PAX 2008: Omegathon Finale
The big finish to PAX 2008 was the annual Omegathon Finale. Gambling on my good luck, I showed up only 40 minutes before the start time and found a massive line of people already in line and waiting to enter the main theater. I figured that since the last event in that theater had happened a few hours before, it would be a matter of minutes before we began filing in so the end contest could start relatively on time. I was in error. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes after the Finale was to begin that the doors opened. I couldn’t help but wonder at that peculiar systems engineering considerations that led to this decision.
Yet the wait did afford me the opportunity for a few observations. As we waited, with most gamers seated comfortably on the floor playing a slew of games on handheld consoles, cell phones, and laptops, a few balloons began to bounce through the attendees. People seemed to put great import in keeping the balloons in the air and I realized it was a sort of MMW (Massively Multi-user Waiting game). Of course, as with all such games there were griefers among us who took pleasure at popping the balloons and bringing upon themselves an intense barrage of boos from across the room.
Finally, the line began to move and we shuffled forward in an accordion fashion much like evening rush hour. As we advanced, the buzz of a thousand conversations drifted to the air, blending together in an unintelligible murmur. I had the sudden feeling that I was one of thousands of cattle waiting in line for the slaughterhouse. Some eager folk tried to surreptitiously slip ahead as we advanced and I couldn’t help but wonder what the cows talked about as they walked unwittingly to their own slaughter. Perhaps they thought they were at a con too and would see two cattle face off in a game for fame and glory (and cash). Fortunately, my growing trepidation proved unfounded as I entered the main theater to the sound of booming music. I was surprised, though, to see that there were no seats. It made sense because it meant a large number of people could get in quickly… but why wait so long to allow entry? That mystery remains unsolved.
My annoyance at the wait dissipated quickly with the arrival of Gabe and Tycho and the final two Omegathon contestants, Fallout and Geko. Last year the final round of the contest was Halo 3 and prior to that it’s been games such as Tetris and Pong. This time, the game was a great from 1987: “Vs. Excitebike” with four head-on-head bike races. The competition ended quickly, however, with Geko pulling first place in every single race on his red bike. After that, Gabe and Tycho sat down for their own competition. It was to be a day for red bikes with Gabe pulling in a victory all but one time.
With that, PAX 2008 came to its epic finish.