We began the day late. Not wanting to spend three hours waiting in line like we did on Friday, we showed up around 1pm for a panel on-
I just realized I forgot to mention one of the panels we saw on Friday. “Game Design Is Mind Control”. Hosted by Jared Sorensen [Game designer, Memento Mori Theatricks], Luke Crane [Game designer, Burning Wheel] it proved that the best and the brightest in this industry are people half my age. So, thanks for that, guys.
It was a presentation on how the rules and limits on behaviors (the rules of a game) lead you to pursue your goal (winning) in less-than-optimal ways. (For example, you might try to buy up Boardwalk and Park Place and drive them broke, instead of just punching them in the face and taking all their money.) These limits are what turn the activity into a game.
It’s a very loose thesis, but the talk was fast-paced and hilarious. The whole time I just kept thinking “James Portnow should be here for this.”
Now, back to what I was saying about Saturday…
We began the day late, victims of Friday’s strenuous activities. We ignored the perpetually clogged show floor and headed for the panel “Females on Female Characters”, run by my friend and Escapist editor Susan Arendt.
|Left-to-right: Susan Arendt (Senior Editor, The Escapist), Tracey John (Writer, The Daily), Kathleen De Vere (LoadingReadyRun), Trina Schwimmer (Founder, GamingAngels.com), AJ Glasser (News Editor, GamePro)|
Susan started off with a really good point, which was that [I’m paraphrasing] her issue wasn’t with female characters being sexy, the problem was with characters who begin and end with “is sexy”.
I should point out that I was really shocked at just how few women were at PAX. I realize this seems laughably obvious to some people, and perhaps I’m a fool, but I went in expecting something like a 60/40 split of males to females. Maybe 70/30. It was more like 90/10. Now, this is curious to me because PAX is not focused on men. It has the full spectrum of games from the adorable to the abominable. The panels covered a wide range of topics. The con was certainly not marketed specifically to men. A majority of the panelists I saw were women and the keynote speaker was a woman.
|Myself and Greg Tito.|
Anyway. I’ll leave it to others to sort out the why. I will point out that if you are a woman and you sometimes go to the bathroom, you will find yourself in an advantageous position at PAX, because there is never a line for your particular gender. Guys may experience “waiting in line to go to the bathroom” for the first time.
|Men waiting in line to use the bathroom. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS PREPOSTEROUS NONSENSE!|
It was a good panel, and I think once they drilled down through the layers a lot of people came to the conclusion that the problem was with poorly written characters, which is a symptom of terrible and sophomoric writing in general.
Great panel, very thought provoking.
We spent the evening at the Loading Ready Run panel. Well, technically 2 panels. They were doing a Q&A from 7:30 to 8:30, and then screening a block of videos from 9:30 to 10:30.
But both events were held in the same room and were basically attended by the same people. I suppose they could have booted everyone back out into the hall to line up and stand around for an hour before letting them back in, but instead the two events just blended together into a festival of interactions, photos, signings, and movies.
MovieBob was there. Let me tell you something about Bob Chipman…
MovieBob is this close to being in a position to start his own cult. He pretty much just needs to open his mouth and a crowd will form. The above shot is from the Loading Ready Run panel. Bob and I weren’t advertised or intended to be part of the draw. We were just in the audience like everyone else. But Bob started talking to someone about movies and a few minutes later he was explaining to the young pups why Citizen Kane was such an important film and how it changed the way movies were made. (And how many of those innovations took place on-set.)
The situation was a great example of what separates a movie critic from people who have opinions on movies. Being knowledgeable and witty is far more important than being “right” about which movies are worth seeing.
I kept hoping graphics pipelines or Digital Rights Management would come up so I could do my thing. It’s amazing how rarely those sorts of topics come up during the course of a conversation. What’s wrong with people, anyway?
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.
WAY back in 2005, I wrote about a D&D campaign I was running. The campaign is still there, in the bottom-most strata of the archives.
Could Have Been Great
Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.
Black Desert Online
This Korean title would be the greatest MMO ever made if not for the horrendous monetization system. And the embarrassing translation. And the terrible progression. And the developer's general apathy towards its western audience.
Programming Language for Games
Game developer Jon Blow is making a programming language just for games. Why is he doing this, and what will it mean for game development?