PAX East 2015 Rundown
It’s that time of year again…PAX East has come and gone and I can finally decompress a little bit and talk about some of the great (and not-so-great) moments from around the convention center this weekend.
This year, I was incredibly disappointed by the panels that were being presented. A lot of them were merely regurgitations of last year’s content. The only one that stood out to me as being interesting was one about atheism in video games. The panel consisted of Charles Battersby, Chris Avellone (how does he not have his own website?) and Ken Levine. I liked that Battersby level-set the audience by essentially saying it wasn’t a debate about whether or not “God” exists but rather how atheism is represented in gaming. I also really liked Avellone’s take, “Atheist is the default assumption I make of players when I’m developing new games.”
As a writer, I appreciated Avellone’s honesty about what can/cannot get through gaming publishers. It’s the same way in my industry as well. If you want to be outlandish and you have a traditional contract, there’s a good chance it will get edited out. Don’t like it, produce it yourself. Now, that’s easier to say about a novel than a video game, but the premise holds.
But here’s the thing about panels…you never know who is going to be lurking in the audience. When it’s your turn at the mic, how about not wasting several minutes in a lame attempt at creating familiarity with a panel member (No, asshole, Avellone doesn’t give a shit about you and none of us have ever heard of you either) or shamelessly self-promoting your YouTube channel (if you were good enough to be discovered, you would have been by now). Also, if you have a great question, but you’re too socially inept to speak in public, ask someone else to go up there for you, man. If you don’t have anyone else to ask, then wait until the panel is over and approach them at the table and see if they’ll answer the question in a more private setting. It saves you the obvious embarrassment of stumbling over every word.
This year was clearly the year of the indie game developers. And that’s cool. I’m happy they’re being represented. But where were the Big Guys? No Ubisoft. No TakeTwo (not that I saw, anyway), no EA? And while I’m not personally a fan, I found it impossible to believe that there was little-to-no representation for Minecraft.
There’s an entire festival for indie games. Seriously. An entire day-long festival. So having pretty much nothing worthwhile from the mainstream developers seemed…strange to me.
With all of that said, I was happy to see more wearable merch this year. I may or may not buy some card or tabletop games at an event like this, but I am always looking for cool new fun stuff that I can wear that I can generally only order online. So it was nice to see more vendors with clothing. I’m a girl. I’m keeping it real.
Which, of course, leads me to this subject: Cosplay. I saw some fabulous cosplaying this year and it seemed like the bitching about “fat people” was far more toned down than last year. That made me happy. Why? Because I specifically decided not to cosplay this year after the vitriol and public shaming that happened last year when some people decided that certain others were “too fat” to play.
But walking around and seeing people just enjoying themselves and not giving a shit, well, that made me happy. Even better, seeing folks confidently enjoying themselves and seemingly not caring what others thought was awesome! KUDOS! I get self-conscious in a dress this short; no way I was going to actually wear my Harley costume out of the house:
There are obviously some super talented cosplayers out there. And there are obviously some very creative people out there that make people’s characters come to life. But you know what’s lacking? Support for cosplayers. Seriously. It was great to have the cosplay lounge available, but do you know what would be even better? Having more panels on it. Or finding artists/companies that will take orders for custom outfits onsite. There are some characters I’ve been dying to play but I don’t have the sewing skills necessary to make the outfits. I’d have loved to place an order for custom clothing, knowing I’d been properly measured. I’d have paid a premium for it too if it was custom made. I can’t tell you how many pre-made costumes still have to be altered. Really, someone, PLEASE, take the idea and make a million off it.
The concerts are the thing I most look forward to all year. It’s not like most of these folks tour and if they do, they’re not back-to-back in one place, except on the PAX stage. But this year, they were mostly disappointing.
Super Guitar Brothers (or two guys with guitars that play video game themes and share unfunny banter in between songs)
Triforce Quartet (or four guys, on strings, doing the same exact thing as the opening act)
Paul & Storm (were billed to me as essentially “Two Weird Al’s” on stage and no joke, ‘Opening Band’ was their one good song and their chatter between songs was boring).
FreezePop – Girl, pull up your dress. Your titties are too big for that dress. Oh, and AMAZING job on the JEM theme song.
Bit Brigade (or a dude beats a video game in the course of their half hour set. The games are always fun to watch. The music is basically shitty heavy metal).
MC Frontalot (or basically nerdcore rapping at its finest). You seriously won’t find me saying anything negative about Mr. Alot because he was the saving grace of this year’s PAX concerts and has never, in all the years I’ve attended, disappointed.
So, will we be back next year? Yes. Absolutely yes. Because it’s where we connect with our friends and meet new ones and with RockBand 4 coming out this year, I’m hoping there will be a tournament next year that I actually have a chance at winning.