Penny Arcade Expo Impressions

From the massive fandom to the even more massive fandom, this year at the Penny Arcade, the crowds rule. Last year, it really didn't feel all that crowded. Sure there were tons of people, whose totals overcame 40,000, but I could still play stuff without waiting too long, and get into panels and main events I wanted to.

This year is huge. After roaming around the exhibition hall, and going to some panels and movies, everything had some sort of line and a crowd. We were unable to see Ken Levine's keynote and the inaugural Penny Arcade Q&A session of Friday because the room had been completed filled. I don't think there were that many people last year that they refused entry. Yet this year, the main event was moved in a larger room and was completely filled? I'm sort of cringing at the amount of crowds we'll see today. But I'm looking forward to playing a lot of game demos on Sunday.

Booths

Yesterday we spent a bunch of time overlooking all the booths and demos in the exhibition hall.

From Fallout 3...

To Deadspace...

To Onechanbara...

To Mirror's Edge to Left 4 Dead to Battlefield Heroes to Castle Crashers to Little Big Planet to Star Craft II to Wrath of the Lich King, to name a few.

Brawdo sports drink even had a booth. It's got Electrolytes!

Swag

We didn't really get to play much though. Playing something meant standing in line when we could be looking around at other things and grabbing free shit. I got some pretty neat things thus far.

I picked up 5 codes for the Battlefield Heroes beta...

I picked up the Con-only Mirror's Edge comic... which is crap by the way. All the pages have been online since E3. Check 'em out for yourself at here

Fallout 3 really has a large presence here at PAX, and have a few things to give away, too!

Dead Space was selling a nifty artbook at their stand for $5, so I quickly picked up one of those. Even though, it's probably the same thing you'll find in the Limited Edition copy of the game. It's about the same size as the Mass Effect mini-artbook that was in their Limited Edition.

1up Yours w/ Special Guests

For me, though, the greatest point in the day was 1up Yours live. Last year, it was pretty neat seeing everyone actually in person record their podcast, but this year featured tons of special guests, from Ryan Davis (of Giant Bomb), to Shawn Elliot (of 1up), to Dan Trachtenberg, Alex Albrecht and Jeff Cananata (of Totally Rad Show), to Adam Sessler (of Xplay).

Afterwards I was quite fortunate to get their signatures on my most recent EGM. (I also stopped by the Mega 64 Booth, earlier).

I wasn't quite sure what the hell I had with to have Alex Albrecht sign though... So I settled for a picture that I completely didn't smile for.

Cosplayers

There were some pretty splendid cosplayers in the crowds today, though I suspect that it will explode today with cosplayers everywhere.

I think the Waldo costume starting to become more prevalent at conventions and huge events. I've found Waldo at a couple of places now. Once at the Quest in Minneapolis, once at the Obama Rally in Madison, and now at PAX. Waldo is getting easier to find.

Finishing off the night

After 1up Yours, Five, Jess and I caught up with Ace who had just finished his day of work and went to dinner. We walked a few blocks to the nearby city mall, which had a Daiso! Saw the movie, Second Skin in a video room. And saw Jonathan Coulton, signing to a massive crowd in the dark.

Jess worked one of the video rooms until the 3am closing time, so Five, Ace and I walked down to the Console Freeplay area and checked out a copy of Soul Caliber IV to keep us busy. All the events and things during the day were pretty spectacular, but it's really the low key nature of just bull shitting around in a fighting game that really put a satisfying cap on the day. It's was the same with playing DDR earlier, too.

I've really missed that social aspect of gaming since moving to Madison. Most of the games I play have really all been single player experiences. I'll get into games like Burnout Paradise for the online play, but I'm never playing with friends. All the social aspects of a single player experience come from the aftermath for me. After you've completed the game, and talk about it with people.

It was really great returning to that college atmosphere in the wee hours of the morning. And Soul Caliber was the perfect vehicle. I wrote about it a couple weeks, how Soul Caliber is really a window in the past for me with social gaming. From playing with friends at Toys R Us, and getting to know people in college. It was the drug of choice, and playing it last night brought back all the fun warm fuzzy feelings. ^_^

Also, Soul Caliber IV is fantastic and beautiful and I'm totally picking up a copy when I get back to Madison. Even though I don't really have many people to play with, yet. I think I'll introduce it some places and see how it goes. Also, If those who do have the game play enough on their own, whenever we do get back together, we'll be on equal grounds. (I'm looking at you Erika)
___

So that's my Friday at PAX. For the most part, I know what to expect today, so I won't be too disappointed if there's just too many people preventing me from seeing what I want.




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