PAX Day Three: Audience Choice and More

PAX East Coast Scheduled for 2010

The last day of PAX is met with nervous excitement. Nervous due to the fact that the convention will soon end, but excited for some of the yearly shows' most anticipated events always take place on the last day.

However, new and fascinating tradition was born this year with the “PAX 10,” a display and demonstration of ten independently produced games. Several months ago, a call went out to the gaming community for submissions of games without major label producers behind them, as a result over eighty games were sent in and the top ten were decided by a panel of fifty of the gaming industries' brightest minds.

Some of the most interesting games included AudioSurf, a hybrid racing/rhythm game that generates “race tracks” based on music files on your computer’s hard drive, letting you “ride” your favorite music. Chronotron, a time-travel based puzzler where you can make copies of yourself in the same timeline and cooperate with earlier versions of yourself to reach a goal. Strange Attractors 2 was one of several magnetism/gravity based games; in it, mouse clicks allow you to passively manipulate a ball to navigate environments by attracting or repelling it from magnetic posts. Co-op gameplay fans would like Schizoid, a gun-less shooter where two players must ram their enemies to defeat them by ramming them, but only the ones that share the same color with an individual player. Connecting with an opposite color enemy will result in death, requiring that the two plays keep an eye out for each other.

All the finalists were given a prime space on the PAX floor to show their game off and were subjected to a fan vote by secret ballot. The winner of which will receive the Audience Choice Award, but it was announced late that the people behind each of the ten games would be given XBOX 360 Elites courtesy of an impressed, and possibly headhunting, Microsoft Corporation. Regardless of the final outcome, the PAX 10 booth was as crowded as any A-lister's booth, and this element's return in next year's event is guaranteed.

The final Gabe and Tycho Q&A panel brought more of the kind of off-beat “questions” and “answers” they have become known for, as each attendee tries to top the last with bizarre statements, requests and presentations. One fan got the four thousand-person audience to wish a homebound Canadian girlfriend a happy birthday. An attempt to build off the annual mass knuckle crack with a mass eye blink (to see if it makes a noise, a la The Simpsons) ended in a quiet failure. The Penny Arcade forum dwellers donated a plaque covered in the custom pins that had become a meme, and their “Cookie Brigade” managed to raise $5,000 by selling freshly baked cookies to attendees, the money will go to the Penny Arcade charity Child's Play that buys toys and games for children’s hospitals all over the world. At the end, while Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog star Felicia Day appeared late Saturday night to sing “Still Alive’ with Jonathan Coulton, four fans serenaded the audience with a well received rendition of “Bad Horse.”

The final event at PAX is always the last round of the weekend-long gaming tournament called the Omegathon. Twenty attendees, 18 pre-registered guests selected at random, plus one raffle winner and the runner-up of the previous tournament, compete in six games of various styles for the grand prize, a trip for two to the Toyko Game Show, five thousand dollars and a set of all three current-gen consoles with custom art. This year’s games were Peggle, Boom Blox, Geometry Wars, Rock Band, Jenga. Each of which whittled the “Omeganauts” down to two. So in front of a standing room only crowd of over five thousand the secret final game was revealed to be “Vs. Excitebike” the 1987 motocross racer released only in Japan on the Famicon Disk System. Joey “Geko” Urbansky took the title in the end four races to one.

And after Gabe beat Tycho with the same score in their annual expedition, they thanked the attendees, speaking, exhibitors and volunteers for coming and closed the show for another year.

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