PAX East 2017 - Day One

Much like PAX South this year, PAX East started off with a busy bang for me. I woke up early, took a quick shower, and slipped out of the room around 8AM while the rest of my room slept.

As a Phoenix native, snow definitely has not been a routine feature in my life. I've certainly seen it, though, with memories of my parents taking me up to Flagstaff around the holidays for trips to play in the snow or even a vacation home they had outside Payson that would occasionally get a few inches. But in all of those cases, we were pretty much just arriving to snow already fallen. Today was one of the very view instances I can actually recall walking through snowfall.

I was actually fine with the "cold," it was just the wind that sucked. The walk was nice though. I really enjoyed the light snowfall we had trickling down over Boston and finding amusement in the tiny piles of snow gathering on my coat and bag. After getting through the security check-in, I headed upstairs to the Media room to meet the guys from Irrational Passions before we all headed down to the show floor for the extra media hour. As the doors opens we did a quick pass around the floor to get a quick sense of our surroundings. The Irrational Passions boys started splitting up and going their separate ways and I broke off to do my own thing.

Up first, I sat down and played Episode Gladiolus, the next bit of Final Fantasy XV DLC. Full impressions on that have already been published on the site if you're interested. Then I wandered back to see Alex O'Neill and Tony Horvath about to play ARMS. So I stood by and watched them play a couple rounds. With the show floor about to open up, I headed over to the Adult Swim Booth for my first appointment: for the newly announced Kingsway. I'll do a more thorough write-up on that game later but it's an early frontrunner for my game of the show, cleverly combining a classic RPG with all the intricacies of a windows-95 era operating system.

After the demo, I walked across the aisle to play Semblance, a small indie puzzle platformer made by a small team out of South Africa. I'll ultimately throw together a preview for that game and YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, the Earthbound-like game I've had my eye on since PSX 2015.

After those, I went up to the media room to crank out the Final Fantasy impressions before heading over to the line for the IGN panel. While waiting in line, I caught up with Michael Martin (former IGN freelancer and current Yahoo eSports Fighting Game Extraordinaire). We visited and shared stories with another IGN fan (I think named Evan) until the panel started letting people in. The Kinda Funny guys were also attending the panel so we sat down right next to them and I got to finally meet Seth Macy, the guy who trained me on IGN's system as a freelancer. He also has a Patreon devoted to creating pins and brought me one, so I handed off one of mine in exchange.

The IGN panel featured Marty Sliva, Alanah Pearce, Peer Schneider, and Kiersten Slader answering whatever questions the audience laid out for them. Peer playfully threw a couple references Greg's way, leading him to chime in from the audience. Afterwards, I said some hello's and gave some hugs or handshakes. I got to see and visit with Paul Grzymkowski (aka Paulogy), who I first met at last year's PAX East. Always a pleasure catching up with him and his positivity.

From there, I headed over to a panel hosted by Alexa Ray Corriea focusing on the healing power of video games. Brittney Brombacher (aka Blondenerd), Andrea Rene, and Becky Taylor. These four women began the panel by sharing some ways in which gaming has helped them through tough times before opening it up to the other attendees to share their stories. I mostly attended this panel to support some friends but was very quickly emotionally wrought after hearing some of the tragic stories shared. A lot of brave people shared some stories from the darkest days of their lives with a lot of complete strangers. One more reason for me to love video games. Following the panel, I met Harold Price: one of Irrational Passions super fans and visited a bit with Brittney and Alexa.

Then, I made a long and winding trek back to the media room, met up with the Irrational Passions guys, and convinced them to come grab dinner with me. We then walked to a nearby Shake Shack and sat down, discussing the day and enjoying some burgers (or hot dogs) and fries. Despite a couple locations having opened in Phoenix recently, this was my first experience. It was pretty good and much needed sustenance. Bellies full, we headed back to the convention center to get in line for the Kinda Funny panel.

The Kinda Funny panel can be viewed in the Twitch archive. But here's a brief rundown of the show:

  • Greg opened the panel to shed more light on the drama this week and encouraged the community to also strive to be better.
  • Alex O'Neill was invited onstage for a sort of impromptu Love and Sex Stuff.
  • Greg wore a small, pink Boston shirt.
  • Made a video with the whole audience sharing their love of Joey Noelle.
  • Xyger chugged a Smirnoff Ice.
  • Nick, against all odds, defended the Kinda Funny Nintendo Championship in a challenge of soon-to-be-released game Snake Pass.
  • Everyone in attendance who wanted it, was given the opportunity to sign up for a free copy of the game when it releases on Steam in a couple weeks.

After the panel, Enforcers were able to move us down into one of the queue rooms and we mostly end up mingling for an impromptu meet-and-greet for another hour or so. I had a great conversation with a young video editor Dustin, briefly caught up with Genevieve St. Onge, and hugged the Kinda Funny guys to close out the night.

At this point, some people headed off to a party where Grimecraft was performing, others went out for some food and drinks, and I headed back to the hotel, hoping to get some writing done. Moises Taveras came down to the show just to attend the show today on an impulse so I offered him spot in our hotel room for the night. We watched a bit of Hot Tub Time Machine and then Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes. Unfortunately, this kept me distracted and led this very write-up to take a few extra hours to write. On the plus side though, when the rest of the roommates started returning we wound up singing the theme together.

A fun little closing note for a very busy day. Now off to bed for a few hours before starting again tomorrow.