PAX Sunday has traditionally been a time of hangovers and regrets over all we'd miss out on thanks to our bad choices on Saturday night. This year, PAX extends through Monday, giving us time to respawn and get back to full health before taking on anything tougher than a dire rat. We took in more panels, checked out the less dense parts of the show, and celebrated our freedom from consequences.
It's easy to see why Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime earned its slot in the PAX 10. It looks gorgeous, and the gameplay is a sweet combination of cooperative strategy and fast-paced space battle. It's coming out later this year for Mac and PC. The trailer shows it off perfectly, but we need to point out that we got to watch an epic boss battle against Ursa Major. The constellation. Yep.
The Women & Tabletop Gaming panel covered some of the usual suspects: "fake nerd girl" inquisitions, pushy mansplaining, unwanted backrubs, game professionals getting mistaken for booth babes, etc. Some useful advice: 1) If you're looking for an inclusive gaming group, check out meetup.com, where Seattle often has two or three game events every day. 2) If you're asking "How do I get more girls to game with me?" instead try asking "How do I make my gaming table more welcoming to women?" (I.e., "treat female gamers *exactly* like male gamers," according to Elsbeth Ravyn Schmidt of Advanced Deployment. 3) When said by a man in response to lame sexist behavior, "That's not cool, man" is "the coolest thing ever!" according to Cheapass Game's Julie Haehn, who says the statement is heard differently coming from a man. 4) Everyone should call out creeper behavior, but basically "Love the creeper, hate the creeping" and look for teaching moments. Everyone agreed that things were improving—but what was the most visible downside of this increasing inclusivity? This year is not only the first PAX but also the first *PAX Dev* (a pre-PAX con for game developers) that the panelists have had to wait in line for the restroom.
Is it okay to create a women-only, queer-only, or other exclusive gaming "safe space"? That was one of the more interesting debates to come out of this morning's Queers in Gaming panel, putting QueerGeek! cofounders Ashley Cook and Benjamin Williams on opposites sides of the question: Ashley (who hosts great Ladies Game Nights at Gamma Ray) argued that exclusive private events can make sense, but "when you create a public event that's queer-only or women-only, you're making a statement, you're prejudging the people you're excluding." Benjamin argued that "more is more," that people should be holding all kinds of different events, since everybody has different needs. (The local Lady Planeswalkers Society was cited as a middle ground, welcoming men but requiring a female sponsor.)
The panelists largely agreed that we're lucky to live in a fairly open, biggish city—and that it's important for people to both create the events they want to see, and to be visible and open about sharing their stories, since so much homophobic behavior arises from carelessness and ignorance. Benjamin also made a point of praising Penny Arcade for being very open and welcoming (he said they even sponsored their group's Gay Pride float, but he speculated that they weren't very vocal about those issues because they didn't want it to appear cynical). He said some people weren't sure if they wanted to go to PAX "because of things that were said on the Internet" (presumably, you know, this), but "I'm not that way at all" and "Oh, I'm going to PAX, and I'm going to corrupt from within."
Two particularly funny exchanges: Benjamin saying that there were basically two active queer geek groups in Seattle, and one of them is more about "shirtless torso selfies," and then Ashley asked, "Which one are we?" Someone in the Q&A asked, "How do you keep your group about gaming and not a queer E-Harmony?" ("Like I'm glad you found love but I wanted to play Catan.")
Codename Cygnus is a neat audio game coming soon for iOS that's kind of a choose-your-own-adventure radio play. It responds to voice commands, but in the cacophony of the show, we had to use the touchscreen to make things happen. It's fun and works on a different section of the brain than most of the other games we've played.
If you're a fan of Adventure Time (and you should be) you should look for Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don't Know! It's available in November for nearly every platform. Play as your favorite characters (including Ice King, LSP, Marceline, and of course Finn and Jake) as you crawl through dungeons. The co-op play is especially sweet.
At the same booth was Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land for the 3DS. While the gameplay is unremarkable, it's packed with fun references to the show including supporting characters, so if you're a fan you may want to give it a shot.
Randomly, while waiting for one of our party to finish his swag purchases, five of us were rapt and slack-jawed at the trailer for Murdered: Soul Suspect. Targeted for release in 2014 for PS/Xbox/Windows, you play as the ghost of a detective trying to solve his own murder while also battling demons. (Why did it have to be demons?)
The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner, Paul Hughes, and Mary Traverse.