Over Labor Day weekend I had the good fortune to be able to attend one day of PAX West (Penny Arcade Expo). My roommate’s friend had an extra ticket available and I thought, Why not? PAX has been on my Washington state bucket list since I moved out here and learned about it. The tickets usually sell out very quickly and I usually forget about it, until someone tells me they are all sold out.
Fun story, my roommate and I got a little lost on the way to the convention center, which was totally my fault. We ended up taking an Uber like 5 blocks (the Uber driver thought we were totally nuts) because we were already late to meet her friends, and as it turns out my map reading skills and distance gauging skills are not the best.
Once we finally got to the convention center and I got my badge from her friends. They took off to go to a panel (they had whole weekend passes). I was just standing there looking at the booklet and trying to plan my whole life out figure out which event I wanted to attend, when an enforcer (their security staff) came up and said hello. When I looked up from my booklet, I realized it was someone I had gone on a Tinder date with. At this point I was already a little overwhelmed, and blurted out slightly too loud “I don’t really know what I’m doing,” which I’m sure was obvious to him. He was really helpful and pointed me in the direction of a funny panel that he thought I might enjoy. Not the greatest start, and I was really hoping PAX wouldn’t be like walking through a graveyard of failed Tinder dates.
The panel was called 404ing It: Breaking (Down) the Internet, and it was a delight. The panelists all had video clips that were bizarre, weird, or funny-sometimes all three. Then they just chatted about the videos and such. It was funny, smart, and a good way to calm my nerves about being totally overwhelmed.
After that panel, I made my way to the main Expo hall to just look around. All I can really say is WOW! There was so much stuff. Basically any video game company I had ever heard of and then a thousand I hadn’t were there, as well as board game companies and virtual reality games. I really wanted to play at least one VR game, but the lines were 2+ hours long or you had to have an appointment, this was the only drawback to having a one day pass. Like I’ve said before video games are not really my jam, but they are hella cool, and I stopped at a few of the smaller booths and was able to talk to some developers about their games which was a ton of fun. I got to learn about some cool video games, even if I probably won’t play them.
Since I only had the one day the big draw for me was the panels. The next panel I went to was The Dark Art of Video Game Voice Acting Revealed! Where I got to hear the robot from Portal GLaDOS, which was insanely cool. They had a lot of good tips for aspiring voice actors and the panelists were hilarious.
I then did some more exploring of the main Expo hall where I almost bought a silver D20, cooler heads prevailed when I realized I wouldn’t be able to roll that on anyone’s table without losing that person as a friend and demolishing their table. That sucker was heavy! Then I went to the panel: Designing and Developing Games for an Inclusive Community. This talk was amazing, it featured two women developers from the Sims games and a popular Twitch user. They talked about developing the newest version of Sims where you have a lot more options about the kind of people you can play. That in turn creates a lot more buy in and player satisfaction because you are more likely to come back if you see yourself represented in a game. One of my favorite parts of the panel is when they were talking about what it is like to be a minority in a male dominated field and how advertisers would balk at the fact that a woman would spend 10+ hours a day playing a video/computer games. Which I found ridiculous as someone who once spent 12 hours in one day trying to beat Crash Bandicoot (I stopped playing video games shortly after that).
The last panel I went to was Choose your own Adventure: Women in Video Game Writing. This panel featured three different women from across the video game industry; they had two free-lance writers, one translator, and a free-lancer/game studio owner. They had a lot of inspiring stories from when they started writing, what it takes to break into the industry, and how to get paid. Their advice was definitely relatable even if you didn’t want to get into the video game industry. As an aspiring writer I found it incredibly helpful and awesome. To see these hilarious women make it work in different ways. Success definitely isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing.
After that I had to leave for the day to go to a Star Trek Burlesque show with my friend, so yeah my life is awesome (or at the very least that day was).
Have any of you been to any cons that you loved or seen any cool panels? I would love to hear about your experiences.