PAX PRIME 2011
August 26-28, 2011
Washington State Convention Center
I attended the 2011 edition of the Penny Arcade Expo on the West coast (aka PAX Prime) for the entire 3 days it was in session and managed to only go to one panel and, personally, try out one game. One might wonder how that is possible with spending over 8 hours at the convention center on a daily basis. Wear an extremely popular cosplay, that’s how. Every time I’d stop to take out my phone to text or to take a picture I had someone asking to take mine.
Cosplay: Oerba Dia Vanille
Day by Day Play:
My first day there I spent by myself (though I did manage to run into a friend of mine). For the most part I wondered around the main exhibit hall in awe of all the massive booths and their big shiny screens showing off their games.
Firefall, developed by Red 5 Studios, was the most heavily advertised game there; banners on ALL the escalators, banners around the escalators, a statue right outside the main entrance of the exhibit hall and a massive booth set up full of PCs for people to tackle their game with. I only watched the trailer, but based on that it looks like an intriguing FPS/TPS – space themed, of course.
My favorite booths to walk past were the ones for the games created for the Microsoft XBOX Kinect; a device that requires no controllers to play. Games for this console have mainly revolved around dancing and exercise but as this year draws to an end we’re going to be able to use it to transform into a Jedi Knight, a fruit slicing ninja, and a zombie killing machine.
There were also two stages set up for people to try out Dance Central 2 and Just Dance 2, which were both very entertaining to watch. The lines for the Kinect games were relatively long, which caused some people to not have a chance to test it, but there were other things to do. I kept busy with an MSNBC interview, giving away headphones over a live stream for Turtle Beach, appearing in the crowd for the filming of the G4 X-Play PAX Prime episode (airing Wednesday, September 7th) and posing for countless pictures. I ended the day with participating in the Crabcat cosplay panel which turned out to be non-contest contest where everyone was a winner.
The second and third day I went with a friend of mine who cosplayed as Lightning which made us twice as popular. We snuck into more booths to use their photo centers where they would print your pic and email it to you, too. Gunnar had several styles of gaming glasses for you to sport while you posed for their cameras, other booths had it set up so you were “posing” with their logo or video game characters.
On the second day I became aware of the random real-life games they have going on during the event. There is a scavenger hunt with barcodes (put on by PAX), a word game with buttons(put on by Square Enix) and in the indie game area there was a station where you could get turned into a zombie by a makeup artist and then you had to “bite” other people and turn them into more zombies – all of which had some sort of prizes to be won by participating in them. My friend and I managed to get in on the word game where we collected a $25 gift certificate to their online store.
Booth babes had been banned from the event for the first time, but that didn’t stop people asking us if we had been hired to be there. Good Old Games had hired two old ladies to sit in chairs and knit between handing out freshly baked cookies as their booth “babes”. The booths relied more on creating extravagant booths to draw people in. Telltale’s Jurassic Park had a booth set up with a “high voltage” fence with foliage and jeep mixed with their console stations. Bethesda’s Skyrim had a massive dragon hanging over their area while Trion World’s Rift booth took you to another world with towering, glowing foreign foliage.
Besides stopping for photos, on the second day we succeeded in the EVGA cosplay contest which was whittled down to the top ten and were snagged up for two interviews with random Podcasters and a mod-hosting website.
On the third day a worker at the Nintendo 3DS station managed to tempt me to try an available console. I drooled over Zelda in 3D while I had photographers stepping in to take my picture. I got a lot of my personal questions answered about the Nintendo 3DS and am now considering buying one. It comes equipped with this really awesome feature called “augmented reality” where you simply point the console at a card that you can sit anywhere and the card turns into a 3D interactive shooting game. We spent the majority of the third day out on the Sky Bridge where Turtle Beach grabbed me to say “hi” on their live stream, again, and we meet and posed with a lot of fellow cosplayers. It was nice not to walk around so much, especially since we had done nothing but walk the previous day.
As we were leaving the Exhibit Hall on the final day a local major newspaper (The Seattle P.I.) snapped a pictured of me which ended up being featured in their online gallery. We’re also in official PAX Prime Cosplay galleries for G4, The Escapist, Square Enix, Gamers Radar as well as a Post-PAX cosplay contest put on by Nerd Trek.
All-in-all, PAX is a really fun expo to attend. Every day offers something different, whether or not you’re attending their many panels. The most cosplayed characters were Moogles, Portal 2, Halo and League of Legends, though my personal favorite was the duo dressed as Clayman and Hoborg from Neverhood. As a cosplayer, it was a bit unorganized – all contests were discovered by hear-say (the information center knew nothing about them) and there were no photo sessions held; at least that I managed to “get wind of.” There are lots of lines; for both panels and games, so it’s best to wait until the late afternoon/ evening to try to play something because there are less people hanging around then-especially the first night for some reason. Watching games is just as enjoyable to me as playing them and the ample amount of TVs showing off live game play, mixed with the larger than life booths, kept my eyes entertained. Everyone I talked to was really nice and friendly, but there were definitely your shy nerds just there to get their game on, who avoided even eye contact.
And now, for the ultimate question:
Would I attend another PAX?