The following multi-part post was originally published on Trevor Trove between April 21-28, 2016
Most of the day was spent traveling. I woke up at about 4:30AM Phoenix time. My plane left AZ at 6:45AM. There was a short layover in Kansas City, MO (where the TSA agent commented on the number of people flying out to Boston for “that gaming convention”) but eventually I landed in Boston around 4:10PM. I immediately hooked up with Jonathan “Xyger” Landeros, a favorite Best Friend of the Kinda Funny community, and we shared an Uber into downtown Boston.
Checking into the hotel, we joined Alex and Tony from Irrational Passions, Joe from SomethingGamez, his friend Vicky, and Xyger’s friend C(l)arissa (I don’t remember if there was an “L” in there or not) (EDIT: Karyssa). Oh, heads up, I’m also about 5 or 6 drinks in as I write this so I apologize for any belligerence.
Dinner with Friends
So after discovering how absolutely and laughably screwed we are in fitting 10 to 11 people into our tiny two-bedroom room, half of us went to grab dinner before heading to the IGN/Battleborn party.
A few of us grabbed dinner at a burrito place near the hotel. And I was asked about Stardew Valley so I wound up taking up most of the time to discuss the glory of that game. And since Joe from SomethingGamez didn’t know about Harvest Moon, I got to expound the glories of both games over burritos.
Eventually, we went over to and got in line for the IGN/Battleborn party. We hung out for an hour or so waiting for the doors to open. And unfortunately, the under-21 members of our party weren’t able to join us in the long run but it was nice just shooting the shit with them during the wait to get inside.
Dress for the Job You Want
During the PlayStation Experience in December, I introduced the Trevor Trove persona where I wander the convention floor wearing a nerdy shirt, a nice sports coat, and my 8-bit glasses. In anticipation for tonight’s IGN party, I attended wearing an IGN shirt that I picked up from the IGN House Party last year.
I absolutely loved the half dozen times somebody pulled me aside to ask me what I did for IGN. And every time, my response was, I’m an “Nothing! But I’m an aspiriring Freelancer.”
That said, I did get to chat with a few IGN staff members while “incognito.” I finally met Twitter friend and IGN freelancer Jakejames Lugo. I took the opportunity to congratulate Kiersten Slater on throwing an excellent party (see tweet below). And I caught Ryan McCaffrey for a few minutes to talk No Man’s Sky and the general insanity of all the games coming out in May. And just reinforce that “hey, don’t be a dick on Twitter” mentality: Ryan knew me by name from our cordial Twitter interactions over the past few months so we had a great exchange, talking about out first PAX East experiences.
I also got to catch up with Max Scoville for a few minutes at the bar. Maybe not by name, but he at least remembered my visage from PSX and/or when I was in San Francisco for Kinda Funny Live and/or the Beyond 400 IGN House Party. And that’s what a lot of this trip was about to me: networking. I’m all too eager to keep getting my face/name in front of the IGN editors if that’s the end goal job-wise.
Bonus: there was a brief moment where the Kinda Funny guys were all in an Uber out in front of the IGN party. I noticed Nick Scarpino when he poked his head out of the car and waved at the guys as they went by. I look forward to hanging out with them later in the week.
But perhaps the coolest moment for me, personally, was when a fellow Kinda Funny fan recognized me from my appearance on the Gamescast and the Symphony of the Night Book Club (rather than as a fake IGN employee). So here’s a shout out to Nick Ushinski (aka @DJMuttonChops) for introducing himself! Great meeting you, buddy!
And the last couple hours have consisted of the 10 of us crammed in our little two-bed hotel room, catching up and talking about the weekend’s plans. We’re in for a great time!
Day One kicked off with our room of ten people slowly waking up and starting the seemingly never-ending cycle of showers. This is easily the worst part of this kind of arrangement. Fitting everyone in the room for sleep is tight but manageable. But being restricted to the one bathroom: oof. A few of the crew had media badges which guarantees early access to the show floor so they hopped in first. And some of the crew prefer their showers in the evening so they waited until after they were back at the hotel. But when all ten (now eleven since Kinda Funny admin Kaylie Woomer joined us this morning) are in there at once and conscious it is a bit chaotic.
Eventually the core group of us non-media folk packed up and headed out. Xyger stayed behind to pick Kaylie up from the airport but the rest of us started the 30-minute walk to the Convention Center. Upon arrival, we hung out in a huge line to get through the bag checks (which will just apparently never not suck), then into the Convention Center. With the Kinda Funny Panel starting at 11:30, a bunch of us starting queing up. And the 3DS Street Pass puzzle pieces started flowing aplenty.
The Kinda Funny panel was a ton of fun. It was great being in a room packed with fellow fans and Best Friends. I’ll cover it in an entry dedicated to the panels later in the week.
After the panel, a bunch of us headed down to the Expo Hall show floor. It was immediately apparent that PAX East is roughly ten times bigger than PAX South was (or at least that’s what it felt like). I went to meet up with and hug Andy (from Rooster Teeth!) and then kind of just hung around the Rooster Teeth booth through the Kinda Funny autograph session. During this, I hung out with Sean Pitts as a ton of fans came through and got pictures and items signed with/by Nick, Colin, Tim, and sometimes Kevin (Greg was off hosting panels). A couple of the Best Friends that I’ve only really interacted with on Twitter came up and chatted with me. So thank you to Michael and Paul for being super awesome! As the auditions wound down, Xyger and Kaylie finally showed up and I jumped in and got a picture with the guys. Then they all ran to the bathroom and Sean, Kevin, and I held down the fort.
*Side note: Sean just asked if I called out how good he looked today. So I’m adding it here. Yes, he looked good. But he was having a bad hair day (by his own admission).
** Side side note: Poor Fred Sullivan from Knerds was mostly out of commission today. Poor guy. Get well soon, Fred!
*** Third side note: Xyger says hi.
**** Fourth side note: No more side notes from my other six roommates.
When they got back, Nick was kind enough to invite Sean, Xyger, Kaylie, and I to join the guys (and Tim’s lovely girlfriend Gia) for some Five Guys. It was great to just hang out with the guys in their down time and chat with them about how things are going with the transition to their Rooster Teeth partnership, a couple of our collective thoughts for possible Kinda Funny Live ideas, and I showed Nick the Tom Hawkins mash-up of the Aerobics Championship video and “Pony” by Ginuwine. He loved it!
After food, the guys went their separate ways and we went back to the show floor. Traffic around there today sucked so we eventually bailed on our Uber and just walked the rest of the way instead. We visited the Filthy Casual booth and Loot Crate booth, where Alex met up with us. We headed upstairs so Alex and I could attend the “You’re a Games Journalist! Now What?” panel, which I’ll also detail later.
While Alex and I attended the panel, a lot of other members of our group hung out and charged their phones just outside our panel. Then we all headed to dinner. As some of us have discovered from Kinda Funny Live or PlayStation Experience, trying to get dinner with fifteen people is a pretty tall order. Fortunately, after one failed attempt, we landed at a great place near our hotel called Rock Bottom. Shortly after we started getting our food, we noticed Cliff Bleszinski at the bar. And then a few minutes later, Adam Boyes and Gio Corsi came in, as well.
Gio was gracious enough to come and talk PlayStation, PS VR, and Vita with all of us. He’s such a great guy. Kaylie had her Vita on her and got a picture and Gio handed her a slip of paper with four Vita/PS4 codes.
***** Okay, one last side note, but it’s mine. A deep-fried Cuban sandwich might be one of my new favorite foods.
Then back to the hotel to wind down the evening and cram eleven human beings into a far-too-cramped room. Because we’re insane. Sean is now quizzing people on if a phrase is a real or made up Jiujitsu move. And while Scorpion Deathlock might not be real, Alex gave a fairly amusing demonstration of what it might be involving the penis as the stinger…
See you tomorrow, PAX!
Day Two started slightly strange. After being fortunate enough to snag one of the few bed spots last night, I awoke this morning to find a completely different person in the bed with me from when I went to sleep. Hurray for the majestic wonder of sleeping eleven to a room!
Anyway, I had to leave early this morning because I was volunteering with Take This in the Diversity Lounge. If you didn’t catch it from my PAX South write-ups, Take This is an organization that attends events like PAX to educate people on mental health issues in gaming and try to dispel the associated stigmas. The name of the organization ccomes from the iconic “Take this, it’s dangerous to go alone” text from The Legend of Zelda and encourages those struggling to feel empowered to seek out help.
Take This also runs the AFK Room at PAX events, a quiet room where anyone can go to clear their heads or step away from the show floor if they’re feeling overwhelmed or need a break. I was volunteering at their Merch Booth selling shirts, pins, their new Box of Hope (a small wooden shield with a sword burnt into the wood replicating their logo), and answering any questions people might have about the organization.
After working the three-hour shift solo (typically they schedule two to a shift but my second did not show – well…she kind of showed but said she’d switched her shift for something tomorrow and then left), I handed off the job to the father/daughter team who took over for me and went to find friends.
After checking the show floor for a bit, I met up with Kaylie, Xyger, and Joe, who were looking to find fellow Kinda Funny Best Friend Graham, who was on the show floor showing off his mobile title Hecticube. That was really cool to see Kinda Funny fans supporting other Kinda Funny fans.
Brief Panels Overview
From there, we headed out to lunch but ran into Grimecraft on the way and a few people grabbed some of his merchandise. Then we walked down the way to Chipotle, got our food, and headed back to the Convention Center to wait in line for the “How Video Works” panel featuring the likes of Greg Miller, Anthony Carboni, Andrea Rene, Neha Tiwari, Bruce Greene, and Max Scoville. I’ll go into this more during my panels round up but Greg took the time during the panel to call out Alex O’Neill from Irrational Passions and I as the next generation of content creators, following in the footsteps of one of my personal favorites Brittany Brombacher (aka Blondenerd) who are coming to PAX and collaborating to make it in the industry. Even writing about it now, hours later, I find myself tearing up at how touched I was that one of my best friends and I would be considered in such company.
Following the panel, I wandered the floor a bit more looking over games that I might be interested in if I’m able to finally manage the time to focus on the show floor. I mostly meandered around until the time came to queue up for the IGN panel focused on important gaming anniversaries. Many members of the core group opted to head over to the Kinda Funny party, while Alex and I and chose to work on developing out networking contacts. Attending the IGN panel, meant he and I wouldn’t have been able to attend the Kinda Funny party, but we had already made the decision to attend the IGN party. Both of us will be back in San Francisco in a month for Kinda Funny Live 2, so tonight we opted to mingle with various IGN staffers about life, PAX, E3, randomness, and potential opportunities.
Going into tonight, I have been as excited for the possibility of Alex getting work as I would be even for myself. Because I know if either of us manage to get an in, we’ll move heaven and earth to help the other one out. And a lot of our conversations this week in particular have revolved around the potential of doors opening.
For fear of jinxing any potential anything, I won’t really go into to specifics but we both had evenings filled with amazing life-affirming conversations with people we admire and respect. We’re both building upon relationships we’ve fostered, through various meetings as well as digitally. We learned in the vaguest of terms that one of Alex’s friends landed a job in the industry that will go public in the next few weeks. I received invitations for potential opportunities for future PAX trips. And we both learned that we’re most definitely on assorted radars. And we both spent the rest of the evening freaked out by how amazing our lives have become.
As one final example, I got introduced to a gentleman at the party who almost immediately recognized from having been on the Gamescast. And I don’t know if it was out of instinct or from the kind of “training” that has been imbued upon me by Greg Miller but I immediately started trying to make this guy comfortable by engaging with him and asking if he’s been having a good PAX, what his favorite moments of PAX have been, what he likes about IGN, what he likes about Kinda Funny, etc.?
I absolutely missed not being around so many of my friends at the Kinda Funny party, but I take pleasure in the realization that I’ll see them all in a month in San Francisco during a week dedicated to spending time with them. And by the time Alex and I got back to the room, most of them had gone to sleep so I’ll have to hear about their exploits tomorrow.
Thank you for helping to make my life an absolutely incredible one.
Day Three of PAX East 2016 started without a hangover! Thank god! For me, at least. Some of my roommates were not nearly so lucky. As the room started to stir, details of what my cohorts experiences last night became slightly more clear. Everyone had a blast at the Kinda Funny party. Though apparently there was some sort of mysterious stranger who got temporarily absorbed into our group. Somebody – only known as “Troy” – apparently hopped in a Lyft with the group back to the hotel and just tagged along. Yet the day after, nobody seemed to know who he was, where he had come from, or where he wound up. Perhaps he had been a ghost all along…
Or just a drunk stranger who hopped into a free Lyft.
Back to today, though, we started waking up around 8am. Between PAXAMANIA II and Xyger/ Kaylie needing to work the morning TakeThis.org shift, there were a lot of people interested in getting to the Convention early. A couple people stayed behind to sleep instead but the rest of us quickly got ready and headed out the door. Somebody had the smart idea to actually take advantage of the shuttle buses going from the various hotels to the Convention Center. I kind of sort of wish we’d be doing that all along though since the overarching theme of Day Three was “holy crap my feet hurt!” But we got to the Convention Center and had ample time to get through the security check. To get Xyger and Kaylie through security quicker, I walked them through the Media/Exhibitor bag check with the intent of explaining that, while we did not have any of those badges, we were volunteers who needed to get in and help set up. Once I helped them get set up, I headed upstairs to join the rest of the crew in line for the PAXAMANIA panel.
While I started hearing about PAX Wrestling a couple years ago, I hadn’t actually watched any of the events until last year’s PAX Rumble. For those who don’t know, PAX Wrestling consists of a bunch of video game personalities who all love wrestling coming together to create their own wrestling league at the American PAX events. There is an ever-growing stable of characters competing in older wrestling games (well they would if they ever made it through an event without technical difficulties). During the most recent PAX Rumble, I was watching live on Twitch as a fog machine set off the fire alarm and forced the entire convention to evacuate the building. When the event was eventually allowed to continue, Greg Miller – playing the part of the league’s loudmouth Commisioner – began screaming “Turn on the fog machine!” anytime things went awry and a catchphrase akin to smelling what The Rock was cooking was born.
Today’s event took place in the main theatre, a far bigger venue than any of the guys who started this thing as a joke thought it would be. The production values were ridiculously improved over the events I’d seen previously and it was very apparent that the performers were having a lot more fun with their personas than any semblance of actual video game wrestling. A lot of new characters were introduced and there were only a couple actual matches. But as an event comprised of professional interviewers and event hosts, they were able to easily cover when the inevitable technical hiccups occurred, like an N64 not working. The matches themselves as a result came down to two quick matches with the rest of the time being utilized to allow the cast of characters their time to shine and feature some guest videos like the WWE’s Xavier Woods and Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida. There was also a great trailer of sorts for a retro-styled game in development by @fobwashed based on the lunacy of PAX Wrestling called Rumble Road. I won’t go into the specifics of the feuds and matches because it’s far more fun to experience it yourself. And if you like (or liked) wrestling and video games, this is probably right up your alley. And if you don’t I’m sorry I wasted a couple minutes of your time.
Following the event, I joined a couple people for lunch at the food trucks right outside the convention, enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon from “The Bacon Truck.” Then back down to hang out with a lot of the Kinda Funny friends one last time during a quick pop-up session with Nick and Tim before everyone started dispersing and heading back to their respective worlds. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to so many friends but this was curbed by the fact that I’ll be seeing so many of them again in a month at Kinda Funny Live 2 (with many of us planning on an entire week in San Francisco).
After the Tim and Nick show, I swung by to catch the tail end of Greg’s last panel about Toys to Life games. Since he got me wrapped up in the LEGO Dimensions craze, I thought it fitting to see him. I was also concerned because it has been revealed that he actual took a legitimate blow during PAXAMANIA that left him icing his chest with potentially a bruised or cracked rib situation going on. He was certainly hurting and I wanted to check in on him. I also took a second to apologize for not attending his party the night prior but he was totally understanding and got that I was out there trying to make the right connections.
I wound up my PAX by wandering a floor appear more looking at a number of indie games before a few of us said our last round of goodbyes and headed back to the hotel to start sending off members of our own crew. Vicky had to make a quick exit yesterday but today, Kaylie and Joe were the first send offs, with Joe driving Kaylie to the airport on his way out of town. Karyssa was next as she caught an Uber to the airport for her own flight. And finally the Knerds of the Round Table Sean, Fred, and Jack gave us a long round of goodbye hugs as they set off for their drive home.
With the core group whittled down to four, Alex and Tony from Irrational Passions, Xyger, and I relaxed and reflected on the weekend. Then we took a sharp detour and explained to Xyger how credit reports work and why the sex talk is referred to as the “birds and the bees.” Now that he was properly trained on “adulting,” the four of us walked back over to the nearby Rock Bottom restaurant (from Friday night) for a last meal together.
Alex and Tony will be leaving in the middle of the night, and I’ll be off fairly early in the morning for a long trip home. All in all, this was an incredible weekend filled with great memories and conversations with friends new and old. I’m growing to love these trips more and more each time because I know that each new adventure coincides with precious face-to-face time with the friends I’ve made in the past year.
Special thank you to Jonathan (aka Xyger),Kaylie, Sean, Fred, Jack, Alex, Tony, Joe, Vicky, and Karyssa) for being my partners-in-crime during this adventure. Long live the “Kinda Funny Eleven.” And thanks to all of my other friends for your time and laughter, as well as everyone else who came up and introduced themselves to me this weekend.
The Panels (Part One)
One of my favorites aspects of attending an event, is checking out some of the panels and hearing people I admire talk about various aspects of the industry.
Kinda Funny: We Tricked Folks Into Thinking We’re a Big Deal
As I was primarily at PAX East to spend time with the Kinda Funny community, even waiting in line for an hour or two to get into the Kinda Funny panel was a treat. I loved getting the chance to sit down with so many Best Friends, both the ones I was at the convention with and those who I either didn’t know or who I knew through social media. It was great starting off the conference hearing what people were excited about and what they were hoping to check out on the show floor (I think PlayStation VR was pretty much the number one answer across the board).
Once we finally got into the space and started getting seated, the Kinda Funny guys were all onstage getting setup and some general room music was playing in the background. At some point, Nick led the room in a bit of “Sweet Caroline” before getting into the actual panel. If you’ve watched or heard any of the Kinda Funny shows from past conventions, you probably know what to expect: Greg runs through the introductions, everyone talks about what they’re looking forward to at the event, some random non-sequiturs get thrown in the mix, and then the rest of the time is dedicated to audience Q&A time.
Kevin was recording the show so it’ll inevitably be uploaded to the Kinda Funny YouTube channel (and according to Kevin, my hair is in the shot the whole show since I was in the third row right in front of the guys). When it posts, I’ll update this entry to include it, but some of the highlights were as follows:
- Michael Choueiri confessing that he was having a hard time and Greg’s “You’re Not Allowed to Kill Yourself” post on the Kinda Funny Forums helped him through it. Greg got up and gave him a big hug. And Tim followed up by pointing out that Michael is – in Tim’s mind – the face of the Kinda Funny community because he’s front and center in a picture they often use from last year’s PAX East. It was an incredibly touching moment and I was so glad to meet Michael and hang out with him over the course of the weekend.
- Everyone who asked a question got to pick out a Vita game from a mystery bag provided by Gio Corsi. One of the people picked Freedom Wars but since he already owned it, gave it to somebody else in line. When that person got up to the line, he called out Sony because the case had apparently already been opened and was missing the cartridge. Oops. I told Gio about it when we saw him later that night and he thought it was hysterical.
- One of the Kinda Funny best friends – Raul Montero – showed up in a Negan cosplay that tickled Greg. He would later cosplay at Drake from “Hotline Bling” Saturday (much to Tim’s delight), and as Chris Pratt’s character from Jurassic World, Owen Grady on Sunday.
- Tim had to pull a Nick and run to the bathroom with a few minutes to go on the panel and the guys were immediately asked the pivotal question: NSYNC or Backstreet Boys. Everyone seemed to lean toward NSYNC (I honestly don’t remember but Colin might have said Backstreet Boys) and when Tim came back, he agreed with the NSYNC ruling but argued that Backstreet Boys songs may have aged better.
All in all, it made for a very fun, mostly non-sensical way to kick PAX East off.
You’re a Games Journalist! Now What?
When I attended PAX South, my favorite panel was the Game Industry Career Panel Two-Parter. PAX East had the same setup (with some different faces) but since I had already gotten that focus on the developer side of things, I was eager to attend this panel on the journalism side of things.
Here are some of my abbreviated notes from that panel:
- Expect to spend a lot of time traveling. Or LinkedIn stalking.
- Some sites will absolutely deal in quotas, especially with regards to news reports (i.e. publishing six articles or more a day).
- When asked about their favorite assignments:
- Copy-editing. – Samit
- Editing, substantive editing, helping the author hone the craft/get to the point. – Susan
- Being edited as it leads to being a better writer. – Alexa
- Writing something that connects with people. – Holly
- When asked about their least favorite assignments:
- Being thrown into an interview about Tomb Raider with little-to-no prep. – Holly
- Getting people to edit your work. – Samit
- Reviews, and second guessing yourself. – Alexa
- Being in the position where you have to let people go, in spite of success. – Susan
- On the topic of the amount of work involved, Holly mentioned, “If you can’t push yourself hard enough, maybe you don’t belong here.”
- And, of course, my own personal “hey I should be doing more than writing” concerns were echoed with the group consensus that yes, writing is dying, because video is so much easier to monetize. Learning other skills like video/audio editing is crucial to being able to pay the bills.
- Susan, who was quickly becoming my favorite person, also pointed out the reality that I have been facing in the non-profit sector for years: “You’ll make way more money doing this job in other industries.” Yup. I know this feeling all too well.
- What do you wish you knew before getting into the job?
- Know your value. Do no harm, take no shit. – Holly.
- Get skills beyond writing. – Samit
- Time spent producing content about gaming takes away from time playing video games. – Ken
- Making a mistake is not the end of the world. Alexa
- There is value beyond just being a writer. – Susan
- Make yourself invaluable.
Overall, it was a great panel; not a whole lot of particularly new information but reinforcing a lot of the elements I’m already working toward. Amusingly, just like the PAX South getting into the industry panels, the Q&A portion was prefaced with a “don’t tell us your life story, just ask the question” sentiment and, once again, people immediately threw that request out the window…grumble grumble grumble…
EDIT: The panel has now been uploaded and can be found below:
How Video Works
These kinds of panels are always a delight. Much like the Uncharted panel from PlayStation Experience, it was immediately apparent that everyone on this panel was friendly with one another, despite working at rival companies or being potential competitors with one another. There were lots of jokes and a definite sense of history among the panel. Here were some of the standout pieces of wisdom from the group:
- Look at craigslist for jobs. Maybe not great-paying gigs, but definitely experience. – Neha/Andrea
- For a long time, traditional television was the model for video coverage of gaming (a la G4). – Bruce
- Video games and the platforms covering them like YouTube and Twitch are emerging mediums. It’s all new. There were no rules. It’s always shifting. – Max
- The major outlets are here [at PAX] using the same kind of tech available to everyone else. – Anthony
- Streaming changed things. Video on demand is heavily focused on post-production but streams are all about the pre-production work that goes into them. And being “on” the whole time and interacting in real time with the audience can be exhausting. – Max
- “You can spend all your time chasing trends and be unhappy. Or you can just be you.” – Anthony
- “If you take one thing away from this panel. Snapchat is vertical.” – Anthony (a joke sparked by Max pointing out how odd it is that for years, video was a landscape medium, but Snapchat is portrait.)
- Research the tools that can help you format content to reach your audience. – Andrea
- Use the YouTube Creator Playbook!!! – Greg/Andrea
- Don’t prioritize search engine optimization over developing the quality of your content. Build them up in tandem.
- Watch other content and experience videos and mediums outside of the gaming space.
- Surround yourself with people who want to do the same stuff as you. – Bruce
- How do you make money doing video? Ad revenue, Twitch subs, Patreon. Don’t turn any jobs down. Work and network with everybody. Don’t be afraid to reach out for things like sponsorships. But also be okay with the stuff you love being a loss leader and being flexible enough to take on other projects that will be more lucrative. – Anthony
- Network. Put your best foot forward. Assume you’re going to work with people again. – Andrea
- Everything is an opportunity. If you work well with others, they will keep wanting to work with you. – Neha
- There was a moment that was particularly touching for me. In talking about creators that are out here [at PAX] meeting each other and collaborating together, Greg called out me and Alex O’Neill of Irrational Passions as the second generation, following in the footsteps of people like Brittney Brombacher (aka Blondenerd), who was featured on the big Square-Enix Uncovered event pre-show.
- When asked about how to stay engaged with your audience, the whole panel agreed that social media is a critical component to keeping an audience personally invested in your content. By utilizing Twitter or Twitch chats, or responding to YouTube contents, etc. the creator has to engage with their audience or that audience will be inclined to ditch them and find someone else who will engage.
This took longer to piece together than I anticipated so I’ll cover the other half of the weekend’s panels tomorrow: IGN Presents: 16 Big Anniversaries Happening in 2016, PAXAMANIA II: Yes, Even More Video Game Wrestling!, and How Toys-To-Life Became Mainstream in 2015.
Thanks for reading!
The Panels (Part Two)
Following up on yesterday’s post about the first three panels I attended at PAX East, here’s the rest of them.
IGN Presents: 16 Big Anniversaries Happening in 2016
The crew from IGN came to PAX East to discuss a series of big gaming anniversaries that are hitting in 2016. Led by Daemon Hatfield, the panel also featured, Max Scoville, Ryan McCaffrey, Andrew Goldfarb, Alanah Pearce, and Marty Sliva.
The group spoke to these milestones in chunks tackling each group of anniversaries as they came:
- 5-Year Anniversaries
- Nintendo 3DS (and those sweet sweet Street Pass puzzle pieces)
- Portal 2
- 10-Year Anniversaries
- PlayStation 3 launch ($599?!?!?!)
- Gears of War
- Saints Row
- Game Scoop!
- 15-Year Anniversaries
- Game Boy Advance
- Animal Crossing
- Conker’s Bad Fur Day
- Grand Theft Auto III
- Final Fantasy X (a favorite of Nathan Swisher)
- Max Payne
- 20-Year Anniversaries
- Super Mario RPG (one of the all-time greats).
- Nintendo 64
- Resident Evil
- Crash Bandicoot
- Lara Croft/Tomb Raider
- 25-Year Anniversaries
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Street Fighter II
- A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (the best Zelda game)
- Civilization (I was one of the only people in the panel who played the original)
- 30-Year Anniversaries
- The Legend of Zelda
- Dragon Warrior/Quest
- 35-Year Anniversary
- Donkey Kong
- 40-Year Anniversary
So when all was said and done, they touched on 35 gaming anniversaries, more than twice the promised content). They also wrapped up the panel with Video Game Who Am I? Marty was designated as Kirby and had to ask the crowd yes or no questions to identify his character. One of his questions was where or not he was a character featured in sexual images through DeviantArt, to which I screamed out “how does that narrow it down?!” so I kind of made my IGN debut. Then the gang went into some audience questions before a whole bunch of us went out and got drunk together.
PAXAMANIA II: Yes, Even More Video Game Wrestling!
Infamously at PAX Prime, the PAX Rumble had a fog machine running backstage that caused the entire convention hall to be evacuated. But when the fire marshal signed off to let people back in the convention hall, they let the panel continue and anytime something went wrong from there, Greg Miller screamed out “Turn on the fog machine!!!”
The reward for temporarily shutting down the convention: a bigger venue with even better production values. As seen above, the panel kicked off with America the Beautiful sung in front of a wall of lights setup to mimic the American flag. Not bad for a bunch of self-proclaimed idiots who just like video games and wrestling.
Not shown in the video below, Pat Baer came out and gave a bit of a pre-show, talking about a musical act that apparently bailed on the show. And he also gave a bit of a peek behind the curtain about how ridiculous it all was that they were in there.
As I mentioned Sunday, I won’t go into the specifics of the panel because it’s just more fun to watch. So here’s the video, instead.
How Toys-To-Life Became Mainstream in 2015
I came late to this panel, but since Greg basically got me addicted to all of the LEGO Dimensions toys, I wanted to check it out. By the time I arrived they were already in the Q&A section with people asking about Skylanders, amiibo, and LEGO Dimensions.
I did get to see the panel give Greg his own custom amiibo as a thank you for the support.
So that wraps up the panels I got to attend at PAX East. I had a great time across the board. I wonder what PAX West will have in store.
Inadvertently following in the footsteps of PAX South, I didn’t actually play any games at PAX East. The reality of the situation is that there’s a lot to do at the event between the panels I wanted to attend and the time I wanted to spend with friends that the idea of waiting in long lines for short game demos isn’t particularly appealing. If I had been there with the access of a media badge, I would have taken advantage of the early access or option to set up appointments, but I did not.
My friend Alex over at IrrationalPassions.com did have that extra access and has some great previews up on his site for games like Pyre, I Am Setsuna, and many more. I highly recommend you check them out.
As for me, here are a few games that caught my eye from the show floor that I (again) did not actually play.
Arena Gods – I first saw this game (as I did many of the games on this list) during the Kinda Funny GDC stream. I didn’t realize it was at PAX until Jack from KnerdsOnline was talking about it over dinner one night (you can read his extended thoughts on the game here). Once I knew it was on the show floor, I sought it out and watch a couple matches of other people playing it. A mixture of Nidhogg and Towerfall: Ascension, Arena Gods is a fast-paced local-multiplayer brawler featuring gladitorial combat and weapons that looks like it would be a great party game with friends.
Party Hard – Originally released on PC and now available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Party Hard is a retro-style action-stealth title where you work your way through a series of different parties with one goal: kill everyone without getting caught. You can use your trusty knife or interact with assorted other weapons or environmental traps to take out the party-goers that are keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Katana Zero – Another game from the Kinda Funny GDC stream, Katana Zero is an action-platformer where you progress through a series of levels, fighting your way through obstacles and enemies in a somewhat 2D side-scroller version of Hotline Miami, where pretty much one hit will kill you and force you to tackle the situation anew.
Cuphead – Perhaps the most high-profile game on this list, the Microsoft-exclusive Cuphead popped on my radar with it’s beautiful art style showcased in the E3 trailer above. A run and gun shooter with the look of a Steamboat Willie-era animated cartoon, the game is visually stunning. For more, I recommend checking out Ryan McCaffrey’s IGN preview from PAX.
Death Squared – A co-op puzzle game, Death Squared beauty stems in part from its simplicity. The booth instructions told players all they needed to know: the left analog stick moves you, the rest is up to you. Through trial-and-error and communication with your partner(s), you have to move around levels without anyone dying. You can fall off maps, switches that you need to trigger might also unleash spikes that your partner happens to be standing on, and certain elements might respond based on your location on the stage. According to the website, there is a single-player mode, but I imagine the 2 or 4-player co-op modes are where this game really shines.
And with that, so ends my coverage of another event. Thanks for reading!