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My Day at PAX

Hello, GIO, thanks for clicking. This blog is a bit of a recap of my time at PAX Prime in Seattle today. I've been a gamer all my life and have lived in the Seattle area all my life, but this is my first time going to PAX, or any gaming convention for that matter. I was excited, nervous, and a little overwhelmed at times. Ultimately, however, it was a fantastic experience and I hope to make it to all four days next year.

Entering the Unknown

I didn't know what to expect going into PAX. A few of my friends were going and, having gone for the past few years, they knew their way around. But everyone I knew that was going had other plans and schedules so for the majority of the trip I was alone, which was fine since I got to explore without any sort of agenda tying me down. I did meet plenty of cool and interesting people along the way, though.

I got to the Seattle Exhibition Hall at about 9:45 AM. After following the crowd up a few flights of escalators, I reached the line to the showroom floor. A gigantic room, filled to the brim with people eager to enter the showroom. When the gates opened at 10, however, the line moved surprisingly quickly. 

When I entered the showroom, I was greeted by a man playing some quirky video game tunes on a keyboard. Straight ahead in every direction were booths. I started to awkwardly peruse around the main floor, no real focus in mind. I watched some gameplay and saw some cool gaming gear, but didn't get a chance to check anything out. The lines were absolutely ridiculous, often wrapping around the entire booths themselves. I decided to hold off, at least for a while, until the rush stopped.

Nice banner placement, Microsoft.

I continued to take in the sights. There were booths to play Titanfall, Battlefield 4, to try the Oculus Rift, check out games like Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and so much more. There was even an entire section dedicated to indie developers. It was definitely the coolest place that I, as a gamer, have ever been to. 

But the lines to check out all of these things were so long. I went to the Magic: the Gathering booth to see what was going on there, as I am a huge MTG fan. It took me about 15 minutes of waiting in line to get a pin, play a demo of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 (which I already have about 10 hours in) and then leave. So again, I resolved to wait until the rush hopefully died down.

So what did I do? I went to play some more Magic. 

Magic!

Note: If you aren't a Magic: the Gathering fan or don't care about the game, go ahead and skip this section to when I go back to the exhibition hall. Otherwise, keep reading!

In the annex across from the main building, there was an entire floor dedicated to Magic: the Gathering. If you don't know that it is, it's a trading card game. Think Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokemon but more fleshed out and adult oriented. There were tournaments running all day. I entered for the noon Standard tournament.

I was playing a naya midrange build. Previously, I went 8-1 to become Game Day champion a couple weeks ago with the build and it was consistently strong online. The prize was a foil uncut sheet of M14. I figured I had a good chance.

I went 2-0 my first two rounds. Round 3, I was paired up to another naya midrange. I won game 1 pretty handily. Game 2 I was stuck with only 3 land so I didn't manage to survive very long. Game 3 I was about to beat him with two Thundermaw Hellkite's coming in, but he happened to have two Selensya Charm's which saved his life. I started topping lands and he kept topping more fuel, including a Thundermaw of his own. He ended up beating me and then beating a friend of mine in round 4 for the M14 sheet. I ended up winning round 4 to go 3-1 for the day. 

After that, there was a Mini Masters tournament. One game per round, single elimination. I lost round 1. Pretty disappointing, but if you know how Mini Masters works, then you know that it's really just luck based, at least in the first round or two. 

By then, it was nearly four so I decided to check out the showrooms again. 

Back to PAX!

By the time I got back to the main showroom, the crowd had noticeably thinned. It was time to check out some exhibits.

First thing I did was beeline it to the Oculus Rift exhibit. I played some Jetpack Joyride to pass the time since the line was still considerably long. After a fifteen minute or so wait, it was finally my turn to try it out. I'd heard around that the Rift can be pretty disorientating at first. Boy, were they right. The demo I was shown was to some sort of racing game. I didn't have any control over the cars or anything; the experience was entirely scripted. 

The "screen" takes up your entire field of vision. Meaning, it looks real enough to your eyes that it confuses the hell out of you. In front of me in the screen was a steering wheel. Unconsciously, my first reaction was to reach out and try to grab it. I bet I looked silly sitting down with the Rift on my face and my hands sheepishly grabbing the air. 

The Rift allowed for full 360 degree motion. I could look up, down, left, right, and completely behind me. This was especially disorientating when the cars starting driving. Seeing a car coming up on my right, all I had to do was look over to my right to see the car in plain view. The movement was pretty 1:1 as far as I could tell. No lag, no framerate issues. The screen looked fantastic and it was all very well-done.

When the car would turn, my brain would instinctively force my body to turn with it. I drive 50-70 miles a day most days, so I'm used to the motions of a car. When the racecar would make a turn, I naturally would sway the opposite way, just because of how engrossing the Rift was.

After that, I went back to the Magic: the Gathering booth to try and get another pin. They had a Kinect set up. A huge screen filled with millions of LED's wrapped around the booth. While in front of the Kinect, you could hold your arm up and squeeze your hand to create a fireball. You could then throw the fireball at a symbol. If you hit it in the right spot, you win a prize. I'm not huge on Kinect gameplay-wise, but I can respect the technology around it. It was pretty cool. 

From there, I just walked around the hall for a bit and picked up some free stuff. Got some merchandise, a couple demo codes; the basics. On my way back to the main showroom, I stopped at the Cards Against Humanity (basically a deranged Apples to Apples) booth to buy one on of the sets On the walls, you could write silly jokes or phrases for them to maybe put in a future expansion. Here's a video game related one that I thought was funny. WARNING: NSFW

Hey! Me too!

When I got back to the main floor, I checked out the PlayStation 4. The only spot open was to try out DC Universe Online so I went to that. The controller wasn't so bad. I have to say that it was a bit awkward to hold, but that's probably due to how used to the 360 and PS3 controllers I am. The buttons were very precise and the concave sticks felt natural to my fingers. DC Universe Online was alright, but not really my style of game.

I went to the Xbox booth (which was literally adjacent to the PlayStation booth) to try out Titanfall, but the line was still very long and I was pretty beat by that point. I watched a little gameplay and it reminded me a lot of Crysis 2.

Before I left, I checked out Beyond: Two Souls, some Battlefield 4, Knack, Rayman Legends and some indie games. I was disappointed that I didn't get to meet anyone from the industry, though. I spoke to some indie developers, but that was about it. I really wanted to meet a Game Informer editor but, despite keeping my eyes peeled throughout the day, I had no such luck. So I left.

As I was walking to the parking garage, I saw a certain senior associate editor come walking down the street. Turns out, Tim Turi was heading back to the exhibition. As an aspiring video game journalist myself, the writers at Game Informer are sort of heroes to me. And as a video game video producer, seeing someone from one of my favorite web series was even more mind-blowing for me. What were the chances!

Tim was kind enough to let me follow him back into the exhibition hall. We talked about video game journalism, video games in general, and he told me a bit about his journey into the field. He gave my some sound advice on how to become a better writer and how to get started as a video game journalist. As I said before, the writers at Game Informer are who I look up to when I write, and meeting Tim was an absolutely amazing experience, even if we only talked for five minutes. 

After that, I tried to find my parking garage for 20 minutes and then I went home and here I am.

PAX was an amazing experience for me. Being able to experience firsthand what's new in gaming, such as the PlayStation 4 and the Oculus Rift, meeting a personal hero, seeing the latest and greatest games, spotting some amazing cosplays, and so much more was extraordinary for me as a gamer and as a person. My day at PAX was one that I won't soon forget. 

Thanks for reading, everyone. Be sure to check out my other works by clicking here

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