PAX Reflections

I write this ensconced in my AirBnB on Sunday evening, the penultimate day of PAX West 2016. PAX is usually the highlight of the year for me, and this time around was no exception – in fact, it was elevating in a deeply personal way.

What follows is a brain-dump of all the people I’ve met in the last 72 hours who’ve inspired me in one way or another. Mike Laidlaw exhorted us all to gush about creators – so this is my gush. In no particular order:

Sean K Reynolds – creator of easily my most successful D&D Campaign, Slavers, not to mention countless rules expansions and additions to the D&D and Pathfinder worlds.

Josh Sawyer – designer from Interplay and lead designer for Obsidian on Pillars of Eternity; also major inspiration of my tattoos.

Chris Avellone – lead writer for Planescape: Torment, which was my favourite game before Mass Effect and remains a cherished entry in my library. Totally rad.

Swen Vincke – founder of Larian Studios, makers of Divinity : Original Sin; a (literally) tower genius of a guy. He somehow designs incredibly audacious and ambitious games while remaining totally humble and approachable.

Eric Lang – board game designer of such titles as Blood Rage, Dice Masters/Quarriors, XCOM : The Boardgame, etc. A funny and thoughtful man who, it turns out, is incredibly generous with his time.

Mike Laidlaw – director for Dragon Age, an insightful creator and, demonstrably, skilled leader and manager.

Melanie Faulknor – localization manager for Dragon Age; while I’m an English-speaker, I can appreciate the herculean effort her job must be to capture in different languages all the nuance, humour and characterization of the gargantuan Dragon Age script. She’s also completely chaming.

Patrick Weekes – lead writer for Dragon Age and killer of many loved-ones. Generous, self-effacing and just a joy to talk to. Too bad Karin wasn’t in town – she was the highlight of my Calgary Expo (sorry Sam).

Rand Miller – RAND FUCKING MILLER, co-creator of MYST, Cosmic Osmo and, more recently, Obduction. A giant of the art form, and such a kind and soft-spoken guy – just like Atrus.

Joey Wiggs – lead programmer for the phenomenal Eon Altar. He is such a sweet and passionate guy – I’m pulling for him and his company, they’ve got something truly special and I want more. Buy their game. Just do it. DO IT.

Mike Mearls – co-designer of 5th Edition D&D and just all round excellent DM. Ran a game with less ego than you’d see in a college dorm game. Just a passionate and lovely man.

Renee Gittins – designer and lead on Potions: A Curious Tale. In an industry dominated by middle-aged white guys, Renee has corralled a team, built a product and is nailing it. She’s lovely, soft-spoken and upbeat – I eagerly await to see where she goes, it’ll be spectacular.

Will O’Neill – writer for Vagabond Dog’s ‘Monsters titles. Consummate Torontonian and just badical dude.

There were others, the crew at THQNordic comes to mind, as do the folks at Lone Shark games. It’s been such a wonderful three days – so many encounters, I’m still reeling from it all. There’s definitely catharsis in being able to thank these people personally, I’m so lucky to be able to do that.

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