This year I finally went to the Penny Arcade Expo! It’s essentially a gigantic gaming convention organized by the people behind Penny Arcade, the crude yet distinguished elder statesman of gaming comics. I don’t have access to the numbers, but there were something like fifty or sixty thousand at the convention centre in Seattle, including our group: Gavin, Div, Wolfgang and myself.
Stuff I did:
- Toured the Expo Hall. It was … overwhelming. Endless boothes, endless people, and endless noise. I visited the Nintendo booth to get my bonus DQ9 map, tried out Sony’s motion control system, and played a music game that featured an actual electric guitar that you could plug into an amp and play normally. There were too many things to see there: Duke Nukem Forever (which was finally revealed at the show), a giant D&D gameboard with foam dice and people as figurines; Rock Band 3 and its endless line-up; indie developers showing off their games, giant developers hawking their titles; and, as I said, tonnes of people. I found it a mentally draining place, so after touring around and trying a few things, I skedaddled and stayed away for most of the rest of the convention.
- But talking of Rock Band 3, we went to the Rock Band Party at Jillian’s, a bar/poolhall/arcade. I played through a bizarre song on pro-drums, hard mode, and survived. It was awesome.
- I was in the Tetris Attacks tournament, and I got schooled. I’m a very reactive player, and the guy I was up against seemed to actually have tactics. But I played well, saw some excellent gameplay, and it was awesome. Seriously, Tetris Attacks is a genius game that needs to be remade for online play. It’s so good.
- There were panels; there were too many panels, and it would have been impossible to see all the ones I wanted to see. So I only went to a few. They were good times, especially the DM-ing panel.
- I watched some of the freeplay gaming; next year I’m going to try to focus on that.
- I spent an obscene amount of time tagging people in Dragon Quest 9. I got 320+ tags. Before the con, I was at ninety, and only thanks to the DQ9 meetups.
- Relatedly, I spent a couple hours playing DQ9 co-operatively with random people. It was surprizingly fun! I enjoyed showing up and being the tank, and helping them get past bosses that would otherwise wipe them. To get nerdy for a sec, we were fighting against Atlas, and I did two attacks that did a total of 4000+ damage. They would’ve been toast without me. 🙂
- I listened to Metroid Metal (and others) rock out in the Jam Room.
- Div and I went to the Wizards of the Coast bus near the convention, where they were giving away D&D paraphenalia.
- I played entirely too much freeplay Rock Band 2. That’s such a good game, and some of the people there were incredible.
- I also ditched the con for a while and went down to Pike Place Market. It was pretty much as I remembered. I went to a teriyaki joint for lunch which turned out to be much sketchier than the time I had soul food in Harlem: there was this one guy, in particular, who kept talking about how jail toughens you up, avoiding jail, etc. It was weird.
- Also, parties! I went to the Game Deals party, and Kathleen’s birthday party. Fun times were had. I hate social situations with lots of strangers, but I think I acquitted myself OK.
It was a killer weekend. I’d get back to the hotel, wake up at eight, and get on with the next day of festivities.
There were a few rough bits, especially on Saturday. We were all snipy that morning, which was part of the reason why I went a little coffee-nuts that breakfast. For about an hour that afternoon I was curled up on a beanbag chair in one of the handheld lounges, charging my DS and wanting to be elsewhere. I felt much better after meeting up with the others and getting food.
Overall, w00t! I want to go again next year. And maybe this time I’ll take the train. 🙂