PAX 2009 -- A cultural celebration

I spent about 6 hours at the PAX show on 2009-09-05. PAX, or the Penny Arcade Expo, is a computer, roleplaying, and board game convention held in Seattle each year. Next year there will be one in Boston in the Spring, too.

It's more than an opportunity for game companies to show new products and for industry pundits to speak their punditry. It's not a show primarily targeting industry people. It's about the fans.

Even though I no longer play nearly the volume of computer and video games that I used to, and even though it's been years since I threw a 10-sided die in my soak roll (Vampire: The Masquerade FTW!), and even though I only made it to one of the panel discussions, I had a great time.

These are my people.

PAX wasn't just about seeing the toys, it was about celebrating Geek Culture.

The celebration of intelligence, of game, of technology is something we don't see often. At PAX, a nerdy obsession isn't mocked, it's praised. When someone walks around dressed as their favorite cartoon character, people don't cross the street to get away, they ask to pose for pictures.

The show filled the convention center with a weird, bizarre, and positive energy.

Sure there was a little bit of Swine Flu and post convention illnesses, but many of those suffering a PAX-pox will say it was worth it.

I'm only sorry I missed the Jonathan Coulton concert that evening.

Below are some pictures from the show.

One thing that amazed me about the show floor was all the lines. It seemed every booth had people lined up to get into it. More that 60, 000 people attended the three day show and yet the lines were orderly. By way of comparison, 110,000 people attended CES 2009, the largest computer trade show in the country. And CES is a 4-day show instead of 3-days. The scale of attendance at PAX in mind-boggling.

Here are some of the lines.

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It wasn't just the booth lines. The one presentation I made it to featured Hal Hapin from the ECA and Adam Sessler from G4 talking about issues facing the computer game industry, including the recession, gaming models, and the ratings system. When they opened it up for questions, dozens of people flocked to the mic.

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There were plenty of impressive booths, including one from the folks at Darksiders who opted to make plantiffs' lawyers salivate with a bucking steed.

2009-09-05 Pax posting Bucking Darksiders (2)

2009-09-05 Pax posting Bucking Darksiders (1)

The Rock Band folks had a great setup for the release of the Beatles version of the game. They set up stages so that not only could you imagine your were on stage in front of your fans, now you could actually be on stage "performing" Beatles music in front of dozens of (sometimes) screaming fans.

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Peregrine demonstrated an upcoming product -- a gaming glove. It works like a keyboard so you can program your own keyboard shortcuts into it and activate them with different hand positions.

2009-09-05 Pax posting Peregrine

I also had the chance to try on some gamer/computer glasses at the Gunnar Optiks booth. They did seem to improve the image on a computer screen. Until I can get an HDMI interface to my visual cortex I may have to take a look at that product. I didn't get any pictures there, but the booth folks were nice and friendly.

There were plenty of fake swords about the floor, including Edward waving one about for some reason or other.

2009-09-05 Pax posting Swords (1)

And even guys with swords sometimes have to get places.

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And if you wanted to get your favorite autographs, they had stations set up for that in main lobby.

2009-09-05 Pax posting Meet the Stars

This may be the most played video on the 'net from the show, but if you haven't seen it (or even if you have), here is Jonathan Coulton singing a new version of "My Monkey," now called "Wil Wheaton."

It was a great show a great experience. Time to buy my tickets for next year.

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