PAX South 2017: My Adventures in Broadcasting
Penny Arcade Expo has brought their show back for a 3rd year in PAX South 2017, a 3-day convention highlighting many aspects under the focus of gaming from casual players to the most hardcore on a multitude of platforms. Penny Arcade Expo has brought their show back for a 3rd year in PAX South 2017, a 3-day convention highlighting many aspects under the focus of gaming from casual players to the most hardcore on a multitude of platforms. Anything about games that you can think about, you can find it at PAX, and 3 days may not be enough to experience everything possible about the expo. Personally as a performer who has barely played games in over a decade, the convention was overwhelming when I attended my first ever PAX in 2015, but the culture, technology, and innovations were so amazing it has motivated me back to gaming. Slowly I’ve been immersing myself in games during my extremely busy schedule, starting legacy games and casual one-hits to better manage my time and then eventually I found myself playing The Legend of Zelda in chronological order (starting with “The Decline of Hyrule” timeline), and then picking up and playing Pokemon Sun; upon realizing that there may be organized challenges at PAX South, I hurried to beat the main story to be ready for PvP battles (I’m definitely far from ready…for now). I’ve been looking forward PAX South for quite a long time as right now it ranks among my most favorite in San Antonio’s conventions, but this time instead of making this a casual adventure, I attended with a purpose, and that is to learn as much about streaming and broadcasting as possible.
Friday was probably had the most content about streaming and broadcasting out of all the three days so I managed to absorb as much information as I could and took a lot of notes. My first panel was New Friends, Better Streams: The Genius of Local Meetups, which talked about the meaning and benefits of a meetup and how to network with fellow streamers. Being a total n00b in streaming, I needed all the help I could get when it comes to video game broadcasting, not just my streaming, but who to follow and what to watch. This panel was fantastic to get newcomers into a crowd that think alike and boost momentums to meet with others to collaborate, make friends, and have fun. Meetups combat loneliness from working a one-person show and brings benefits to the broadcaster or fan such as networking, cross-promotion, and personal development; furthermore, meetups foster professional development as pre-planned get-togethers can allow attendees to gain close contacts with professionals, get links to the game industry, and collaborate in an intimate environment with fewer people and more attention versus a convention with a lot of people and little attention. Anyone interested in meetups should check if there is one in the local area already. I found out about Stream Texas powered by Twitch from a random after-party invite and followed their group over the weekend; they are pretty much what I’ve mentioned about meetups in the streaming sense and I’m looking forward to working with this group to build more get-togethers and the cohesion that follows. I’ve also attended a series of Streaming 101 panels powered by the good people at Beam. I just learned about Beam at this year’s PAX but from what I have experiences working with their product, it is another streaming platform; however, Beam seems to focus on efficiency for the broadcaster and the audience, eliminating as much latency as possible and providing features that allow broadcasters to create an environment for viewers to interact with an on-air game. The Streaming 101 panels provide advice on how to build a successful streaming career; some key points are: know the reason why to stream, have a positive attitude at all times (as viewers can see how sour a streamer is), keep commentary and reactions fresh and memorable, the best equipment is not always necessary but have a good microphone, manage appropriate resolutions and bitrates, and become regular viewers of other channels and build relationships on those channels. The Beam panelists also advised streamers to “be yourself” instead of worrying about the endgame (getting famous); broadcasting with the intention of making friends will allow streamers to naturally enjoy streaming rather than it being just work; in turn, networking will come naturally. I’ve also attended the Twitch Town Hall which introduced and showcased a package of new features such as AutoMod (automated moderation), IRL mobile broadcasting, and Twitch communities which help narrow the scope on what viewers want to watch and what audience Twitch broadcasters want to cater to with their streams. More information about their recent and upcoming features can be found on blog.twitch.tv.
Of course I had fun as well as I managed to meander around the Handheld Lounge and challenge some Pokémon gym leaders in the PAX Pokemon League, a fan-run organization that facilitates Pokémon battles at all Penny Arcade Expos. Pokémon battling was a significant objective for me at PAX as that I haven’t played Pokémon in over a decade and the only games I’ve played were Red, Sun, and also Y which I haven’t gone past the 2nd gym leader. Thanks to my daughter and the unity of fans brought on through Pokémon with its popularity in the last year, I was motivated to play and finish the main campaign of Pokémon Sun; however, my team was trained for PvE which would be quickly dispatched by gym leaders/captains, and trainers who have Pokémon trained for PvP. Pokémon Sun and Moon was still relatively new for PAX and was not as prominent as the generation of X, Y, and ORAS so now I have a year to breed and train Pokémon to stand more of a chance against certified gym leaders (or captains if your speaking about Sun and Moon). Finally, I finished my Friday by catching one of my favorite video game cover bands, Bitforce.
Bitforce has been a major name in San Antonio’s Nerdcore scene and has been reaching national attention as they got to perform at MAGFest earlier this month. Jamspace was one of my favorite hangouts of PAX which introduced me to MAGFest last year; in turn, gave me a worthwhile learning experience at the festival in Maryland while I was studying music at Berklee. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend as much time at Jamspace but I managed to catch these guys’ performance and reliving some of the awesome music from pop culture that I grew up with in the 90s. Definitely stay tuned to these guys. After Jamspace, I ended up retiring for the night as I knew I had a much longer day on Saturday; however, most of that day involved spending time with my wife watching NXT Takeover: San Antonio and partying with Stream Texas.
Although I had a busier schedule Saturday, my availability at PAX was a bit more spread out as the only panels I needed to catch were the Nerdcore panel and another Streaming 101 session. During the Nerdcore panel, I was introduced to Rockit Gaming, the very first music label focused on video game-themed music. Rockit Gaming discussed the future of video-game pop music and has brought a perspective that video game music will be a force to be reckoned with as this type of music is associated with the massive industry phenom that is video games. Rockit Gaming hopes to blur the lines between the niche side of Nerdcore with the Top40 Pop music that permeated our music scene for generations. They also offered advice on creating channels for aspiring artists such as: set the tone, offer something new, create content that give viewers reasons to return, work hard and smart, pay attention to others, always learn, and have fun. Finally, I was very impressed with their part in Operation Supply Drop, a campaign that provides support to troops through video game care packages, events, community outreach, and assistance programs, just to name a few.
After finishing the Streaming 101 panel on Saturday, I attempted to meandered around the Exhibit Hall to check out some games and products. Something I’ve learned going to PAX South for three years, I need to dedicate an entire day to the Exhibit Hall as there are always bodies and a lengthy queue to almost every game; I saw the Nintendo Switch line and immediately I thought “forget about it”. I may make the Exhibit Hall a focus for next year’s PAX as I hope to feature a lot of new and independent games into streams that I hope to work in 2018 so I may get a hotel room at the Hyatt or Marriott and ensure I wake up early enough to get in line before the start of the Exhibit Hall’s opening. A couple of games I’ve managed to check out are Freedom Planet, a side-scroller which tickled my fancy on legacy-style games, and RIFT, a massive multiplayer online RPG with a very comfortable interface. Eventually I caught up with my wife Ame to head out to NXT Takeover: San Antonio and as we expect with any NXT show, it was fantastic. Without sidetracking too much into WWE and professional wrestling, I will say that being at a live event is much better and very different than watching it on TV as you are among the energy that is brought in the area between the performers and the fans. We ended up walking back two miles from the Freeman Coliseum to downtown before getting a ride to The Davenport where Stream Texas was having their after-party and made quite a bit of friends in that group. As I don’t have content to stream right now, I wanted to see what everyone else is about and managed to collect a number of channels to watch and support.
Sunday morning, I intended on entering the Pokémon Sun and Moon tournament but was semi-hung over from the festivities the night before and somehow rationalized that I would not make the tournament as I haven’t eaten breakfast, would fight the traffic, fight for a parking spot, and would probably be annihilated early as my Pokémon weren’t PvP ready. Instead I took my time and had brunch at Which Wich and somehow ended up running close to the Twitch Q&A panel which answered questions about Twitch’s new features and possible requests for new features and enhancements. I challenged another Pokémon trainer before taking off to catch the Royal Rumble on TV as I was not about to spend hundreds of dollars to see a live event without my wife that may end up in disappointment after so much hype (it didn’t turn out bad but it was not as great as I expected and as I thought, NXT turned out to be the better show overall, but I do give Styles vs. Cena a 5-star match). PAX South came and went again and there was so much that I didn’t get to see, but I guess that’s a purpose of having 4 conventions around the world annually and that there’s always going to be a new adventure; furthermore, I get to choose the adventure. I’m not sure what I plan to do at the next PAX South or if I would attend any of the other PAX shows, but I do know that I will take time to check out that Exhibit Hall and hopefully arrive with some experiences in streaming, Pokémon battling, and much more. Thank you Penny Arcade and the expo’s staff and enforcers for facilitating a fantastic platform for us gamers, developers, performers, and fans. Nightkids, be sure to check out my photos on my Facebook page!
For now, I prepare for another three day gaming festival, this time taking place at The Woodlands near Houston, Texas. I return to GoGames360 to headline the League of Dance Friday night as they continue their tour to The Legends Sports Complex on February 10th. Tickets are still on sale so for those still looking for the next adventure soon, come level up at The Woodlands! Hope to see you nightkids main stage! Although my streaming accounts are still at their infancy and it’ll be some time before I stream myself, be sure to follow me on player.me/sephihakubi as it aggregates all my feeds. Finally, thank you so much to those that I’ve run into and all your support that you’ve given with what I do now as an EDM DJ and I hope I can take what I have learned at PAX to make your rave life smashing.