PAX story: Part 1

By Hans Wuerflein

As you may have seen in a previous post, I went to the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle at the beginning of September.  Not only that, but I was one of the few, the proud, the Omeganauts.

But before I start talking about what it was like being an Omeganaut at my first PAX, I think I should step back a few weeks.

First, for those of you not aware what Penny Arcade is, go educate yourself.  I’ll wait.

Fine, for those of you too lazy or paranoid to click on strange links, they’re a Web comic.  One of the best.  Here’s an example:

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I signed up for PAX largely out of wanting at least one big, crazy college trip.  I had never really done anything that interesting for spring break, and although I had gone to Quakecon the last few years, Dallas isn’t exactly far enough away to brag about, drunken shenanigans or not.

Several friends had been the year before and wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it was weeks after they got back, so I decided that this year’s PAX would be my crazy college trip.  I signed up the week registration went live, then didn’t really think about it too much, PAX still being several months off.

I was lying in my room half asleep, watching some MST3K episode and generally being bummed out about being broke because I couldn’t find a summer job when I got a call.  It was an unlisted number, but I’m not an overly paranoid douche so I answered anyway.

The voice on the other end said, “Hey, this is Gabe from Penny Arcade.”

The next few minutes are kind of hazy, but I remember him asking me if I was still going to PAX, if I would be there all three days, and upon confirming those two, if I wanted to be in the Omegathon.

Again, for those that aren’t aware, the Omegathon is a contest held each year at PAX where 20 contestants (18 at random for pre-registered attendees like me, the runner-up from the previous year, and one drawn at the previous year’s event by raffle) compete in a video game competition for fabulous prizes.  This year it was an all expenses paid trip to the Tokyo Game Show and $5000.  There are several rounds of games from all genres (from Jenga some years to Halo 3: ODST, three week before it came out, this year), eliminating contestants until the one-on-one finale on the main stage.  The final game is never announced until the contestants get up there, so there is no way to practice for it.

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I stammered out something along the lines of ‘Of course.’  He congratulated me, then hung up to give the other contestants (Omeganauts) a call.

I sat there, staring at my wall for the next 15 minutes trying to convince myself that yes, that did just happen.

I spent the next few week training at the few rounds they announced: Mario Kart, Bookworm Adventures, Halo 3 (because ODST wasn’t out yet), Connect 4, and Rock Band 2 (as a substitute for Rock Band Beatles, which they didn’t announce, but everyone saw coming from a mile away).

I probably spent the most time on Bookworm Adventures.  If you haven’t ever played it, you should check it out.  It’s a weird mix of Scrabble, Bejeweled, and an RPG.  I was a little mad to learn it doesn’t take dirty words though.  Seriously, “cunnilingius” would have been worth a ton if it counted it.

Anyway, the Wednesday before Labor day I packed up my stuff, checked my sylibi one last time to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and headed over to a friends house to crash for the night before our 6:30 a.m. out of Tulsa bound for Seattle.

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One Response to “PAX story: Part 1”

  1. […] not sure if you remember when I went to PAX back in September as an Omeganaut, but i totally went to PAX in September as an […]


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