Walking into the – appropriately chosen – Unicorn theatre for this panel was a literal breath of fresh air. The focus of the session was homophobia in gaming and whether or not it’s getting better and whether game design companies are improving games (particularly RPG-style) by offering more queer-friendly content. The conclusion: yes, it’s getting better (slowly) and we are starting to see more LGBT content in games. But there could always be more acceptance and more inclusiveness in game design. So it’s a work in progress. I can deal with that.

After the panel we decided to call it a day and not attend the Saturday Night Concerts even though Jonathan Coulton was the main act because we’d already seen him on tour in June and more importantly the DOCTOR WHO SEASON PREMIERE was on BBC America that night. Sorry, JoCo, the Doctor and the Ponds won this round.

Sunday we got to the convention center early so that we could get in line for Wil Wheaton’s AWESOME HOUR panel. The panel was at 11:30… the line started forming at 9am. Yep… popular fellow, that Wil. The Awesome Hour stayed true to its name as it was both awesome and an hour. Guests of the Hour included Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers as well as Paul and Storm of Paul and Storm. Fun was had. Gifts were bestowed at Wil’s feet (including a new and improved “Cape of Dicks”; and I gave him a D20 for his collection).

Hank Green

Paul and Storm
NOTE: Not a photo. 😉

Afterwards we raced back to the Epic Mickey 2 booth to try (again) to get in line to get a picture… still no joy. Ah well. It was really the only bummer of the con. Nothing more exciting happened this final day of the convention. We moseyed around the D&D and Magic: The Gathering booths, then back down to the table top area and finally decided to call it day.

It had been a successful con and I can’t wait to attend again next year. W00t!

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