PAX East 2012: Day One

6:00 AM – Got up way earlier than I ever manage to do for work, at least when there’s not a screaming child involved. Not sure how long it will take to drive, subway, hitchhike, and/or walk down to the area of Southie where the Expo is, but I wanted to give myself time.

8:44 AM – Fed, caffeinated, and mildly molested by public transit, I arrive at the venue. It’s pretty hectic, but after a bit of wandering I find an enormous queue. I don’t know what it’s for, but I stand in it anyway.

9:04 AM – Found out what the line is for; it’s to stand in a bigger line.

Penned in like lambs to the slaughter… if the lambs were then given swag bags.

10:21 AM – The bigger line eventually led to the exhibit halls. I had wanted to catch Jordan Mechner‘s keynote, but no way am I leaving to go wait in another line.

View from one of the convention center’s skyways.

11:46 AM – The exhibit halls are pure sensory overload, the gamers’ equivalent of Las Vegas. Fortunately, everyone is super friendly, either because everyone has a shared interest, or because they’re not from Boston. I avoided the long lines for the blockbuster games like Borderlands 2, opting instead to check out the many small indie offerings where I can talk directly to the developers.

Sculptures of the characters from the upcoming Borderlands 2.

12:57 PM – Sat in on the “Gaming for Grown-Ups” panel, which featured (among others) Ken Levine of Irrational Games. Started off as a bunch of old guys talking about their gaming glory days, but ending up being kind of inspirational. Left me hopeful for my future in gaming. If nothing else, my generation seems to be an incredibly important target audience for games, so we’re going to keep getting the coolest shit.

2:06 PM – After another sweep through the exhibit halls, decided to wait in line for some merch. Line was long, but fortunately the Plants vs. Zombies dancers were there to entertain us.

2:45 PM – Ran into a co-worker. Neither of us were aware the other was a gamer. On a totally unrelated note, I’m super glad I decided that the full Princess Zelda costume was more of a Saturday outfit.

3:16 PM – Attended the panel, “Stuff Your Criticism, I Want a Review!” Panelists discussed the subtle differences between reviewing video games as consumer products and critiquing them as art and media. They did not discuss the third option (which I prefer), sniping at their petty flaws like a judgmental douchebag.

View from above the main entrance.

4:50 PM – Interesting panel on video games in education. Best part was a demo of “Code Hero“, a Portal-style game that introduces programming concepts by having the player solve puzzles through manipulating segments of the game code as they play. The Oregon Trail and Number Munchers were not mentioned.

6:15 PM – Grabbed a burger at the food court with a Canadian sound designer I met on the Giant Bomb site.

7:00 PM – I’m exhausted. With the exhibit halls closed, no interesting panels going on, and more than an hour until the concerts start, I decided to call it an early night and head home to rest up for the long day tomorrow. I enjoyed the panels today, but didn’t really see anything on the exhibit floor yet that blew me away. However, there’s still a lot left to see over the next two days.

What Do You Think?