I'm home from PAX, which was the best time I've ever had at a convention. Man, I wish I'd started going in 2004, because I think I've found an annual home.
My keynote went perfectly, and the audience (and the gaming press online) responded to it in ways I never dreamed possible. I didn't think there would be slightly more than 5000 people in the room when I spoke, and it never occurred to me that I'd be watched by ars, joystiq, 1up, ocmodshop, and so many other places online. I'm glad I managed to stay oblivious to that reality, because I think it would have made the PAX Panic even worse.
I'm wiped out and cheerfully exhausted, so I need to take the rest of today, and probably half of tomorrow to rest and recover, but there's a lot I want to say about PAX before my brain rotates the logs. Until then, highlights:
- Obviously, the keynote. Less obviously but more importantly, my not fucking it up. I was scared out of my mind, mostly because I felt it was a tremendous honor and a huge responsibility. I didn't want to screw it up, waste the chance, make everyone at Penny Arcade look like idiots for inviting me, or piss off the audience.
- Meeting Jonathan Coulton, who says he's as big a fan of my work as I am of his. He even signed a CD for my friend and called him a goatfucker, at my request. Rock.
- Mariokart DS with other PAXers while the Minibosses played on stage in front of us.
- Trading books for CDS with the Minibosses.
- Meeting MC Frontalot, finally, and thanking him personally for putting me into the Penny Arcade Theme.
- Pictochat during concerts.
- Pictochat in general.
- Learning how to turbo drift from another PAXer, who is the same age as me.
- Walking backstage after the keynote was over, and finding Jerry and Mike right there behind the curtain. "I think I warmed them up for you," I said. "I want to give you a hug right now," Mike said. I gratefully let him.
- Watching the finals of the Omegathon from the second row.
- Realizing that my superpower is that I can't get lost, unless I really try to do it.
- Gaming with Andrew (my editor) last night, after months of doing nothing but working together.
- Spending three days doing nothing but goofing off, celebrating who and why were are gamers and geeks, and not apologizing for it.
- Meeting tons of WWdN readers, many of you who've been around since the beginning. Awesome.
I spent a tiny bit of time with Jerry, Mike, Khoo, and some of the other PAX organizers. I also got to know several of the Enforcers (volunteer and security and all around awesome people who ensure the con runs smoothly.) I realized very quickly that PAX is as awesome as it is, because they are awesome people. Where so many other convention organizers say, "How can we get as much money out of these people as possible, and then get some more?" Everyone at PAX says, "How can we make this awesome? Okay, that's good. Now let's make it more awesome." Jerry and Mike are exactly like us, so it's not a surprise to me that they want to create a con that they'd like to go to. They deserve all of their success, and I'm sure there is more on the way for them.
If you'd like to hear my keynote, you can wait for the RFB with obligatory commentary, or you can grab this soundboard recording of my keynote right now. I keep hearing people say that it was inspiring, unifying, passionate, and awesome. That makes me so happy, because I was so afraid I was going to suck. I haven't been able to wrap my head entirely around it, but whatever it is I'm feeling, it's really fucking good.
One of the core messages of my speech was "don't be a dick" when you play games online, and a lot of people told me how glad they were to hear that. I think I may just go ahead and make it my new motto:
Wil Says, "Don't be a dick!"
. . . or something. I'm working on it.