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PAX East ’11 Breakdown

24. March 2011

Many months ago, I wrote an article entitled The Community, in which I describe what I like about fandom in general. It was written with the Penny Arcade Expo in the back of my mind, as I was unable to attend last year and pretty bummed about it.  Luckily that was not true this year (going, that is, not being depressed about it). It was one hell of a trip, but completely worthwhile. PAX East was a different convention experience than the anime cons I usually go to–one I’ll definitely try to repeat in the future.

The one aspect I wasn’t happy about was the trip up there. I live in Alabama, and Boston was the furthest north I had ever been. I have been to California and taken a cruise to the Bahamas with my family in the past, but this was the biggest trip I’ve planned by myself. I decided to join a few other people on the Penny Arcade Forums in riding Amtrak to Boston. Taking the train was also a first for me, and honestly, it will probably be my last train ride. Our initial train was delayed by four hours, which made us late for our connecting train in New York City. We were able to reschedule and leave Penn Station in two hours, thankfully, which put us in Boston at 1 A.M. instead of the rumored 8 A.M. delay. By that time, however, we were exhausted from the trip and I had realized, too late of course, the importance of bringing your own pillow, as sleeping accommodations were terrible. And maybe it was because me missed the “good” party train going out of NYC, but we were also underwhelmed with how few people were involved. We did meet one cool guy from Louisiana, but the only other people were a couple of teenage girls and their father.

The convention itself was amazing! Seeing all these big names companies and games on the Exhibition Hall floor, playing D&D with friends, and rocking out at concerts I could only dream about, living in the Southeast. I went to the RPG House Rules panel, run by Dave Chalker and Phil Menard of Critical Hits, and Quinn Murphy of  At-Will. I never got to hunt down and chat with Tycho and Gabe like I wanted, but they did eventually sign my Player’s Handbook, as did several other nerd celebrities at the convention. As I’ve said before, PAX really has its own special feel, where gaming as an industry melts away and the people passionate about gaming remain. Being able to stop and chat with people at the convention, as well as randomly jumping into games of Zombie Dice and Fluxx during the lines with complete strangers, was a refreshing experience I’d be happy to travel far to repeat. The connection of gaming as a community rather than a hobby defines the PAX experience, and I hope that trend spreads to other events as well.

It was our intent to attend PAX East ’11 as a blog, but as Simeon could not attend this year, it was just me, Tobias. I decided to take is solo and enjoy it–no interviews, no “coverage,” nothing special. It is my hope that we can not only attend East ’12, but also PAX Prime, together as bloggers and gamers,  to further commentate on our community. In other news, I’ve made some changes in my personal life, so hopefully more content will be coming shortly. For those of you still with us, please look forward to it.

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