I wanted to sit down and write a recap of all the things I saw at PAX East this year and I had a realization. I’ve been to just about every PAX since the first one back in 2004 and I’m sure I’ve talked about the things I see at the show, but I’ve never actually talked about what it is like to work at the show. So, armed with that realization, I’ve decided not to write about the games I saw at PAX East, but instead give you an insight as to what it is like to work at PAX East.
I arrived on Thursday evening and flew out on Saturday afternoon, so it was a whirlwind tour. This year’s PAX East was an extra important one for us because we were going to be showing off our new 50’x50’ booth for the first time. In the past we always had a 10x20 booth that looked less than professional. We really wanted to have this new booth show us in the best possible light.
Before I got to Boston, we had a team of people head out earlier to help oversee booth assembly and stock the store. Bethany Feinstein, Emily McBride, and Rachel Novak all showed up on Wednesday and worked with Freeman to get the booth set up.
I landed in Boston around 6:00 p.m. on Thursday and texted Bethany, asking if the booth was finished and ready for the show. PAX East opens at 9:00 a.m. on Friday for press attendees, so I was hoping she’d say they were finished and I could just go show up for dinner. Bethany sent me a photo showing that was not the case, so I decided to head to the convention center to help out.
I checked into my hotel, dropped my bag off, and got to the convention center around 6:45. Emily needed some help getting our point of sale system for the store online so I got to work on that.
We typically use two iPads to run all of our sales. When I tried to turn them on, they both needed to be charged. We only had one charger so I plugged one in to charge and decided to take a look at the internet. The event did not have wireless internet access for exhibitors, so we had a wired ethernet drop. After confirming with the internet provider that we could use our own router to create our own WiFi network, I got to work on that, only to discover that we had a router but no power supply for it. I unsuccessfully searched for a router at a few stores near the convention center, so I had to take a taxi to a store further away from the convention center to buy one. I purchased the router, headed back to the convention center, and got to work setting it up. I configured the security on it and confirmed it worked by connecting my phone.
I took a look at the iPad I had been charging and it was able to turn on now, so things were looking up. For some reason I couldn’t get the WiFi to activate on it, so I rebooted it and discovered the WiFi was still disabled. I didn’t know what happened, but for some reason all wireless functionality on that iPad was broken. Bluetooth and WiFi were both greyed out and could not be enabled. I panicked a bit because if our second iPad was also broken we’d have no way to process store transactions. I plugged in the other iPad to let it charge a bit while I helped out with various tasks in the booth. When the second iPad finally booted up, I was able to get it on the WiFi and launch the point of sale system. Typically we like to have two units, but at least we had one functional iPad.
There was also a slight problem with the videos we were going to be playing on the TVs in our booth. We had several displays showing highlight reels of Rooster Teeth content; the reels were only 40 minutes long, and when they ended someone had to manually use the remote to restart the reel on the TV. It wasn’t an ideal solution, so I offered to take the video and re-export a new version where I looped the 40 minutes over and over into a 400-minute reel.
After a bit more work, we were able to call it a night and finally went to dinner at 10:00. We were all so exhausted that we retreated to the hotel immediately after eating. I stayed up a bit longer trying to fix the iPad by upgrading the iOS and doing a system restore, but the wireless functionality never came back. I also started an export of the video reels, but that was going to take four and a half hours to complete. I finally hit the sack around 1:30 a.m. and set an alarm for 6:15 a.m. to check on the video export.
I woke up at 6:15 a.m. and was pleased to see the video exported fine, so I decided to copy it to the USB sticks that fed the video to the televisions. The next part of this story gets a little technical, I apologize. I realized that the USB sticks for the TV had to be formatted with a FAT32 filesystem. FAT32 only allows for files up to four gigabytes in size. The file I had exported was just over seven gigabytes, so I could not use that file on those USB sticks. The reason the highlight reel was only 40 minutes long was that was the longest our editor was able to make the video and keep the file under four gigabytes. I texted Bethany and let her know I failed to fix the iPad and failed to fix the issue with our video reels. I arranged to get the USB sticks to her team when they headed to the convention center at 7:00 a.m., and then went back to sleep.
I officially got out of bed around 10:00 a.m., showered, and began consolidating all the assets I needed for our panel. Our panel was at 1:00 p.m., and I had some images and a video to show so I wanted to make sure everything was on my laptop and that it all worked properly. I also had to make a document with all the talking points I needed to hit, and spent some time organizing everything.
At about 11:00 a.m. I realized I had a problem on my hands. Normally, in a panel, the presenter shares visuals by plugging a laptop into an HDMI cable that sits on the stage. Guess what? I didn’t have the correct adapter to convert the port on my laptop to HDMI. I did a quick Google search and found a store near my hotel that might have the adapter I needed. I walked to the store and discovered they didn’t. By this point it was noon, so I had an hour to find the adapter and get to the panel. I jumped in a cab and had the driver take me to the same store I purchased the router the night before. The whole ride to the store I kept kicking myself for not having thought of this during my last trip to that store. I arrived at the store, purchased the adapter, and caught another cab back to the convention center. Fortunately traffic wasn’t too bad, and I finally walked into the convention center at about 11:40 a.m.
I immediately walked to the theater our panel was in and headed backstage. Everyone who was supposed to be on the panel was waiting there, which was good because I hadn’t had time to check and make sure everyone knew where the panel was. We talked for a few minutes, went over the things we were going to talk about, then headed out to the panel. The panel went off without any problem and we wrapped it up a little after 2:00 p.m.
When the panel was over, I realized I hadn’t eaten all day and was getting pretty hungry. My next commitment was at 3:00 p.m., so I had a little bit of time to find something to eat. Unfortunately every dining option in the area was packed and had long waits. I settled on some food from a vendor in the convention center and ate it as quickly as I could so I could make my meeting.
At 3:00 p.m. I met with some of our partners, and we wrapped up around 3:30 p.m. After that I had another appointment to play Overwatch at the Microsoft booth, so I headed to their booth and got one game in (my team won).
I had to be back in our booth from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. to sign autographs and take photos with people, so I had a few minutes to spare. I found a quiet corner to call my wife and talk to her briefly.
4:30 p.m. rolled around, so I headed back to the booth and finished the day there trying to meet and talk to as many people as possible. The times like this in the booth are my absolute favorite thing about events. The day was long and I was exhausted, but the energy people bring to the booth really helps keep me going.
The floor closed at 6:00 p.m. and I ran to a meeting with some people from YouTube. We had a couple of drinks with the YouTube folks, then went and had dinner and spent the rest of the night hanging out with Mega64.
On Saturday the floor opened at 10:00 a.m. and I had to be there to sign autographs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. I woke up bright and early, and headed down to the convention center. I’m always a bit sluggish in the morning, but I was extra tired Saturday for some reason. I met as many people as I could until 11:30, then I had to run to another meeting. That meeting wrapped and I headed back to the Microsoft booth to play Gears of War 4. I played one round (my team lost), then I had to find a quiet spot to eat and have a drink.
I headed over to the Westin and found a quiet spot at the bar, and ended up sitting next to two people I knew. I had to interview Duncan Jones and Robert Kazinsky about the Warcraft movie at 2:15 p.m., so I decided to work while eating at the bar. I know quite a bit about Warcraft, but I wanted to make sure I was as prepared as possible for the interview. I researched the publicly known details about the movie and wrote up a bunch of questions to ask. While I was working, a very nice Rooster Teeth fan bought me a drink. Thanks, it helped fuel my research.
1:45 p.m. crept up before I knew it, so I ran back to our booth to make sure everything was in order for our interview. I met up with Geoff, went over all of the questions, and met Duncan Jones and Robert Kazinsky. We got our microphones and headed on stage. We chatted for maybe 15 minutes, then wrapped up the interview. It was really great to get to meet those guys, and they were super nice and easy to talk to.
Our guests took off, and Geoff and I had to run to the airport. I had a 4:00 p.m. flight, so went to the airport directly from the convention center and headed back to Austin.
This ended up being much longer than I expected. If you read this far I hope you found it interesting. I thought you might want a little bit of insight as to what we experience when we go to an event.