So yesterday was the first day of PAX East 2011 and I have to say that it is awesome so far. That sounds so trite, but it’s also the universal sentiment of everyone here and it couldn’t be more true. Here’s what I’ve been up to so far.

The day started off with a bit of a quandary in that despite traveling about eight hours via five methods of transit without a hitch, I still managed to forget something important: my physical PAX East 3-day badge that I’ve had pinned to my cork board since it arrived in the mail. So I went straight to information, showed them my ticket and explained my situation and they were awesome enough to give me a stopgap Friday pass. I did have to get my pass overnighted and I’m currently waiting for it to arrive so that I can get in, but happily Nadja has a key to my place and was awesome enough to take care of that before work. Problem averted!

I started my experience by getting into the ritualistic queue line to wait for what I thought was the keynote and the first Q&A of the weekend with Mike and Jerry. I was wondering why the line was so short, but then I discovered that the queue was for the exhibit hall, not the speech. I was briefly confused and distressed at missing the speech until I stumbled into a wonderful gaming floor filled with so much awesome that it had to be fit into a room that’s gargantuan compared to last year’s.

My attention quickly turned to a Portal 2 booth and all sense of loss vanished. A chance to play Portal 2 and I’m one of the first people there to try it? Sweet! I waited for about fifteen minutes, got a free Aperture t-shirt (in small!), and watched a fantastic loop of new footage before being led into a dark box with two giant TVs in it. Sadness, no playable demo. What it ended up being was a character video introducing the AI and the founder of Aperture, the latter of which is voiced by the universally recognizable JP Simmons. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of a playable demo, but the characters are damn hilarious and the news features unveiled look amazing. I didn’t think Portal could get more inventive but I was dead wrong.

From there, I continued to wander the show floor for…the entire day. I had planned on going to a few panels on game development, but the exhibit hall was utterly captivating. I played and looked at tons of new games that I don’t have the time to enumerate right this moment; the flow of activity just never stopped. I’ll update soon about the insanity and what I’m looking forward to the most.

The day was capped off by an awesome show by The Protomen, MC Frontalot, and Metroid Metal. Oh man, they were all even better than they were last year and I was way up front for it all. My ears are still ringing and I have no voice whatsoever.

Today? Panels, panels, panels, and then getting in line early for the Omegathon and the Video Game Orchestra, Paul & Storm, and Jonathan Coulton concert.

Oh, and if you’re actually at PAX right now, go do yourself a favor and play Slam Bolt Scrappers. It’s by Firehose games, it’s somewhere on the perimeter, and you can find it by the guys in the fire hats. Most addictive game of the show, hands down, and the full game comes out in three days.

Oh, PAX East, how awesome you are.

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