PAX 2012: The Omegapost
A little late, because I’ve been absent-minded, also going to Alaska, which I will blog about in a bit, but first, PAX 2012, before I forget all the details.
So as I’m sure most of you who read this blog — all three of you — are familiar with the fact that I was an Omeganaut, and you know by now what an Omeganaut is, and you’ve probably seen the video I made which I’m going to link again like a little dancing narcissist oh and I also made a gag reel that’s pretty new Imma just drop that right here
Okay, anyway, on with it. Here’s the thing you need to know about being an omeganaut: There is no PAX. There is only Omegathon.
Thursday is when we usually throw down in a tabletop manner in the Sheraton lobby. It’s what the cool kids do, I guess. Hung out with friends. Played some Cards Against Humanity. Played some Ticket To Ride (won, actually). Drinks. Laughs. Rocked some House of the Dead because apparently Gameworks doesn’t have Time Crisis 2? Then I went to bed early, because Omegathon, which is kind of a theme, actually.
FRIDAY: THE EARLY-AWAKENING
Fact about me: I don’t “wake up” so much as I “evolve towards consciousness.” So you can imagine how Meet Up At 8A worked out for me. Like, it’s not as if I can just set my alarm clock for 8a and portkey my ass on over to the Union Street entrance. There’s things like pants and makeup and lattes involved. The pants part is pretty key, from what others have told me. But I did it, I showed up, on time, wearing my pants the right way, my plus-one of Katy in tow.
We had the option of hitting the convention floor an hour early or getting prime seats for the Keynote/Q&A. I chose the latter, as did BeyondCelery, with whom I became fast friends, or I would like to think I did, anyway. Did the Q&A, as usual. Asked my question, as usual. Swear word of 2012: semen curds. I was so happy, this one was actually prepared. Mike/Gabe was so proud of this word. And I was proud of him.
It may seem like eight in the morning until two in the afternoon is a long stretch of time, but to be honest, when you’re drawing ever-closer to your first round, it passes by far too quickly, and with too many nerves.
FRIDAY 2PM, ROUND ONE: GEOMETRY WARS 2
I felt like there was a very real chance I was going to be knocked out in round one, and wouldn’t I look like such an ass, especially after everybody came out to see me and I even made that dumb video up there. Luckily for me, that did not happen. In fact, I was second in my bracket, and managed to crack one person’s near-perfect run. (I wonder if it was Valkyrion. I was kind of hopped up on sugar and fear and way too excited to really register who was where.) (ETA: It was in fact Shade!)
The way this round worked was a little wonky. One person never responded to the omegaemail, and one person failed to show, so we had eighteen to start, when we should have had twenty, so only two people were going to be dropped. They gave two people a bye, and divided the rest of us into four groups of four. The person with the lowest score in each group would then do a face-off round, where the bottom two of that group would be eliminated.
Mike/Gabe and Jerry/Tycho emcee’d the round, and I’m sure they said things, but I gotta be rill, when you’re playing, you don’t hear anything. Not the crowd, not the contenders next to you (maybe they heard me, I’m vocal, I swear a lot, it’s kind of a thing when I game, sorry fellow omeganauts), maybe the game you’re playing, kind of, but it’s mostly just this internal litany of fuck, fuck, fuck, oh fuck, fuck. (Or maybe that’s just me. Again, the swearing thing.)
But yeah, this was a tense game. BeyondCelery actually had to go through the crazy second elimination round, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more tense game of Geometry Wars in my entire life. Thankfully BeyondCelery was in the top half and made it through to round two, but wow it was tense.
After GW2, I went straight to my hotel room. Being up since butt in the morning followed by a day of adrenaline spikes and crashes, I needed a nap.
FRIDAY 6PM, ROUND TWO: KERPLUNK
See how I jump from round one to round two, only mentioning a nap in between? Like I said earlier. Thematic element.
Where I was worried as hell about round one and looking like an ass and feeling kind of like an ass too, I wasn’t so worried about round two. I played enough Kerplunk to know what I was doing (top of my group) and to know that there’s simply a certain element of luck you can’t escape. So I sat down, ready to play my game as best as I could.
I know what you might be thinking. Kerplunk? Isn’t that a kid’s game? Why the hell would they pick that? How boring was that round, jeez.
To which I say, son, this ain’t your grandpappy’s Kerplunk. At PAX, we bet our spare organs, and we play for keeps.
But no seriously that was some of the most fucking intense Kerplunk I’ve ever been party to. The last game resulted in a tie, which came down to a sudden-death round. The first one to drop marbles loses. Four groups of four, and the one who got the most marbles over two games was eliminated. And once again, poor BeyondCelery, who played so much Kerplunk that she vowed to attach her own copy to a rocket and send it to a boomy death, was in the crazy final round, one breath away from elimination. But let me tell you, she knows how to put on a show. When it was her turn, she held her breath, she scrutinized, shifted around the plastic column, investigating from each angle to find the optimal straw before slowly, slowly, drawing it out. The crowd leaned forward, intense, holding its collective breath with BeyondCelery, terrified that the smallest breeze would be her undoing.
F’real. Some tense shit.
After that, I managed some dinner, I think, I don’t actually know if I ordered food, I can’t remember, then sleep.
SATURDAY 2PM, ROUND THREE: TONY HAWK HD
Okay so first of all, this is how I feel about Tony Hawk HD:
Maybe the original was good, IDK, I’ve never played it in my whole damn life, but wow this game on the XBox is hard to play. The controls are just terrible. And they gave us stock-Hawk and asked us to do many tricks and things and score the points. All twelve of us, head-to-head, bottom four were out.
I’d spent all morning practicing. When the hall opened, I went straight to console free play, and hit the Tony Hawk. Valkyrion was there as well, and BeyondCelery showed up, and a surly time was had by all. I am terrible at this game, and I was even worse when I had to compete. I was so convinced I was out that when the Omegalords didn’t call my name as one of the eliminated, I thought for sure I was concussed.
I was fifth from the bottom. Barely made it by the skin of my teeth. After this I collapsed in an emotional pile because oh god I thought it was the end for me.
8PM 10PM, ROUND FOUR: DANCE CENTRAL
So there was that time I was on stage in front of three thousand people with nothing to do.
Round Four is the music round, and it’s always just before the concert, meaning you are competing in front of a captive audience who are really just there to see Paul & Storm and JoCo. But they humor you, mostly because you are making a fool of yourself on stage, and who doesn’t like that?
We were stuck outside for an hour, waiting to be let in. This, like the whole “I did Omegathon and I did Sleep” thing, is another thematic element. We sat outside the doors a lot. But it’s cool, because the fellow omeganerds were cool and really fun to hang out with. The Omegalords spent this time testing the equipment, making sure everything works, doing a bit of a tech rehearsal. But, as we were soon to discover, they did not do a full tech rehearsal.
When we finally took the stage, to a cheering crowd (I had two rows of cheering section, which warmed my heart to no end, I have the greatest friends in the world, you guys, I can’t even), we soon discovered that no, the Kinect could not detect us.
Which left me standing on stage next to AliceAndStuff, staring out at a sea of faces. So I did what came naturally and proceeded to make an ass of myself, interacting with the crowd as best as I could for someone with no microphone.
Someone shouted that Alice and I should rock-paper-scissors our way through the round. She kicked my ass. Twice. I heard there was video of the antics, but I haven’t seen it. Eventually Jerry made a joke about hauling us to the shed, shooting four of us, and letting the other four go on. What eventually transpired was… not far from the truth.
We were told that in two hours’ time we were to meet in the queue room, and we would perform our Dance Central duties there. I’ll paint this picture as best as I can. The queue room is cold and cavernous, high ceilings and poured cement floors, empty except for a loud game of Johann Sebastian Joust in the corner and the scattered detritus of a thousand gamers who waited to hit the expo floor that morning. It was a bit of a downgrade.
Somehow we managed to draw a crowd, which, guys, that was the greatest thing, to me. I know some omeganauts were disappointed, that we didn’t get to make asses of ourselves on stage, and yeah, I was pretty bummed too. But then I saw the crowd that came, following our frantic tweeting and facebook updates and texts, and wow. Many of these people left a concert to come to this crappy side room to support us and watch us compete. I don’t know about anybody else, but really, that was one of my favorite moments of PAX, getting up on the makeshift stage and seeing people who came just for us.
Oh, yeah, and I uh… I rock at Dance Central. I was informed I “broke it.” At first I thought Jerry meant the stage, that my rigorous jumping had bent metal. “No,” he said, giving me his best bitch please face. “The score.”
SUNDAY 10AM, ROUND FIVE: BANANAGRAMS
Spoiler alert: This round was my undoing.
Final Four. It came down to me and FluffyBunny, versus Valkyrion and BeyondCelery. And the thing is, I suck at word games. I didn’t even bother playing Bananagrams prior to PAX — figuring it wasn’t worth it because even if I managed to get to round five I’d lose — and so I wound up spending that morning learning the rules. There is a type of brain that can look at a scattered array of letters and form words from them. I am not one who posesses such a brain.
(“But you’re a writer!” most people say. And yes, that’s true. But I’m in the habit of taking words and forming sentences, which is an entirely different skill.)
It was a solid round, to be honest. It really came down to the wire. I didn’t think Bananagrams would make a good show, but it did. Mostly because they made it giant Bananagrams, where we had to velrco letters to a cloth wall that stood taller than we did. Lots of running around. Lots of intensity. Lots of crowd applauding at a particularly impressive word.
But it was not to be. BeyondCelery and Valkyrion marched forward, and I stayed behind.
Here’s the thing, and I’m big enough to admit this, I’m secure enough in my self to say it: I cried. Like a little. A few tears. But they weren’t tears like
they were tears more like
The thing is, after three days of competing, of the tense moments of uncertainty, the highs of victory, the cheering for others, the sadness when your new friends are eliminated… when you’re done, you’re done, and sometimes your body is like “here’s a few tears for your efforts.” I wasn’t actually that upset about losing (the loss itself could have been better, but what do you want). And honestly, if anyone had to kick my ass, I was glad it was BeyondCelery and Valkyrion. They were my favorites of all the Omeganerds.
SUNDAY 5PM, FINAL ROUND: TRIALS EVOLUTION
It was immediately obvious that Valkyrion had played this game and BeyondCelery hadn’t. They made a special level just for PAX, a Precipice of Darkness themed level replete with Fruit Fuckers. The rules were simple: you have five deaths, then you have to hand off the controller. After a time, it was six deaths. Then eight. Then ten.
As time progressed, however, a strange thing happened: BeyondCelery got good, and Valkyrion got frustrated. Suddenly they were on an even playing field, and it was anyone’s game.
The attempt-count tipped to fifteen. Fifteen deaths before you have to pass on the controller. And BeyondCelery did it in eleven.
But Valkyrion had to get a shot.
“If you get this,” Jerry said to him, “then it’ll come down to who did it faster.”
Valkyrion geared up. He had a miraculous run, blowing through most of the level in a mad rush. It looked like he was going to crush it. Then he hit the last ramp, and it hit back. He crept up it, his progress slow, agonizing, chewing up the clock. All the time my fingers were crossed he would lose (I like Valkyrion, don’t get me wrong, he’s a really awesome dude, but my heart and cheers were with BeyondCelery).
I was leaning against the stage, heart in my throat.
Then Valkyrion rushed forward, and beat BeyondCelery’s time by eight seconds.
AND ALL THE REST
Once the Omegathon was done, so was I, basically. We headed straight to our little PAX Prom which the beautiful Jen set up, and it was lovely. Catered dinner, private room, gaming until midnight. I rocked at The Resistance, which is basically Mafia with a board and some pieces. Then it was time to crash. The following day we did some tourism, taking the monorail out to the Space Needle, having a delicious meal where I actually enjoyed bacon for the second time in my life. Then the day wound down until we flew back home to San Jose.
I plan on signing up for the Omegathon next year. It was intense, and it basically kept me from doing the proper-convention, but I have to say, it was really great. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I hope to make it twice-in-a-lifetime, we’ll see. I’m totally up for it.
And if I get in, then BeyondCelery and I can be comeganauts, which is a word I coined and am endlessly proud of myself for.
ETA: OH, HEY, SO I KIND OF HAD AN ENTOURAGE
Totally forgot to mention until just now, but I totally had an entourage. I mean, they were all my friends, so I don’t know if it counts, is that what an entourage is? I tried to google it but all I see is some HBO show, I don’t know. I mean, like, obviously MrMike, and Katy my plus-one, and Jen and Jacob and Steph and PJ and Matt and Shamayel and damn I’m forgetting people anyway a fucking shitton of people, guys and they had Valkyrie shirts on and it was really amazing.
Late Saturday evening, after the Dance Central round, we were talking, and joking about oh look how important I am, and what shall I have my entourage do for me, and I joked that I wanted a bag of M&Ms with the brown ones removed.
The next morning, while practicing Bananagrams, Matt gave me a cup full of M&Ms. With all the brown ones removed.
My friends are amazing.
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