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Episode 238: PAX East 2011 – The Good, The Bad, and The Smelly

Monday. PAX East 2011 is over, but the new episode of the ESH Podcast is just beginning! This week the sistah’s are joined by ESH alum King Bab yDuck (of BostonBastardBrigade.com) and awesome friends of the show Chris “Kropotkin” O’Regan from SuperHappyFunTimeShow (SHFTS.com) and Edie “GamerEdie” Sellers from GameHounds (GameHounds.net), and this gathering was epic…

We talked about what we liked, what we didn’t like, sleeper hits of the expo, takeaways about this year’s panel grouping and the existence of the funkmonster that roamed the floor with unabashed vigor.

Table top gaming, segregation, Anything with an Engine, panels that were a trap, nothing got past our group… so grab that morning cup of “damn, I lost an hour this weekend” and enjoy ESH Podcast Episode 238: PAX East 2011 – The Good, The Bad, and The Smelly

PAX East: And In The End…

It’s 6:37pm EDT. The last round of the Omegathon has ended. Gamers, friends and family members pour out of the BCEC slowly, but with smiles upon their faces. Paul and Storm have left the building. Pax East 2011 has come to a close.

I won’t lie, my feet hurt,my back aches and my suitcase is overfilled with goodies I purchased at the con this weekend…but I’d do it all over again this weekend if the Penny Arcade folks felt like throwing another bash in Boston that quickly. I got hands on with a few games, mostly the mainstream “big name” titles that most of us in the video game world either anxiously await the release of (Mortal Kombat, L.A. Noire, Gears of War 3, and Portal 2 come to mind quickly) and a few games that probably fall into the land of obscurity for most of us (Jimmie Johnson’s: Anything with an Engine) and sat in on a few panels, but for me the great fun of any PAX event is taking in the vast number of interested people (fanatics and non-fanatics alike) the event draws out.

PAX is a gathering spot for table-top, console and pc-gamers where each is as important as the next. Each can buy merchandise to feed their specific need, spend some time with developers learning a bit more about what kind of work really goes into creating their favorite game or story, learn about some new things on the horizon, but most importantly share the experiences IRL – in real-life.

That’s right, PAX is one of those events that helps gamers prove to the world that we by-and-large are not the anti-social-basement-dwellers the world would like to believe we are. I saw cosplayers stop to let people take pictures of them, and then happily explain to the person taking the picture who their character was, what game they were from and why they like them so much. I saw many table-top players wander over to the video game side of the expo hall to find out what all the noise was about and more than a few video game players wander over to table-top to check out the wares of some of the vendors – maybe they were curious about how they might use the free pack of Magic the Gathering cards that was in their swag bag, I couldn’t say.

What I can say is that I’m glad that PAX East has a home in Boston. I’m glad the event switched venues as the new space can definitely accommodate larger booths, more exhibitors and the throng of people that hit the floor on all three of the sold out days. I’m glad that while we are definitely going through another tough time in the industry, the devotion of the fan-base to gaming has not been negatively affected. (Did I mention there was a sh*t-load of people at PAX East?) I’m glad I was there to experience PAX East 2011, and I’m glad to be on my way home to recover.

We will have some more thoughts and sights and sounds from the show floor throughout the week, and our podcast will be a roundtable that you won’t want to miss out on, but until then, goodbye from PAX East 2011!

A return to the table: Revival of Table-Top Gaming


There comes a time in every person’s life where they will be utterly and completely bored.

All of their normal likes and loves will offer no real comfort. They will seek some adventure. Gamers are not exception to this rule, and usually are the case study for this actual behavior.

While being here at PAX EAST 2011, my primary focus has been to break away from my standard pursuit of the biggest console titles. This opened up exploration of a gaming genre that I’ve only ever explored from time to time…table top gaming.

Table top gaming was always something that was overlooked. It was seen – to some as backwards gaming- nostalgic, something you may or may not do with your parents on a Saturday night. Who would refuse a game of Scrabble or Apples to Apples with mom or dad?

Then again – I can’t picture ESH-mom dungeon crawling with me either.

However table-top gaming can be far more expansive and can test the boundaries of one’s imagination. It also can sharpen your strategic skills and make you better at voicing other accents.

The game that showcases this is none other than Dungeons and Dragons. Wizards of the Coast has steadfastly stayed grounded in the gaming community and has only grown through its loyal business and social communities.

At PAX East both games by Wizards of the Coast (Magic the Gathering & Dungeon and Dragons) had announcements that were primarily directed towards their console games – but surprisingly enough both franchises had the same thing to say about their console versions: “Since making playable versions of Dungeon and Dragons/Magic the Gathering, we have seen an increasing number of players.”

These console versions have struck a cords with past table top players and new console gamers and both have come back to gain or regain a their appreciation for the genre. Maybe these console expansions will lead gamers down the path to a main-stream revival of table top games?

Quest Chain Accepted.

Panda Watch: Pax EAST 2011 Day One

Greetings all!

Your ever-faithful Pandalicious has finally come out of her stupor like a phoenix from the flame to tell you about her observations on the first day of a much anticipated Pax EAST 2011.

First and foremost let me state now that the venue has been upgraded to the BCEC. There-is-so-much-space. More than the convention is actually using, but this is a lot better than cramming all of us into the Hynes Convention Center.

Our beloved beanbags are sadly not thrown along the edges of the convention site – but that might just indirectly comment on the event. The con-funk is fairly ripe now, as such is the vibe of gamers coming together and do what they do best – game?

I’ve been quite the busy panda, firstly I’ve explored the world of table top today- I paid a much needed visit to the Wizards of the Coast for some Magic the Gathering News and some good ole Dungeon and Dragons tidbits.

During my afternoon rounds Portal 2 served up some promising morsels as well.

In the evening, a stop over at Turbine for some Lord of the Rings Online, where I asked myself the question, “what can we expect from this MMO that we haven’t seen already?”

Over all, today have been quite eventful – and this is only day one. Tomorrow brings with it panels…

More details about the things I’ve seen will come so stay tuned.

Ubisoft’s Pretty Shiny – Child of Eden

Child of EdenThe first exposure I had to Child of Eden was at developer Ubisoft’s press conference last year at E3. The trippy electro-synth-pop music that wafted over me as I sat in the theater instantly reminded me of the PS3 game Flow – one of my all-time favorite games by the way. I found myself thinking, Flow 2 only to be surprised and treated to the introduction of Eden. Fast forward 8 months and I’m at Pax East, where the game is playable.

The line was long to play the game, but if you are at the event this year I urge you to try it out. On the floor, Ubisoft is demoing the Xbox 360 Kinect enabled version of Child of Eden and honestly controlling the game is very natural.

In the game you fight varied types of enemies (in every hand’s on I’ve tried of the game, I’ve only ever fought flower type monsters but there may be other flora that you take on in later levels) using your hands to control your weapons, area of attack and speed. It sounds complicated, but it actually is not. Think wax-off wax-on from the Karate Kid movies. While the gameplay itself can be broken down into a simplistic waving hands all over the place that changes the soundscape as you go along, what is not simplistic about the game is its graphics.

Simply put, Child of Eden is stunning.

I have no idea what the frame rate is, nor do I care. The screen behind me was huge and there was absolutely no lag whatsoever while playing the game – an important thing as areas you need to attack and projectiles flying at you that you need to destroy fly fast and furious at times. The visual aspect combined with the saccharine-yet-subtle-at-times soundtrack makes playing the game addictive. It doesn’t hurt that I like music and rhythm-based games, but I wouldn’t recommend giving Eden a try just because it has a great musical element to it.

Child of Eden really needs to be seen, touched and played to understand. You’ll have to wait until June 14th to get your hands on it in the US (unless Ubisoft drops a demo into the XBLive Marketplace) but I was able to snag some video for you in the meantime.

Child of Eden Gameplay @ PAX East 2011 from NinJa Sistah on Vimeo.

People @ Pax East

DAAAAMN

Holy hell are there a lot of people here at Pax East!

To kick the show off right, I’ve started a photo gallery on Flickr where I will be sharing some of my favorite shots from the show floor (and beyond) helping you get a real sights and sounds taste of PAX East 2011. Here’s a sample now:

PAX East: Silence Before The Storm – of Awesome

It’s 9 am (ok, actually it’s closer to 9:30am) on the first day of Pax East 2011. Team ESH this year is made up of NinJaSistah, Pandalicious and KingBabyDuck.

We’ve got coffee. We’ve got badges. We’ve walked around the BCEC once already and the con-funk has made an early appearance. What we haven’t got is a clue.

There is so much more to see this year at PAX East. There are more exhibitors. The Looking for Game rooms are larger and they are scattered about the building on both sides. The event is sold out and it’s not a surprise, at least not to me.

Last year the event totally took over the Hynes Convention Center (I experienced probably the most fun pub crawl of my life) and from the look of the diverse crowd here at the BCEC in Boston, the financial district is about to be over-run by gamers, and by gamers who have no idea where they are going, what they are doing or where anything is…just like me.

I have a map. I’m an educated woman, but I still have no idea where my appointments are, who and where I’m supposed to meet up with people, and yet I remain calm and collected. So watch this space people. I will be randomly sharing things throughout the day: photos, videos, tweets (@ninjasistah) and what ever else floats my fancy.

Check in with me and let me know what you want to see at PAX if you weren’t able to venture out to the event this year.

Game ON!.

PAX East 2011: This Time, It’s Personal

It’s March 7th. GDC in San Fran is over. Pandalicious and I are on the East Coast, and while most days the fact that so many of our West Coast counterparts got to join in on some key learnings around the video game industry from the developers that define it would have me seething with envy, I know that PAX East (The Penny Arcade Expo) is 4 days away.

Suck it Trebek.

Now, what will PAX East have that GDC did not or E3 will not? (Besides the Land of ESH crew in attendance, that is.) Well, gamers for one. PAX has always been an expo open to the public…as long as you buy a pass that is. One, two or 3 day pass – that doesn’t matter and is up to you – but the PAX convention has always been about a level playing field for media and consumers alike. No preferential treatment, same price merch merch for everyone, which is awesome. The video games convention by design brings gamers together, creates introductions and allows exhibitors to really engage their core audience while having a little fun at the same time.

From table top gaming and tournaments to Chiptune musical showcases and nerdcore artists like MC Frontalot and Jonathan Coulton, to panels on how to get a job in the game industry (including practice interviews and resume advice) there is literally something for everyone at PAX, and at PAX East the fun is but a hop, skip and a jump away.

So, if you have a few bucks left in your pocket, grab a ticket (single day passes are left for Friday and Sunday) and check out the geekiest event on the East Coast with the kids from the Land of ESH: NinJaSistah, Pandalicious and KingBabyDuck. We’ll be there all three days, and are looking forward to it!

Episode 214: If I Can Watch That, I Can Pretty Much Watch Anything

Another week starts similar to the last week with a fresh new episode of the ESH podcast, and in this one the girls are kinda all over the place. It’s controlled chaos!

We kick off this episode of the podcast talking about our lack of Pax Prime attendance, the few awesome announcements we heard about made at the show, and then remind ourselves of our abundance of Pax East-ing happening and are grateful. Then we switch gears to reminders of how broke we are all going to be this holiday season, starting with the release of the new Halo: Reach game and ending with things like Xbox Kinect, Dance Central and Playstation Move.

Then the conversation switches over to the latest Warner Brothers Bataman animated movie, Batman: Under the Red Mask and NinJaSistah’s reaction to it. (There are spoilers, sorry.) Pandalicious tops off the hour with an anime series that you really don’t need to see called Queen’s Blade which you have to hear about live, and in audio in your head. This episode is fun and all over the place and we have some rejected titles to prove it:

  • Anyone Who’s Ever Seen Old Yeller Knows How I Feel About Missing PAX
  • I’m Dreaming of a Broke, Christmas
  • A Hailstorm in Epic Proportions of Awesomeness
  • A Highly Unlikely Acid Delivery System
  • and finally
  • Swords for 400, Alex

It’s time to grab that morning cup of let’s get it on and enjoy ESH Podcast Episode 214: If I Can Watch That, I Can Pretty Much Watch Anything