For the third year in row, I took a Labor Day weekend trip to Seattle for P.A.X. This was the 10th year of PAX and my 3rd year there.
On Thursday, I left work around mid-day. I offered a ride to people on the PAX forums and one person took me up on that. His name was Jake. I had told him that I wanted to leave at 2:00, but he didn’t arrive until 3:30. He was a nice guy, but between him arriving late and the horrible traffic going north to Seattle, I missed the event on the Microsoft campus that I wanted to go to that night. I could have made most of it if we had left on time. He was also one of my roommates for the weekend. I used to forums to find roommates again. You never know what you’re going to get. I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag all weekend. The person who booked the room seemed reluctant to ask for extras keys at first, so until Saturday I had to rely on other people to let me in the room. I saw one roommate this first day. He was the one who initially let us into the room. I never heard from him again after that. I think he flaked out without paying his share of the room. I didn’t have to pay extra because of that. This might be the last year I use the forums to find roommates. Maybe I’ll be able to convince some friends to go next year. Probably not.
On Friday, I got up to go line up in the queue room. I have to do the queue at least once every year. The first day is the best day to do it because of all the excitement. When they let us in, I went around looking at all the sites. It’s sensory overload in there. There weren’t a lot of big time games that I was interested in checking out, so I was more interested in the cosplayers. I did get a Patrick Rothfuss pin for a coworker and I also got the same one for myself. After I while I walked over to Benaroya Hall for the Rooster Teeth panel. I caught the end of the opening panel with Mikey from Gearbox. After some more time back in the convention center I went to see a panel called “Queer Visibilty in Tabletop Games”. That night I went to the WildStar party. There were some members of my MMO guild there who recognized me. It turned out that they are also from Portland.
On Saturday, I hung around the convention center some more. I got actually got to play a game or two, but nothing that had a long line. At this point I had started to hear about some indie games that I needed to check out and I was starting to get more excited about games. Every year I find out about some indie games that I probably wouldn’t have heard of if not for PAX. Sometime this day, I got League of Legends skins for a friend that asked me to get one for him. I went to the Firaxis panel. While in line, some guys got me to play Spaceteam with them on our phones. I had never heard of it, but I have heard of games like it. It was a blast. I always like playing games with random strangers like that. I brought a board game with me to PAX for situations like that, but never got to use it. In the panel, Firaxis showed off the next Civ game. That’s going to be so much fun. Later I went to the Major Nelson Radio panel. It’s always fun. They had a guy from Insomniac Games talking about their upcoming game Sunset Overdrive. I had never heard of it until PAX. At the end, they said that they had a bus outside that seats 40 people. If you get on the bus, you get a free dinner at Lil Woodys, a burger place. Apparently, this bus was taking people back and forth all weekend, but those people had to pay for their own meals. I didn’t rush outside. I walked at a leisurely pace. I ended up being the 45th in line, with about 15 people behind me. I was a little disappointed, but it wasn’t a big deal. I overheard Jeff Rubenstein, who was on the panel and helped plan this free dinner thing, tell the bus people to come back after they dropped everyone off and pick up the remaining people. He said that he would pay the difference. Pretty sweet! To show my appreciation, I pre-ordered the game on the way to Woodys. I’ve seen footage of it since and it looks pretty cool. The burgers at Woodys were great. The fries seemed a little undercooked. That night I met up with some of my guild members, different ones from the night before. They play some of the same games that I do, but I wasn’t familiar with them. They’re really nice and I had a great time.
On Sunday I got up very early to go to the Gearbox panel in Benaroya Hall. I got there over 2.5 hours early and there was already a decent-sized line formed. Their panel was great just like last year. I always want to throw money at them when it’s over. Everyone in attendance got a free season pass for the next Borderlands games. I spent a little more time in the convention center. I watched the League of Legends competition for a good while. I can see how people can really get into this stuff, even spectators. I might have to play some soon. I had never heard the term esports used for games like this until this weekend, but I guess it fits. After this I went back to Benaroya Hall for Patrick Rothfuss’s panel. He’s a very funny guy. I really need to read his books. I’ve had The Name of the Wind for a long time. I’ll get to it one day. Later on I went to a panel called “A New Tabletop Gaming Canon”. I mostly went because one of the hosts my favorite Game of Thrones podcast was on the panel. It went well and I’ve already ordered one of the games they spoke about. That night was the annual PAX Pink Party. It was in a different place this year though there was a Pre-Pink Party at the old place that I stopped by for about 5 minutes. I didn’t know anyone at this party, so it was a little weird at first. Then one of my guildmates that I met the night before showed up alone, so we spent the rest of the night hanging out with each other. We both left after the cosplay contest. It turns out that we like a lot of the same TV shows. He lives in Vancouver, B.C. I hope we stay in touch.
On Monday, I went back to the convention center. I knew I wouldn’t have much time because I had to get back to Portland to pick up Reese and to record a podcast. I went to the annex to check out the PC free play area where one roommate was working as an enforcer. I checked out the console free play on a previous day, but I didn’t have time to play. I wanted to watch some of the League of Legends competition, but they were full because it was the last day. In the end, I just sat down and watched people play the new Dance Central games. I was tired. I went back to my hotel room and left. Once again, my passenger held me up because he wasn’t ready at the time we decided upon. The hotel only charged me for 2 nights of parking. After the big parking bill last year, I had planned to park at the airport and take the train in to downtown. However, on Thursday night I was so tired and disappointed after missing the Microsoft event, I decided to save some hassle and just park at the hotel. It ended up being cheaper than if I had parked at the airport. Score! The ride home from Seattle was quick as usual.
I had a great time at PAX as always. Once again, it was exhausting, but it was worth it. There didn’t seem to be as many cool freebies as last year, but that’s okay. I made some new friends that I’ll hopefully be in touch with throughout the year. I never got a chance to play tabletop games this year, but I have some ideas for games that I want to play with friends here in Portland. My only regret is that I don’t get to do this more often. I plan to go to PAX South in January. Maybe I’ll get to go to PAX East or PAX Australia one of these years.
Now I’m ready for the fall.