If You Can Read This Sign
Red-shirted Enforcers, the utilikilt wearing stasi of PAXes, waving us back as the doors slam shut on the third level of the Hynes Convention center. “Balcony is full,” one of them says, conjuring the crowd backwards along the skylit corridor. Later, when we try to make it in for the Penny Arcade panel, they will give us the same bad news. By Saturday evening, I’ll have learned to expect this at every panel I want to attend.
But Are You Impressed?
A curly-headed kid in a grimy T-shirt going, “Whoaa! Whoaa! Whoaa! Whoaa!” as he plays the 3D-enabled demonstration of Metro 2033 at the nVidia booth. His eyebrows keep jumping above the black 3D lenses like jittery caterpillars. He is playing terribly, unused to Russian FPS’s with their ruthless and reliably fatal consequences. He takes careful aim at a monster’s head, but the shot flies wide and hits it on its shoulder. It looks up from its meal, doubtless another American gamer, more startled than angry. The kid shoots again while dust motes dance between him and the monster (“Whoaa!”) and now he has its attention. It charges, and because I’m wearing the other set of goggles and am standing over his shoulder, I start co-piloting as he calls out questions. “How do I melee?”
“Try right clicking! Middle mouse! I don’t know, get the fuck out of there!”
Tie Me to the Mast
I’m standing in a corner of the Compleat Strategist booth holding a copies of Memoir ’44, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne. I’m explaining that Ken Levine, Soren Johnson, and Julian Murdoch have recommended each of these games, respectively. Surely those endorsements would appease MK if I brought this stack home? Tom Endo, my former editor at The Escapist and my wingman for this first day of PAX East, is giving me a knowing smile. “This is dangerous. You’re feeling it. You’re standing in a vortex of nerd energy, and you want to surrender to it. Maybe you should sleep on this.”
I Should Probably Buy It, Huh?
Time and again I see something amazing on a screen and ask, “What is that?” Tom says, “Bad Company 2.”
Bostonians Love It When People Do This
We’re heading a party at the TCS lounge and have no idea where the hell we’re going. As we pass the fire station on Boylston, I joke that we could go in and tell the firefighters that there’s a huge fire at the TCS lounge. Then we could just follow them. A moment later, Troy Goodfellow has knocked on the door to the firehouse and is getting directions from a stereotype: ruddy complexion and ginger hair, vowels that could span the Charles. Just as the fireman is about to go back inside, Troy turns to Jenn Cutter and says, “Now there’s your Boston accent.”
So Babe Wasn’t a Documentary?
Tiffany Martin is explaining why pigs are assholes and she hates them. “They’re not filthy or anything that people usually think about them. But they’re smart, and they’re always getting loose. And then you’ve gotta chase them, which is just a huge pain in the ass. It’s not like it is in the movies, where you’re running around with the Benny Hill music playing in the background. Pigs are smart, right? So they figure out what you’re up to. So you have to triangulate a pig and like herd it toward someone who can tackle it. Then you have to pick them up, and they make this sound. It’s like a human scream. Oh, and if you’re not careful, they’ll bite your hand off.”
Move Over, Saxton Hale
Tom Endo is explaining that he’d like to hunt coyote. “I don’t know why. I just really want to hunt one and, like, kill it, skin it, and, uh… I don’t know. Make a bracelet out of it. Or something.”
I Really Need to Do Something about My Weight… and Height… and Shoulders
Julian Murdoch, on meeting me in person. “My God, you’re a monster!”
Russ Pitts, on meeting me in person. “You’re huge. That doesn’t come through in your emails.”
Maybe Just a 1-Year Subscription
John Davison has just explained, during the “Death of Print” panel, that he was brought in to run GamePro because the owners wanted it to have an identity, to stand for something, at the end of its life. Jeff Green turns to him and says, “Wait a second. They brought you in basically so you could help this thing die with a little dignity, and you took that job?”
Somehow, Surely, You Could Make This Game Sound Less Interesting
At the APB booth, the producer is explaining what makes his game different. “It’s the three Cs – combat, customization, and celebrity.” In other words, approximately 1/3 of this product involves actually playing a game. In the background, it looks like a war has broken out between hipsters and cops, except that some of the hipsters appear to be cops. I see a firefight taking place amidst shipping containers. Despair threatens for a moment. Then he begins talking about character customization. One of the hipster character models appears on screen, her pants changing colors and style, her shirt getting longer and shorter. Then the guy working the demo machine zooms in on her narrow, sculpted ass and slaps Cartman sticker on her right butt cheek. I leave. I assume the third C, celebrity, involves an avatar sex tape.