Day one of PAX East 2013 started for me at 5 AM as I silenced my alarm and set about getting ready as quietly and in as little light as possible to ensure Rick’s beauty rest wasn’t disturbed. The cab arrived in due time and traffic was smooth enough to usher me into the airport departures terminal with a full two hours to spare before my flight was to depart. I have air travel down to a science now. No checked luggage, shoes that are easy to slip on and off, self-serve check-in…
However, due to US budget cuts, there were three customs agents to serve the entirety of the Trudeau Airport. There were lines to get into lines. There were messages to explain the extended wait. There was the requisite jack-ass who cried out about democracy and due process but shut right up as soon as he got pulled out of the line onto the fast track.
Luckily, travel is still enough of a novelty to me that these sorts of inconveniences seldom unsettle me. I smiled bemusedly through the whole ordeal and tried my best to transmit my travel excitement to those around me. I ate my requisite disgusting fast-food breakfast. And although I waited in line longer than I was actually in the air, I still felt pretty fresh by the time we landed in Boston.
Despite not having had any coffee.
On the (free) bus from the airport to the convention center I made the acquaintance of Alia and Tatham from Klei (Mark of the Ninja and the forthcoming Don’t Starve). Alia and I bonded over not having had any coffee yet and we chatted briefly about the indie scene in Vancouver.
As soon as I got into the convention center I was swept right up into PAX fever. I managed to hustle my way through the crowds and find the Games by Mo booth. As soon as I set my stuff down I grabbed some handbills and got to work. It took me a little while to develop my patter, but after watching Mo, Martin & Frank handle it I was talking up A.N.N.E. like nobody’s business. It even sounded like I knew what I was talking about. 😉
Not long after I got there I found my first Shepard of the show. It was a FemShep in red armor with matching red hair. She was so happy I spotted her and we bonded over the fact that we’d both been turned into video game fans by Mass Effect. As it turns out, Mass Effect 3 was the first game she played all the way through (like me!) and she went back and played the rest of the series afterwards! Although I didn’t get a pic, I decided then and there that my mission for PAX was to “collect” Shepards.
At 11:30 AM (and still without coffee) I went to my first panel of the day. Kyle McIntosh from Good Games Writing was hosting a panel with Justin Amirkhani (Gamer Unplugged), Neal Ronaghan (Nintendo Force Magazine) and HipHopGamer on independent games journalism. It was interesting, although being that it was a subject I felt very familiar with I couldn’t help thinking about how I would have answered the questions put to the panel. And damn if I didn’t think I had good answers. Once the panel was done I introduced myself to Kyle since we’d been tweeting each other about PAX for a while, but he seemed pretty busy so I set about getting myself some food. And coffee.
While in the line for Chinese food I found myself in front of another Shepard, actually a professional prop maker.
As it turned out, the Chinese food place actually sold coffee, so I grabbed a second one and made my way to the Klei Entertainment booth to make myself Alia’s favourite person before zipping back to Mo’s booth. The rest of the day was spent in the booth, keeping my eyes open for any of the many people I knew who were meant to be there. Managed to run into my buddy Andy and we made plans to hook up after the show floor was closed off.
At 5:00 PM I headed to my second panel, this time about community management. The topic was interesting, but very game specific, and not as relevant to my current job as I had hoped. A little dejected, I headed back towards the show floor to grab my stuff before meeting up with Andy. However, I didn’t have an exibitor’s badge. And the show floor was closed. And the security guy was not buying my story about just running down to get my luggage. Which was RIDICULOUS because we could literally see into the booth from where he was stationed at the top of the escalator.
Realizing that Mo didn’t have a cellphone with him, I racked my brain trying to come up with ways to get in touch with him. Finally, I settled on the old fashioned approach. I started yelling.
Luckily, Mo’s daughter Lori heard we and looked up to see my frantic waving. After a bit more yelling and some gesturing, Mo appeared to sweet talk the security guy so I could finally collect my stuff and get a hotel key. Counter to the original plan, it was decided that I would share a room with Mo’s wife and kids, much to Rick’s relief as I can’t say he was that thrilled at the idea of me bunking down with a couple of strange men.
Stuff firmly in hand, I met up with Andy and his friend to attend the Retronauts panels. Although I wasn’t previously a fan of the Retronauts, the panel was really engaging and entertaining and I felt sad that the whole Retronauts thing was at an end. And then they announced their Kickstarter. Hooray!
After the panel I found myself on my own again, so I headed outside to hail a cab when I ran into Justin Amirkhani. We chatted about the state of games journalism and the fact that everyone knows that the system is rigged, but no one really wants to do anything about it. I mentioned my disappointment that there weren’t any women on the panel and when he countered that he didn’t know any independent lady game journalists I deftly offered him my card. Then I jumped into a cab and headed to the hotel.
After a late dinner and a glass of beer that tasted like black forest cake I snuggled into bed to prepare for what Saturday had in store.
For rest of my PAX East 2013 adventures: