Monday, April 9, 2012

Kittens In A Blender: A Slice of PAX East 2012

PAX East 2012, the semi-annual gaming convention I've attended and gushed about on this blog for the past few years, is officially over. I'm back from my latest holy pilgrimage, and as always, I amazed with how much fun I managed to squeeze out of less than 72 hours. Rather than go through all the details discussing what I enjoyed about this year, or what I discovered, or who I met, I'm going to sum up my PAX experience with a quick story. One that contains the very essence of my love for event, and the people who attend with me.

During the late afternoon of the first day of PAX, I'm sitting at a table with a hodgepodge of friends from home and people I've met at PAX who've become a very specific subset of people in my life (call them PAXpanions...or, on second thought, don't) who I only see at the event each year. As of last year, I'd discovered that if you love gaming and nothing but gaming, this is one of a few places worthy of your time. Every other part of PAX features lines for demos, panels and swag, of all which are decidedly not gaming. Well, I guess demos are technically games, but a one hour wait for a five minute demo is a poor investment of one's time in my humble opinion.

We've just finished playing a game of Dungeon Petz, a game my friend Kevin bought sight unseen because he was a fan of the developer. Right then Patrick, Kevin's brother, and fellow PAXpanion of mine (ok, it's officially retired now) brought out a game he bought on a whim called Kittens In A Blender. Here's a picture of the box, in case the title wasn't clear:

Kittens In A Blender, or KIAB is a simple card game containing the disturbing imagery of stuffing your opponent's living, breathing masses of too-cute kitties into a deadly blender while attempting to save your own. I won't elaborate on it too much since it was far from my favorite game at PAX (that award goes to a game called Ninjato, which I'll probably discuss and review later) nor the point of this story, but it's worth noting that my "team" of cats, the blue team, had a cat named 'Chicken Noodle,' who was blended almost immediately after making his appearance. Also, I really think the game could benefit from forcing players to beg: "pwease don't bwend my kitty!" with pouty lips as a kind of secret power that works at the cost of one's dignity, but I digress.

Rest in peace, M.C. Catnip
Everyone at the table looked at the box and immediately agreed to play. After that, we played something else. And then we got some food, and came back with a stash of wine and chocolate and played some more. We stopped playing to fill out basic human necessities, but otherwise, it was a non-stop gaming orgy all weekend.

I point out the KIAB moment specifically because it was a stupid looking game purchased by someone on a whim, introduced to a group of adults who were all free to do whatever else they wanted to do with their time, and we all immediately said yes to it. Why? Simply because we all love playing games together. That's really what makes PAX so amazing. There are probably not a whole lot of people in a world that you could round up, sit down at a table, and convince them to get pumped for about 13 hours of non-stop gaming. But PAX is a siren call for those of us that couldn't imagine a better way to spend their time. And I'm forever grateful for it.

Thanks to the organizers, the game developers and most importantly, to all the friends I've met or convinced/dragged along for the ride - because really, without people to share this with, I'd just as soon stay home and find something to play there.


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