Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AE at PAX East

This past weekend, I piled into a rented car with my wife, my daughter and my good friend Max for the long drive to Boston and PAX East.

I'm not afraid to admit that in addition to being a science fiction nerd, I am also something of a gaming nerd. And PAX is the undisputed mecca of gaming. I've mentioned before my fascination with the overlap of video games and science fiction. I have a post brewing about the collegial relationship between the two. That post is not this one but, in service of that future post, consider filling in the brief poll down at the bottom. This post is about the amazing people you can meet at a place like PAX.

On Saturday night, after a panel on Interactive Fiction, I sat down over beers with Jim Munroe and Jeremy Freese.

Jim Munroe is a science fiction writer, indie video game auteur and DIY-publishing agitator from Toronto. I've known Jim for years and it's always a treat to hang out with him. At the aforementioned panel, Jim's graphical interactive fiction Everybody Dies was held up as being one of the best examples of original voice in video games. You should play it.

Jeremy Freese is the author of Violet, the first place winner of both the 2008 IFComp and the 2008 XYZZY Award for Best Game. You should definitely play it as well. I had never had the opportunity to meet Jeremy before and it was a real pleasure. He did an admirable job of appearing interested as I ranted manically for hours about publishing, AE and my own efforts at indie game programming. A real gentleman.

Another person I was thrilled to meet was Chris Dahlen of Kill Screen Magazine. The first issue of Kill Screen is hot off the presses and it's a really top-quality publication. It's definitely worth checking out. Of particular note is the fact that Kill Screen raised its start-up funds using Kickstarter. Maybe this isn't such a crazy thing we're trying to do here after all.

I even had the chance to talk briefly with Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik (a.k.a. Gabe). We didn't get a chance to chat for long, but he scrawled his tag across my badge before rushing off to his next checkpoint. Simply attending PAX is overwhelming enough, I can't imagine how much more so trying to steer the craft.

And, of course, I took lunch with AE's own Helen Michaud who makes her home in Boston and across a physical table from whom I don't get to sit nearly often enough.

It was a whirlwind weekend and I'm still unraveling it. As I do so, there will be more to say, old puzzles seen under new light and novel tangents ripe for exploration. But for now, let me leave you with this:

Science fiction has solidified as one of the core elements in the world of video games. Starcraft and Mass Effect and Bioshock (just to name a very few) bring the worlds and ideas of the genre into the living room and introduce them to a wide new audience. It is certainly the case that far more people have played Halo than have read Larry Niven's Ringworld. What does this mean for SF literature?

Register your opinion in the poll. It can be found in the sidebar to the right.

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