This weekend was the Penny Arcade Expo, spanning from Friday through Sunday. I didn’t manage to get my hands on a flask beforehand, which was unfortunate, but given all the extra space in the convention center, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by people more than a couple of times throughout the course of the weekend. At one point, the gauntlet was thrown that “the next nerd who touches my boobs will be a dead nerd,” and luckily, said nerds stopped attempting to give me free mammograms, so my criminal record stayed clean.
The first thing I attended was the keynote speech given by Wil Wheaton, which, if you could not attend and would like to hear, is available here.
Toward the end of his speech, I ended up knocking my swag bag off the chair next to me, and the bottle of Bawls inside EXPLODED which would have been a bit more impressive had I not wanted to keep an item or two inside. Somehow, the program and the Darkstalkers comic emerged relatively unscathed, but everything else was now caffeinated, sticky toast. In retrospect, it was probably good that it happened, because otherwise I always end up picking up a bunch of crap at booths that I absolutely must have and then they end up sitting unused, taking up space, until I finally decide to throw them away. No, I don’t want your crummy free t-shirt with a video card logo on it. I will never, ever wear it. No, I don’t want a poster for your game that will never, ever be hung on a wall in my home. Let some other nerds fight over these prizes (and, believe me, they do. If you want to see some deplorable human behavior, set up a raffle or only have a limited amount of something to give away; people will shove and yell and fight to get some crappy item, simply because it’s free. Sort of like watching people stampede at the post-Thanksgiving sales at Wal-Mart.)
Immediately after Wheaton’s keynote was the Penny Arcade Q&A Panel with the creators. I honestly couldn’t tell you a whole lot of what was asked and answered, as my brain is fairly well trained to filter out ‘boring’. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking about instead of the panel. I imagine I was off gallivanting with sparkle unicorns somewhere in a magic field with grass that tasted like bubblegum. That’s my best guess, anyway. The one moment that grabbed my attention fully was when someone got on the mic and announced that he ‘knew what you did’. There was a terrible silence, and while Jerry and Mike were scratching their heads, this guy announced ‘I’m not going to save you’ and it was at THAT moment that I started plotting the fastest way to the exit because I did NOT want to be there when Senor Batshitcrazy started shooting up the place. Luckily, my fears proved unfounded, which was extra good because the nearest exit was a long sprint away from where I was.
Also, there was a guy sitting nearby whom I’m fairly certain has a learning disability of some sort, or just some general craziness; I’m not a professional and couldn’t tell you for sure. All I know is that when he wasn’t picking his nose and hooting, he turned around and excitedly asked the girl sitting behind him if she was on 4chan. The logical conclusion to be drawn from the available information is that 4chan participants actually are retarded.
Not long after Senor Batshitcrazy took the mic, the panel was over, and it was time for the super-secret guest. Jack Thompson (wisely) turned down the invitation to appear, but in the world of videogames, there are many enemies, of which Jack Thompson is only one. So who rose to the challenge to be greeted with an overwhelming chorus of boos?
One Uwe Boll.
Now, I don’t hate on the man as much as most other game nerds do, if only because I can appreciate things on an ‘awful yet hilarious’ level of entertainment. You can tell me that I have bad taste in movies; you won’t hurt my feelings. I’m judging them on an entirely different point scale than 99% of the movie-going population. Can you see a zipper running up the back of the monster costume? Add a point. Was there a moment of ‘WTF just happened, SERIOUSLY, WTF?’, potentially involving pancakes and a backflip? Add a point. Blood that moves around on an actor from scene to scene? Add a point. Liberal use of creative obscenities? Add a point. And so on and so forth–you get the idea. I don’t think Boll has been involved in an ACTUALLY good movie, and I don’t think any of the movies he’s made based off a games are faithful adaptations, but he’s hardly the devil incarnate.
Regardless, people started storming out of the room. Boll showed the trailer for ‘Postal’, which, while mostly confusing, had some entertaining bits.
Then the Q&A started. Oh god, the Q&A. One girl got on the mic and started screaming about how he should get off the stage because he was a racist (pigfucker?), and I started wondering if Boll would get assaulted on stage like Inman–after all, both incidents started with ‘you’re racist’, and, hell, Boll is infamous for punching out his critics…However, to the shock of all, Boll actually handled it with class and suggested she do some research on satire before she starts flinging the word racist around, and no punches were thrown on either side.
Toward the end of the panel, I started feeling very sorry for him; everyone who got in line to ‘ask a question’ instead engaged in an impromptu game of ‘who can be the con’s biggest asshole?’, playing like the winner’s testicles would finally descend and he’d officially be a MAN.
It really took balls of steel for him to show up at a place where he’s fairly universally reviled, to speak civilly to people, and try to explain that the majority of the movies people hate him for, he didn’t write. Even though it was likely a giant publicity stunt (I and 30,000 other PAX goers are writing/talking about it, aren’t we?), I still can’t help but respect him a bit for making the attempt. I couldn’t walk out in front of an audience that hates me already. Could you?
After his panel, I met up with gehn and a few of his friends to grab some dinner. We ended up at some mexican restaurant at Pacific Place, where I was presented with the most delicious hibiscus margarita ever known to man. Perhaps a challenge was issued for me to eat the flower garnish, and perhaps that challenge was met. I’m not much of one to back down from foolish or silly dares. The lovely lady seated to my right, whose name was Ariel, turned out to be an Omeganaut, competing to win a trip to the Tokyo game show, and had shown an impressive amount of calm and steady hands to best the Jenga challenge earlier in the day. Unfortunately, the next day, she was knocked out in the Quake portion of the competition, as were all of the other female participants, which was very disappointing.
Shortly after dinner, it was time to get back to the convention center for the concert lineup: The Oneups, Optimus Rhyme, Freezepop, and Neskimos. The Oneups absolutely stole the show with their funk-based renditions of game music. Optimus Rhyme has never really done anything for me, so I scooted out halfway through his set to renew the parking on my car, and made it back just in time for Freezepop to start, which was the part of the lineup that I was most excited to see. Even with bonus points for Liz being adorable in a goomba dress, keytars, and belting out ‘the final countdown’ as their closer, they couldn’t rise above the level of FULL OF SUCK. What studio stuff of theirs I have I really like, but some bands just can’t pull it off live. This is one of those bands. The music was muddy, Liz was off-key the majority of the time, and even when she was ON-key, her voice was nothing to write home about. I suddenly understand why they run her through synths in studio, because holy CRAP it was awful. Neskimos? Meh.
I ended up running into crazyfaeriegirl in the ladies’ powdering facilities, and found out that the party at Sealab was THAT NIGHT and not on Saturday as I’d previously assumed, and that Wil Wheaton was also apparently making an appearance, which I would have thought unlikely at best, but never got the opportunity to find out as by the time Tim and I walked there, the hotel had already complained twice and informed them that the third complaint would be to the police, so they’d shut down and weren’t letting anyone else in the room. It’s just as well, I’m sure with enough tequila in me, I’d do or say the final thing that caused the cops to be called, including but not limited to throwing chairs out of 11th floor windows. That’s just on tequila, mind, but since I’d already gotten a start on tequila earlier in the evening, I wouldn’t have switched it up. Danger, danger!
It was extraordinarily difficult to drag myself out of bed Saturday morning, but I had to do it, for I could not miss the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Wendy’s Challenge 2007! Tim and I booked it to the convention center, I paid by phone to park my car because it’s faster and cheaper than trying to finagle with the stupid non-card-reading-no-change-giving machine, Tim dashed off to the Red Vs Blue panel, and I wandered around the meeting spot, looking for likely competitors. Let me tell you, a lot of people looked like likely competitors, however, it quickly became evident that no one was showing for the event. You pretty much could have taken my eight year old self and told her that the Kentucky Derby was cancelled because each lovely pony was systematically shot beforehand and I would not have been MORE disappointed than I was to find out that I wasn’t going to be able to watch nerds vomit.
Still, I tried to make the best of things, and made my way into the exhibition hall, where I got to play some Eye of Judgement. I’ve never played a collectible card game before. I don’t own a PS3. Nevertheless, I want this game. Wants it, precious. I’m seriously considering buying it and sitting on it until the day it makes sense to own a PS3.
To distract you from my insanity, have a picture:
Yeah, back to Eye of Judgement–while I was playing, I lost my concentration and therefore almost lost the game when I heard someone exclaim ‘SO AMAZING!’–this means nothing to you now, but will mean something in a second! I’ve only known one person to tack on ‘SO AMAZING!’ in just that manner on the end of his sentences, and it was a particularly deplorable person I’d met in college in San Diego, who misconstrued my general niceness (shut UP, I’m nice! Sometimes.) as an indication that he was owed some sexual favors from me, and was very vocal about it. He was lucky I didn’t destroy him. So when I heard ‘SO AMAZING!’, I looked up, found the source…and it was him. I was a little thrown by it, somehow managed to win my game, and then disappeared into the crowd, which is one of the sole advantages to being below-average height–you can slip into a group of people and easily avoid someone who might shout that you owe him a blowjob. Don’t bother trying to understand why–I’ve never understood it myself.
Have another picture:
I saw a few mediocre panels with gehn, one of which was supposed to be ‘game design in an hour’ but which turned out to be ‘can this guy program a game in an hour, and when we’re at 55 minutes and he still hasn’t, can he copy and paste a working version over from a folder in the remaining five, and when he can’t, marvel at just how much of your time you’ve wasted!’
I was also repaid in full for all of my unkind thoughts about 4chan boy above, as he was sitting next to me at this godawful panel, fondling my leg with his foot in a particularly obscene manner. I bet you didn’t even think that action could BE obscene; if you lived my life for even five minutes, you would begin to understand that some people are destined to live lives wherein other people laugh at them on the internet, and I live one of those lives.
I ended up skipping the concerts in favor of going back to gehn‘s place to play some Battlefront. I’ve really never been good with shooters on a controller, preferring the mouse/keyboard setup, and although there was never a moment where I played fantastically well, I didn’t embarrass myself too badly!
On the walk back to the convention center to meet back up with ph34rtimmybunny, I ended up walking by my car, and saw something tucked under the wiper blade. Sure enough, it was a parking ticket, for failure to pre-pay. Oh HELL NO. I paid. I was paid through SIX AM for Cthulhu’s sake! Three words were pounding in my brain: CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. I would not pay this ticket, and I would make the ticket-giver sorry he or she was born. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. I called the phone number; no one answers. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR.
The Minibosses were still playing. Who gives a shit? CAMPAIGN OF TERROR.
I got home. The dog had pooped on the carpet. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. AND vomited on the carpet. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. I cleaned and then sent out a furious email. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. Then bedtime.
By Sunday, I was really ready to call it done. There wasn’t anything else I wanted to see or do, because I really don’t care if the Frag Dolls hold the beauty contest before or after they find out if the hopeful girl can play games, the girl I was rooting for was out of the Omegathon, and I was sick and tired of smelly nerds. While Tim was doing his thing, I wandered around aimlessly, eventually stopping at some sort of singing game at the Playstation booth. And there was a singing contest. And I was pretty damn confident about my chances–what have three years of karaoke prepared me for, if not this moment? I went up there and rocked the shit out of my song, but didn’t beat the high score, which was obtained by HUMMING the song. What a goddamn cheater. I don’t care if I sound like a sore loser–if you can’t sing, maybe you don’t deserve to win a PS3 in that particular contest. That’s the judgment of both myself and my sour grapes.
Soon after, PAX was over, and it was time to go home–along the way, I noticed the tag on the horses’ forehead; I wonder if something similar would be appropriate to hang on my bosom for PAX 2008?