It’s the night before I leave for Penny Arcade Expo East (as opposed to the night before Penny Arcade Expo East, which is tomorrow) and the reality of my situation is starting to sink in.
During the past few weeks, I have spent over $1000 airfare, recording equipment, and various odds and ends in order to attend my first gaming show. I’ve been in talks with my senior managing editor at Gamer’s Guide to Life, who has done a smashing job in scheduling appointments for me and generally making sure that my time in Boston will be well-committed. I’ve done various degrees of research on how best to utilize my new and expensive equipment, and I’ve gone through all sorts of cosmetic preparations ranging from a new, pricey haircut to several new additions to my wardrobe.
Yet, despite taking obvious steps to prepare for my newest and most exciting step into the world of gaming journalism, it’s only now, nearly six hours before I’m to depart for Gallatin Field Airport and leave on a John Denver jet plane, that it’s becoming real to me. I’m going to the East Coast. I’m going to meet with gaming journalists from all over the country (Phil Kollar, formerly of Game Informer, explicitly told me to say “hi”), and do my best to network with them. I’m going to see and play video games before by many, many other gamers around the country. Most importantly, I’m going to see what it’s like to report on video games from an actual press level. No sitting at home and grousing about online passes for me. I’m going where the stakes are high and the stories are red-hot.
My dawning sense of readiness is reflected in my state of how prepared for the trip I actually am. My clothes are strewn about the floor of my parents’ living room—at least, the ones that aren’t currently tumbling around in the dryer (man, doing laundry the night before an early flight suddenly doesn’t seem like such a hot idea anymore…). The couch on either side of me now is covered with my various effects I’m taking along: important items like camera equipment and various microphones; entertainment for the plane ride, including a pair of books (Critical Path: How to Review Video Games for a Living by Dan Amrich and How To Make Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie) and my DSi XL; and little esoteric bits like a half-pack of Mentos and a chocolate bunny my mom gave me as an early Easter gift. It’s all got to end up in the suit case somehow, and it’s got to end up there before the end of tonight.
Lord knows if I’ll even be able to sleep tonight. I’m so tired even though my mind is racing at a million miles an hour—an effect not unlike listening to a Dragonforce song whilst heavily inebriated. Every tick of the clock brings me closer to 4:00am, the time I set myself to get up, get ready, and steel myself for the day ahead. I have a long way to go in the way of packing, but I have Belgian White in my cup and Fantasia on the TV. I can make it. I will make it.
Later on, after I’ve been to more and more gaming events like PAX East, I wonder if I’ll feel the same trepidation as I do now, feeling my stomach clench and my mind reel as I think about what tomorrow will bring. I hope so. Despite how worried and sick I feel, I’m absolutely charged at the prospect of where I’m going and the work I’ll do when I get there. This may be a learning experience for me, but I have a thing or two prepared for the loyal audience of Gamer’s Guide to Life, and even for you folks here at I Am A Parade.
Stay tuned for more updates from Penny Arcade Expo East, both at this site and Gamer’s Guide to Life. Also, despite how tacky this looks, you may want to check out my Twitter feed for more details while I’m at the show; my schedule is pretty stuffed throughout my entire stay in Boston, and shooting off a few tweets is much less time-consuming than writing multiple blog posts a day. That said, I do intend to put together a sort of PAX Diary of my experiences to help give you folks an idea of what it’s like to attend a convention of this scale, and how a Jonah Hill-esque n00b like myself experiences the whole thing.
Tomorrow I meet this gaming journalism thing face to face on its home turf. It will be stressful and taxing in ways I can’t even imagine yet, but I’m ready to meet it head-on and show everyone watching what I can do. This is my time to shine, and I’m just getting ready to flick the switch.