Wednesday, March 24, 2010


In less than 24 hours, I'll be landing in Boston, MA (the location of some of the best years of my life) for PAX East. PAX = Penny Arcade Expo, a fan-focused gaming convention with tens of thousands of attendees run by Gabe, Tycho, and Robert Khoo of the king of gaming webcomics, Penny Arcade.

In a strange way, I idolize those guys because they get to live their lives on their own terms and be successful at it. They are a bunch of genuinely good guys with a lot of integrity, and somehow they managed to make a successful business out of their art and enthusiasm. And instead of looking for more ways to burn their brand with hyper-monetization, they instead started a convention dedicated to fans instead of companies, and founded a charity that raises millions every year for sick children.

In other words, they win at life.

I'm going with my female lifepartner, whom I first met - in Boston, no less - by overhearing her talking about Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. So it should be a pretty special trip for us. I've always "vibed" with Boston, so I was happy to hear Tycho say that the city "felt right" to them as well.

This Friday through Sunday, I'll be live-tweeting my experiences from PAX East as much as I can (provided that the sheer number of smartphones in the convention center doesn't crush the 3G), and even if you don't have a twitter account, you can see my tweets at

There is so much going on at the show, with a constant stream of panels and events while the corporate show floor (swag!), tabletop gaming room, classic arcade, tournaments, chiptune music rooms, and a million other things happen all day and late into the night.

But there are a few things I must not miss:

  • Wil Wheaton's keynote: Wheaton has become a geek icon over the past decade by writing books and blogs about being a geek after coming to notoriety as Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I became a fan after his hilarious turn on the Penny Arcade Dungeons and Dragons podcasts. He's delivering the keynote Friday at 3:00pm, and it's expected to be legendary. Here is his keynote at PAX 2007: it starts off slow but gets great by the end, so stick with it:

  • The Protomen: Oh my god, this band is good. They do a passionate rock opera telling an emotionally amplified version of the story of Mega Man. I expect their show to be one of the highlights of the weekend if their live work is half as good as the albums. And I'll definitely get a T-shirt.

  • Bill Amend: Ever heard of Foxtrot? Yeah, it's him. Enough said.

  • The Death of Print: This panel is about the end of the era of video game magazines (which were a mainstay of my childhood and whose recent loss in the form of the GFW/EGM layoffs hit my entertainment sources pretty hard). I'm excited to finally see Jeff Green (squee!!), John Davison, and Julian Murdoch in person.

  • Podcasting for PR: Since podcasting is sort of my day job, I should probably go to this anyway. Add in the fact that Jeff Green, Shawn Elliot, and Ken Levine (!!!!!) will be there, and I'm going to have to skip dinner on Saturday for it.

  • Saturday Night Concert: OK, I've seen the Video Game Orchestra before, and it's pretty good. I've heard good things about Paul & Storm. But - OMG, am I reading this correctly? - JONATHAN MOTHERFUCKING COULTON!?!?!?! I'm making a note here: this will be a Huge Success.

  • The Future of the MMO scene: The title kind of explains why I want to make it to this one. It includes a number of members of MMO studios, including Curt Schilling.

  • D&D: I've never played Dungeons & Dragons before, but Wizards of the Coast is running some demo game sessions throughout the weekend. After hearing how fun the game could be through the PA podcasts, this seems like the perfect time to give it a try with a professional DM guiding the way.
I'm pretty much giddy with excitement. Hopefully I won't do too many fanboy squeals in the coming days.

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