PAX was.....amazing, incredible, mind-blowing, intense, affirming, cool....just totally an out-of-this-world awesome experience. I'm not really going to try and put to words all that PAX was and means to me as a geek who has been teased and felt like an outsider over her gaming hobbies for years. Instead I'll just give you a description that I've seen more than a few people give for PAX and now having experienced it for myself, I can say they are right on the money:
"It felt like coming home"
Comments on random things:
Mmy packing plan worked perfectly. Just bringing one t-shirt was a brilliant move if I do say so myself. By the end of the weekend I had bought 2 t-shirts and acquired 5 free ones (and really good free ones too!). Even had plenty of room for my loot on the trip home without having to check any bags.
Actually felt much less urge to buy things than I had anticipated. Barely spent any of my birthday money. Was a bit disappointed in the selection of nerdy t-shirts for sale, particularly official Penny-Arcade ones, but it was made up for by the quality of the free ones. Other than some awesome new dice, card protectors and a pile of Magic: The Gathering (M:TG) cards acquired from a combination of swag bag loot/birthday gifts/tournament loot/stuff people were giving away I didn't really buy anything. Lots of board games for sale at really great prices (woot high Canadian dollar!) but we don't have the room for new board games right now. Maybe next year.
Random dice bin at the Chessex booth
My new diceThings to do
Wow, yeah. When they warn you that you can't even possibly come close to doing everything at PAX they are right. There is so much to do, we barely scratched the surface even after spending almost all of our waking moments at the convention center.
Things I got to do:
* attended two panels (had hoped to see a pile more)
* spent alot of time on the expo hall floor getting free shirts and entering raffles (boo, no new computer for me)
* Demo'd the following games: The Hunted: the Demon's Forge, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Swam
* games I wanted to demo but the lines were too long: Orcs Must Die, Portal 2, L.A. Noire
* Late night booster draft game of M:TG. I beat The Tall, Hot Viking Hunk and came in the top 50% so actually won prizes. Would have made it to the final round had I not messed up my mental math in a game and attacked instead of holding back. Not bad for someone who is terrible at M:TG
* Watched Phreak shoutcast a League of Legends (LoL) game live (awesome)
* Played LoL (oh swoon how nice it was to game on a computer that doesn't have the processing power of a toaster)
* Sat in the famous giant beanbags in the Handheld Freeplay area. Bliss when you are sick.
* Walked around all Friday wearing a Plants vs. Zombies Traffic Cone hat. Left it in the hotel room, seriously regretting not bringing it home with me.
* Played Wasabi! and Agricola in the tabletop gaming area. Quite liked Wasabi! Can't argue with a board game where you make sushi :)
Things I didn't get to do:
* Watch or participate in the LoL tournament
* Go to the Riot Games invite-only party (got the invites, but were too tired to go in the end....sigh)
* missed a ton of panels due to distraction and leaving too early on Sunday
* Play D&D with new people
* Play in the M:TG intro deck league
* Spend more than 5 minutes in the comfy beanbags
* Attend the concerts and see Johnathon Coulton and Paul & Storm play live
A Claptrap from Borderlands
So I knew there would be cosplayers, and I honestly wasn't sure how I would react to them. Yes, I'm a geek, but cosplaying has never been something thats appealed to me or that I've really understood. I've laughed at more than a few pictures of silly looking cosplayers (and grumbled in envy of the girls with the bodies to basically walk around in their underwear and look hot doing it). At best I had figured cosplayers would make me speed up and glance uncomfortably away.
But you know what? They turned out to be one of my favorite parts of PAX. The smiles one people's faces when cosplayers walk by, the fun of recognizing favorite characters, or gasps in awe at the complexity of some of the costumes. I was just blown away and got a big grin every time I saw someone in costume. They were like walking smile-generators moving through the crowds, spreading joy (and a bit of ab-envy). That is something I can get 100% behind.
The trip back was uneventful, aside from the whole "omg just let me get home, get cold meds and fall into blissful oblivion", but when we were waiting to go through customs, and I was staring down at my chest (don't ask why, probably my sick-addled brain through it was a great way to rest my neck)....only then did I notice the shirt I was wearing. The "Fully Loaded one"
Do you see it?
Why yes, the text on the shirt IS in fact made up of weapons.
Brilliant move Fuss, brilliant move.
Thank you TSA for not pulling me aside and strip-searching me.
Some notes-to-self for next year:
* take the same approach to packing, you awesome packing beast you
* spend the extra money and go down Thursday night and leave Monday morning
* save money by not eating breakfast at the hotel restaurant (however delicious) and bring snacks for lunch instead of overpriced con food.
* have the confidence to enter the LoL tournament.
* have even more guts to actually talk to the designers of LoL (gods that they are)
* seriously consider volunteering to be an enforcer
Apologies for the lack of really awesome pictures. Sadly the camera I borrowed was disinclined to focus properly.