PAX East: A Primer

PAX East 1

And so I finally finish my three part series on PAX East. Part the First, Part the Second and Part the Last. It’s not so much about this PAX East, but using this PAX East as an attempt to explain all PAX Easts, maybe all PAXs, but I haven’t been to the west coast. Don’t know how good a job I did.

In reality this idea of what “PAX East” is doesn’t really exist. Even just walking around in the empty time between things to do you can just tell that there is just so much going on and so many different experiences to be had, with each person telling their own story of the show. Some might be similar, but I doubt any two are the same. Yet, PAX East has this tainted image, not wholly undeserved, due to its founders. But on the other hand the convention has grown so far beyond the purview of Gabe and Tycho that it isn’t about them anymore. I can be pretty confidant in saying that there is probably a good sized percentage of people attending who don’t know what Penny Arcade is. Does that erase whatever stigma the rather indefensible behavior of its creators from it? I don’t know, but it makes it really easy to ignore.

In all honesty, the huge scope of the convention already puts it beyond any need to consider it. The show is yours. Over the three days, many people with have many different experiences and may never cross the other’s path. There is enough at the show that you can find something to do and tailor the event to your desires.

PAX East 2

The first year I went I was playing tourist at the whole event. I was a shutterbug and I put together a pretty decent first person narrative of my time there. (Didn’t bother with the second year. The photos didn’t come out all too well.) That’s fine for my personal site, but I didn’t want to do that for PopMatters. Not only that, but it isn’t that interesting to hear about someone else’s time. It would be just a series of anecdotes and I do have quite a few of them. But they are personal stories that wont mean anything to anyone else. They’re the kind of thing you tell when the other person get the chance to tell one back to you.

In addition, my experience as I said in my pieces is going to be fundamentally different from that of a fan’s. Having the badge and using it means I have different priorities and thus a different view for many things. It doesn’t help that I don’t have a single focus in my time at PAX East. I’m all over the place dipping my toes into a bunch of different things, but never fully diving in. If my posts feel a bit scattershot, that is why. There is no narrative thread underlying my experience. I have no grand thesis on the show. It’s a bunch of half formed vague thoughts on various elements with the only connection being that it was my time there.

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I still maintain that PAX East primarily is a place to meet people. For me it’s a chance to see those I only get to see once a year. It was great to see everyone once more and in the case of some for the first time. I hesitate to name you all in fear of forgetting someone. And a double thanks to the people who kindly donated to get me a chance to get up there and have some Poptarts and breakfast bars to snack on. I will be get to those little writing snippets I promised very soon.

At last I can stop trying to channel Hunter S. Thompson or David Foster Wallace and get back to my normal writing style. Emerson I guess. I don’t know.

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