PAX West 2016

The following posts were originally published on Trevor Trove between September 2-6, 2016

Day Zero

Welcome back to the Trevor Trove event recaps. As is tradition, I’ll be providing daily recaps of my PAX West adventures. The plan for games and panels might be switched up a bit this time out.

Getting to Seattle

Friend and fellow Arizonan (at least for another week or so) Frank and I drove to the airport and made our way through security. Frank’s bag was subjected to an extra search. We thought it was because he was bringing along his Millions Dollars But… game. When we left Austin/RTX, his bag got searched because that game is just a big black box and was apparently raising a lot of red flags at the airport that weekend. But instead, it was a big 2 pound bag of Sour Patch Kids that he was bringing along for Xyger. The TSA swabbed the bag and – as it apparently had no bomb juices on it – gave it back to him and we were on our way.

We still had a couple hours to kill so we grabbed some grub and visited. Boarding area had a handful of other folks obviously going to PAX. Boarded the plane (and saved Frank a seat since we both forgot to check-in until super late but I know I do that so I just paid the extra Southwest fee to get checked-in automatically. The flight was a mix of sleep and Pokemon until we eventually landed in Seattle around 3:30pm.

More PAX attendees were all over the place once we arrived. We shared an elevator with a group and our Uber into the city was with another one. Frank and I checked in to our hotel (well, we picked up our keys because I had already authorized Kaylie to check-in since she was in town first). While Frank stayed back at the hotel and charged up his phone, I went to pick up my fancy schmancy Media Badge.

Oh and on the way there I walked right by Jason Vandenberghe aka the awesome For Honor Creative Director with the cane and bombastic delivery from the last two Ubisoft E3 conferences. But I didn’t remember his name off the top of my head so I just screamed “For Honor Dude” in my own head. But we had a delightful little Twitter exchange afterwards once I looked him up.

The Space Needle/Chihuly Glass Garden

Once back at the hotel, Frank and I soon departed to join friends Kaylie, Joseph, Xyger, and Gia at our pre-planned evening at the Space Needle and the nearby Chihuly Glass Garden exhibit. As we arrived, Xyger let us know they were actually having dinner at a taco shop we had just walked by. So we joined them for a quick bite and headed over to the Space Needle, where they took a delightfully cheesy photoshop picture of us.

We all headed up and had a delightful hour or so together at the top of the Space Needle, visiting and catching up since we had last seen each other. We took some fun pictures together. Those of us who were of age grabbed a drink. Eventually, Tim got into town so Gia departed to go meet up with him and the rest of us went back downstairs to the Chihuly exhibit. There was a very popular Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix a year or so back so I was already familiar with the work: artistic glass sculptures sometimes designed to tie-in to the given setting. Pretty cool stuff.

Nindies and Ouija

Then, it was off to the EMP Museum right down the street for the Nindies, an event sponsored by Nintendo to showcase their indie developer games. I wrote about the Nintendo-sponsored Indie Game exhibit back when I visited in December so I was interested to see how the exhibit had changed. A few new games had been added (like Axiom Verge, Night in the Woods, Her Story, etc.) A few more Kinda Funny friends joined us and we visited some more while tweeting out in an effort to get ourselves up on the big video wall.

Ready to turn in, the group headed back to our hotel room. And…continuing my least favorite tradition started at Kinda Funny Live 2, decided to watch a dumb horror movie. Ouija has been playing behind me for the last hour or so while I’ve been writing this recap up. Oh hey, this one even has a character named Trevor. I hope him and the rest of these stupid kids die soon.

Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day and Daddy Trevor needs to get some sleep.

(And after a false alarm or two, movie Trevor died. Phew.)

Day One

PAX West started solid. Thanks to some amazing friends, I kicked off my PAX West experience with a 9AM entrance, taking advantage of the exclusive media hour. In an effort to take full advantage of the hour, I made a beeline for the Final Fantasy XV booth. I’ve written a lot in recent weeks against this game. I’ll write up full impressions later but the over-arcing thoughts were as follows:

  • The combat is more engaging than I anticipated.
  • The world is more empty than I would prefer.
  • The game appears to be finished. I popped about half a dozen trophies on the “User” Profile in my hour or so with the game.

Once the show floor opened up to the masses, the lines got really long, really quick. So I made the rounds on the floor to see where things were and say “hi” to some friends. Wandering both floors of the Expo Hall. Having attended PAX South, PAX East, and now PAX West, this certainly seemed to be the largest of the shows.

The Importance of Lanyards

Pro-tip: Always. Wear. Lanyards.

With my media badge in tow today, I enjoyed walking up and down the show floor for a few hours. But I failed to obtain a lanyard and was instead holding my badge in my coat pocket. Grabbing a lanyard was eternally on my mind as my biggest fear became losing that badge.

And then at some point, I reached into my coat pocket and couldn’t find my badge.


After a brief period of panic, I resigned myself to the likelihood that I would need to just bite the bullet and grab passes from a scalper for the remainder of the weekend. But as a last ditch effort, I returned to the will call booth to explain the situation. Emphasizing that this was entirely my screw up and that I wouldn’t at all fault them if they couldn’t help me out, I was given a new badge against all odds.

My day went from being incredible, to potentially horrible, and back.

With the calm restored, I took a break from the convention in order to meet up friends for brunch. So I joined some of my friends for a visit to the local delicacy: Biscuit Bitch. By the time I arrived, they already had their food long since ordered so I just enjoyed the conversation rather than step in and order food.


After lunch, the rest of the gang headed over to the Convention Center to made their debut at PAX. I decided to hop in line for the Rise of the Tomb Raider panel, hosted by Greg Miller. I enjoyed the game well enough on Xbox One. And the designers involved in today’s panel encouraged me to consider re-purchasing the game in its 20th anniversary form.

Following that panel, I immediately hopped back in line to attend the debut of Tim Gettys experience hosting a PAX panel as he drove the South Park: The Fractured But Whole panel for Ubisoft. Tim did a great job and even though I didn’t learn too much in the way of new details for the title, we all had a great time supporting him.

Details on both panels will exist in future posts (I took notes and everything).

Party Time

Easily, the highlight of the day came in the form of the evening’s festivities: the Kinda Funny/Deus Ex GO party. As a 21+ event, Xyger and Frank had to make plans of their own while the rest of us went to the Hard Rock Café a couple hours in advance to get in line. Visiting with other guests in advance of the event, some of the best moments in line for the event game from enjoying a brief conversation with Gio Corsi and Adam Boyes. James Fitzpatrick and I showcased our personalized pins for the once and former Sony powerhouses and I greatly appreciated their awe and excitement.

Once inside the party, I made my quick obligatory (and always lovely) photo opportunity with the Kinda Funny guys before the lines got too long. Then, while others were getting their moment with the guys, I had the absolute pleasure to chat with the “hostess with the most-ess,” Genevieve of SquareEnix Montreal. Recognizing that she seems to know me well as a KF supporter on Twitter and whatnot, she gave me the honor of a coveted VIP bracelet, which meant free drinks and exclusive access.

I got to have amazing conversations with other inspirations in the industry like Alexa Ray Correa as a result. And in one of my favorite moments of the night, I was afforded the opportunity to provide Brittney Brombacher (aka Blondenerd) with a copy of Theme Park for the original PlayStation. She tweeted out last week that she longed to add the game to her collection and I just so happened to have a copy that I was willing to provide. Britt was also incredibly supportive of my own personal gaming endeavor and graciously was taking me under her wing for the event and introducing me to industry friends.

It’s going to be really tough to top a night like tonight. I was surrounded by people I admire in the industry and so many of them were incredibly warm and welcoming. Their kindness will continue to drive my aspirations of breaking into the field for years to come.

Day Two

After a late night out at the Kinda Funny/Square Enix Montreal party last night, my whole room was interested in sleeping today. I had an appointment at 11AM though so I, at least, needed to get up and moving before my compatriots. With a calendar filled with appointments and panels, I had a busy day ahead of me.

Up first, I saw a bit of Overland, a title from game studio Finji. I first saw and wrote about this game back at PAX South in January. It has been on my radar ever since. So when I started getting the flurry of PR emails that one gets on the PAX media list, the ones discussing Overland caught my eye. So I reached out, eager for an appointment. I got to spend a bit of time talking about the game with developers Rebekah and Adam Saltsman, with Adam helping guide me through my hands-on time with it. I’ll be writing up a more in-depth preview piece on Overland in the coming days but it’s definitely a game worth keeping an eye on if you’re a fan of “tactics”-style turn-based strategy games. It blends turn-based tactical strategy and survival mechanics to create something I look forward watching develop in the months ahead.

Oh yeah, I also walked into the background of an IGN video and Brian “Nabeshin” Jackson of Irrational Passions identified me.

After that, I wandered the show floor a bit before heading across the street to queue up for the IGN Beyond panel. While I waited in line, the Jackbox team brought a cart around the line and invited people to join in on a game of Quiplash. So I hopped on and had a good time with it. The first round worked as an opportunity to get the feel for my fellow players and the audience. Realizing this was a Beyond crowd, I was able to capitalize on that in rounds two and three and won the match. And the Jackbox guy said that I had won a pin, but they forgot to bring them to that panel so I had to go to their booth later to pick it up (which I did).

The Beyond Panel was a ton of fun featuring Marty, Andrew, and Alanah from IGN and Greg Miller and Andrea Rene as special guests. After the panel, Marty and Andrew visited with a few of us before heading off to their next appointments and mentioned they were putting together an impromptu meet-up tonight. Next, I headed over to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided panel that Greg was hosting, where I got to mingle briefly with Kevin, Tim, Gia, and Genevieve again (all of whom were excited about the prospect of naps after the panel). As previously mentioned, I’ll cover the panels in a bit more detail in future posts.

With panels done for the day, I wandered the show floor again for a little bit before eventually grabbing a quiet dinner and heading back to the hotel. My roommates, who had their own non-PAX-related adventures throughout the day, were out on an sailboat excursion so I took a brief nap myself while my phone charged up before heading back down to the IGN meet-up.
I got to enjoy some nice conversations with Andrew and Marty. Sean Finnegan and Alanah were there as well but I didn’t really visit with them at all. I did get to chat with Scott Lowe again though (former IGN-er, currently with Naughty Dog), as well as a few IGN/Beyond/Kinda Funny fans. Every so often at these conventions, I sit down and have a nice conversation with a couple people I’d never met before and learn about their experiences and what they’re really enjoying at the convention. Tonight, that was a conversation with Rob and Christa (Krista?), hearing about their past PAX experiences and the panels they’ve been enjoying and are looking forward to throughout the rest of the weekend.

Eventually, the evening wound down and I returned to the hotel room (having missed apparently a very lively Let’s Play panel featuring Greg). My roommates were all watching yet another terrible horror movie: this time Atrocity. Then we took some time to catch each other up on our days since I hadn’t seen them since departed in the morning. They had a great lunch at Katsu Burger. They decided they wanted to go swimming so they needed to pick up a couple swimsuits beforehand and then enjoyed the hotel pool. And they went on the aforementioned sailing excursion. At some point, they started quizzing Xyger on various pop-culture figures. Turns out, Xyger has a lot of gaps in knowledge when it comes to actors like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks (being unable to identify any of their films) or an eclectic knowledge (identifying Samuel L. Jackson as the guy from Deep Blue Sea or being able to identify multiple Ice Cube roles). So this topic of conversation wound down the night as we tried to figure out what he does and doesn’t know.

It was a very “Xyger out of ten” kind of game.

Day Three

Day Three began with the exciting train wreck that is PAX Wrestling. The hour and a half panel actually started about thirty minutes late (which was admittedly a bit disappointing since the last one even had a bit of an impromptu pre-show). The panel itself was still a ton of fun and again will be featured more prominently in a later post. But they definitely ran long and had to cut some stuff, which is always a bit of a bummer. And it certainly didn’t have anything as momentous as last year’s evacuation of PAX (which led to the infamous “TURN ON THE FOG MACHINE” line).

The panel running a bit long meant that we were later getting to the line for the Kinda Funny panel, especially since we took a side detour to grab Jimmy John’s for lunch while we waited in line. The PAX Enforcer program was excellent while we waited for this panel with the affectionately named “Cello Enforcer” hanging out and playing a series of video game- and nerd-themed music on his cello for the crowd. It was a delightful bit of background ambiance and the line was enthralled has he played pieces from Skyrim, Game of Thrones, Halo, Super Mario 64, etc.

The Kinda Funny panel was a lot of fun, as usual, and Kevin was recording it so it’ll probably get posted an a Patreon-exclusive episode at some point. The big surprise was that Colin showed up. After saying for months he wasn’t attending the show but he would be in Seattle for a Dave Matthew’s Band concert. He’s dropped teases here and there that he might be attending and when Greg welcomed him up to the stage, the crowd went wild.

After the panel, the drain of the convention was starting to take a bit of its toll so I disappeared off to the hotel to get an hour or so of sleep. Eventually, I made my way back to the show floor to mingle with the community while they were all at the Rooster Teeth booth getting their Kinda Funny pictures and signings. I mingled with some fellow fans while others playing Million Dollars But… the game as the creator looked on.

As the signing wound down, I wished the Greg, Colin, Tim, Kevin, Gia, Erin, and Gen well, assuming I probably wouldn’t be seeing some or all of them again until the next trip. Then the fans started parting ways as well. Those of us still around walked around the floor for a little bit before departing to grab dinner. The party insisted on going right across the street to the Cheesecake Factory. But, you know, with tens of thousands of people attending an event right across the street, the line was a little long. The group had to wait roughly two hours to be seated. I decided to hop away to a panel hosted by my friends over at Toys for Games: “Gotta Collect ‘Em All…And That’s Okay.” In advance of the panel, I got to visit with Josh and Jason and the rest of their group, talking to them about their trip and getting to know them a bit better outside of our largely-Twitter-driven interactions.

Just as the panel ended, I got a text from Kaylie that they had finally been seated so I grabbed a quick giveaway from the panel (a Splatoon amiibo 3-pack for Xyger) and headed back down the street to join them. We enjoyed a nice and simple dinner, talked about our days, and how we are definitely feeling the effects of the long days of PAX. Then, we decided to go back to the hotel room (grabbing a bit of rum and coke on the way) and…uggghhhhh…watch yet another dumb, bad horror movie. Tonight’s winner: Crazy Bitches.

I swear to god I’m seriously considering staying alone on these future trips so I can avoid the endless levels of eye-rolling and cringing I suffer through. It’ll probably be better for my health.

Tomorrow brings us the final full day of PAX. Many people have already started to head back home so it could conceivably be the “least busy” day. We shall see how that plays out.

Day Four

My third and final PAX of 2016 (and my third and final PAX, period) has drawn to a close. Following the three day events of PAX South and PAX East, the extra day of PAX West really felt like it took its toll as today was mostly a lethargic day. Some of my media friends left yesterday or took the day off today and flew home. Many of the booths were low or out of their swag for the audiences so there was a general sense that pretty much everyone who was here all week was ready to wrap things up.

But then there was meeting new friends like @ClycloneMC, who has been working all weekend. We ran into her bright and early this morning at the entrance to the convention. She was very excited for the day ahead and a pleasure to finally meet. We share similar interests in theatre so I always appreciate tweeting at her/talking about Hamilton, In the Heights, Next to Normal, etc. Unfortunately, I had to head up to an appointment so I wasn’t able to hang out with her more.

I headed straight to Adult Swim Games to check out their demos of the Rick & Morty VR game and the reboot of ToeJam and Earl. I had a lot of fun going hands-on with these titles. I certainly felt bad because I apparently became the first person to crash their VR demo. Oops. But they were able to get me set on another unit and things ran perfectly fine the next time. Then I got to play through the new ToeJam and Earl game alongside the original creator Greg Johnson. So that was a pretty cool way to kick off the final day.

From there, I rejoined my friends for brunch. They had attempted to get in line for the same VR demo but the line was capped by the time they arrived so they wandered the floor briefly and then head to food instead. I described the demos to them and we had some good conversations about the DC movies as I’m firmly in the “not a fan” camp and wanted to have a discussion with people like Kaylie who liked it without being confined to 140 characters on Twitter.

After brunch, the group returned to the hotel room so Kaylie and Joseph could back before their return flight to Chicago tonight. I wandered downstairs to take in a final panel; this one on the topic of Custom collectible figures. It specifically focused on amiibo, but touched on the idea of customized Disney Infinity characters and Skylanders as well, or even molding dollar store action figures together into custom figures.

After the panel’s end, the rest of the group finished resting up and we all went over to the convention center one last time. We divided and conquered a few different games/booths/etc. I went over to look at the upcoming game We Are Chicago. Others tried grabbing a few final pins or other swag. Then we made one final trip to the Rooster Teeth booth to say our goodbyes to Andy (others said some of their goodbyes earlier in the day). And Cly made her way back to us one last time as well having seemingly enjoyed her experience.

To close out the day, we made our way back to the hotel room for everyone’s (but mine) favorite game: let’s watch bad movies. Tonight’s marathon burned through Shutter, The Others, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip. Ugh… I spent the evening actively avoiding the movies by staying connected to social media. A friend of mine from college who lives in Los Angeles but happens to be visiting Seattle this weekend talked about meeting up for a drink. So I was continually hopeful she would spare me. But alas, she cancelled on me and left me to the hell on earth that was the fourth of the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies…

Finally, it ended though and when requests for the next movie came in, I said let’s just do tv. It’s late. We should sleep soon. Frank found Blue Brothers on the television so we went with that while I finished this up.

And now I’m flying back to Phoenix in about 12 hours. Overall, it’s been a great week with great friends, even if so many of them do love watching the shittiest movies they can find. This show did run a bit long but I’ll take more video game time than the doldrums of the real world any day. And I had more great conversations with people I look up to in the industry than I can remember. It’s been a hell of a year and we’ve got my favorite show (the PlayStation Experience) still to come.

I’ll continue drafting up some more detailed entries to cover the games and panels in the coming days but thanks to everyone who made this PAX such a special experience.

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