PAX '07: Day 1 wrap-up

The comic-strip-inspired gaming festival kicks off in Seattle for the fourth time, drawing a record crowd.

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SEATTLE--The fourth annual Penny Arcade Expo kicked off today in Seattle with thousands of attendees descending on the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. This year's festival is a landmark for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its sheer size. The expo has seen steady and impressive growth since it began in 2004, with a modest gathering of 3,300 attendees and 11 exhibitors in Bellevue, Washington. This year's show is an order of magnitude larger than last year's, which boasted a then-impressive 19,500 attendees and 24 exhibitors. Estimates for this year's show put it at 30,000 attendees and 55 exhibitors. However, despite the exponential growth, this year's festival id still managing to stay true to the vision of Penny Arcade creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, who hoped to offer a unique, inclusive event for gamers of all types.

The festival opened today at 2 p.m. with a massive line of attendees queuing up to pick up or purchase badges for the show. Attendees had a wealth of activities to attend, as the day was packed with things to do and see spread out over several floors at the convention center. Actor, blogger, and gamer Wil Wheaton gave this year's keynote address to the masses in the afternoon shortly after the floor opened. One of the central areas is the exhibitors hall, where an estimated 55 exhibitors ranging from game publishers such as Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to tabletop retailers such as Fantasy Flight Games to local retailers such as Pink Godzilla are on hand with wares on display or for sale.

While many of the publishers were showing off versions of games we've seen at E3 or Xbox Live demos, a few were actually giving the public access to titles they'd never had the chance to play before. Nintendo offered up a two-level demo of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii as well as a localized version of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, DK Jungle Climber, and Flash Focus for the Nintendo DS. Microsoft and Sony showed off their E3 lineup, which the public had yet to try for themselves. Atari showed off an all-new version of its upcoming Godzilla fighter for the Wii. Eidos let the public get its hands on Kane & Lynch for the first time, and Ubisoft debuted playable Haze. Harmonix was even on hand in their own booth with a ministage and Rock Band, which boasted the longest line at the show. While the bulk of it has been covered by the press, the playable games are a treat for the crowd who are eager to try out the latest and greatest.

However, games aside, an equally significant component of PAX is the myriad of panels and game tournaments that take place throughout the show on different floors of the convention center. Attendees are given the option of bringing their own PCs to game in one area, while the other gaming areas feature a smart assortment of the more popular tabletop and card games, in addition to the console and PC gaming options. Central to the tournament experience is the Omegathon, a massive multipart tournament that's essentially a marathon of game competitions that draws on an eclectic mix of titles. The competition is spread out over the course of the show and started today with tabletop classic Jenga. Saturday will find participants competing in matches of Calling All Cars, Quake III, and Karaoke Revolution. Sunday winds up with Puzzle Quest and a mystery game that will be sprung on the finalists. In addition to all the daytime activities, Friday also featured evening fare such as movie screenings of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and The Last Starfighter, as well as live music from Freezepop, Oneups, Optimus Rhyme, and Neskimos.

The crowd at the event is an impressive cross-section of game players that run the gamut from your standard archetypes to everyday folk. A number of families were even seen making the rounds. The whole spectacle is made all the more impressive by the fact that the impetus for all of this is a Web comic that started in 1998. To add to the event's low-key appeal, Holkins and Krahulik, as well as other notables on hand, are around freely mingling with attendees.

All told, the first day of the festival got off to a strong start. Despite the significant increase in attendance, the festival seems to be retaining its intimate feel.

Discussion

45 comments
fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

vaejas
vaejas

Hmm, no day 2 wrap yet?

celebnaur
celebnaur

PAX IS 50 times better then that "E for all" bull. :P They only have Tournaments at "E for all". Even staffing at PAX was the best experence to me, over the other events I've staffed at. PAX is thinking about getting a Press/Vendor Room so the expo hall vendors have a place to not only throw out goodies, but where companies can announce games too. But that's just a rumor for now. ;)

rowleyfan3000
rowleyfan3000

no im not joking. It was funny because my brother (Kevin) called me after Uwe Boll talked and showed his crap and was like booed off stage and cussed out. It made me laugh because he deserves it with all his crappy movies. He also told me that Wil Wheaton was there and i was amazed...im a BIG fan of Stand By Me. He said he got VIP seats and was like 5 feet in front of him, i was so jealous.

ctg867
ctg867

Eh, pretty much the same crap we got at E3. Pretty much what PAX is every year.

vaejas
vaejas

Yay Big Mac!!! It's not a live event without Ryan's gleeful chuckle. During TGS2006 I was maybe 10 seconds ahead of him touring through the cosplayers. So sad I didn't get to meet any Gamespot crew. :(

tomorrowsdeead
tomorrowsdeead

if you wanted to go, you could of bought tickets on the PAX site. They weren't very expensive.

Vod_Crack
Vod_Crack

It's nice to see Ryan Mac Donald on screen again. You don't see him too often nowadays.

Smiley451
Smiley451

How do you get into things like this???!!!!!!!!!!

okassar
okassar

PAX sounds great,I also wish I was an attendee:).

Gunlance
Gunlance

I can say that most of my gamer buddies we are all kinda disappointed with the way PAX has turned out over the years. The first PAX still being the best, small and "intimate" if you will. It gets bigger and bigger, less and less real content, recycled game demos, mega NC Soft presence and more and more...well...I dunno. Greasy weirdo's with long hair and not very sociable. Buying up anime stuff and drawing penis's in Pictochat all day. I believe this years convention changed that trend that it was headed towards. But I didn't go because it was so dumb last year. Oh well. I can't believe gamespot and all these gamer blogs are covering it though now. Jeesh. I remember when it wasn't even on the radar.

skrat_01
skrat_01

Still cant beleive an (awesome) web comic can have such a huge expo, centered around gaming - for so long. Still astounds me.

MasterAsh42
MasterAsh42

Now this kind of thing I could see myself going to one day. A show for gamers, by gamers, as opposed to something like E For All. And rowleyfan3000, you remind me of that one kid when I was little who told me his older brother who had gone off to college sold the idea for Zelda 2 to Nintendo, i.e. nice try, sprout. (By the by, if you're actually just joking, you should come up with a nice punchline to show us you're indeed kidding.)

kappareign
kappareign

good 1st day coverage, PAX looks like a lot of fun. cant wait for tomorrow

woofie13
woofie13

That was today? dang it! I was in seattle... :( well, the coverage looks pretty sweet, I wish i had gone, lol.

rowleyfan3000
rowleyfan3000

Dude my brother's Girlfriend's Uncle is the creator of Penny Arcade. It's her Uncle Mike i believe, he makes the comics. My brother's Girlfriend (her name is Morgan) gets alot of games before they are released, she got Guitar Hero and Katamari before they came out.

DJSMITH007
DJSMITH007

Ah, cool if I was there...Oh well seems like too many people for me.

gundowner
gundowner

actually the traffic in Seattle isn't that terrible at all

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

There are plenty of playable games there...I really wish I could be there.

blitzvvolf
blitzvvolf

This is the first time since I've moved away that I'm actually glad I'm NOT in Seattle. Cripes, the traffic must be horrendous. ...Anyone else think I'm missing the point? :D

edflam311
edflam311

I totally wouldve waited hours just for a chance to play rock band

gamer4250
gamer4250

My dad knows a guy at work that is helping out with the event...he was even going to play rock band on the stage XD I might have actually gone if I wasn't so busy today.

Warfust
Warfust

I watched the video cast, and like the looks of the show. I'll need to make plans to attend next year.

KingKoop
KingKoop

Can't wait for Kane & Lynch, my 360 just died so hopefully by the time I get my one back from MS this'll be getting ever so closer ;)

66Skullkid99
66Skullkid99

I liked the propose, a fighting game where you destroy a city with you size and weight, but man, the graphics are sucking. The graphics are worse than a 64 game (and I am not kidding, there is no potential diference form this and Banjo-Tooie or Conker). I will track this out, but it needs a graphical refreshing urgently.

Riamo_10
Riamo_10

WTF!! Why can someone tell me why we cant play the demos the press get to play! First Killzone the MGS demo now Metroid Prime.... all sick games which have demos we cant play!

e-racer22
e-racer22

It be nice if Nintendo would begin offering playable demos on the virtual console. I downloaded the Metroid Prime 3 channel, but its just videos. Nice quality and all, but give me demos like XBL or PS Online does.

wiifan001
wiifan001

Oh man they get a demo Metroid Prime 3. -__-

Vishvanath
Vishvanath

Great coverage of day 1 by GS. I'm definetly tuning into day 2.

HumanTorch101
HumanTorch101

I need to watch what happened yesterday and I may be able to watch the live coverage today.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Ya, I sorta don't have time to watch the live feed

SuperMooseman
SuperMooseman

I started to watch the live feed, but none of the games were interesting me.