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PAX East 2013: Left Behind

By Shamus
on Friday Mar 22, 2013
Filed under:
Video Games



We knew we couldn’t make it to PAX this year. Not so soon after the move. I was okay with this until yesterday, when all my media friends began tweeting witticisms about the hassles of airports, hotels, and cabs. Now I realize this thing is happening without me.

But! Apparently they’re streaming some of the events. However, they’re not streaming the Escapist panel. I’m actually still listed on the speaker list. (Spoiler Warning: I won’t be there.) I’m sad to miss out on that.

Also, we have a TON of material for the Diecast this week. The weekly email thread probably contains enough stories to fill three episodes. Now PAX will probably generate that much news again. I have no idea what we’re supposed to do with this glut of information.

Turns out the keynote speaker was Clifford Michael Bleszinski, which stuck me as being an odd choice. He’s from the brofist space marine loudmouth band of the gaming spectrum. He’s made some really important contributions to the hobby, but they happen to be things that I don’t particularly cherish or celebrate. (I still have a deep affection for Unreal and Unreal Tournament, but everything between then and now has repulsed me.) I keep hoping John Carmack will end up on stage. Then again, he already gives a keynote at Quakecon and I imagine there’s a limit on how many densely technical talks the gaming public can digest.

I have no idea how much useful information the stream will show. I might update this post more if I have anything to say, but the stream goes where the presenters dictate, and since there are usually half a dozen things going on at any given time it’s unlikely they are going to track the stuff I value.

If you’re there, I hope you’re having fun. Sorry I missed it this year.

Comments (29)

  1. Kanodin says:

    Cliffy B. Actually talks a lot about game design and the state of the industry, I’d say he’s a good choice. I’ve never actually played any of his games, and that’s actually a lot of the appeal I find in reading his stuff. It’s always interesting to see how things are viewed from the opposite perspective I find.

  2. I could listen to Carmack talk for days about crazy experiments and the future. He’s like the Carl Sagan of video games. Sometimes I think the games themselves are an accident of his design process. Like “whups, I guess we could sell this or something.”

  3. Six dead, fourteen wounded in Carmack keynote

    “It was like a popcorn popper in there… pop pop pop, brains everywhere.”

    Devotees of artificial death encountered the real thing at the alternate-universe PAX conference today when John Carmack’s third keynote speech in as many months literally blew his listener’s minds. Fourteen minutes into the fateful speech, as Carmack was going into detail about how to unify his views on static typing, raytracing, and infinite-dimensional vector calculus as applied to real-time virtual-reality rendering, the first victim’s head exploded due to the sheer density of knowledge being crammed into it.

    A witness described the incident: “People were starting to quietly moan and a lot of people were holding their heads as they tried to keep up with the relentless slide deck. Something was going to have to give, you could just tell. He popped the next slide up on the screen, and it was just stuffed with math…. stuff. Also, I think there may have been some Haskell in there. I’m not sure, I was totally drunk, which is probably what saved me. Suddenly, the guy in front of me just popped off, and bam, I’m covered in brains. I wipe myself off, just in time to catch the guy behind me. I’ll remember this day in my nightmares for years.”

    Attempts to help the victims were hampered by the fact that Carmack continued his presentation even so, though fortunately emergency responders were immune. One responder was caught saying that he hasn’t seen this many nerd casualties since he was the quarterback on his high school football team.

    PAX organizers have issued an official apology for inviting Carmack to the event. Accusations are still flying that Carmack may have bought his way in to the event by giving PAX organizers early access to Occulus Rift prototypes, but the PAX organizers refused to confirm or deny this charge.

    Carmack himself was unapologetic. “I just gave them what they wanted.” Carmack is currently free on his own recognizance while prosecutors try to work out exactly what they can charge him with.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Breaking news: Carmack Missing, Military Suspected

      John Carmack, of DOOM fame, has recently disappeared without a trace. He was last seen at PAX-East leaving the green room immediately following his tragic multiple fatality keynote. No one has reported seeing him since then. “It’s as if he vanished into thin air.” claims his distraught wife. Although there were no witnesses to his escape, several people reported a helicopter landing on roof of the convention center, and then taking off a short time later.

      “I slept in, otherwise I would have been at the keynote.” Said Stan Sterman, an attendee of the conference. “I was jogging up to the center and this helicopter just flew right over me. It was all black, so, maybe some sort of government organization or something. Anyway, I saw some people inside [the helicopter].” When asked about the link to Carmack’s sudden disappearance, Sterman merely said “What else could they have been here for?” What else indeed.

      Carmack’s head-exploding keynote demonstrated a level of ability never before seen. Much like his computer graphic technology, the ability to kill with mere words may change the way we live our lives, forever. We spoke with a representative of the Army who said, “The deaths at PAX are clearly the work of terrorist snipers.” and “You can’t kill someone with a speech, lord knows we’ve tried.” Despite this claim, no gunshots were reported, and the keynote was delivered inside a building. We also were able to secure a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. “The ability to kill with words is already classified as a military grade weapon. If anyone could do it, we would have records already.”

      Whatever the case, someone is clearly interested in Carmack’s stunning demonstration. Local air traffic control agencies stated “We have no record of a helicopter flight over the convention center today.” and “Nothing showed up on radar in that area.”

      PAX officials have refused to issue a formal statement.

      • Syal says:

        Helicopter Crash Kills 12

        A black helicopter crash-landed in the Puget Sound area late today, killing all twelve men onboard. Details are sketchy, as authorities have closed off the crash site to the public; however, spectators who had been present for the crash report that of the twelve men found onboard, eleven were killed upon impact, and the twelfth died soon after.

        “He just looked at me, and he said… “Carmack…” and that was it,” Lindy Hopkins, one of the spectators, told our reporters. This coming just minutes after the extraordinary PAX keynote from John Carmack have led many to believe the two incidents are connected.

        None of the men have yet been identified, and it is still a mystery where the helicopter originated and where it was headed. John Carmack is still missing.

  4. rayen says:

    Does missing PAX, mean you may be traveling south to Escapist Expo this year?

    • Shamus says:

      Yes. Haven’t made formal arrangements yet, but it’s planned.

      • CrushU says:

        Oh please, I’ll be at that Expo since I live in Raleigh and Durham is a skip away…

        I judged the charity magic tournament last time, not sure if I will again. xD

      • rayen says:

        Will you sign my volunteer badge that every other escapist contributor that was there last year signed?

      • ccesarano says:

        This is good news to me. I enjoyed meeting you the previous couple of years, and I enjoyed speaking with Josh last year as well (as much as one can enjoy speaking with Josh). This year I knew I wouldn’t have the chances to talk to you even if you had gone, though.

        Escapist Expo is much more suited to spending actual time with folks, though. Last year my friends and I got there Thursday night and decided to try some board games in the hotel lobby/restaurant area. Soon enough we met a few other con goers, and I got to make friends with the band D&D Sluggers and Cory Rydell (before I even knew who any of them were).

        It was such a good time. If you go to Escapist Expo, I promise not to try and grovel at your feet too much.

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    Yeah, PAX has gotten huge. It’s so huge, that even though we’re in the Seattle area, we didn’t make it to PaxPrime. Tickets sold out too quickly.

    So, how long until you start your own annual party? “The Weird Entertaining Nerds Talk Everything eXpo” or TWENTY-X.
    I’m excited already!

  6. Josh says:

    Hey, look on the bright side. We’re not in Boston.

  7. Cybron says:

    I will never get tired of Carmack speeches. Not ever.

    I was doing some random surfing the other day and out of nowhere ran into some old Carmack articles about static analysis tools and functional programming. It was like Christmas came early. Love his stuff.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “I keep hoping John Carmack will end up on stage.”

    Everyone,pester Rutskarn to make his dad give a speach at pax.

  9. Michael says:

    It seems like almost every Twitter account I follow (content creators and fans alike) has featured an “Awww, can’t make it to PAX East this year!” tweet at some point recently. Is it awkwardly timed this year? Or has everyone run out of money after attending religiously for the last few years?

  10. Chris says:

    I mentioned it on Twitter, but I really do need to figure out how to go to these conventions and conferences and game jams and what not. Everyone’s out having fun and being social and I’m just sitting here waiting for work to end so I can slave away all weekend on a goofy webshow.

    I guess it helps to know people already going? Like, I find out about these things once people start tweeting “HEY GUYS SEE U AT AWESOME CON LOL” and by then it’s far too late to get off work or arrange travel or buy tickets (especially PAX where tickets basically require master eBay sniping skills).

    • Zukhramm says:

      At least you’re on the right continent.

    • ccesarano says:

      You basically have to commit to going whether you are going with friends or not…which is usually the tough part. I was fortunate that I got some friends to go with me to Escapist Expo last year, and it looks like I’ll have a full hotel room again this year.

      PAX East is a beast, though. Hunting down a hotel room and hoping to get the badge on time basically means you must know immediately.

      The East Coast has three gaming conventions I’m aware of, though. PAX East in Boston, Too Many Games in Philly, Escapist Expo in Durham and MAGFest near D.C. I’m a crazy enough son of a bitch to try going to all of them this year, though fortunately Too Many Games is around the corner from me I don’t need to pay for a hotel. Last year I went to PAX East and Escapist Expo, and they’re great for different reasons.

      Escapist Expo is a lot easier to actually have conversations and forge friendships over the weekend. It was a great time that I look forward to.

  11. Ciennas says:

    Well, since you’ve got spare time, how about we recommend games for you to play?

    Did you ever actually play ODST? I thought it was really good as a little stand alone story, myself. I last heard you were thinking about it, and then it went quiet.

  12. Klay F. says:

    Ahh PAX. I’ve always wanted to go to PAX, but almost everything about it seems to drive me away. I hate crowds, and PAX has the crowdiest of crowds. I hate standing in lines, and PAX is basically a large collection of lines. Videogames seem almost incidental to all that craziness.

  13. SubHuman says:

    I’m going on Sunday. I was to late to get tickets for the whole weekend.

    Looking forward to it as this will be my first con-type event. Mostly will being going for tabletop games but I’m looking at the list of panels to see what else is good. Anyone who has been before have any recommendations?

  14. swenson says:

    I must confess I had no idea who Clifford Michael Bleszinski was until I saw the first comment. Never saw his full name before.

  15. Deoxy says:

    Take heart, Shamus – at least you get to go to cons sometimes.

    I’ve been to exactly 2 cons ever, both of them as a worker, not an attendee. And that’s not likely to change anytime in the foreseeable future.


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