Published on September 1st, 2013 | by Trapper A. Collins
On the PAX Trail: Day 2
One of my favorite days at PAX is always Saturday. At this point, it feels like PAX has hit it’s full stride and is firing on all cylinders. The convention center was abuzz with jovial nerd conversation; cosplayers were out in droves, posing for pictures and creating comical scenes between each other. This all generates a strange feel-good vibe that is oddly refreshing. That, or the whiskey that was in this mornings iced coffee was kicking in. Regardless it is a fantastic feeling, much like when you slip into a hot tub or a pair of comfortable shoes; it felt like a warm fire.
However, I didn’t have time to muse about it that much. As much as I was enjoying PAX for myself, I was still being paid for a job and I’ll be damned before I fumble a job. I arose from my corner of the hallway, shoving my sandwich wrapper into the garbage bin, and took off towards something I’ve always wanted to be at, and it was console free play.
I quickly made my way through the atrium of the convention center. However, my journey was waylaid by a large group of people wearing pink t-shirts and dark glasses. They had surrounded a small group of people and kept telling us to stay away. I was starting to wonder if whatever was in the cookie I ate earlier was kicking in, but then I noticed the group surrounded by cameras so I figured that they were filming a movie. After a few moments, the group started walking past me and down through the escalators. I asked an equally-confused con goer about what happened and they couldn’t tell me either. We both shrugged and carried on.
A short escalator ride later, I was on the top floor of the convention center and I nearly wept when my feet touched carpeted flooring. I had already been at PAX for one day and already my feet were ready to mutiny; the carpet had slowly eased that coup. I made my way to a set of double-doors at the end of the hall. Before I crossed that threshold, I could hear the sounds of loud games bleeping through the crowd.
I stepped into the large room and took the time to acclimate myself to the atmosphere. It felt like I had time-warped back to the early nineties and stepped into an arcade. There were rows of tables with consoles and TVs hooked up and ready to be played. People were crowding several screens, watching players duke it out in games such as Street Fighter. I knew that if I closed my eyes, I could hear the clanging sound of pinball machines despite not being present. With a smile, I moseyed on through. People swore when the damnable blue shell was thrown at them, calls of being cheap were let out as fighting combatants wouldn’t let them out of the corner, cries of victory rang out as top scores were beaten in top-down shooters games. It was if a wormhole from the 90’s was funneling the feeling of that decades arcade, sans the smell of cigarette smoke.
My nostalgic enjoyment quickly deflated when I ran into a table labeled “Classic Console Freeplay”. I smiled as I noticed consoles from my youth. Classic Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega, all hooked up to a series of large CRTs that would strike fear into the men that would have to move them. There was even a console that used cassette tapes! I was deeply fascinated by this as I had only read about it. I took one of the tapes and turned it over in my hand. I asked one the the Enforcers if I could try the game, but he said that some of the connection cables had burnt out. He shared my disappointed as he wanted to try it himself. With a sigh, I set the tape down and was about to leave the table when I caught the sight of the rest of the table.
I shook my head and rubbed my eyes, hoping that my liqour intake wasn’t affecting my eyesight. Turns out it wasn’t. On the table were multiple Playstations, both one and two, sitting next to Nintendo 64s and original Xboxes. I couldn’t believe this. Had this much time had past? I shook my head, trying to get rid of the feeling of old age. I was already complaining about the damn kids these days, so I guess this was a natural progression. Slightly dejected, I left the table. My spirits lifted when I realized what was next on the PAX activity list.
One thing I made a point to not miss at PAX was drop-in D&D; I didn’t get enough of it back at home, and I was a fan of getting it anywhere I could. At PAX, I could have my fill and then some. I couldn’t stop giggling when I signed up and took my seat at the nearby table with others waiting their turn. At the table there was one of the fellows in the pink shirt. I took the time to ask about what went on earlier in the atrium. He said that he was part of a security group that was escorting high-profile clients through PAX. There was word that Team Osprey was in the area targeting the clients that Salmon Security were escorting.
I was about to press him for more questions, since I felt that there was a deeper story here, but my number was called. I thanked the security guard for the information and left the table to join my group. I met them near a table that was finishing up their game, shuffling papers and dice into over-stuffed bags and talking about the game.
Through idle chit-chat, I found that a few group mates were from Canada. We shared hugs and showed the American group mates our coloured money when they asked about it. Despite being in the United States for a few days, I was kind of homesick. However my group mates eased that a bit with some good old fashioned Canadian humor. It felt nice.
Before we knew it, the table had cleared and we sat down. The GM introduced himself and handed us a set of dice and asked us to pick from a pool of pre-made characters; the party soon comprised of a cavalier, cleric, fighter, and alchemist, which was yours truly. I enjoyed the mixology aspect of the class and throwing bombs at my enemies never got old.
The GM described the setting: a village was under attack by an evil and it was the job of this rag-tag group to stop him. Our adventure stopped for a brief moment with a visit by the cookie brigade. We graciously loaded up on amazing cookies of all kinds and set about for adventures unknown.