Top 10 Parties for PAX Prime 2015

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When I’m not making recipe and putting sprinkles on everything, I’m running the @paxparties twitter handle. I keep everyone at PAX informed of the hot parties happening each night, and this year there are more than ever! Not sure which ones to head to? These are my top 10 choices (in chronological order). I look at cost, exclusivity, people/companies putting on the event, and location to make my decision. These will be the parties with the big lines outside of them, I guarantee it! (But if you can get in, it’s worth it! Show up EARLY!)

Giant Bomb: Live, In Person, and Fully Clothed: Thursday August 27th, 9pm

Giant Bomb has rented out The Parlor to do a show, and with a swanky space and a promise of entertainment, how can you go wrong? They’ll also debut some new merch!

Free, 21+, cash bar.

Trion PAX Party: Friday August 28th, 7-10pm

If you’re a fan of Trion’s games, you’ve GOT to be at the W Hotel right at 7pm. There’s free food and drink, free t-shirts, free LED devil horns, free game codes, and tons of other swag, but it’s all while supplies last! Plus, they’ve hinted that there will be some new reveals at the party. What are you waiting for? There’s probably already a line forming.

Free, all ages (but 21+ with ID to drink!), free food and drink while it lasts.

Lara Croft GO Launch Party: Friday August 28th, 7pm-2am

This party is promising to have Lara Croft GO, poutine, free stuff, and live snakes. It’s an intriguing combo and I want to learn more. Plus, it’s at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is walking distance from the convention center and a great party venue. Come party and pet snakes and stuff!

Free, 21+, poutine! (Not sure if poutine is free or not. Bring money for additional food/drinks).

Amazon Game Studios Presents: Twitch PAX Party: Friday August 28th, 9pm-2am

Twitch parties are the place to be, and this year is no exception. They’ve rented out Garage Billiards, which means there will be 20 bowling lanes, 25 pool tables, 6 bars, a photobooth, a karaoke room, and lounge space. Get in line EARLY to make it in. Grab your dinner to go and eat it while standing in line. I’m serious. Get there EARLY.

Free, 21+.

Super League Gameplay Party Hosted By Captain Sparklez: Saturday August 29th, 2-4pm

This party’s a bit different than the other ones you’ll see on the list. It’s during the day and it’s an all ages/family event. But hey, you’ve gotta start the gamers young, right? The whole family will LOVE this party. They’re putting Minecraft up on a movie theater screen at the Regal Meridian and letting you play it! Plus there will be a free collectible and a meet and greet with popular YouTube gamers. It’s a great excuse to get out of PAX during the busiest day/time.

Free, all ages.

Dungeon Boss Rooftop Bash: Saturday August 29th, 6:30-9pm

Here is another fun all ages event to end your day! Demo Dungeon Boss before it comes out, enjoy free snacks, and check out their guest DJ. Frolik is also a beautiful venue and has a great rooftop deck (if the weather shapes up)!

Free, all ages, free snacks while supplies last.

A Most Excellent Double Fine Fan Meetup: Sunday August 30th, 5:30-9:30pm

Double Fine will be showing their new, unannounced game for the first time publicly. Plus there will be live music! It’s at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is a popular post-PAX spot. Plus, it starts early enough you can still hit up some of the later parties on the same night!

I believe this is free and all ages, but don’t quote me on it!

After 6 – 2015 Party Edition: Sunday August 30th, 6-10pm

I’ve got a soft spot for indie games, and a softer spot for indie game parties. The Seattle Indies Expo is throwing this party in their space at Melrose Market Studios. You can meet some indie devs and try out their games while noshing on some free food and drink. Win-win!

Free, all ages, free food/beer while it lasts.

PAX Prime Karaoke Time 2015 with Mike & Tifa: Sunday August 30th, 9pm

Come sing geeky songs with some really awesome people at The Mercury @ MachineWerks! Mike and Tifa are both incredible and throw some great Karaoke parties. Baby Ketten Karaoke will be there, meaning they’ll have all your fave nerdy, pop culture, and video game songs to sing. Seriously, this is gonna be a blast. Grab your free ticket here. There will also be a bus giving free round trips to and from the convention center and the venue. You have no excuse.

Free, 21+, Eventbrite ticket required for entry, bar is cash only.

RockBand After Party II: Monday August 31st, 7pm-1:30am

PAX is over but you’re not ready to stop? Head to The Unicorn to join the Seattle RockBand Group for their end of PAX party. There will be a RockBand competition and casual play, and Harmonix will be hosting a Twitch stream of the party. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Free, 21+

Tara’s at PAX Prime!

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PAX Prime begins tomorrow, and I’m already tired! I’ll be working the whole time, but luckily that means that you’ll always know exactly where to find me!

On Friday, Sunday, and Monday, you’ll be able to find me in the Cards Against Humanity space at the ACT Theatre (connected to the convention center). Hours are 10am to 5:30pm!

On Friday night, I’ll be helping with the Cards Against Humanity panel at 8pm. Get there early if you’re hoping to get in!

On Saturday night, I’ll be running the Cards Against Humanity show at the Triple Door at 8pm. Standing Room tickets are still available!

And, of course, I’m still manning the @PAXParties twitter handle. This is the place to go if you want to know about all of the public parties happening this weekend!

If you see me, please say “Hi!” It always makes my day when I get to meet a new reader!

Will you be at PAX Prime? What are you excited to do/see?

The Care and Feeding of your Board Game Group

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Photo by Andrew Ferguson

One of the fantastic panels I attended at PAX was on the care and feeding of your game group. Whether you game casually with friends, have a large weekly meetup, or haven’t found a group yet, there was some great info for you. See below for my notes from the panel based on words of wisdom from Dikla TuchmanMax TemkinMatthew Baldwin, and Boyan Radakovich. (Additional commentary from me are in italics throughout.)

How to Gather a Group by Matthew Baldwin 
1. Why have you gathered everyone together? What is the purpose of this game group? There are multiple different types of gamers, and each has a different goal. Will you be catering to the jokers of the group who want to have fun and focus on party games, or will you be catering to the competitors with a serious/tournament-style game group?
2. Set a schedule and stick to it. Will you be meeting every Monday? Every New Year’s Eve? Every day during lunch break?
3. Take a break from evangelism. Stop trying to recruit everyone. It’s not your job to convert everyone. Enjoy the group you have.
4. Teach the games. It’s your job as host. If you’re not good at it, find someone who is.
5. Enforce Wheaton’s law. (For those who don’t know, the law is “Don’t be a dick.”)

These notes are great for those ready to start a more official game group. I game casually with friends which is nice, but we wouldn’t be able to do anything like a regular RPG session because we’re so scattered. Starting and keeping a schedule is a great idea. Additionally, Matthew touched on the 9 different types of gamers and said he could “ruin a cocktail party” by talking about them forever. Matthew, you’ve piqued my interest! I want to hear more!

How to Teach a Game by Max Temkin
“No one’s there to learn the game, they’re there to play the game.”
1. Set up the board. (Bonus points if you set it up before people get there)
2. Teach the big picture about the game before you start.
3. Explain the theme of the game.
4. Explain how to win the game.
5. How the game ends. (Give basic, high level info. Not all the details/strategies are needed at the beginning.)
6. Explain what happens in a turn.
7. Don’t teach strategy
8. Don’t get into the fine print. (Instead, just teach basics. “Normally, this is how it works,” etc.)
9. Start the game. (Play your hand first, talk aloud about what you’re doing and why.)

Teaching a game correctly is one of the best skills you can have. It can make the difference of your friends understanding and loving a game or ending up frustrated and/or bored. Practice a few times or write down notes for yourself if you’re not sure how to explain it! Looking for good examples of games being taught? Check out Tabletop and Shut Up and Sit Down

The Feeding of Your Game Group by Dikla Tuchman
1. You want people to enjoy themselves. What else do they have in common, other than games? Food? Beer? Wine? Something else?
2. Make sure you plan time in your day for food prep and during the game night for eating.
3. If your group is interested in beer, try a beer share: “Let’s do stouts and Ticket to Ride this week.” Everyone brings their favorite stout (ideally a larger bottle or growler) so everyone can sample a variety of that type of beer. Think of it as a beer potluck.

Thematic Game/Beer Pairing Ideas by Dikla 

  • Ticket to Ride and Steam Train Porter
  • Cataan and 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat
  • Forbidden island and Island Big Swell IPA
  • Gloom and Dead Guy Ale (Dead Guy Ale is one of those beers that’s perfect for a lot of horror games/movies/parties. I’ve used it for Cabin in the Woods and have wanted to use it for Betrayal at House on the Hill.)

Combining your friends’ other interests is an easy way to met them halfway and introduce them to gaming.

Well, now I need to throw a beer potluck. Such a fun idea! 

Final Thoughts by Boyan Radakovich

1. It’s not about the game: it’s about getting together and having fun.
2. Stick to a schedule, even if everyone can’t make it.
3. Find someone that can be a host for your game night: Making sure it’s running smoothly, people are greeted, etc.
4. Join an Online Community. Have a consistent theme, branding, logo for your game group. Suggestions:

  • Boardgamegeek.com
  • Reddit.com
  • Meetup.com
  • Facebook  for invites
  • Twitter for sharing
  • Tumblr for game play video or images

5. Community Engagement. Your gaming group is a community. Engage with other communities IRL, such as volunteer groups, crafting groups, book clubs, your work, etc.
6. Do it in public. #doit (This is a verbatim quote from the panel.)

Boyan couldn’t stress the first point enough throughout the panel. Getting people together to play games ISN’T about the game. It’s about getting together and having fun. Remember that as you start/attend your board game group sessions!

Do you have a regular gaming group? An other tips that aren’t included here? Leave them in the comments! Questions? Reach out to any of the panelists, or let me know in the comments and I’ll hunt down an answer for you!

PAX Crafter Round-Up

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I had the pleasure of being on the “For the Love of Crafting II: The Wrath of Yarn” panel at PAX last night, and I had a fantastic time. The panel consists of the panelists talking quickly about themselves and their current projects, and then turned into a giant Q&A and Show & Tell time for the audience. I learned about new techniques and strategies and new types of crafting I didn’t even know existed! The panel is essentially like a giant crafting meetup with 5 panelists.

During the panel, we encouraged people to share a link to their store/site/photos/etc. so we could all check out everyone’s projects. Without further ado, here is that list! (Not on the list? Leave a comment with your link!)

Panelists:

Tally Heilke: Cute plushies and more at Tally’s Treasury

Tara Theoharis: Geeky food and parties at The Geeky Hostess

Meris Mullaley: Cosplay and sewing at Fabric Alchemist

AnnaTheRed: Geeky Bento boxes and plushies at Anna The Red

Daniel Brattland: Dice creations at Roller’s Regalia

Sarah Mendiola: Videography and Fantastic Knitting at SarahMendiola.com

Attendees:

@Azralorne: Art and craft shop on Etsy

@briannemd: Will have things up on briannemd.com soon!

@CadoganThree: Painting, sculpture, and mixed media at deviantart

@CrochetLunch Sells crochet goods on Etsy

@DarkAngelYoshi: Crafty Crochet at, well, Crafty Crochet

@FeltedFamiliars: sells felted animals real and imaginary on Etsy

@jiannaprefect: Cosplay page on Facebook (She wore the Bjork Chocobo dress!)

@LunarJade: crafter and desert busser at deviantart

@kchristofersen: cross stitches, never anything too traditional or appropriate. Tweet her for commissions!

@LvCherieJewelry: geeky jewelry with elegance, whimsy, and heart at jewelry.luvcherie.com

@monicarysavy: Paper Goods shop on Etsy

@pipedreamdragon: Pipe Cleaner crafter at deviantart

@SheriB626 Crochet it ain’t so! Blog and Etsy

@Tom90deg: Steampunk crafter at deviantart

@Trillianne: Knits and quilts at MissCarlotta.com

@Valeta: Cute Litte Things shop on Etsy

@veggiehearts: Vegan and Fiber artist blog at Veggies Have a Heart

 

Tara’s at PAX!

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PAX is almost here! I should be excited, but I’m really just exhausted. Constant cons and traveling and Job Hunters and other fun things has left me looking forward to a weekend with nothing going on. But still–PAX is here, and even if I’m tired, I’m still gonna make the most of it! In addition to daily activities, I’ll be running the @PAXParties twitter handle. If you want to see your party options each day, make sure you check it out! I update it as I get news about parties, so you’ll know what’s worth the wait and what isn’t.

Here is where you can find me this weekend:

Thursday and Friday:

Two Iron Thrones Tour: I’ll be helping out at this show at the Triple Door. It’s got Kris Straub, Mikey Neumann, and a whole bunch of guests that you know and love. (If you don’t know them yet, you’ll love them after you see them. I guarantee it.) Tickets are still available, so you should go. I’ll say “Hi” to you, you’ll see a good show, everyone wins. Get your tickets here!

Saturday:

I’ll be sleeping and/or wandering the floor.

Sunday:

Cards Against Humanity Live: I’m putting this show on, and boy is it a doozy. There are multiple things in the show that I’m not allowed to talk about, and it’s going to be amazing. I believe there’s still standing room available. Grab your tickets here!

For the Love of Crafting II: The Wrath of Yarn: At 8:30pm in the Raven Theater, I will be joining a group of amazingly crafty individuals to talk geek crafting. There will be giveaways. There will be silliness. There will be…well, I don’t know what else. But it should be a great time!

Cards Against Humanity Panel: I’ll be running over to this panel after my crafting one. You most likely won’t be able to get in unless you’re already in line, which means you’d have to skip my crafting panel. That would be sad. But if you have a time turner or a friend who’s good at saving seats, you should try to hit up this panel. More fun and surprises await!

Monday:

Post-PAX Pint Throwdown: Drink beer for the children. Everyone cool will be there. Get your tickets now.

Sleep. Sleep forever and a day.

Whew! What are your plans for PAX? Will I see you at any of my events?

Other Awesome Geek Lifestyle Bloggers

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At PAX East, I had the pleasure of running into a bunch of great geek lifestyle bloggers–some I knew of, some I just learned about this weekend. Take a look at the list of awesome people I met, and make sure you start including them in your daily reading!

  • PwnLove: This gamer fashion blog will keep you up to date on all of the latest gaming clothing lines, as well as what the blogger is wearing. I may have a special post planned with her for a later date!
  • Console to Closet: Another gamer fashion blog, this one focuses on wearable outfits inspired by your favorite video gamers. They’re subtle and fashionable to be worn anywhere–only you and the biggest gamers will know what you’re really wearing!
  • The Drunken Moogle: Looking for a cocktail based on your favorite game? Look no further. The Drunken Moogle is one of my fave blogs, and I was psyched to meet the creator in person!
  • GamerWife: The creator of the GamerWife blog gets extra points for making me look good in front of my brother when she recognized me on the floor at PAX. Her blog includes video game reviews, recipes, adorable animal pics, and more!

What are some of your favorite geek lifestyle bloggers?

 

Tara’s at PAX East!

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I’ve made the trek over to snowy Boston where I’ll be visiting with my brother and checking out the newest in gaming at PAX East! At PAX? You can find me at the following events:

Blending Games and Life Panel – Saturday, 10:30am

PAX After Hours with Scott and Kris – Saturday, 9:00pm

Improv Initiative 2 (I’m performing!) – Sunday, 12:00pm

I’m also running the @PAXParties twitter handle, so you’ll most likely see me out and about at the events happening in the evening.

If you happen to be at PAX East and see me roaming around the show floor on Sunday, make sure you come up and say “Hi!” I’ll have my brother in tow and I want him to think I’m cool. 🙂

Not at PAX East? I’ll be attempting to update Twitter as often as the convention center will allow!

I hope to see some of you there!

Tara’s at PAX!

It’s the first day of PAX Prime 2012, and I’m so excited! In addition to finding me roaming the expo hall, you can see me at the following places:

PAX “Improv Initiative” Show

I’ll be doing improv with an amazing group of guys (seriously, who let me in?) tonight (Friday) at 9pm at the Serpent Theater. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience for everyone who attends. We’ll probably become best friends.

@PaxParties Twitter Handle

Need something to do one of the nights? I’ll be manning the @paxparties Twitter handle and filling you in on all of the best parties that are open to the public. I’ll also do my best to hop around and check them out! If you’re out and about on Friday/Saturday night, you’ll probably see me.

Cards Against Humanity Post-PAX Hangout

I’ll be hanging out with the creators of Cards Against Humanity and drinking beer at The Pine Box on Sunday evening. Join me!

Will you be at PAX? What are you looking forward to? And don’t forget my convention etiquette tips to help you get through the weekend!

Where To Eat While at PAX

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PAX is upon us. Geeks and Gamers will be taking over downtown Seattle for the weekend, and I could not be more thrilled. If you’re attending, there will be times that you’ll want to grab something to eat, and you may have no idea where to go. Cheesecake Factory and Gameworks may sound like good ideas, but they will be BEYOND packed the whole time.

So… where does one go to get good food and atmosphere in the Seattle area? Here are a few of my favorite places:

Cafe Mox
Ballard, Shuttles available from Convention Center
Attached to Card Kingdom in Ballard, Cafe Mox is a beautiful and tasty bar/restaurant made for geeks and gamers. Grab a game from Card Kingdom and sit down for a bite while you play. This isn’t walking distance from PAX, but they will be providing free shuttles back and forth. Talk to the folks at the Card Kingdom booth for details.

Icon Grill
5th and Virginia
Icon Grill has the most amazing dressed up comfort food. If you want something a bit nicer, but want to make sure you get your fill, this is the place.

List
1st, Between Bell and Blanchard
List is a swanky, tiny locale in Belltown that’s perfect for a quick bite and a bottle of wine. I recommend you stop by anytime on Sunday or Monday: they have all day Happy Hour then, which includes 1/2 off food and $14 bottles of house wine. I always go for their grilled caesar salad and burger.

Mexico
Pacific Place
This is extremely close to the convention center, so it may be a bit packed, but it’s worth it. If you want fresh, delicious mexican food and some giant margaritas, this is your place. I’m obsessed with their veggie fajitas.

Molly Moon’s
Downtown, Capitol Hill
If you’re looking for a quick dessert break, Molly Moon’s ice cream will hit the spot. Depending on your location, you can hit the Capitol Hill or Downtown location. The Downtown spot is a short walk from the convention center inside of The Chocolate Box (near Pike Place Market).

Rob Roy
2nd and Battery
Just looking for a quiet place to grab a well-made drink? Check out Rob Roy. These bartenders know what they’re doing. Don’t order your standard, instead let them recommend something great for you. The first time I went in here, they were playing the Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack, so they get bonus points for that.

Po Dog
10th and Union
If you make your way up to Capitol Hill for any of the parties and need a quick meal or late-night snack, Po Dog is your place. They have hot dogs in every style–be adventurous! A meet up (complete with gaming truck) will be held there on Sunday from 11am-2pm, so I’d recommend checking it out then.

Do you have other restaurant recommendations in Seattle? Leave them in the comments!