Panels are a big part of PAX. This year there weren’t any big games premiering demos or anything specific I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeded to see so instead I just picked a few that had interesting panelists. Most of what I chose were folks I’d seen at previous PAXes and/or who frequently amuse me on social media. My favorite thing about PAX is there are so many interesting people sharing interesting things I want to know more about. It's a great blend of different personalities and backgrounds coming together to do cool stuff. I love to hear about games influencing society or art or humor. It's been information overload trying to get some articles together as I keep getting sucked into new games, articles, and podcasts while looking for links and screenshots on the stuff I saw at PAX!
Penny Arcade Q&A and Make a Strip
It's not PAX without the artist and writer behind the Penny Arcade strip answering random questions and drawing the PAX comic on stage. If you ever make it to a PAX, it's one is always worth waiting in line for! This year there was lots of trash talking about the Overwatch battle for the infamous watch taking place later at PAX. Here’s the comic that eventually came out of it after much technical difficulties with Mike’s Microsoft Surface.
Why Did the Frog Cross the Road? For a Humor in Games Panel!
This one had a great cast of characters who discussed how telling jokes in a game is different than stand up or a movie. I picked this one as it had some funny folks I’d seen at previous PAX panels and some new names. I also love games that generate a lot of laughs. Here’s the overview from the program:
There are some really funny games out there and they all go about being funny in different ways. In this panel we bring together folks from Goat Simulator, Sam & Max, Monkey Island, Adult Swim Games, and Soda Drinker Pro to talk about humor in games, what makes things funny, and the wide range of funny things in games.
We will also be discussing how comedy works differently in games compared to other forms of entertainment. This will be a seriously funny panel.
Will Brierly [Developer, Soda Drinker Pro (Snowrunner)], Armin Ibrisagic [Developer, Goat Simulator (Coffee Stain Studios)], Lamont Price [Comedian, Comedian], Sean Baptiste [Marketing Manager, Adult Swim Games & Let's Quip!],Michael Levine [Dev / Producer, Happy Giant / LucasArts]
The panel was an interesting cast of characters from different backgrounds so it was good to get some diverse opinions. They took questions from the audience for most of the panel and lot of them were around how to make something funny for large groups or worry about it translating. Most of the advice was you can’t worry about focus grouping it, make something that amuses you!
The panel is over on Youtube in 3 parts if you want to check it out yourself
Making Friends in Geek Spaces
Join Jenn and Trin (Cards Against Humanity, Friendshipping podcast), [sic] in a discussion about making friends with fellow nerds. Topics will include meeting internet friends for the first time, creating welcoming spaces, and being the best friend you can be. The panel will include a Q&A, so bring your friendship-related woes and we'll provide practical advice. Do friendship at the problem.
Trin Garritano [Business Woman, Cards Against Humanity], Jenn Bane [Business Woman, Cards Against Humanity],
Joining the panel, but not listed in the program, was Felix Kramer (aka @Legobutts), Jamie Dillion (aka @calamityjamie) and Maya Coleman (on the team for the new tabletop game Secret Hitler Game)
I stumbled into this panel since a friend wanted to go and it was really interesting. The panelists discussed making friends at conventions and online: all the things that take 2old2play back to its community roots! It was a really interesting bunch of people with varying opinions and experiences that generated great discussion. Lots of great tips for being yourself and also not taking things too personally when people are busy or may have different boundaries. Another great tip was understanding and communicating your own needs being important. The old put on your oxygen mask before helping others, helps with friendship too! A great discussion for anyone with lots of internet or convention friends pondering if there are boundaries there to “real” friends. I wish that I could find a recording to share! At least there is Jenn and Trin’s friendshipping podcast to check out that covers audience questions about friendship on a regular basis. https://friendshipping.simplecast.fm/
Jackbox at PAX...Box
Do you like Quiplash? Of course you do!
Do you like Jerry Holkins, Kris Straub, Nika Harper, Jeff Gerstmann, and Paul & Storm? Of course you do!
Well you should check out this panel and watch these awesome people play this awesome game. If you are unfamiliar, it's just gonna be a bunch of hilarious people making snarky responses to questions while you vote on a winner live from your phone.
My Favorite Panel of 2016 Award definitely goes to this one. If you aren’t familiar with Quiplash you should definitely check it out. It's available either standalone or in the Jackbox Party Pack 2 on console and Steam. You can plan with eight actual players and unlimited audience members, and everyone uses their cell phone or tablet as the controller.
I’m a big fan of the Jackbox Party games and this panel had a bunch of my favorite PAX personalities and video game with Boston themed questions. I was highly impressed with how well the Jackbox servers and cell service/wifi in the room kept up with well over 1000 people voting on each match between folks in the actual theater or watching the stream on Twitch. You can watch the NSWF 13+ recording of the panel here
Here’s a shot of one of my favs
PAXAMANIA II: Yes, Even More Video Game Wrestling
PAXMANIA is now my Sunday morning staple at PAX East 3 years running. This year they even gave them the main theater stage for more wrasslin’ room!
I never got into wrestling but even still this homage to it I find wildly entertaining. It's just a bunch of fun people amusing themselves and then taking the rest of us along for the ride.
This year the panel was more than half over before they even had a video wrestling match, but I guess that’s kinda how real Wrestlemania often goes? If you like wrestling, Giant Bomb, people that used to work at Harmonix or fun this panel is definitely worth checking out. Thankfully, the Twitch archive made it onto Youtube so you can see for yourself: