It turns out Illidan was right…. I was not prepared. This morning I thought I would break down some things I learned this weekend while at PAX South. Overall I had a fun time, but there were just some things that didn’t quite work out as planned. The first year it felt like I had a lot of my time planned as I had numerous media appointments to attend to. This year I was going for what ended up being the polar opposite, and that didn’t quite work out either. Over the course of the weekend I walked roughly 25 miles, and either I have the beginning of the PAX Pox… or my allergies are just going haywire now that I am back in Oklahoma. I am so insanely sore, and in truth I lacked the stamina for this conference. Before the first year I had been walking every single day, and for the most part I took it all in stride. This time around I am thirty pounds heavier and have not been walking at all… and it took its toll. Both Friday and Saturday I was up by 5:30-6 am and out at the convention by 8. Then after wandering around largely aimlessly trying to sort out what to do for several hours…. I ended up leaving around 4pm each day and going back to the hotel room and crashing. The first day this was largely due to a general lack of parking downtown, and having several of the major garages booked out by another corporate event. On Saturday however it was absolutely due to the fact that I was simply “PAXed Out” and too tired to keep going.
The other thing that did not phase me during year one, but absolutely did during year two were the crowds. There was this strange thing going on, where there were fewer big games at the convention…. but the crowds were so much bigger. A prime example of this is the fact that on Saturday we were trying to find a table in the gaming area to play board games. This area was over twice the size of it was during year two… but every single table was full with zero signs of anything opening up. Similarly every other room in the convention seemed packed… the Jam room… the Arcade room… the Intel PC Gaming room… all were just packed with people. While the first year did not bother me at all when it came to crowds…. this year definitely did. It makes me pretty certain that there is zero way I could handle the type of crowds that a PAX prime has. By the time I left at 4 pm, on top of the exhaustion…. I just needed some peace and quiet and a place to sit down and chill. I realize I could have probably gotten this in the AFK room…. but given that every other area was packed…. even the first aid station, I figured that would also be completely packed. I don’t want to give the impression that I did not enjoy myself, because I absolutely did… it was just a much harder convention for me than the first year. Year one was this super chill event, and it has just gotten considerably bigger.
For me at least this con was absolutely about the people. The folks that were in attendance were… Ashgar, Thalen, Paragon, Rae, John her brother, Tick, Dallian, Damai, Rowan, Sctrz, Genda and his wife, Exale and Maovis. This at least was the number of people that I actually managed to meet up with at least for a period of time. The problem is that it is really damned hard to have a meaningful amount of time with fourteen different people, that may or may not be in the same place. I felt like I was constantly trying to meet up with different groups of people and failed miserably at spending much time with any of them. Then there were other folks that I meant to meet up with, but never actually saw. Early on I had every intent to try and meet Fynralyl and Psynister on the way down, or Beau and Leala… but I simply ran out of mental bandwidth to try and juggle everything. In theory I could have come up with ways to make it happen, but in trying to keep my schedule super flexible…. I spent a good deal of time simply doing nothing. So the truth is next year… a bunch of things need to change. While I hate having every moment of the day scheduled out, I feel like I am going to have to make some hard and fast appointments so that I can feel like I actually made the most of the weekend. I also plan on making some more media appointments because they did a great job in the first year of breaking up the day… and also giving me a quiet place away from the crowd to sit down and talk about games with the developers. To facilitate that however I am going to have to really get my shit in gear and get that Media pass.
Now that I am home… I just feel overloaded. On top of the sore throat and sore everything else…. I am just feeling like I need to hide out from the world for awhile. It is situations like this that make me realize that I am in fact introverted, regardless of how hard I try and be extroverted. The happiest moments of the weekend for me, were introducing people to Ultimate Chicken Horse, sitting in the board game area and playing Codenames, or just chilling out and collecting street passes with Dallian early in the morning. Had I been able to do more of that I probably would have been fine staying considerably longer, but there was one period where I walked non-stop for two and a half hours trying to sort out what the hell we were doing…. and after that, I was pretty much beat. Essentially I think the key for me to be able to function at this bigger PAX Prime is to have better planning, which is not exactly a strong suit of mine. I tend to do best when I roll with the punches, but there are far too many punches in this case to be able to roll with them. I will say it was amazing to get to hang with all of these people in person, but I just feel guilty that I didn’t get to spend all that much time with any one of them.
All of this said… I am absolutely going next year. This is the only PAX that is really viable for me to attend. Also we have made it into and event that my wife actually looks forward to for completely different reasons. The big thing for me is going to be sorting out the parking thing. That first day… was a huge damper on the weekend, and it made me super paranoid about finding parking on Saturday. I think I am going to try out the bus system next year, that way I can get downtown without having to drive… which also makes me less paranoid about partaking of adult beverages. Next year I also need to take more photos… because in the entirety of the weekend I only took five or six. I think the biggest thing however is going to be scheduling actual lunch and dinner times with different groups of people so that I feel less like I abandoned folks. I got to spend the least amount of time with Rowan and Sctr and Genda and his wife, but in both cases I get to the Dallas area more often than I do San Antonio, so hopefully I will be able to meet up with them on another occasion soon. The biggest goal however is to be a much smaller person by the time PAX 2017 rolls around, because that thirty pounds and lack of regular walking made the biggest impact on my enjoyment. Once I made it back to the hotel each night, I was just dead to the world. I am so thankful that I ended up taking today off from work, because if I had to roll back in after travelling yesterday, and just the sheer exhaustion of the convention…. I am not entirely certain I would be able to function.