August 30, 2009

Top 5 Reasons to Love PAX

Dale Culp Says The Penny Arcade Expo--or PAX for short--is an annual event that takes place in Seattle, WA. It's been described as a three-day game festival for table top, console and PC gamers from all over the world. In just a few days, I'll be making the journey out there to report back on the goings on and get the skinny on some new games that will be coming down the line in the months to come. In the meantime, I have plenty to look forward to. This will be my second year at PAX, so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Here are the top five reasons I love the Penny Arcade Expo.

5) The Panels
The panels can be hit or miss. I, for one, look forward to the live taping of the “Listen UP!” podcast--formerly, 1UP Yours--featuring Garnett Lee and the original cast of the show, but I can understand if not everyone wants to sit through something like that. Then you have the live collaboration on a Penny Arcade comic strip where the entire audience is responsible for what is in it. The Q&A Sessions with Mike and Jerry (a.k.a., Gabe and Tycho) are usually also very funny. And, finally, there is a wealth of information on everything from, “How to break into the games industry” to “How can we make online communities suck less?” There's a lot of stuff going on at PAX and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

4) The Omegathon
Remember The Wizard, starring Fred Savage? Actually, I don't. I've only seen it once and I don't remember much about it except that it felt like one, long commercial for Nintendo's Power Glove and Super Mario Bros. 3. Other than that, however, it completely captured my imagination for how a video game tournament should be. Well, this is it! The Omegathon polls registered PAX goers at random and picks 26 of them to be Omeganauts. The Omeganauts will brutally battle across six games in competition for the Omega Prize. This year's Omega Prize is an all-expenses paid trip to the Tokyo Game Show! The winner receives airfare, hotel and tickets plus $5,000 in spending money if he or she can topple the competition in front of thousands of other PAX goers. It is truly an epic thing to see.

3) The Music
MC Frontalot, Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm, Freezepop, Anamanaguchi and Metroid Metal are all slated for this year's line-up, and each one brings an unprecedented amount of aural goodness that you can't help but want to dive straight into and rock out with.

2) The After-Parties
Even after the lights have gone down and the music has faded away, there's still a lot of fun to be had out there on the streets of Seattle. Hotel rooms, night clubs and other hot spots will be filled to the brim with other gamers, just like you and me, who can't wait to hang out and party. Some developers and publishers have even been known to invite gamers off the expo floor to come to their parties where they can see the latest games, meet the people who have worked on them and win cool prizes.

1) The Games!
Are you kidding me? C'mon, gang. The latest and best from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo? The first public demos of Star Wars: The Old Republic? A chance to go hands-on with games that your friends will only hear about for the next few months? Plus, all the great, free swag you get just for stopping by at a booth as you walk through the expo game hall? How is that not the biggest draw to a gaming convention? Believe me; it is.

Then, toss in the PAX10--10 independently produced games that will compete for best of show – and I'm totally sold. I love indie games. Crazy, crazy game ideas and concepts that turn the industry on its head and show us how cool gaming can truly be. XBLA game The Maw won last year, and I can't wait to see who wins this year.

So, that about sums it up. Getting through the next few days will be nigh on impossible. Pretty soon, however, we'll all be back to our normal, boring lives until next year. Also, no need to cry if you live on the East Coast and can't make it to Seattle. In about 200 days from now we all meet in Boston for the first-ever, PAX East. That should be enough time to find some friends, save up and drive there, right? Start planning, now!

Editor’s Note: Dale Culp is the newly appointed Managing Editor of The Goozex Report. Please join me in congratulating him on his new responsibilities. Dale is attending PAX, so if you’re going, please try and find him to say Hello! You can find him on Twitter as, @daleculp