Though, technically, PAX 2009 still has this last day to go, my adventures there are done as I was only obligated to sign on Saturday for a few hours thanks to the monstrous crew at 2k Games threatening to key my car if I didn’t make an appearance. Still, I might pop in today for the finale of the Omegathon to watch the finalists compete in a brutal showdown between man, machine, and also man to prove who among them has the skills to truly lament the hours spent in front of a console as they slip away, elderly and on their death bed.
In typing that last line, though I caught it just after writing it out, I spelled death bed as death “bead”. Not relevant, but I thought maybe you’d find it as hilarious as I did upon finding it. I hope you did. Maybe it’s just a personal thing because of that time, you know the one, with the bead and the death and…oh, man…that was fuckin’ awesome.
But enough about science.
PAX. Yes. Good good. What can I say about this excursion into the great northwest that hasn’t been said countless times before by far more poetic types than I? Well, for starters, those poetic types are jerks and you shouldn’t listen to a word they say, believe me. I’m the only person you should listen to as I’ve no art to my manner other than the desire to fill you with the truthful vision of mine, unfiltered by flowery this or that, and I’m telling you that this place is pretty “neato mosquito” in a “badass burrito”.
I lied. I’m pretty goddamned poetic as it turns out.
I had plans to visit friends in Seattle, so when 2K asked if I was interested in doing a quick signing at PAX, the tip of one of the nastiest keys I’ve ever seen (was that dried blood?) pointed at the side of my expensive family wagon with the family still in it from the previous owner, I accepted, breathing a sigh of relief when the brick wall of a goon they had hired to approach me returned to the shadows from which they had manifested. Strangely, and somewhat unsettling, he never really vanished, just returned to the shadows. He’s still there in the garage, and I’m not sure he knows I can see him.
I love Seattle and try to visit whenever I can, so the combination of gaming and visiting a place I dig was too much to resist. Packed up my wagon, dusted the “family” with fish food (They absorb it through the skin, I’m pretty sure) and off I went.
Had no reason to be there but how could I resist a convention center full of games? How I ask you?! No, really, please tell me because I have a serious problem and it’s ruining my life and I’m scared. God, I’m so tired and scared.
HAH! I’m kidding. I don’t have a problem and that fucker from Intervention that keeps surprising me with my loved ones doesn’t know shit! I know when I’m in too deep and, trust me, this is nothing. I can stop whenever I want to and if I hold a knife to someone’s neck and threaten everyone that “I’LL FUCKIN CUT HIM!” unless they let me scuttle to the door and escape, then it’s because I want to and not because I feel I have no choice in the matter. Those crazy loved ones’ll say anything to avoid being showered with the hot life-spray (not sexual) of a guy saving lives on television instead of in reality.
It’s rare that I wander around a convention without any obligations but to enjoy myself, so I did what i could to do just that, poking my head into various booths to see what it is I’d be playing in months, or in the case of Bioshock 2, in the year 2056. The convention was smaller than I was expecting, so It only took a short while to see pretty much all of the games laid out to play. Favorites included the blatant God of War clone Dante’s Inferno, which looks unbelievably cool despite not hiding its influences. Deathspank looks like a barrel of spanks (fun), and was generally pleasing to my amazing eyes with a style that reminds you how few games manage to actually pull of a style at all. Another one that stood out visually was Shank, which reminded me a bit of the Rainslick Precipice-Hothead style animation and art-style, but in brawler form. Watched a boss battle that looked pretty damn fun, but gritted my teeth as the guy playing it demonstrated that he had wandered in off the streets and had never before experienced a game console in his life, at times chewing on the controller to try to make things happen. Borderlands was fun in the brief lil time I got to play it with a couple of friends, reminding me of a shooter style, FPS Diablo, only with deafening music blaring from speakers a foot behind my head. I hope the speakers behind my head are not in the final version. Axel and Pixel I found to be very relaxing, and I dug the artwork.
Spent some time with MC Frontalot, who most of you might know as the guy who plays MC Frontalot in real life. The thing that strikes you the most, if you’re at all aware of Frontalot’s stage persona, is that in reality the guy’s a raging jock monster who, when not chugging beer from a football trophy, spends every waking hour roaring about how much he hates “NNNNNEEEEERRRRRRDSSS!!!”, pounding his fist on the table, his beer sloshing about on the wooden mead-hall style table he always seems to have with him. Honestly, I can’t take more than a few minutes of the guy, but he’s pretty cool.
Signing went very well. Was surprised to see a line formed for me at the 2K booth, with some people having started it up some hours before, the crazy bastards. I say surprised because things were way more casual at PAX than they usually are at conventions more focused on the kind of things I am generally known for. It’s not like this was a clown-porn or boating show, this was a gaming convention, and though I’m an avid gamer, I have, to date, not gotten very far in terms of making the things myself. The sight of a queue wrapping around the booth was indeed a cool sight, and I couldn’t help but let out a joyous scream of horror.
One of the things that separated this signing from any other I have ever done was the number of people that came up and asked if I was the creator of Bioshock, to which I’d respond with a laugh and the correction that, no, I was not the creator – I was the INVENTOR of Bioshock. In perfect sync mental sync with me, one of the 2K booth people would punch the mistaken person so hard in the side of the head that they never got back up once they crumpled to the floor. 2K knows how to run a booth, people, and they know how to punch a head with absolute disregard for human life.
Speaking of violence against the awkward, One girl, obviously nervous and searching for words, managed to get out a “Mr. Vasquez, I’ve been-” before a football sailed out from the crowd and hit her in the neck. She went down with a choked cry and then, as she was trying to get back up, Frontalot shows up in that filthy football jersey he always seems to be wearing when not in his nerdcore costume. That jersey is HUGE, so I have no idea if he ever wears pants or anything underneath that festering thing, and the bare feet do nothing to settle the question of whether or not he thinks the jersey is enough to pass for fully dressed or not. ”Smell you later.” he burped at me before shoving his way through the crowd to disappear from sight again. What a guy.
Okay, here’s the thing about this signing that made it so memorable, despite all those other things vying pantless for my attention: The people were unlike my usual crowd. Sure they were mostly awkward, goofy, hideously misshapen and all those other things I’m terribly familiar with at things like these, but I found it easier to relate to these particular goblins, ya know? Maybe it was the profusion of glasses, people with vision annihilated by countless Starcraft battles or something. I dunno. People at my signings are, generally, all pretty nice and supportive, and sure, there were some people at PAX that acted like they had fallen from their bedroom window and had taken refuge in the first covered space they could find, never before having had to use their nightmarishly underdeveloped social skills, but that was okay because they were wearing Super Mario shirts and I can totally relate to Super Marios, see? Freaks and geeks are the best, yeah, but if I had to pick I’d pick the geeks and this was a whole line of them just waiting to say hi and then get brutally punched in the head. Warmed the space that the bugs left when they ate my heart, it did. Doing signings where someone dressed as some anime bloop or something is always funny, but it’s a little something extra when I’m signing a Vault Dweller’s poster. You understand.
So, thanks to the people that showed up to see me, thanks to the people who had no idea who I was and didn’t sue after finally coming to in an alley dumpster filled with medical waste several blocks away. I’d like to take a few of you home with me to keep me in gifts of candy and severed limbs whenever the mood for either is on me, but I simply cannot as I get really sick of people after just a few hours. Still, you all pretty much rocked and other cities should be ashamed and try much harder to not fill me with dread and rage.
Until the future, pigs.