PAX is always a bit awe-inspiring, not to mention simply inspiring, for those of us who are lucky enough to be a part of the games industry. The mere concept of 70,000+ people all cramming themselves into a building to share their enthusiasm for games is a truly beautiful thing. Talking to fans about our games is endlessly rewarding (yes, even the ones who only want to know about Android release dates).
So when I say that my appreciation for games, gamers and the spectacular spectacle that is PAX has never been higher, you know this weekend was something special. We had the great honor of bringing Peggle 2 to the Omegathon.
To properly appreciate the Omegathon, you should know how it works. When you buy your passes for PAX, months in advance of the event, you can check a box to ask that your name be added to the Omegathon list. Of the who-knows-how-many-hundreds or -thousands who check that box, 25 will be chosen. Those 25 gamers have to compete in five rounds of live, on-stage gaming.
Think about someone standing next to you while you’re typing. You know how many more mistakes you make? And that’s just typing, where you’re completely in control. Games are wildly unpredictable and reactive, a mess of moving parts and tricky logistics designed to challenge you at every turn. Now imagine a theater full of people watching your every move and critiquing it, and you may never have played or even seen the games before you have to play them in front of the crowd! That’s the level of gamer that goes into the Omegathon.
Peggle 2 was the penultimate round of this year’s competition, so the field of 25 Omeganauts had already been winnowed down to four brave souls who would take the stage at the Paramount Theater Sunday night.
One after another, they played a single level, using the newly introduced Peggle Master Luna, trying their best to make hay with her Nightshade power while the audience oohed, aahed and cheered them on.
And that right there was the magical moment of PAX for me. I was part of a huge crowd of fans, reacting like a sports stadium, to a game. To our game, one of my favorite games of all time. It was pure delight to recognize the real-life version of the “audience” sound effects from the game when a shot nearly hit the crucial peg and then sailed by. When I work the booth at PAX, I love interacting with the fans. When I walk around to other booths, I am busy being a fan. But watching the Omegathon event, I got to feel it all at once, the joy of fandom and the pride of knowing that I am a small part of this thing that we all love so much.
Thank you to PAX for putting Peggle 2 on the biggest screen ever and in the hands of some truly impressive gamers. It was a joy to behold.