PAX-ward Bound

In eight days, I’ll be boarding a plane to Boston in order to attend my first ever videogame con/expo – PAX East 2017! To say I’m excited is a serious understatement. I’ve been making a checklist of the things I need to bring with me. Clothes: check. Toiletries: check. Nintendo Switch (presuming Best Buy actually effing ships my pre-order): almost check. And those badges, those beautiful badges…

I’m looking forward to PAX like no con I’ve ever been to. Not only is it my first PAX, it’s my first gaming-centric con/expo in general. I’ve been to sci-fi, comic book, and anime cons many times in my youth, but never a gaming con. Surprising, considering my passion for the medium. Better late than never, I suppose!

I know a lot of people tend to gravitate toward the industry booths and the swag that comes along with them – EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Blizzard, those are the places people keep telling me I need to hit up most. However, it isn’t the booths or swag I’m most excited about. No, it’s the industry panels. After reading the schedule that was released last week, I started selecting the events that intrigued me the most.

Before the NES Classic Edition, there was the NES
11:00am, Friday

Ever wonder how Nintendo game developers advertised their NES games nearly three decades ago? Before the internet and social media, game developers depended on the postal mail to get word out about their latest NES games. Join game historian John Andersen, and Echo Screen Live hosts Joey “Roo” DeSena and Daniel “The Commodore” Cordaro as they reveal some vintage NES game developer advertisements, newsletters and press releases from long ago. A lot of this material has never been seen before!

Those who know me know I’m a sucker for retro games (or, as I refer to them, games). They defined my childhood, were the cornerstone of my social life, and my primary means of escapist fantasy – even more-so than movies. I can’t pass up a retro gaming panel, especially when it involves the beloved NES.

Being an Artist in the Game Industry and How to Get There
1:30pm, Friday

Are you an aspiring artist that loves video games? There are a lot of paths towards becoming a game artist. Everyone on this panel was like you not that long ago. Video games employ dozens to hundreds of artists on any given project and it has never been a better time to make art for board games. Come listen to the stories of artists that worked on games like The Flame in the Flood, Dragoon, and Overwatch.

Being a professional digital artist myself, and one who works primarily with 3D and coding, I’m very intrigued by this panel. I can’t wait to hear some of the war stories!

GeekDad and GeekMom: Raising Geek Generation 2.0
6:30pm, Friday

Join some of the writers from and to discuss raising the next generation of geeks. They’ll talk about how to introduce gaming to your kids, their favorite games to play with their kids, and how to choose which games are appropriate. Some of them will even be joined by their kids who will also discuss what it’s like growing up geek. We’ll have an Q&A session, so bring your own experience and come with questions!

Raising the next generation is hard work, and it can be especially interesting when you’re a geek/nerd (or whatever descriptor you want to use for consumerist collector with slight obsessions). It’s hard to tell your kids to put the iPad down, or, “NO you can’t have any more toys,” when you, yourself, are looking at Sideshow toys on that very same iPad. It’ll be fun to get the perspectives of other parents.

Which Mario Game Is Objectively the Best Ever?
11:00am, Saturday

Which Mario game can be truly considered the best ever? Super Mario 64? Super Mario World? New Super Luigi U? The debate has raged for decades, but now our panel of experts is ready to give a final, totally objective answer. Using the magic of a March Madness-style bracket, we’ll mercilessly debate a field of 32 core “run and jump” Mario games down to one indisputable “best.” Attendees will be able to play along by marking their own brackets for legal, non-betting-related purposes (wink wink).

I’m really, honestly just curious as to what decision they’ll come to. I’m betting on Super Mario Bros. 3. I mean, that’s the one that always wins, right? …even though I secretly like Super Mario Sunshine best…

Being A Dad While Developing Games
6:00pm, Saturday

Are you a father who has a game idea kicking around their brain, but no time to work on it because of a screaming baby, toddler, preschooler, gradeschooler, and/or teen? Then this is the panel for you! Come learn from industry pros about their trials in fatherhood land while working on games like Dragoon, Drinking Quest, Duck Game, and Vast. Topics that will be covered include playtesting, crowdfunding, publishing, and business development.

Look, I have hopes and dreams, aspirations, even though I’m 35 and pretty set in my career. Like a lot of old-school gamers, I’ve always wanted to make a videogame. Specifically, a Nintendo style game. I’ve taken classes, tutorials, even built some basic levels, but never seen a project through. I hope that’ll change in the future, and I hope this panel might give me some inspiration.

CloseComfortable with Failure: My 14 Year Path in Indie Game Dev
3:30pm, Sunday

One doesn’t typically take 14 years to achieve their goals. Sometime it takes a life time of work. I can see what that could possibly be like with almost 1/5th of my life now having been dedicated to finding some path to success in game development. Come talk with me as I take you through my career, from my early beginnings at Full Sail, to my movie signing with Devolver Digital and beyond. Learn from the failures I’ve made, the risks I took, and what I had to consider when I had to start over.

Following up on the dad panel, I’m intrigued to hear a first-hand account of indie dev work, especially one that took so long. I’m hoping for some inspiration here, too. Sadly, my plane takes off at 7:00 Sunday, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make this one. We’ll see!

And the Rest

There are a whole slew of other panels that I’m interested in – everything from diversity in gaming to online bullying, but these are the panels I am, personally, most interested in. Regardless, this should prove to be an exciting trip. PAX, here I come!

2 Replies to “PAX-ward Bound”

  1. C-bo

    Man, I hope you have a great time. I always have a tough time balancing the panels with wanting to get a hands-on experience with the big games that I’m looking forward to. Your panels at least sound like they are right up your alley, so that’s pretty excellent!

    • Nathan Bezner

      Thanks! Now I can stop being jealous of all you other guys when you all hit up PAX. 🙂 I am pretty excited about the non-panel stuff as well, I have a feeling I’ll have some balancing issues myself this first year.

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