Although Hex and Monster couldn't make it, I joined up with Friend of Highly Recommended Bill in Seattle last weekend for PAX. The video game fan convention, which grew out of love for the Penny Arcade comic strip, now draws about 40,000 fans, and takes up the whole Washington State Convention Center. Six Floors. No lie.
On Friday, after wandering dazed through the expo floor, with game geek cross-mosh of all sorts, we nipped out for some beer tankards and returned refueled. Marketers for Dungeon Siege or Assassin's Elf or some shit had marked Bill as a target, but blood is apparently water-soluble, so no permanent harm was done.
We played about an hour of Halo in the LAN Room of Dreams before getting kicked off.
We started Saturday with a panel of XBox live admins talking about how they deal with griefers. ("And lo didst the griefer cause Os to become 0s, and 3s to become Es, and thus Playername 'Poonhunter' was born. And as Poonhunter didst spread his grief across the network there was much gnashing of teeth in the land.") The Greater Internet Dickwad Theory was mentioned several times.
We also sat in on the Rooster Teeth ("Red vs. Blue") panel, which was good for a few new videos, although the Q&A session was a race to the bottom. E.g.: "I'm the girl who pestered you for an autograph during the signing session. Are you sick of me yet?" Many questioners were booed.
By far the highlight of the convention was Saturday night's concert. Introduced by Wil Wheaton, the show opened with the Penny Arcade guys performing "Are You Really a Woman?" on Rock Band. Then Freezepop took the stage. They were super high energy, and more 80s than any band from the 80s. By the end of their last number, the main camera was shaking from people jumping up and down. Here's a sample:
Comedy music duo Paul and Storm played a solidly hilarious set after that. Their signature piece is a pirate song called "The Captain's Wife's Lament," which lets the crowd cheer ARR! about a billion times. They had to stop several times because of overenthusiastic Arrs. Paul stopped as one person kept Arr-ing and said, as good-naturedly as he could, "Seriously, shut the fuck up." That was great.
Jonathan Coulton went on after 1am. We've already pimped him to death, so just watch as he changes lyrics to his song "My Monkey" Into "Wil Wheaton," with Wheaton there.
The concert lasted until 3am, so Sunday was kind of a blur. We played some Army of Two, complete with wildly inappropriate 9/11 imagery. After that it was off to the train station for the trip home. All in all, a fine, fine weekend. PAX definitely comes highly recommended.