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Portland Event Photography | Seattle Event Photography | PAX 2011 Recap

Penny Arcade Expo is one of the highlights of my year, and PAX 2011 was my third time making the trip to Seattle to geek out over all things gamer-like. It was a fun, entertaining, and sometimes-exhausting weekend, but there were, as always, a lot of very cool things worth seeing and doing. I spent a lot more time waiting in lines than usual, this year–totally my fault, given the activities I chose to take in–but I did get around and take some photos over the three-day nerd fiesta.

The hands-down highlight of the weekend, however, was keeping tabs on Tony, the Omeganaut I’d done a headshot with a few weeks ago. I’ll talk more about how he fared in a bit, but first, photos and highlights!

Gaming tables? Yep. There are some seriously high-end gaming tables from Geek Chic, and even a table specially designed for playing Settlers of Catan.

There were crazy-impressive displays from bigger game studios, as usual. Bethesda’s giant dragon loomed over their demo areas, and Firefall had a huge display outside the Expo Hall. (Speaking of which, does anyone else think the Firefall logo looks an awful lot like the Starcraft logo?)

And there were also games of the indie variety, like Uncle Slam–yes, that’s a game that involves U.S. Presidents fighting each other–and Word Fighter, which I heard described as, “basically like Combat Boggle.”

I’ll also never get tired of looking at pretty, pretty dice. Visiting the Chessex table is a PAX tradition for me, but the detail on these all-metal dice was also incredibly tempting.

There were plenty of games to be played, and it definitely required some patience–I waited 2 1/2 hours for one of the demos I wanted to play! Was it worth it? Yeeeeah.

Oh, yeah, and this happened! Felicia Day paid a semi-impromptu visit to PAX this year, and she was in front of me in the line to try out the Skyrim demo.

I was warped back to my childhood when I stumbled upon the booth by the Digital Game Museum. I spent a LOT of hours on Sierra games as a kid, and I about flipped my lid when I saw the mailbox from Zork as a real-live thing.

I also got a little obsessed with miniatures in my photo exploits this year. There were a lot of impressively detailed pieces in-progress and on display.

And speaking of cool things that people make, I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t include at least a few cosplayers!

Oh, and this happened: a disco zombie/Ewok dance party. Convention Center security broke it up and asked them to move out of the walkway, but hilarity ensued for a precious minute or two.

Dancing costumers were definitely a thing–the folks running the booth for Just Dance 3 even specifically invited costumers to try the game first, before letting the rest of the unwashed masses onto the stage. 😉

And, of course, if you ever get bored at PAX, you can always jump in on a game, or start one of your own, even if you’re waiting in line. I joined in on a pickup game of the Battlestar Galactica board game, and it’s exactly like the show: the circumstances are dire, and paranoia runs rampant. The cards hated us, too–we got hit with three Cylon attacks in a row–but I still had a good time playing it. I really, really need to buy that game.

I was feeling pretty starry-eyed going into Sunday afternoon, and watching the final round of the Omegathon is also tradition for me at PAX–it just wouldn’t feel quite right to go home after a weekend at PAX, without seeing firsthand which lucky gamer would win the big fancy trip to the Tokyo Game Show.

This year was particularly special, though–we gathered up with our friends from the Portland PAX group in support of Tony, who had defied the odds and made it into the final round! Portland PAX group even got together for a “train our Omeganaut” party before coming to PAX, so he could gain some experience with all of the games in the first five rounds. We honestly weren’t sure how he’d do, but we were pretty crazy-excited about seeing him survive each of the first five rounds.

The final round of the Omegathon is always kept secret until the competitors are brought onstage. Tony and his opponent were instructed to choose one of the fallen Omeganauts to be their “spirit animal,” and then, Mike and Jerry unveiled the final challenge: a race through the Legend of Zelda, to the first piece of the Triforce! Tony chose a fellow Portlander as his teammate and guide through the world of Zelda, and Team Portland put their communication skills to good use, putting up a serious fight for the prize. It was a close race, though, and both Omeganauts reached the final boss at almost the same time.

Who got to that piece of the Triforce first? Yep, Tony pulled out the victory!

So, yeah, the Omegathon capped off the weekend perfectly, and Tony’s basically turned my little headshot project into the BEST STORY EVER. Our Portland PAX cluster was crazy-excited to see him win, and he was equally happy to have us cheering for him the whole way. He called his mom afterwards to tell her the news. (she was pretty excited, too.)

1 Comment

  1. At my age I hardly know what is really going on, here, but I get goose bumps every time I watch Tony, as you call him, play, and especially winning… ;O)
    Your event RECAP is educational for me and a very good presentation…

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