Some reasons I’m looking forwards to PAX East

A few Penny Arcade fans with little grasp of basic human decency and even less grasp of basic grammar and spelling have really been making for an unpleasant week. The last linkspam has related links if you’re curious. It’s not pretty.

BUT… I actually have tickets for PAX East. I decided to go long before this whole debacle because I’ve enjoyed PAX prime in the past, and a friend of mine has had an incredibly rough year so a bunch of us planned the trip partially as a present to her. She’s much more important to me than a bunch of jerks are, so backing out is not an option for me.

Rather than let the actions of a few people ruin something I enjoy, I’m going to step away from that part of things and talk about why I’m still excited about the trip.

  1. Jane McGonigal is a keynote speaker! She’s done some amazing work on gaming and how it can be used to make more real-world impact, and when I was still teaching game design, I’d often talk about her work with my students. She’s an awesome female game designer and an inspiring speaker. I’ve watched her TED talk, and I’m totally stoked about seeing her keynote.
  2. Angry Birds! My friend and I have been crocheting angry birds and greedy pigs from the game Angry Birds to use for playing line games with strangers. We’ll set up some structures with the pigs and offer up birds to knock them over. Or maybe we’ll just make angry bird noises and toss them into crowd to see what happens (we’re hoping to have a bunch to give away!) Line games are a real feature at PAX, since you do spend a lot of time waiting in line, and in previous years my group has had a ball meeting strangers next to us in line and playing DS games or just chatting. Honestly, I’m not usually a fan of waiting, but it makes a break from the noisier show floor and a great excuse to meet people who are at least interested in the same panel.
  3. Okay, I’m not done with the Angry Birds thing yet. Check out this partially finished amigurumi cutie I made while hashing out a pattern for smaller birds!

    Not so angry bird amigurumi

    Not so angry bird amigurumi
    by Terriko.

    He’s too little to be angry!

    Actually, I’ve been having way too much fun making geeky amigurumi lately. Check out kirby’s epic yarn yawn and the lemmings I made for my mother (who is totally a hardcore gamer when it comes to Lemmings.) And I even mailed a friend a bob-omb. (“Can I have your new address?” “Are you going to send me a bomb?”) I tend to wing it a lot when making things, but Nerdigurumi is a great place to start if you want geeky patterns.

  4. Awesome friends! I’ve got a nicely-sized gang of friends going, so if I’m feeling shy I don’t have to talk to anyone I don’t know. I’m particularly looking forwards to vacationing with this year’s party, and I expect those of us travelling together will have a total blast in transit too.
  5. Concerts! With geeky music! I love live music, but often shows are marred by drunken morons. However, on top of not allowing booth babes, PAX also has all-ages evening shows all ages so there’s no booze. Yeay for feeling safer and not having to deal with drunks who bash into me! Plus thanks to the popularity of music games, you can’t beat a gamer crowd for ability to clap in time and sing in tune. (It totally freaked me out the first time I heard everyone *actually* clapping in unison.) And I’m still amused by the Nintendo DSes being used in place of lighters/cell phones:

    Rock show DS

    Rock show DS
    by Terriko.

  6. New games! I love getting to try new demos and poke around games I maybe wouldn’t have tried except that there happened to be a controller free. I often wind up with some beta keys to share, too, so I can do things like check out the big lego massively multiplayer game in my own time and even with friends. And it’s not just computer and console games: I love walking into the board game rooms and immediately having someone flag us down to try something out. “You’ve got to try this game! It’s called ‘We didn’t playtest this at all!’” (turns out it’s a fun, quick, if exceptionally silly card game!)
  7. Swag! I got a dozen T-shirts at PAX prime in 2010, and some of them even fit me beautifully! Other favourites include posters, fun buttons, cute plushies and even an amazing artbook from the Guild Wars 2 team. Last time I brought back a paper zombie cone (from Plants Vs Zombies) to give to a young girl who I know loved the game.
    safety cones plus zombie safety cones

    safety cones plus zombie safety cones
    by Solarbird.
  8. Costumes and gamer geek wear! We probably aren’t going to have any big costumes ourselves this year, but it’s a great excuse to wear goofy hats, and I love seeing what other people have done. Check out the koopa backpack I made for last time:

    Incomplete winged koopa backpack

    Incomplete winged koopa backpack
    by Terriko.

    It’s neat to see people showing the world what games they enjoy.

So there’s a few reasons and I’m feeling better already. Anyone got any upcoming events you’re excited about? Anyone planning to go to the first GirlGeekCon in the fall which promises to be a potential alternative for women who (understandably) might prefer to give PAX a miss? Anyone been making neat amigurumi or other geeky toys and want to share? Let me know.

NOTE: I’m really serious about wanting this post to be about fun stuff: a unicorn chaser to this week for me. So please, you want to be negative, try another post. The latest linkspam may be an appropriate place for such things. They will not be published on this post.

13 thoughts on “Some reasons I’m looking forwards to PAX East

  1. Beth

    I’m busy the weekend of PAX East, or I’d love to see Jane McGonigal!

    I’m looking forward to ConBust, a small woman-focused science fiction/fantasy/anime convention at Smith College, Northampton, MA, at the end of March. Guests include Tamora Pierce and Lynn Flewelling, and I might even end up on a panel or two.

      1. Beth

        I’m not sure yet; it somewhat depends on what other people want to talk about! Hopefully there will be a chance to discuss recent novels, because I’ve gone on a reading spree lately and want to share. I’ve been thinking about a “current state of internet activism” panel of some sort, and possibly something about “I like it anyway: enjoying problematic content” or “nerdy feminists in Boston: stuff to do”. Really, though, I’ll go anywhere people want to discuss larping, gaming, WoW, D&D, video games, internet culture or German-style board games. Mostly I’m looking forward to nerding out with people who probably have similar-ish assumptions about the world, sort of like this website.

        Some other topics I might talk about would probably be more like lectures: “history is awesome: women, DARPA and the foundations of computer science”, “utopianism and race: how authors have engaged or erased the issue,” or “building your own computer 101: a fun, feminist act of class privilege.” I don’t know how excited people would be to hear about any of those; they are just the sort of things I tend to go off on if given half a chance.

        1. Terri

          Wow, I’d go to pretty much all of those if I saw them on a schedule! If you ever decide to write some of those ideas up as blog posts (maybe post talk? Or just ’cause it’s interesting?) make sure to let us know!

  2. deborah

    “We Didn’t Playtest This at All” is my new favorite ridiculous game, along the lines of Fluxx and many of the Cheap Ass Games only, IMHO, better. And I’m definitely looking forward to owning my own copy of “Win, Lose, or Banana”.

    1. Terri

      One of the things I love about We Didn’t Play Test This at All is that the hands are so short and so ridiculous that people really have to let go of uber-competitiveness and laugh at the ridiculous ways in which they lose. We had a lot of fun using it as a speed round between setting up larger games, and found it was actually a pretty great game palate cleanser!

      I haven’t seen Win, Lose or Banana yet. Looking forwards to trying it out!

  3. Grant

    I went to PAX east last year. I’d never read a PA comic, “I was like big gaming con?! I’m in” I had a good time.
    I want to go to cosplay, play new games, see some friends and see the protomen.

    I hope I catch one your angry birds!

  4. Alex

    Thank you for this post. If you see a Gwen (from Guild Wars) cosplayer on Friday, feel free to say hi!

  5. Brinstar

    Sweet, you got one of our Guild Was 2 art books. :)

    I’ll be at PAX East as well, but I’m going for work. I’ll be working with the rest of the Guild Wars 2 team at our meet and greet on Friday night, as well as speaking on our panel on Saturday. I have a community manager panel on Friday, and another panel on Sunday, too. :) And I’m going to be seeing friends like Alex and Grant–so a busy weekend all around!

    I’m planning on going to GeekGirlCon, too. :)

    1. Terri

      So if I make an angry bird and leave it at the guild wars 2 booth saying it’s for you, will it get to you? :)

      1. Brinstar

        We’ll we don’t have a booth there, but there will be opportunities to find me. I’ll be at the NCsoft Meet and Greet on Friday night (details) and I’ll be speaking on three panels during the weekend: “What the Heck is a Community Manager?” (Fri), “Guild Wars 2 – Fantasy MMO Redefined” (Sat), and “One of Us” (Sun). :-)

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