Ok so for those of you who are regular readers, you should already know that I'm a pretty huge nerd (that is an individual who is very nerdy, not a physically large nerd...in fact I'm actually a pretty short nerd...but that's not the point!). So naturally when my friends told me about PAXEast, I had to get my ticket then and there, and barely at that, later that week, PAX tweeted that there were only 1000 3 day passes left....whew. (For those of you who don't know, PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo, a HUGE video game convention that Gabe and Tycho of Penny Arcade fame put on every year. This is the east coast flavor of the convention that typically only stays in Seattle)
Well this weekend was the big weekend, and needless to say I didn't sleep very much at all. That said, here are a few things I learned AT the expo.
1) Nerds are excitable individuals
Now this generally applies to people gathering in large crowds who are all there for one common purpose (as a student of social psychology, I know that more than anyone) but nerds are a special sub-category of that. Sure if you start chanting "Yankees suck" anywhere in Boston, you're likely to get a rise out of the crowd, but nerds will respond to PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING. There were several times where, randomly in the hallway, someone (typically an enforcer...that's the nerds RUNNING the event) would scream MARCO. And, you guessed it, pretty much everyone in the hall would respond POLO.
Another thing nerds like doing is dressing up. But to a nerd, dressing up (or cosplaying) is far more important that just the costume. Even at PAX (which isn't as crazy about Cosplay as say, Anime Boston) people were not just wearing the costumes, they were playing the characters. Again this didn't occur to the extent of say, a crazy anime nerd, but it still happened. Here's a perfect example, you remember that stupid enemy character in Minecraft I was talking about? The green worm-y thing that chases after you and blows up and generally kills you and causes you to punch your monitor in anger at losing all of your items an hour walk away from the spawn location? Well I was wearing a t-shirt that had that worm's face on it, (I'll post a picture of me wearing it to the TILT Facebook page WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL LIKE ON FACEBOOK!). This character makes an very hideous hissing sound, something like a snake with an old school cartoon bomb fuse in it's mouth. Well I didn't realize that I was wearing a costume, but apparently I was, and this meant that people wandering the con would randomly make hissing noises at me. There was even one dude in the hall who took one look at what I was wearing, and decided the best thing to do was to stop, and begin trying to run past me (as though I was an actual creeper...yes that's what they're called). This was all in good fun and I chased him around a little bit and we high fived and went on our merry way.
2) I LOVE SWAG
No seriously, I'm a swag slut. I love free stuff, no matter how stupid or shitty it is. And PAX is perfect for swag. I stood in line waiting to get into a showing of new information for Portal 2 (one of the games I'm looking forward to MOST this year) and with it came a free t-shirt. AWESOME. I love it. I think all told, I came away with 5 t-shirts, a bunch of brochures two starter packs of magic cards. Awesome.
3) Nerd celebrities are awesome people
One of the biggest things I loved about PAX was being able to hang out with my nerd idols. I don't know what it is, but somehow, internet celebrities are FAR more accessible than real ones. Sure sure they don't make as much money, but in my opinion, the matter to me far more than any hollywood star (except Charlie Sheen...#winning).
My more regular readers know that I play a good deal of videogames, and one of my favorite things to do is watch starcraft 2 replays. Well one of my favorite people to watch is a man named Sean "Day Plott". WELL guess who was at PAX, YUP Day himself. Now you might be wondering, "What's so great about this guy...he just sits in his room and talks about starcraft...he's no William Shatner or Mel Gibson!" Well yes you'd be right in that he isn't crazy and doesn't do mountains of cocaine. BUT that doesn't mean that he is not influential in my life, and thus I treat him like a real celebrity.
Another group I got to see was part of the cast from Loading Ready Run. These guys are a PHENOMENAL sketch comedy group from Victoria, Canada and they're all amazing people. I don't just mean they are hilarious individuals (which they are) but they also care about their fans and are more than willing to interact with them. Unlike with Day, the LRR folks actually recognized me. We all went out drinking after their screening on saturday and yours truly valiantly directed the reasonably sized group to the bar in the Westin Hotel attached to the convention center. The next day, Kathleen, one of the cast members, recognized me as we went to play Magic with the LRR cast and fans. This was honestly one of the great highlights of my weekend at PAX. It's such a great feeling when people who you look up to recognize your existence in the world.
...And that's what I learned at PAX
PS: I'll likely write more about this this week because PAX was just THAT big...I mean I'm fairly certain the convention center itself is a re-purposed airplane hangar.
PPS: I'll post pictures of myself with my favorite e-celebs on Facebook. You know what that means? Like my page on Facebook and you'll get to see all this AWESOME EXTRA CONTENT! Do iiiit!