PAX East 2011: Day 1 Recap

So day 1 is in the books for Pax East 2011 (at least for me, I know there’s still things going on, but I am exhausted from driving up at 3am, so I will rest to make sure I’m ready to roll tomorrow!).  There was a lot to take in from the get-go, and I did my best to keep the twitter feed going to keep you in the loop.  For those that missed it, check out #PNPax for what I’m tweeting.

So what did I see? It started with seeing Major Nelson as my shuttle bus was pulling up.  Sadly, he did not hear my question of whether he was going to personally repair my 6th RROD, probably because I only asked it in my head.  But it was there!

Once I acquired my pass, it was my first experience with PAX Lines.  This was a running theme for the day, so I’ll refrain from mentioning it again; lines were unavoidable (This is pretty much Disneyland for gamers) but were managed VERY well by the Enforcer staff.  A huge shoutout to the crew in red!

I went to the first of what would be two scheduled events on the day: the keynote speech by Jane McGonigal.  She had a really great intro to icebreak, going into her experience at Pax 2008, and throwing out a little self-deprecating humor.  She also taught me the sport of Chicken Soccer Bowling.  This will require another post unto itself.

Then she moved into more of what her latest book (Reality Is Broken) is about, and spent the rest of the time talking about how us gamers are really super heroes, if maybe we spent just a little less than 4 hours a day gaming.  I will say that my impression of her changed enough to go check out her book; I initially had seen her on the Colbert Report, and wasn’t impressed, so I’m glad I went to the keynote to see myself proven wrong.  Also, be on the lookout for a game called SuperBetter.
So once complete, I emerge from the Keynote ready to rock and roll.  I hit the expo floor and am just wowed by the view from the top of the stairs.  The expo floor is loaded as far as the eye can see with oversized screens showing all the latest (and unreleased) games you can imagine, on PC (or XBox) rigs you’ll never own.  I literally walk down into Nintendo 3DS on my left (more on that in a second), Mortal Kombat ahead of me, and what must have been a 200″ 3D screen to my right.  Yes, Platform Nation, I was in heaven.

Here’s where I go into a few quick-hits.  I didn’t do too much gameplay today because I was trying to take everything in, set a gameplan for tomorrow, hit some scheduled events, and not wait in too many lines.  So impressions on my walkarounds:

Child of Eden looks really amazing.  Granted, it looked this way because it was on a ginormous monitor, but it was really fun to watch.  Rockstar Games had a really friendly crew working.  I didn’t barge my way in today, but I’ll be checking out their setup this weekend.  Duke Nukem had a great looking setup (along with booth babes dressed as school girls, which set twitter afire, but frankly no one seemed to care that was on the floor).

I recounted my playtime with Orcs Must Die! already, so read up on that great game.
There were Nintendo 3DSs setup at several different places, and all were being heavily played.  While on the subject, I’ll touch on my gameplay.  First, the Nintendo staff was really cool; they saw my media badge and let me hop right in to check out the system.  I was paired up with Nintendogs, which I wasn’t thrilled about, but at least I got to hack around with the 3D, which after a little adjustment, does work beautifully.  I spoke candidly with the rep who said that while he hasn’t played it that much, there can be eye strain with extended play (I could see this happening, as my eyes were working a little harder to process the 3D properly).  I imagine this is something that would be adjusted to over time, but it’s something to consider.  Again, it looked great, but I would recommend testing one for yourself before you plunk down your cash just off of what you read.  Side note, the analog stick felt and worked really nice.

In other 3D news, I wore 3D glasses for the first time.  While the effect is OK, it reaffirmed my stance that either 3D just isn’t there yet, or it’s not for me.  Just don’t see the wow-factor in it.  Graphics on what I was watching were incredible though.

I checked out the classic console room (yep, they’re all there), and then found the classic arcade room.  This thing was AWESOME; tons of classic favorites ranging from Burger Time to Space Ace to Gauntlet and Karate Champ.  This felt like home to me, and I will be spending more time there this weekend.

I hit some downtime after this where I went to the media room, sent out some updates, met Francois from, met up with the folks at (thanks for taking the time to chat me up; I will now stalk you the rest of the weekend), and recharged a bit.  I was going to roll back to the expo floor, when I saw the line for a discussion panel with the artists behind Bioshock Infinite forming.  I thought this might be a great chance to catch some inside scoop or show things that hadn’t been seen yet, so I waited an hour and a half to get in.

I will say this: I will never tire of listening to people talk who are passionate about what they do in games.  The panel was Ken Levine, Nate Wells, Shawn Robertson, and Stephen Alexander, and Ken and Nate in particular were great.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything in the discussion that wasn’t already shown to the public.  I got a lot out of how the setting and art design gets changed through the course of game development, and this may make a good followup article in the days after Pax, but I will say in the end I kinda wished I had checked out some other stuff.  Then again, I took 4 pages of notes (more than I had for the rest of the day combined), so perhaps I’m being harsh.  Again, I enjoyed it, I just was wanting more.

After that, I realized I was exhausted from the drive up and long day, so I decided to call it quits.  I had a fantastic first day, and while I didn’t hit everything I wanted to, I am comforted by the fact that I have 2 more days to squeeze it in.  I may skip the panels tomorrow and focus on the expo floor so I can get you guys the gaming related information I know you want.  If there’s something in particular you want to see, you got to let me know .  Hit me up on twitter, respond to this post, or shoot me an email.  I’ll do my best to get you what you want.

And that does it for the Day 1 Recap.  I will see you all tomorrow online, and hope to have some more video this time around as well!

For Pax East 2011 Day 2 Recap, click here.

For Pax East 2011 Day 3 Recap and Final Thoughts, click here.


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