PAX East 2011: Saturday

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 13, 2011

Filed under: Nerd Culture 108 comments

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-

Hang 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,, AJ Glasser (News Editor, GamePro)
Left-to-right: Susan Arendt (Senior Editor, The Escapist), Tracey John (Writer, The Daily), Kathleen De Vere (LoadingReadyRun), Trina Schwimmer (Founder,, 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  <a href="">Greg Tito</a>.
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!
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?


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108 thoughts on “PAX East 2011: Saturday

  1. Jeremiah says:

    Glad you got a chance to see “Game Design Is Mind Control”. Luke & Jared are both awesome guys and I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything they’ve put out.

    1. Henebry says:

      Seconded. Though I like Vincent Baker’s approach to games (Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World) a bit more than Luke Crane’s highly complex Burning Wheel system, I think Crane with his systems approach really does approach something like mind control…

      Oh! and I should add: great to get a reference to tabletop gaming here!

      1. Jeremiah says:

        Oh, yeah. I’m a big fan of Baker’s, too. I recently started running In A Wicked Age for my gaming group and it never fails to produce great gaming sessions.

        Although we’ll probably eventually move on to Burning Wheel. Of the 5 people in the group 4 of us went to Luke’s BW anniversary con last year, so you could say we’re pretty big fan boys :)

  2. Another_Scott says:

    There aren’t lines for the men’s room!?! That’s what potted plants are for!

  3. qwksndmonster says:

    Bummed out I couldn’t come out and see PAX East this year. Someday… (I keep telling myself). Make sure you go again in 10 years Shamus. Although, PAX East will probably be too small of a venue for a famous published author.

  4. Teldurn says:

    I always keep telling myself that “this year, I’m gonna go to PAX,” but every year it’s the same thing: “Maybe next year.” Sigh.

    I’m glad you could get out there and “enjoy” it, Shamus. I’m looking forward to going next year, maybe. >_>

  5. Eddie says:

    You could always talk about graphics pipelines or DRM on here, Shamus. So what, are you in favour of DRM or something?

    1. Sydney says:

      NOOO STOOOOOOOP what have you done

    2. Sekundaari says:

      Maybe there’s some new, exciting form of DRM Shamus can talk about. To me it seems they always have innovation going on in that area, like some medieval torture device inventors.

    3. X2-Eliah says:

      No, no, Shamus is just working on a theory on how to merge the pipe-lines with hard-wired drm solutions so that every game requires it’s own personal graphics card.

      1. SirVivor says:

        And personalized, unique drivers.

        1. Moriarty says:

          while the drivers themselves can only be installed three times before you have to buy a new graphic card and require a constant internet connection.

          1. Eddie says:

            DRM is an area where it’s dangerous to make hyperbolic jokes, because you never now when some publisher might use it as inspiration.

            1. Ravens Cry says:

              Poe’s Law of DRM? I shudder at the thought.

          2. Jarenth says:

            Five years from now, we’ll be laughing at this suggestion.

            It will be a “Haha, how quaint. They thought that was bad DRM! laugh.

  6. Even says:

    Reading this stuff makes me wish we had more cons like this around here in Scandinavia. If there was something like PAX, I’d definitely go there.

    1. Mathias says:

      -Bro-fives fellow Scandinavian-

      And yes, I absolutely agree.

    2. krellen says:

      So start one.

  7. ccesarano says:

    l was really impressed with the quality of that panel, though I was a tad sad that Graham didn’t get to ask his question. I also learned that my theories on why girl gamers seem to like Bayonetta so much (being a symbol of empowerment rather than just sluttiness) was already published. That’s what I get for avoiding mainstream news media.

    Funny thing, I noticed more girls at that panel than any other one location at the con and the ratio still see-sawed in favor of male attendance. I wonder what ratio the feminines at the con went and which did not.

    On the topic of MovieBob, there was some serious Geek Sermon On the Mount stuff going on. I decided to try and hang back and not peacock for his attention, waiting until after LRR to offer to buy him a drink. Dumb plan, as any non-LRR folks left. I really want to kick my teeth in now, as Citizen Kane was the one film from my Film Arts class that left me so awed from the precise planning of each scene and shot.

    I think what kept making me nervous was the fact that everyone had to get moving after a panel and so I didn’t want to take up too much time. Meanwhile I’ve always wanted nothing more than to just sit in a diner or something with you guys and just talk.

    Better luck next year I guess.

  8. toasty_mow says:

    I have waited in line for the Men’s room. It happens at movie theaters and airports after a big international flight. Its not nearly as bad a you might think.

    1. Pickly says:

      The end of sports games at stadiums as well.

  9. Mumbles says:

    There was some controversy this year involving Penny Arcade that might have scared some women off.

    1. ccesarano says:

      Ah yes, Dances With Dick Wolves. The whole ordeal reminds me of the Scientology episode of South Park to be honest.

      Oddly enough, I only heard of that because a female writer I follow on Twitter wrote about it. Has the mainstream games media discussed it much? If it has been as ignored as it feels then I wonder what sort of affect it had on attendance.

      If the affect was significant them, well, gee I wish people had that level of conviction when boycotting games.

      1. Irridium says:

        This is the first time I’ve heard of it…

        1. Matt K says:

          I don’t really follow PA much in the past few years, so this is the first I’ve heard about it as well.

          As such, I really have no idea what they’ve been up to since 2007 or so and if their stuff is just more male oriented now or what.

          I just kind of got bored with their shtick and also their transformation from moderate consumers of games (and thus much harsher) to voracious consumers of games (and so flaw didn’t matter much anymore) (i.e. I just couldn’t connect with them anymore).

        2. Viktor says:

          I didn’t hear about it until it was over, but from what I understand, Penny-Arcade published that comic. Some people took it as an endorsement of rape. Others thought it was funny. Millions died in the ensuing bloodbath.

          1. dovius says:

            Some people couldn’t stand a joke, that’s pretty much the gist of it.

            1. Mumbles says:

              I wasn’t offended personally, but they were kind of weird about it after the fact.

              Anyway, when I was at PAX, guys did out number the chicks, but not in an overwhelming way. I’d say one chick for every seven dudes. That’s a typical day at a comic book store.

              EDIT: Here’s the whole breakdown of what happened. Apparently it was a bigger deal that I even realized:

              1. Tizzy says:

                Yeah. Who knew that creative people could be poorly equipped to handle criticism gracefully?

                We have to admit that in terms of their output, this was far from their most offensive (even if we restrict ourselves solely to their rape-related output). Hence their bewilderment.

                But we don’t have to go very far into the timeline to realize what a mess they made of their PR. There’s a difference between standing your ground and “Hey! Let’s offend as many people as we can!”

            2. Gale says:

              “Some people couldn't stand a joke, that's pretty much the gist of it.”

              Yeah, those rape victims really need to grow up and get some thicker skin, right?

              Edit: Looking at it again, I’m not sure that I’ve made it clear how sarcastic this comment was supposed to be, what with the number of people on the internet who’d say something like this unironically. Hurm. Troublesome.

              1. Shamus says:

                Really? Are we really doing this debate again?

                Did you not see the hundreds of people who have said exactly what you just said? Did you not see the responses? Do you think the response will be different this time?


                1. Topaz Wolf says:

                  I am so very confused. I thought that the comic was making a prison-type guy on guy joke about the male slaves. I did not see any obvious link to actual rape victims. It’s so strange how people act on the internet.

                  In any matter, it loos like PAX East was quite the enjoyable event. Perhaps I will go see it next year.

                  EDIT: Having googled the controversy I see now that the reason it was such a big deal was because of the psychological triggers it caused in victims. Which in turn were activated by the ensuing controversy much more so than the actual comic. Why can’t we all just get along?

                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Ah,but this is a different post,with at least 1% different people reading it,so it is different.

                3. Shamus says:

                  And now that I’m home and a lot less grouchy and a lot more coherent, I should make it clear that this wasn’t just aimed at Gale, which is how it came off. Sorry.

                  I was trying to head off the rebuttals aimed at Gale as well. And prety much the whole argument.

                  I went through my own Dickwolves controversy, and I have a pretty good sense of why people were offended on both sides. I didn’t want to do the whole debate again after it just burned itself out.

                4. Desgardes says:

                  Mumbles was really worried about making it flare after she posted, but then you headed it off at the pass!!

          2. Vegedus says:

            The follow up comic is also notable, and addresses the former.

          3. Simon says:

            Just wanted to add that the primary cause of it all was in the end not really the comic itself, which in the beginning only gathered a small number of opponents, but Gabe’s subsequent responses on Twitter, basically dismissing their concerns as silly and proclaiming that he would wear a Dickwolves T-shirt to PAX.

            1. Feylamia says:

              Amen. I, as a woman, would not have wanted to attend PAX after those comments. I wouldn’t have felt welcome.

            2. ccesarano says:

              Yeah, this is pretty much why I can’t sympathize with Gabe and co., especially considering that there is a perpetual male attitude out there in the gamer community that literally buys the “kitchen-barefoot-pregnant” model of women’s rights.

              Gabe has the right to defend his work, but considering his position he has the responsibility to be intelligent and respectful about it. Instead, he was an asshole.

              1. Atarlost says:

                Sure, Gabe was an asshole. From the few PA comics I’ve seen that seems par for the course. There’s a reason they’re few.

                The thing is that for the controversy to start in the first place someone else has to be an asshole and object to a forgettable throwaway line in a shallow webcomic. This is not something like DBD or Doonsbury that attempts to address serious issues and can be judged by political comic standards. It’s just something mindlessly funny for some value of funny.

                There are so many more important woman’s rights issues, like spousal abuse, human trafficking, third world tribalism, actual rape, and even actual depictions of rape, that anyone making an issue of a joke has to be more interested in being part of a controversy than in actual woman’s rights issues.

                Non-asshole feminists would look at the mess, think “These people are assholes and not worth my time” and go back to raising awareness about real issues or raising money for real victims or whatever real activity they were engaged in that justifies calling them feminists.

                And I suppose the length of this post proves that I too have two cents burning a hole in my pocket, but I’m not going to claim I’m doing so for any reason other than that I like to hear myself type.

  10. Irridium says:

    Shamus, if I was there I would have gladly done my part and set you off on a semi-incoherent rant about graphics and DRM. I would have probably joined you in that rant as well.

  11. Simon Buchan says:

    So how *do* you feel about the industry’s movement towards parallelising the renderer through graphics command buffers, and it’s effect on being able to spend more CPU time doing state changes over simply saturating the GPU pipeline with greater tricounts or addressed textures? Do you feel the greater diverstity of shaders will allow more interesting effects, or do you perhaps think more effort will be spent on procedural effects to simplify artist’s workload?

    On the subject of DRM – how do you feel about the return of TPM? Does the fact that since it’s a supported use that is at potentially cabable of not affecting paying customers while potentially being capable of preventing a download-only title from being pirated means it’s a prefereable solution to contemporary DRM or evean unambigously good? Do you think companies are capable of realizing that potential good, or are they more likely to merely use it as a bigger hammer to drive away their customers with?

    These BURNING questions MUST be answered! :P

    1. Knight of Fools says:

      You lost me at parallelising.

      1. Simon Buchan says:

        DirectX10 means moar CPU = moar FPS. :)

        1. ccesarano says:

          Man, don’t we have enough first person shooters already? :(

          1. krellen says:

            Ah, jargon.

            (In case anyone is actually confused, FPS can also be used as an acronym for “frames per second”.)

    2. Gravebound says:

      TPM? The ‘Trusted Platform Module’ that companies want to use to control how you use your own computer? I sure hope not.

      Though that wouldn’t really effect me since I haven’t bought a new PC game since they started this ridiculous DRM garbage. My last hope was 1C:Maddox’s Storm of War (now called Cliffs of Dover) that was supposedly going to be DRM free (like IL-2) and they weren’t going with Ubisoft as the publisher…and then they went with Ubisoft as the publisher, added online activation/install limits and my final hope for PC gaming was crushed into nothingness. Goodbye PC gaming, the last twenty years were fun…and hey, they still are fun because I can install and play those games whenever I care to.

      Incidentally, the last PC game I bought was World of Goo. The disc version, because I don’t trust electronic transactions at all. I have been screwed over too many times ordering things online (physical or electronic) that I won’t buy anything that I’m not holding in my hand when I pay for it.

      1. Simon Buchan says:

        Widespread Windows-supported TPM would basicly enforce good behaviour from DRM at the software level (software can’t fix EULA’s, unfortunately) and make malware significantly harder to write and easier to remove, since it works by preventing undetectable modification of software (patching). Basicly, it would make your computer less crashy and virusy.
        The flipside is that TPM hardware also makes it significantly easier for publishers to enforce per-machine licenses – of coures, they are already *trying* to do that, but not doing very well.
        I assume that by not buying PC games, you mean you are buying console games? It’s a bit weird to be unhappy about TPM then, since consoles are entirely TPM – it’s what is broken when you jailbreak or mod a console. They are even extremely severe implementations of TPM – to the level of locking downloaded games to one console.
        I’m trying to maintain a neutral tone though – I’d love to hear Shamus’ (informed) opinion.

        1. Gravebound says:

          No, I don’t own any of the latest-gen consoles… And there aren’t anymore good PS2 games being released. So it is all down to used console games (mostly 8-16 bit games) these days.

          I guess games aren’t for me anymore.

          And old consoles never need the internet, I can put a game in and play anytime I want and the companies going under (or just for monetary greed) can’t stop my old systems from working in exactly the way they worked from the start.

          As for the TPM thing, I don’t feel that it should be up to someone else what runs when, why and for whatever reason on MY computer, especially remotely. The first thing I do after reinstalling Windows is turn most of it off. I only need my pc to do one thing: run the programs I tell it to run when I tell it to run them. I don’t need Aero, or windows time, or checking whether my install is legitimate (sure was fun when it said it wasn’t). Maybe it will help with malware, but if I don’t have the choice of whether or not to use it then it is just an industry forcing compliance from its customers. Like remote shut-offs in vehicles, it has a proposed legitimate use, but is very easy to misuse as well. TPM just seems like a way for others to dictate the use of your machine.

          1. Simon Buchan says:

            Fair enough: you are consistant :) Though if you feel you can’t play games due to DRM, that makes me sad. There are plenty of DRM-free PC games around, that others can tell you about better than I, if you’re interested.

            One nitpick, though: TPM is not remote, in any way. It is simply extra functionality in the CPU that lets the OS or other software reliably check that it hasn’t been messed with. Remote (de)activation is something I don’t think *any* customer actually likes, though I feel the risk/reward in, say, Valve disappearing vs. my CDs disappearing, is worth considering – but that’s a different argument!

            1. Gravebound says:

              I was under the impression that the TPM could be updated remotely. If that is not the case then I don’t see it working for long, and would therefor have no real reason to exist as is. Just another stopgap solution that could (read: probably will) create hassles for legitimate users.

              But then the only real solution is to change the fundamental nature of humanity (selfishness) so that you would never have to worry about malware/hacking/piracy. And since that will never happen…

              Also: I’m apparently way behind the times on the TPM because it used to be a separate chip, but is now part of the CPU? So you can’t take it out or disable it anymore, I suppose.

              1. Raygereio says:

                As far as I know the TPM-chip is still a seperate chip on the motherboard.

                “If that is not the case then I don't see it working for long, and would therefor have no real reason to exist as is.”
                The idea was that if security is handled on a hardware level, it will be for more difficult to crack. But given that there are already techniques with which you can retrieve the codes stored in the chip, you’re correct in that it has no more reason for existing then any other DRM method.

    3. Jeff says:

      DRM is almost entirely pointless anyway, because it isn’t a factor at all in piracy rates.

      There are really three groups of people involved with pirated software – the front line (1st) who actually deal with the DRM, the secondary users (2nd) who follow the instructions of the 1st group, and the tertiary (3rd) users who don’t even know how to follow the instructions, but buy it from the black market (1st group) or get it from their friends (2nd group).

      Any and all levels of DRM will only affect the 1st group. The 2nd group merely follows instructions, and the 3rd don’t even need to do that. This is a matter of economics, not of a technology war against pirates.

      From a market standpoint, we look at the people using the pirated software – and they’re all pretty much exactly the same as any rational consumer. It’s a matter of cost-benefit. The benefit is fixed (the actual product). The cost is in time/bandwidth/money vs money. Time is valued differently for everyone, and includes effort as well as actual downloading time. Regardless, since it is literally impossible to stop piracy (as Shamus has pointed out before, the game needs to actually run on your computer), pirate vs legit pretty much boils down to the economic principle of which the consumer believes is cheaper.

      As an unemployed student, I pirated (2nd group) 99% of my software. As a full time employee, I buy 99% of my software. DRM has never affected me in any way, beyond noticing and canceling my purchase of two or three games due to StarForce.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Any and all levels of DRM will only affect the 1st group.”

        Well that would be the point,because that is the group actually doing all the work.If you eliminate them,you wont get the second two groups at all.The thing is,actual crackers enjoy the challenge new drm presents and are competing with each other to see who will be the first to crack the game.This is especially evident with games such as assassin creed 2 that trumpet their drm.When a game has no drm,on the other hand,people either dont care,or dont want to pirate it.It took a week for ac2 to start circulating on the web fully cracked,but it takes months for stardock games to get out there.

  12. Dev Null says:

    I’m going to go out on a very spindly limb indeed, and guess that the 90-10 male female mix has less to do with the proportion of women who play games, and more to do with the proportion of women willing to drive a dozen hours to wait in line to listen to people talk about games.

    But thats probably just bitterness showing, because I wish I was there.

  13. SoldierHawk says:

    Glad you had a good time!

    Your comments on the demographic there absolutely fascinated me. In addition to being a computer and gaming geek, you see, I am also a comic book nerd. And just last weekend, I attended my first-ever con: Emerald City Comic-Con. Now, again, this was my first con so I have nothing to compare it to, but I was shocked by exactly the opposite thing. I assumed I would be one of the few females there–turns out it was MUCH more like the 60/40 split you were expecting at PAX. Additionally, there were all age groups–from families with groups of kids, to elderly couples, to solo nerds like me.

    Here’s the even funnier thing: you mention lots of the panelists/keynoters at PAX being female. Again, almost complete opposite at ECCC. With, I think literally only a couple of exceptions, all of the major guests and panelists were male. (I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought at the time–I was just happy to see all the creators I loved so much in person, finally.)

    Any rate, I don’t know what, if anything, that means. But I felt it was interesting and needed to be shared, and so I have.

  14. Ben says:

    I was sad I missed the women in gaming panel but competing with a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, Deus Ex 3, which actually looks pretty good despite my poor expectations, is tough.

    Best panel I went to on saturday (and overall) was “To Hell and Back: How the games industry has changed since Diablo.” Yeah much of the ground it covered has been covered before many times but David Brevik was wonderful, perhaps because his speaking didn’t seem so slick and polished which gave what he said an air of greater authenticity then other panels. Also it was an interesting spin on some of the typical questions of the move to micro-transaction based games.

    Sad I missed the mind control panel on Friday but I decided that at some point I had to eat.

    Another cool Friday panel was the Bioshock Infinite panel (Creating Game Worlds as Characters), very interesting insight into the creative process of video games (along with David Brevik’s panel) and some interesting thoughts on how to do narrative in games without sacrificing what makes games a compelling medium.

    Couple thoughts from the convention floor:
    LA Noire is a game that makes me sad that I don’t own a console. Waited in line for about 2 hours and got to see about 30 minutes of game play. From what I’ve seen LA Noire not only looks like a pretty amazing game in general but has the potential to really start fleshing out the concept of dialogue based gameplay that RPG nerds like me love to talk about. It combines world knowledge components (to successfully accuse someone of lying requires you to have evidence to prove they are, without that you can only doubt them) with that awesome facial animation technology and it looks really exciting.

    SW:TOR had the longest line I’ve ever seen, people were talking about waiting in line for 6 hours. I didn’t play but from watching the monitors of people playing I came to the conclusion that its SW:WoW only not as good. Watching the four man dungeon run the dungeon looked simplistic to an absurd degree, almost every piece of trash was tank and spank and on most tanking was barely necessary. Nothing came close to the kind of mechanics you see in the new DM or SFK in cata. Also this isn’t some low level dungeon it was a mid-level dungeon, level 32 or so in a game with a level cap of 50 or 60. If anything crystallized my doubts about being able to create compelling end game content (a requirement for retention) this was it.

    As for the Cult of Bob (speaking as one of the people in that circle although thankfully just out of frame) its simple really Bob is the kind of nerd think a lot of us would like to be, someone who is well cultured (understands the classics) and has a ton of general knowledge on many of the central questions of gaming today and makes cool points even if I disagree with a ton of them. At the same time he is entirely approachable and seems very excited just to chat on what seems like pretty much anything. Most of the above applies to you as well Shamus but since fewer people recognized you (I blame your misleading escapist picture). For my money you could probably have your own little cult if you wanted, tell me where to sign up.

    Anyway wrapping up this wall of text (Wow PAX is dense), was awesome to meet you Shamus hope to see you there next year.

  15. X2-Eliah says:


    Shamus, you’ve got to update your picture on this blog.

  16. Vegedus says:

    Huh, Luke Crane is half your age? I always figured he’d be the gronardiest of grognards.

    1. Raygereio says:

      He does come across like that Interviews (in a good way). But he’s 26.

  17. Pat says:

    Is there any video available of the panels with you, the LRR crew, and Bob?

  18. Steve says:

    You know all those studies that proclaim “OMG 45% (+/-15%) of all gamers are girls”? Their definition of “gamer” tends to include people who sometimes play minesweeper on their lunchbreak, which is about as relevant as calling someone who sits in front of a screen 16 hours a day but rides a bike to work an “athlete”.

    I’d say these studies contrasted with the PAX sex ratio serves as a good illustration of the difference between “gamer as someone who hasn’t never played a game (double negation, yo)” and “gamer as part of gaming culture”.

    1. krellen says:

      Or maybe it just illustrates that “gaming culture” is still far too insular and intimidating.

      1. ccesarano says:

        I honestly don’t mind counting those social and smaller-scale games in the statistics, I just wish media outlets would stop reporting on it with the specific statistics as a footnote. The way I see it, the point needs to be that games are everywhere, which means everyone is a gamer. Feel free to step outside your comfort zone.

        Though I still haven’t tried a Facebook game yet.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Well, you could try the Dragon Age Legends game! You get free stuff for DA2 :P

          Or not, since as far as I’ve seen it kind of sucks.

          From where I am, in high school pretty much EVERY guy is a gamer (what I would call a gamer, playing AAA games and stuff. Even if all they play is CoD, I’d call them a gamer), and a fair number of girls.

  19. Sem says:

    I went to an anime con a couple of years ago and least year again (FACTS in Belgium) and although I was not a bad experience in both cases, it was for 90% one giant dealer room. There was also a artists/actors area but I’m unfortunately one of those people who doesn’t seem to care all that much about getting a signature.

    The only 2 things that weren’t actually about buying/getting something were a cosplay competition & gaming zone. Alas, I dislike public attention immensely so actually getting in a cosplay costume would be my first circle from hell. The gaming zone was extremely crowded so you had to wait a lot (and most games weren’t exactly new games. I saw streetfigher II somewhere) .

    I just surfed around a bit for conventions in Europe and it seems to me that for some reason conventions in America have more activities (panels, gaming competition, etc), while in Europe it’s more about commercial activity and/or meeting artists/actors. Now, it’s only an impression so I’m not that sure but do the other geeks here have the same idea ?

    If the above is true, anyone any idea why this is so ? Personally, I would love to see some in depth panels about gaming/anime/etc. I don’t dislike merchandise but I don’t exactly need to visit a convention for that.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Well, yes, I have the same experience. I think this is mostly true for video game / manga style cons, though. Not as bad when it comes to board games/ sci fi cons, though. I think it has to do with the fact that having webcomic writers and american style comic writers come over from the US to EU means high costs, meaning they need high returns and ergo, lots of merch? Whereas board games also have lots of European manufacturers/designers, so it’s not quite as bad for them….

      1. Sem says:

        Unfortunately, I suspected as much. Just my luck to like entertainment whose creators are primarily located in other continents.

  20. Jjkaybomb says:

    You mean people didnt start to gather around you once you started talking webcomics, video games, and/or programming? D= I refuse to believe this! Though… I may be biased, following your blog, and only watching his escapist videos, so…

  21. StranaMente says:

    If I knew you were going to meet Greg Tito I would have asked you to punch him in the shoulder for the review of Dragon Age 2 he did. I really don’t know what game he was playing ’cause clearly it isn’t the same as mine. That game is awful (well.. mostly compared to the first one, but it has some awfulness on his own)

    1. Zukhramm says:

      I must have gotten Greg Tito’s defective copy of the game, because the sequel seems to be an improvement in almost every way. Aside from the bugs, which make me almost hate the game…

      1. StranaMente says:

        As it is, I supposed we have different points of view on the game. But there are a couple of things he said that give me the itch.
        The first is he said that the game offers you a better reason for what you are doing (compared to DA 1), but I really don’t see it.
        In DA:O you had to gather allies from all over the country to fight the impending blight, and you were really the last one able to do that.

        In Dragon Age 2 [SPOILER] (at least at the point I managed to get) you are in Kirkwall, after a year spent in servitude you are still at the lowest point in society, and you learn that the war in Ferelden is over. At this point, you have the same motivation to go back home and re-build your life, or stay there, be treated with contempt for being a ferelder, and work for criminals. And you have to work for months only to be able to go to the dark roads, so you can pay your debts and just begin to be considered a citizen.
        I may have over-simplified this. But this first part isn’t really inspired for me. They didn’t really explained why you prefer to stay in Kirkwall even if the war is over, rather than go back home. All you got is your brother telling you that “is best to look forward, than go back”.
        It’s obvious that it would have been a lousy game if you went back to Lothering and started farming, but the game doesn’t provide you a real motivation nonetheless.[/SPOILER]

        In itself, this thing may not be bad, but Greg Tito insisted that this one is better than the one in DA:O, and for me it isn’t.

        The other thing is about the settings, he said that this ones are more polished and nice than the ones in DA:O. But after few hours spent playing it I realized that there are only few locations that are re-used over and over (I think we can agree on that). And, but this is a personal thing, I preferred the art style of DA:O much more.

        I can live even with these problems (there are many other things that bother me that Greg didn’t even mention, and I expected this game to let me down), but the problem is that for me, these two things are really in full view, and thus Greg is pretty guilty about it.
        Besides, I only suggested a punch on the shoulder, not a brawl. :-)

        DA2 is in some way a nice game, but for me, not the shiny thing Greg talked about.

        1. krellen says:

          Dragon Age 2 feels off for me, and isn’t really clicking, but I’m not sure I can articulate why. It just isn’t … right.

          Maybe it’s just too sexy and quick for an old grognard like me. I dunno.

          Merrill’s adorable, though. She’s sort of the Mordin of DA2.

          1. Jarenth says:

            Well, I’m one of the young’uns, and I have pretty much the same feeling. I’m enjoying myself, in small intervals, and I do keep starting up the game… but it’s still a little off. I’m really not far enough into the game to fully claim this, but the game feels a little shallow at times.

            I agree that Merrill is fun to have around, though; the self-defense babbling and general awkwardness remind me a lot of Tali. I also fully believe that Carver only exists to torment Mage players.

            1. StranaMente says:

              I reckon that this first glance at the game from the guys at rock paper shotgun summarizes it pretty well.
              There are some things I kind of disagree with (such as the main character being smug, or sardonic that personally I liked; and them liking Merril that for me is such a blatant copycat of Tali that it’s irritant), but all in all I agree with them, and they nailed most of the grips I had.
              Especially the one about linking yourselgf to the main charachter.
              I still feel somewhat disconnected from Noan Hawke, the mage, and brother and mother are really a nuisance.

              1. Jarenth says:

                Yeah, I stumbled on that independently and was going to post it here with the words ‘this man explains everything that irks me about Dragon Age 2 far more eloquent than I ever can.’

                Especially the whole wave combat thing. Murph, I loathe that so much. Sardonic Female Hawk is great, though.

                1. Aldowyn says:

                  I haven’t started it yet (My mom got first crack at it, and I’m away for Spring Break), but I have been worried about the story, and where the motives would come from. I’m still holding out hope, but …

                  The combat doesn’t look too bad, but waves are a bit idiotic. At least in the demo they came from the outsides of the combat area…

                  I think the reason they did it is because they didn’t want to point out how weak the enemies are now and/or clutter the battlefield with bad guys, but still…

                  I’ll make my own opinions when I play it, though.

              2. krellen says:

                Personally, I don’t find flippant FemHawke to be rude at all. What she is is a cynical woman that laughs at life because it’s the only way to avoid crying (that’s really what it’s come across as to me.) Might be wholly flavoured by her response to Carver’s death (because Bethany is way better than Carver, and playing a Mage is boring), which was “Well, at least father won’t be alone any more.”

                But other than that, I think the guy’s got it pretty well nailed.

                1. krellen says:

                  Oh, and the way FemHawke runs. It really bugs me. An experienced warrior should not run like a girly girl.

                2. Jarenth says:

                  It gets worse if you put her in a robe. I keep trying not to stare, but it’s hard.

                  EDIT: Also, two things:
                  – That line was verbatim my response to Bethany’s death.
                  – I want to point out that Carver only bugs me because he was written to bug me. Bethany looks up to you; Carver sees you as a rival. All the backtalk and constant second-guessing annoy me, but I guess that’s the whole deal. So I don’t like him, but I do sort-of admire how he was written.

                3. StranaMente says:

                  Personally I found Carver irritating as he’s passive aggressive. Every time I speak to him in the house he says “I’m with you, brother… for now.”
                  I really want to punch him in the face when he says that.
                  Grow a pair Carver, and speak to me in my face!

        2. Zukhramm says:

          You do know that there’s no such thing as “only a punch on the shoulder” when it comes to games, if you don’t like it you have to hate it and everyone who does not.

          But no, I do agree that those points you mention are flaws. Especially a reason for remaining in Kirkwall. It’s not something I noticed much because I played my character as wanting to stay there, but for other types of characters a more clear thing tying you down, at least for the earlier acts I agree is missing.

          And the reused locations is horribly cheap. Really, it’s almost unbelievable, if I had not actually like the game so much I’d completely hate it for this point alone. That is, the reuse of area design in areas that are supposed to be different places, the fact that the game takes place in fewer location though I actually like.

          Although similar to Mass Effect the dialog seems more enjoyable to me. I don’t know if it’s because it’s better, because the voice acting is or if it’s because there’s no longer the Paragon/Renegade-points hanging over my shoulders.

          The thing that makes me really like it however, is that it’s set over a larger span of time and in a smaller location. The problems you solve can be more related to each other and allowed to grow over time, and while Mordin or some other Bioware character might have more interesting problems than any of the characters in Dragon Age 2, they seem to fit together with the rest of the game a lot more here.

          1. StranaMente says:

            I have mixed feelings about the dialogs. I liked the fact that they abondoned the good vs. evil route (well… kinda), but I do not feel really connected, and I hate that most of the time the relation with the other members of your group takes place during missions. If I prefer to have a healing mage, a double handed fighter, and a double wielding rogue for a battle, it doesn’t mean that I want them to tackle some problems.
            That’s the reason why almost all of the members of my group are starting to hate me.
            And there’s no camp where you meet them all.
            You have to go to all of their houses to talk to them. It’s time consuming.

            As for the larger span of time, I’m still at the beginning, and the only movement in time (the year in servitude) didn’t do well to the history (if you read this rock paper shotgun pre-review you get why)

            1. Zukhramm says:

              You just described why I always play this type of games at the easiest possible setting. And as I said, I liked that they’re spread out, makes me feel like I’m not the only thing in their world.

              The preview though, I cannot find much I agree with aside from the wave based combat. That was a bad idea. The lowest option is evil? The brother hates Hawke? I really like the fact the the other side of the relationship bar is not hate, I actually think it’s a bad move to name one side “friend”, since the characters that are on the rival side with me are still my friends.

              And people giving out quests without telling you what to do? I’ve never encountered something like that, and I’ve pretty much done every side quest offered to me.

              And while I can understand that some would dislike the time skips leading to character knowing them without them knowing the characters I had no problem with it, I in fact liked that. The game just does not need to show everything.

              I did not take six hours for the game to get good for me, I liked it pretty much right after the introduction part (fleeing the darkspawn). My biggest complaint is that there’s some real horrible bug with pretty much all of Merrill’s quests. I stopped playing due to that.

              1. StranaMente says:

                /The lowest option is evil?
                No, truely it isn’t, at least, most of the times.
                But quite often the lowest option is the hammer that means that Hawke will speak directly or rudely; or the fist that means that Hawke will speak or act aggressively; which are at least considered renegade.

                /The brother hates Hawke?
                It happens if you (like me) are a mage. He’s passive aggressive towards you, because everybody except for him are mages, that’s why I think other classes are immune to this. He’s the whiny kind of aggressive. Every time I speak to him in the house he says “I’m with you, brother… for now.” which really irks me.

                /people giving out quests without telling you what to do?
                The first times I thought I missed some quest giver, as I found objects that triggered missions in the world, without any prior request. Then I noticed that these people appeared only after I found these objects.
                Don’t know if you knew it, but keeping tab pressed highlights the things/people you can interact with, that’s maybe why I found so many of those quest, as I poke every highlighted piece of rubble in the scenery, which in consequence gives me these odd quests, I think I found almost a dozen of them before getting in the Dark roads.
                The thing that made me really aware of these quests is that the first time I gave back an object the man said “You gave me back this thing? Without me asking anything? You could have been paid thrice this much!”

                For the other things, I’m glad you like it, saddenly I feel different. :-(

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  I’m a mage too, and my brother does not at all seem to HATE me, even though fully to the rival side. He’s stuck being careful of the Templars because of me and I like I can disagree or pick the ruder option without him just hating you. But as the system is one-dimensional hate and disagreements have to occupy the same place, which is similar to the problem of renegade in Mass Effect 2 (not played the first, maybe it’s better there) sometimes just being rude, sometimes being evil, sometimes agreeing with a specific opinion. Maybe a two-dimensional point system would be better.

                  But I do like the way the wheel works, since the lower “aggressive” reply still depends on what you’re replying to, if you’re aggressive against blood magic and slavery it might just be the “good” response.

                  But, it’s not perfect and I do think I’d prefer the lines just written out. While Hawke does not actively try to disobey the option I pick like Shepard does it still seems like Bioware go out of their way to make the line written differ from the line spoken just for the sake of it being different. When the joke written as the “funny” response is better than the line Hawke actually say, I can’t helpt but wonder what the point is.

                  I’m aware of the quests gained from items, but those are just that, from the items picked up, not from people you talk to. And while I can kind of see what they tried with them, I’d like to see them go away. They want to lose the “my ancestors made this valuable ring but a crocodile ran off with it and can you please find it”, while actually keeping the actual part were you go out and find it, but I’d rather see them just all gone. I’m sorry Bioware, but you can’t both have it and eat it.

                2. krellen says:

                  The only way you get to play long-term with Carver around is if you are a mage. Rogue and Warrior Hawkes have him killed by the Ogre, not Bethany.

        3. Amarsir says:

          I’m with you, StranaMente. The first game’s raison d’ଙtre was saving the world. The second, I feel like I’m running around getting people’s dry cleaning. It’s not very motivating. (I had a similar prolem with Kotor’s sequel.)

          That said, I never came close to finishing the first so I guess motivation only goes so far.

          1. StranaMente says:

            Well, for me it kept the game going till the end, so it was good enough…
            This time I’m going forward only to see some new power for my mage, as the little motivation the story gave me doesn’t really work.

    2. Irridium says:

      Its strange, I went in expecting to hate the game. Yet I actually enjoy it quite a bit.

      The re-used environments are pretty weak though. They didn’t just use the same textures, all dungeons are the exact same as each other. Same layout, same textures, same everything. Bioware really needs to start taking more time with their games. Feels like this one came out too quickly.

      There’s also the issue with crashes. No matter my settings, the game always crashes. It says its a display driver error, but that doesn’t make sense. My drivers are updated, and my card(Radeon 3850 512MB) is the card the box recommends. Doesn’t matter if I set the graphics to low or high, it just crashes.

      But despite those issues, I still like the game. And I like the new art style. Origins just bored me visually.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Didn’t they learn their lesson about the re-used environments from Mass Effect 1?

        It’s not THAT hard to make a new location, surely.

  22. Varewulf says:

    You’re so adorable Shamus. ^_^ Wish I could keep you. I suspect Heather and the kids might object… I could take them along too, though.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “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?”

    Its simple:When you do it right,people will let you get away with anything.Theft,rape,torture,murder,all can be excused if you present them in the right way and ease people into it.You say drm is bad,but look at the airport,something even more people are using,for business even,not just for fun,and no one complaints(few do,but not very loudly).Even youve opted for just circumventing the problem instead of saying anything about it.One sentence,thats all you said about it,and it was a joke.”Yeah it sucks,but what are you going to do about it?”And thats how most people look at drm.

    1. Jeff says:

      People are less likely to die when DRM is circumvented, then if airport security is circumvented.

      Yes, I said “when”.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Funny how you dont see so much security for cars,which cause more deaths than planes.

        Or,if you want a more controversial topic:In many countries it is easier to buy a gun than board a plane.

  24. Wolfwood says:

    If i was there Shamus i would have loved to talk to you about Digital Rights Management, and it’ll probably lead into me proclaiming my love for one of them, i.e. Valve’s Steam XD

  25. Oh, if only we WERE half your age, Shamus!

    Glad you liked the presentation.

    – Jared

  26. asterismW says:

    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… These limits are what turn the activity into a game.

    NPR talked a little about this a few days ago, about how games are arbitrary rules applied to the achievement of a goal, and the players of the game accept those rules. Take golf, for instance. The goal is to get a ball in a hole. If that was all there was to it, you’d just pick up the ball, walk over, and put it in the hole. Add the rule that you have to do it with a stick, and suddenly it becomes a game. It was very interesting. I think I would have liked that panel.

  27. Tzekelkan says:

    Shamus, I have to tell you what I just realized. Has anyone told you that your hair style, glasses and goatee combo makes you look like Liam Neeson?

  28. SteveDJ says:

    Ok, Shamus – I’m a bit confused. Now granted, I haven’t had time to review every single comment in recent posts (and I don’t read/listen to Spoiler Warnings), but the last I remember of your own posts/blog, you had tickets to PAX on Friday and Sunday, and had plans for just good ol’ sightseeing on Saturday (since PAX was already sold out that day).

    Clearly you got tickets for Saturday – but it would have been nice to have some connecting information in your post about how that happened. :)

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The perks of being a celebrity.I think someone here offered him 3 day passes(thats passes for 3 days,not 3 passes for one day).

    2. Shamus says:

      My friends at The Escapist hooked us up.

  29. Falling says:

    PAX East- huh. Just realized this is the same event Day9 and his Starcraft 2 guys were at. Between them and Shamus, I wish I could’ve gone. Course SC2 had way too small a venue. Hopefully next time it’ll be bigger.

    1. The Scarlet Mathematician says:

      My greatest hope for the conference is that the PAX organizers will see the energy behind SC2 esports right now, and work it into the future PAXs in a more substantial way.

  30. thebigJ_A says:

    The lady from LoadingReadyRun should be a videogame character. She is funny and seems intelligent. Oh, and “is sexy”.

  31. klasbo says:

    Someone uploaded a three part video of the “Females on Female Characters” panel:

    Just to let you know.

  32. Taellosse says:

    I was there for Friday and Saturday (there weren’t any really compelling panels on Sunday, and we were tired, so we went home Sunday morning rather than stay), and I don’t think the gender divide was quite as dramatic as you say. Still, I think it was probably 80/20.

    I have no evidence at all to back this idea up, but I propose that a part of the reason for the dramatic disparity could be neither the breakdown of the larger gaming population nor recent events in the community alienating women, but simply that Penny Arcade, the comic, tends to appeal to a male sense of humor more than a female one, and their audience is mostly male. I would imagine that 90% or more of the attendees of PAX are fans of the comic first, after all. As the show grows more established and better known (this was only the second year for PAX East, after all, though the Seattle one has been going a few years longer), that may change, but for now, I doubt there are very many people at that show that don’t read the comic at least semi-regularly. And while they certainly have plenty of gender-neutral humor as well, a significant proportion of Penny Arcade’s humor is driven by dick and poop jokes (and innumerable variations on that theme). And while there are certainly women out there who find that sort of thing funny as well, their proportions are, I think, much lower than amongst men.

  33. Joe says:

    Greetings broseph, I am sure someone else has covered this but I would attribute the lack of women to the fact that there aren’t nearly as many hardcore fangirls as fanboys, hence the term fanboys. Sure there are plenty of female gamers now a days but not very many of them are at the dedication level of male gamers, or at least that’s my theory. It really feels like girls are still kinda just starting to get into the whole thing. Give it some time and you’ll get your 60/40.

    Joe out

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