More Than Just Games: A PAX East Retrospective
When I turned around and saw the tall, slim Chloe Dykstra next to the 2K Booth during the media early access on Friday, I may have lost it a little. Not ten minutes into my first convention had I seen someone who I admired (and have bought boots from) and there I was freaking out and hyperventilating like it was my job. Which it wasn’t.
The floor on Saturday was packed. According to basically everyone, it is the busiest day of the convention. And it felt like it.
Regaining my composure, I set about having my picture taken with Handsome Jack and generally enjoying the calm before the proverbial storm. I had never been to a convention and my first being one of the biggest gaming conventions was overwhelming (as an understatement).
To understand why this was all a big deal, let’s rewind to last year’s PAX. It was held March 22nd and 23rd. I was unemployed and in the darkest period of my personal and professional life that I had ever been. A project that I had been watching closely, The Mass Effect Cast Cosplay initiative announced that they would be at PAX East 2014 and I made the comment to a friend that I was going to get to PAX next year, I wasn’t sure how, but I was getting in and someday maybe even on a press pass.
Mass Effect Cast Cosplay, only the reason why I wanted to make it this year. And I did.
Over the next few months I set about getting myself back on my feet, starting with eventually getting a day job, where I then met Chaz, who then, several months later, asked me if I wanted to write for his blog.
So naturally when the question of PAX came up, I asked if there was any way I’d be representing DFAT. The gears were set in motion and a few weeks ago, I got the email saying I’d been approved to cover the convention.
The weeks since then were a mix of excitement and self-induced stomach aches from the moments of panic that came from being overwhelmed by such a big convention. The same friend who I told I would go kept reminding me of where I came from and that holy crap I was going to a convention as press. And reminded me he was jealous.
Magic: The Gathering Booth
The moment arrived and it was an awesome, exhausting, busy ride. I ran into old friends, new friends, and got some of the first glimpses of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and met some really excellent independent game makers who you’ll be learning about soon.
Whatever expectations I had for PAX East were blown out of the water. Here I am, covering the games I love, being in the same room as some of the people I have admired and that inspired my journey. Seeing Jessica Merizan in person (she leads the community team at Bioware and was on Heroes of Cosplay with Chloe Dykstra), hearing from the creators of some of the best moments of my gaming life, and playing some games and being surrounded by other fans. (I did not see Holly Conrad in person, that bummed me out a bit, next year!)
Wild Star had a huge booth and a lot of people waited to play the game.
As far as the days, Friday was the busiest as far as shuffling between panels and interviews, Saturday was the most packed and had the most cosplayers (because weekend, yay!) and Sunday was the saddest because I wanted to stay at PAX. Imagine being surrounded by thousands of people who are into the same stuff you are, seeing more of the stuff that you are excited about and then being told “okay you need to go home now, so pack your things and let’s go.”
Things I learned? Always pack granola bars. Stay hydrated. Purell is your friend, your best friend, so stock up. And…next year I have to go in cosplay. It is not required but people put in a lot of hard work and it shows, I even have a few ideas for what my costume will be next year.
And keep shooting for the moon because that’s where all the cool games are taking place.