Filed under: Minecraft
First some background for those of you who don’t know what PAX is. PAX is the Penny Arcade eXpo. From board games to video games, everything is there. It is the trade show that the PA guys realized was needed, so they created it. If you can scrape up the money to go, I highly recommend it.
At first, I wasn’t planning on going to PAX Prime 2011, but I had a friend competing in the Omegathon (the big competition at PAX) and Mojang was gonna be there, so I decided I had to go. Even though I didn’t have tickets, thanks to the awesome gaming community, I was able to buy some at face value and get to PAX.
(Since this is a Minecraft blog, I will be mainly focusing on the Minecraft/Mojang things that happened to me at PAX)
(also, I pre-appologize to any Mojangster who’s name a screw up! I didn’t know what most of you looked like)
The Week Before: You People Really Love Minecraft
Two important things happened before PAX.
1. I found out I got picked to be a volunteer at the Mojang booth. I freaked out!
2. I decided to use PAX as an opportunity to give back to the community. I planned on writing a couple blog posts about what I found out, so asked Reddit what questions people wanted answered. I also posted my twitter account thinking that I might be able to tweet a couple pics here and there, and my inbox exploded with “@A_Redditor is now following you on Twitter.” I took this as a sign to change my plan, so I decided to try and tweet all I could, while still being a good booth volunteer.
I flew out Thursday night and got to Seattle late. Met up with my friends, and went out for drinks. Phone died at some point because I was watching Netflix earlier in the day. Got back to the hotel very late, had to get up early the next day. Not the best choice.
Friday: Slightly Blurry
My phone didn’t charge very much over night, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone important or tweet any cool pics. Went to the Keynote, which was very meh, then the Penny Arcade Q&A, which was freaking great! By the end of that stuff, it was time for lunch.
After lunch, we only had an extra 15 mins or so before we needed to get in line for round 1 of the Omegathon, so first thing I did was head up to the 6th floor to see the Mojang both. As I got off the last escalator, I saw my first Minecraft cosplayer. She was a little 8 or 9 year old girl decked out with awesome stuff: a blue shirt, a tiny diamond pick, and an open chest on her back that was full of other stuff. I didn’t get a picture, but I gave her a high five and went on. Literally 5 seconds later Notch was walking past me, so I gave him a high five too. PAX was off to a good start.
I went up to the booth and saw that it existed, then hurried over to the Omegathon line. Luckily, there was a power outlet in the line, so I was able to charge my phone for a few mins. First round of the Omegathon was Mario Kart Double Dash, and my friend smoked EVERYONE. He was at least a half a lap ahead of everyone 3 of the 4 races.
Right after round 1 was a Q&A with Notch all about the 1.8 update. I got there a bit early and played 1.8 for the first time, took a couple vids, and tweeted a couple pics. Luckily, I was able to get a pretty good spot right next to a speaker, so my sound quality was pretty good. I just started filming and didn’t stop until my phone turned off from a lack of battery. Saw all the cool new features, asked a couple of questions, and saw an awesome enderman cosplayer.
After the Q&A, Notch just played the update for a while and by the end, was just blowing things up with infinite TNT.
To wrap up Friday was Omegathon round 2 (Bananagrams), evening concerts, and delicious ice cream.
Saturday: Mojang ALL Day!
The big day! I needed to be at the booth by 9:30, and expo doors opened at 10. I went with my friends and waited with them in the expo hall line for a while, then went and met Vu, Lydia (aka MinecraftChick,) and the other volunteers for the day. Vu was pretty much the captain of the Mojang booth, and Lydia was his 1st mate. The booth would have been chaos without them, so a special big thanks to them!
We got our official bright orange Mojang shirts and got told what the different jobs were for the day. There was picture taker, email taker, someone who told people waiting that they get to play, and someone to kick people off the 1.8 update. I took the last one. At first, it was hard to tell people that they had to stop playing, but everyone was so nice about it, so it got much easier over time. That job also gave me the most exposure to the game, and gave me a chance to talk with the fans about it and answer their questions.
I really loved talking to fans all day about Minecraft, well, mainly about the update. People would ask me questions, and I would give the best answer I could. The biggest question was “What do I do with my skill points?” You should know the answer by now. I was also able to show them all the new features that I knew about, and they loved it.
It was also very interesting watching people play the game. There were generally 2 types of people: the ones who used the bow and sword that you spawned with to explore and fight, and there were those who just started mining with the diamond pick that you spawned with. I found it odd that people would waste their 3-5 mins with the new update just mining around like they already can, but I’m not here to judge. It was more fun watching those who explored and fought.
We took lunch in shifts so there was always enough volunteers at the booth. When it was my turn, Lydia came and got me, and took me out to the seating in the little lobby right outside the 6th floor of the expo hall. When we got there, I found Notch, Carl, one of the Cobalt dev’s who’s name I forget (sorry!) and Notch’s wife Elin. Also: a giant pile of Subway subs! We sat down, got food, and I tried really hard to not freak out more and bother Notch a bunch while he ate. We talked casually about Minecraft (of course) and I told him that everyone was loving the update so far. He was very glad, saying that he doesn’t like waiting so far between updates and wants feedback more often.
Lots of fans walked up while we were eating, excused themselves for interrupting, then thanked Notch for making Minecraft, then asked what the heck skill points were used for. Already talked about this before, not much more to add. One guy (who didn’t know who Notch was) came up and told us we had lots of subs, I laughed.
The rest of the day was mostly the same, just showing people 1.8 and answering their questions. One non-volunteer redditor came and said hi, and it was awesome. By the end of the day I got my foam pickaxe signed by the team, my picture with Notch, and a bunch of fun goodies. While I was waiting on the street for in line for Subway for dinner Jeb walked by and heckled me for wearing a Mojang shirt but not working for them.
I missed Omegathon round 3 during the day, but my friend owned everyone again (got the high score on that Xbox.) That evening was round 4, which was Dance Central 2, which was hilarious.
Sunday: PAX, Don’t Leave Me
First stop Sunday morning was the Mojang booth to say hi, then off to wait in line for the 2nd to last Omegathon round: Portal 2 co-op race. My friend and his teammate won, so they both moved on to the last round.
Late morning and early afternoon I finally got a chance to wander the Expo hall and check out some other games I was excited for. I really wanted to go to the Bethesda booth and fake ignorance about Scrolls vs Elder Scrolls, but I didn’t have time.
That evening was the final Omegathon round and the Mojang greifer party. I wish I could have gone to both, but I needed to support my friend in the Omegathon, and even if I did get a piece of the Mojang booth, I wouldn’t have been able to get it home.
The last round is always a secret up until the last possible moment. This year: race Legend Of Zelda (first on one NES.) The first one to get to the first piece of the Triforce got $5000 and a trip to the Tokyo Game Show (or $7000.) The loser gets to come back next year to try again. My friend Fluffy made a couple mistakes and ended up losing. Oh well, now he gets to do it all over again.
Post-PAX Monday: Seattle
My flight wasn’t until late in the day Monday, so we wandered around Seattle a bit and saw the sights. While wondering around downtown, I saw the whole Mojang team again, I think right after everyone bought new hats. Said hi and thanked them again for letting me help out.
At the airport, right after going through security, I had my last Mojang sighting. The whole Sweden group was in the security line behind me. I wanted to take a picture, but TSA noticed me with my phone out and yelled. I decided not to bother them, but I did see Notch without his hat on for the first time :P
Overall Reaction: Mojang is Awesome
I can’t thank Mojang and Lydia enough for picking me to volunteer. It made it a very memorable PAX for me, and kick started my motivation to blog and create other content rather than just consume. Everyone I met was super nice and appreciated all the volunteers. Lets hope I can afford to go again next year, and that they need more volunteers. I would gladly give up another PAX day to show my appreciation for such an awesome game.
Stay tuned for more! Next post will be a review / discussion of the Tree Spirit Challenge, one of the coolest ideas I have seen. Check Twitter for the link, and to discuss Minecraft with me!
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