I spent the weekend in Seattle to attend the Penny Arcade Expo, put on by the guys who make the Penny Arcade webcomic that I’ve been reading since the late 90s. I met up there with EvilAntnie and Alandovos and had a great time, though I’m not sure if we’ll make the trip next year.
I flew in on Thursday night (the con started on Friday afternoon) and kicked it with maddddddddddddddd and rach-o. They took me down to Ivar’s-on-the-lake and we had some down-home fast food seafood. After that scientist took me to Diamond Lil’s card room where we hooted and/or holllared until the wee hours of the morning. Scientist: about even, me: dead broke. It was straight up bay area-style asian poker: gambo, gambo, lose.
So I haven’t been to a Nerd Fest in quite a while, but when I was a kid we used to hit up Gen Con in Milwaukee every year until it moved down to Indianapolis. It was kinda odd coming back into the fold, because I’m a Nerd-In-Good-Standing in some ways (check off the requisite boxes: sci-fi fan, RPG fan, video game fan, quasi-anime fan, CCG fan) while being generally horrified by other element’s of Con Life: cosplay, bad smells, greasy lunatics, EXTREME anti-social behavior. PAX had some of everything but overall I had a good time; for example I met incredible fucking assholes while playing WoW TCG games and standing in lines (oh, the lines!) The majority of folks, however, were nice and polite. The PAX Enforcers (volunteers that roam the con) were incredibly helpful.
PAX is mostly organized by a legion of volunteers, and it stands out among other conventions because it’s built around a cult of personality firstly, and shared culture secondly. So if you want to attend the insanely popular “Make A Strip” session (where the two guys make a comic strip onstage with audience particpation) or the Q&A Session you must stand in a line with literally thousands of people for upwards of one and a half hours before they open the doors the auditorium. I hate lines and I hate large crowds, so those things don’t sit well with me.
I heard there were 50,000+ people attending this weekend, but as a rule I steered clear of lines and crowds by just going to places where the people weren’t. If there was a popular session going on, I would miss it and take the opportunity to do stuff that otherwise would have been crowded. What that means is that I didn’t spend much time in lines, but I also missed the cool experiences that drew me to the convention in the first place which is why I’m on the fence about attending again next year.
The Operational Rule of Nerds: Never underestimate the amount of time a nerd will wait in line to get something free/cheap/signed/limited in quantity. Even if the place does not open until 10am… if the thing in question is good enough and you think a sane person would show up at 9am, so you’ll be first in line at 8am, then count on nerds sleeping overnight on the sidewalk in front of the doors where the thing will be given away or sold. Many sane individuals have not gotten a cool thing because the underestimated nerds ability to stand in lines.
I didn’t participate in a whole lot of organized stuff– walked the exhibit hall and saw a lot of new video games that they were demoing (Castle Crashers looks cool), played some WoW TCG tourneys, saw WoW Minis demo, playde D&D 4th ed with Alandovos on Saturday morning (we wiped on the 2nd encounter), and took pictures of all the crziness around me.
Saturday night we hit the concerts: ditched the first band and drank, saw the end of the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets set (pretty good cthulu-metal, if you’re into that), and watched MC Frontalot and The Minibosses. The concerts went way late so we ditched at around 2am and headed back to the hotel.
I’ll probably have some pictures up once I get back into town (I’m writing this from the SEA-TAC airport). Until then– HOLLLARIT whazzmaster.com.