Misty Water-Colored Memories of PAX East

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People get sentimental about PAX. When it was over Wil Wheaton tweeted — possibly only semi-ironically — that he “needed a moment.”

But it’s true, PAX is different. Partly because it’s for fans, not the industry. Partly because it’s almost freakishly well-run. Partly because it’s animated by the spirits of Gabe and Tycho, a.k.a. Mike and Jerry, the people who do Penny Arcade. There’s a weird sense of belonging at PAX. Even I feel it — I, who call no man friend!

I’d never been to a PAX before this weekend. Now I have. Sort of — I couldn’t show up till Sunday, thereby missing all the concerts and room parties and everything that mattered. But anyway. Here are some impressions:

— It’s a big convention — 60,000 people — but it feels small. The show floor wasn’t huge, so you didn’t get lost, and the main auditorium was huge, so you didn’t get shut out of the big events. It seemed like most of the developers were saving their blockbuster announcements and previews for E3. Plus it’s smaller than E3. Or for that matter Comdex. #Iamold

— There was some bitchin’ cosplay on offer, but whole hallways fell silent when this guy walked by. Automata cosplay FTW.

— There were whole roomfuls of people playing D&D. Literally roomfuls. I thought WoW had killed pen-and-paper gaming dead. I’m so glad I was wrong. Even if 4th Edition rules are total gibberish to me.

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