Monday, September 8, 2008

PAX-The worst of times


We here at Fuel the Rebellion touched briefly on the best of PAX.

Now here's the worst, without question:

Waiting in the interminable lines.


And there were miles of 'em.

First, there was the long long long long long (did we mention long?) line to get into the Expo hall at the beginning of the day on Friday. As members of the media, we were allowed in two hours early to conduct interviews, but we still stopped by to talk to some of you who were waiting in line to get your thoughts on the huge "waiting area". Milling about in long queues, with chained-off lines running about the length of a football field, some gamers couldn't help but make the comparison to a herd unwittingly on its way to the slaughter ("You see people coming in, but you never really see anyone coming out." "They can fit more in there if they grind them up real small...").

We asked one gamer, camped out on the floor near the front of the line for the Expo hall and playing board games with friends while passing the time, why he chose to get to the Expo so early, well before the Expo hall was open, and wait in line for hours just for the moment he could walk through the door.

His response, simply: "I've never been here before, and my friends said this is the way to do it."

Though arguably some events were worth the wait, some who spent as much as an hour in line still didn't make it into major events, like the keynote address on Friday, the Fallout 3 play-through, or the discussion on Sex in Videogames. Note to PAX organizers: why was this last in a tiny conference room? Did you seriously think that SEX IN VIDEOGAMES wasn't going to get any comers? (excuse the pun).

To their credit, even those who waited patiently and still didn't make it into the above talks didn't whine and complain much. Other than an understandable, "I waited here when I could have been playing something inside!", the gamers we talked to not only took it in stride but were very positive about the entire PAX experience. Gamers, quick to become enraged and decapitate an opponent over the merest slight in the virtual world, are an amazingly gracious bunch in real life.

In fact, the only time I ever heard anyone even threaten violence was when one little weasel in a pony-tail (you know who you are!) snaked his way up towards the front of the line, butting in front of several patiently waiting gamers, who were heard to remark to one another, "I will give you good money to yank him back here by that pony tail."

The easy-going nature and acceptance of the gamers (many of whom were younger and not yet hardened into jaded cynicism like yours truly) may have lulled the organizers of PAX into keeping the status quo.

But we hope not.

So, PAX guys, thoughts for making PAX even better next year:

Consider having more than one showing of the talks you just know are going to be most popular. For that matter, why not have monitors set up in the waiting area so that people who couldn't make it into the room could still watch the show on the screens?

This is PAX, after all.

Surely* we have the technology.

*Yeah, yeah, we know, don't call you Shirley.

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