Tech Penny Arcade Expo: Saturday Coverage
posted by August 25 at 11:38 PMon
Nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot might as well have changed the first two letters in his alias to DM. At the evening’s concert, Frontalot threw dice and talked in D&D-anese before nearly every song (“you have earned enough experience points to level up to the status of nerdcore rapper”). Still, unlike many of the other acts, who used nerd cliches and game song covers as crutches for their otherwise so-so performances, tonight’s hip-hop act held his own with a relatively solid flow and a quality backing band. Still, you gotta love the crowd’s reaction to his “wave your hands in the air” request:
Er…Hear tha Yoda get wicked? His was far from the most impressive musical performance of the night, as that title goes to the guy who blazed through a hacked copy of Guitar Hero in the gaming lounges. Somehow, a nine-minute chunk of black metal found its way onto one of the PAX Playstations, and I watched in a state of semi-shock as a teenager nearly broke his wrist with his mastery of the plastic controller. Once I recovered, I snapped a shot of him as he was leaving the convention center:
If you look closely, you can see a bead of his sweat gleaming off of the guitar controller in his backpack. Godspeed, you Hero.
9:30 p.m.: Even hot ladies can’t always lure nerds. Across the street, PAX sponsor Vivendi Games threw a relatively barren “party” to promote new war game World In Conflict, though the many elaborate props on hand, including a friggin’ tank, just about outnumbered the patrons. Models in Soviet military garb stood around holding weapons, but the only person interested in their schtick was this douchebag:
What’s with douchebags and hand gestures, anyway?
8:30 p.m.: After being dragged into a Tetris tournament—kicking and screaming, I assure you—I found myself in a pretty interesting panel about the business side of games. Granted, if you’ve been reading this coverage (I’m lookin’ at you, Frank), you may very well question my version of “interesting,” but three long-time game industry buffs had plenty to say about the rapid, behind-the-scenes evolution of the industry. First off, did you know that a lot of game companies outsource grunt work to China?
‘Tis true, and much of the conversation veered toward the Asian gaming industry, from microtransaction-based games (“Games like Maple Story are huge overseas, and in a few years, you’ll see them overrun the States.”) to Starcraft (“[In Korea], they have two cable channels showing Starcraft tournaments all of the time. With the sequel, [Bilzzard] can’t change too much, because 22 minutes plus commercials equals Starcraft.”).
In fitting business fashion, the panel’s tone was doom and gloom. “The current multi-year game development cycle is not a sustainable business model,” says Wizard of the Coast’s Randy Bueller. Risk aversion was a big sticking point, as the guys had plenty of reason to believe that big-budget, Halo-level games may fall to the wayside in place of lighter, Wii-style titles. But when asked about the struggling state of old-style games stores, the panel agreed on a pretty bright suggestion: Turn the stores into gaming cafes, and reignite the concept of the arcade. Assuming the guy at GameStopBucks doesn’t try to sell one-year warranties with every cup of coffee, I’m in.
After the jump, the rest of Saturday’s coverage: