Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MAGfest X: Day 4

Apparently the last day of a con is practically non-existent.  There are very few panels to speak of, and most of the people there seemed to have checked out that morning and were wandering about with their luggage in tow.

I took advantage of the slow morning to go to the hotel gift shop and buy some souvenirs for my parents.  I had seen advertisements all around the hotel that mentioned the hotel had Dreamworks licensing, including giving you the option to have lunch with Shrek.  For the season, they also had a gingerbread designing workshop with Gingy.  As much as I love doing that kind of stuff in Disney World, I thought that was a really cute idea for people who might bring their kids to the hotel.



I decided against buying my parents anything that said "Gaylord" on it and instead went with a Washington DC mug for my dad and a "Behind every successful woman is a lot of chocolate" magnet for my stepmom.  Once done there I headed upstairs where I was hoping to catch a panel about overcoming writer's block.  However for whatever reason one of the presenters was running late and I started to doze off in my chair waiting, so I decided to head back to the room for caffeine.  On the way I walked past the Channel Awesome Rock Band panel and noticed they were allowing people to line up and play.

Inspiration struck.  After meeting my idol and doing awesome and making friends with strangers, I was going to make it a triple header and perform in front of a large crowd of people - something the me that existed before this trip would never have dreamed of doing.

I rushed back to the room and announced to everyone there my plan.  Because they are all awesome, they immediately got up to join me.  We got there and got in line, but unfortunately, it was not particularly well organized.  They put us in seats in a zig zag pattern, but some idiot decided he wasn't giving up his seat that was in the middle of  the line.  That created confusion and some people didn't know where to go.  We suggested to the MAGfest crew that they create separate lines for people who wanted to sing, play guitar or do drums.  They ignored us at first, but after a couple rounds realized that was actually necessary, and when people got up they ignored the order of the line again.  Add to that some people's insistence on doing really long songs like "Space Oddity" and "White Wedding" and I didn't get to go up before time ran out.  Needless to say I was pretty disappointed.  But despite my grumbling, it was actually really fun listening to and singing along with everyone else.

Before the trip, I pretty much knew that if karaoke or Rock Band was available, Dayna was going to ask me to do "Sabotage."  Not without good reason, mind you. But I remember thinking that part of me wanted to sing if given the chance, to help conquer a fear I have of singing in front of people.  But in that moment, when given the opportunity, I wanted to do "Sabotage" because I wanted to perform. As much as I love writing, I suddenly understood the draw to being on a stage like I never had before.  With any luck, I'll get that actual chance sometime soon.

By the time we went back to the room and got food, the con was basically over.  They had all been wanting to play D&D since the start, and their old DM Sean agreed to lead them.  They invited me to play but I elected not to.  I didn't want to slow them down when they were all pretty used to playing together.  It turns out what he had planned for them was basically a no win situation, so I'm kind of glad I didn't take part.  But it was really fun to listen to.  By the time that was finished it was super late, and Lewis (Linkara) finally got in touch with Dayna so they could interview him for Made of Fail.  He stopped by and they recorded and took a picture and then it was time to go to sleep as we had to leave early in the morning.  Except for the part where we didn't really go to sleep at all.

You know when you were a kid at a slumber party, and someone would say it was time to go to bed, but then someone makes a joke and you all start giggling all over again?  That's pretty much what we did for a few hours.  That close to the end of our trip, I don't think any one of us wanted it to end.  It made us pretty exhausted the next morning, but it was totally worth it.

So when I said that I changed as a person through this trip, what I basically mean is that  I gained a ton of self confidence.  There's nothing like being around a bunch of fellow geeks/nerds to make you realize that you're not alone with all those things going on through your head.  We're all a little insecure sometimes, we all feel like outsiders, we all want to be liked.  When you're surrounded by hundreds of other people, many of  them wearing shirts with geeky sayings or full out dressing up as their favorite characters, it makes it hard to feel like a loser.  So if you have any reservations about going to cons at all, I highly recommend dropping them and checking one out.  Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MAGfest X: Day 3

While there were a couple panels I could have gotten up early for, the drinking and staying up late the night before meant that  I decided the only panel I needed to attend was the James Rolfe Q&A at 6.  I wandered around a little bit before hand while nearly everyone else headed to TGWTG panel.  Apparently the lines for that one were so long they wrapped around 6 times.  Somehow they still all managed to get in though.  I was too antsy to play any games, so I called Jak and talked to him until 4:15.  Chris joined me soon after as he hadn't gone to TGWTG either.  There was a panel starting at 4:30 that preceded James' panel.  Once everyone was loaded in for that one we lined up right outside and ended up about 5th in line.

During the wait, a man covered in black from head to toe and carrying a puppet walked up to the front of the line and asked if this was the line for the AVGN panel.  He spoke only through the puppet.  I was allowed to take a picture of them only because I was "a hot girl."

The nametage says Aaron, but the puppet's name is actually Marcus. 

He continued to be snarky and mess with people and tell really bad puns, therefore making the wait highly enjoyable.  At one point a guy in a similar green outfit walked up, and he started to ask him questions: "Is it hot in that suit?  How do you go to the bathroom?  What about when you need to eat?" He ended up sitting next to us once we were inside and that was fun.  He's apparently featured in Mega64s videos.  Well I know what I need to go check out now...

Notice him slyly putting his hand on Breda's.

Our view from the second row. 

There were some decent questions and also some rude ones, as I pretty much expected.  Some of the ones you won't hear in the edited version on Cinemassacre were someone basically accusing his wife of mellowing him out (James specifically mentioned two different episodes and asked if those were angry enough.  When the guy said yes, he told him he was married long before he made those.) and Pageant Mom making another appearance asking when he would be doing a Casting Call in Connecticut so her son could get in the film. (She had apparently also been asking questions at TGWTG panel.  Big surprise.)  Someone also inevitably brought up The Irate Gamer and other video game reviewers, to which James stressed that he had no problems with anyone. Classy guy, right there. 

For the signing we had to go downstairs to the dealer area.  On one hand it made sense, because I guess that way you could immediately buy a DVD or t-shirt and have him sign it.  On the other hand it meant we had to rush down there and we ended up further back in the line then if we had just gone in order from where we were sitting in the panel.  I probably shouldn't complain though, as it gave me time to prepare.

I had decided going in that I didn't want an autograph.  I technically am already getting one because I gave him money through Indiegogo to get the movie made.  I knew I wanted a picture, but what was I going to say?  After a bit of thought I had decided I would make him something.  Last year I had bought some blank Munnys from kidrobot and attempted to make an AVGN one just for my own collection.  It came out okay, but not perfect.  I went back to the drawing board and designed a different one this time around to give to James.  When I heard Mike was also going to be there, I decided to make one of his character too.  While Mike hasn't been as big an inspiration to me as James, his characters in the AVGN and Board James episodes make me laugh hysterically on a consistent basis, so as far as  I was concerned I owed him something as well.

Everyone I had shown them to ahead of time thought they were adorable, but I was still pretty nervous leading up to it all.  I'll admit, I came really close at one point to chickening out and not doing it.  But given how much I had been fretting about it the entire weekend, there was no way my roommates were going to let me get away with that.  We were about ten feet back in line when I had another momentary crisis: I started to worry about how I looked.  Back in November 2010 a dog bit me on the nose, requiring major surgery.  I've been incredibly self conscious about the scar ever since.  I had a momentary irrational panic about it, but then Dayna whispered in my ear and made me laugh.  I took a deep breath and decided that I wasn't going to let that ruin this moment - no one else seemed to give a damn about the thing, so why I was I so worried about it all the time?  Fortunately it worked and before I knew it I was standing in front of James.

Forgive the blurriness in these pics, Dayna was taking them as quickly as she could while I was talking to them.

Look at how incredibly excited he looks!!

The first thing he said when he saw him was "He's not wearing any pants!"  I sighed and said "He's wearing khakis, I swear to God!!"  A couple of friends had said the same thing to me via Twitter earlier, so the comment wasn't entirely out of left field.  But dammit, I swear I used two separate color paints!

Not sure exactly what I was saying here, but I'm putting this one so that even though it's really blurry you can see that Mike was happy to get his as well.




Yes you do need to see three pictures of that moment.  And also video!  It was a very important moment for me!

James was seriously really giddy about the whole thing.  "Oh, look, his arms move too!!"  "He has a tail!!"  Mike seemed a little more reserved but I don't think he was unhappy with them.  He was mostly working camera duty for the signing so perhaps he was distracted.  But I was so happy with myself because I didn't cry and I didn't stutter or stammer at all.  I gave them my card so they could know to credit me (and maybe also check out my website some time? pretty please?) and I made them smile and laugh and it was incredibly awesome.

After that I was basically feeling invincible.   Just about anything could have happened and I would not have been phased.  Though that theory did get tested later on...

From there we ended up back in Chris and Jason's room for more drinking.  I realized very quickly that drinking without food was very bad, so I had to take a break to go back to the room and eat a sandwich, and George was a super-nice guy and came with me.  But then George is always super-awesome like that, so it's really no surprise.

When we returned both Breda and Chris were super-drunk and left on a mission to get Chris a girlfriend.  Since everyone else was watching football at that point (*snore*), I decided to go find them.  Ended up listening to a bit of the Earthbound Papas in the process.  I believe it was the boss theme from Final Fantasy 7.  When  I eventually found Breda and Chris they had met Derrick, who was happy to tell me that he knew a lot of arcade record breakers and also people who worked for video game companies.  Let's just say I was having flashbacks to listening to local New Orleans musicians who like to tell you all about how they know Dax Riggs or Phil Anselmo (Little known fact:  Everyone in New Orleans has some kind of connection to Phil Anselmo, whether you give a crap or not.)

Our attempts to find a girl proved unsuccessful, mostly because both of my cohorts were really too drunk to make that mission successful.  I will save the gory details to protect the innocent, but suffice to say I was basically taking care of both of them after a while there.  I managed to get Breda back into bed with some water and we eventually succeeded with Chris as well and I went back to the LordKat party room in order to see it shut down by security due to noise around 2 am.

I do have to say I feel bad for anyone who was at that hotel for any reason other than MAGfest.  While most of us were mature and the "elevator party" crowd was kicked out Friday night and never seen again, it had to be a bit loud and obnoxious at night for anyone who wasn't there for the con.

We eventually crashed back in the hotel room, and this time I couldn't sleep because I was too damn happy rather than nervous.

Friday, January 13, 2012

MAGfest X: Day 2

We all woke up at what felt like ridiculously early in order to get to the Atop the 4th Wall panel at 10 am.  Dayna and Chris left a little earlier than us and managed to get in the front row.  The rest of us ended up in the third row on the right side, so still not too bad.


In general I'm actually more a fan of Lewis than I am of Linkara.  I've enjoyed listening to him on his appearances on Made of Fail, but I find a lot of the At4W humor to be based on nitpicking when I'd rather hear a valid critique.  Regardless,  I really enjoyed the panel.  His review of the ridiculous Turbo Duo comic was funny because it's a horrible comic to begin with, and I also enjoyed the Robocop vs Terminator #1 review that he showed us.  When the panel was done they sent us downstairs for the meet and greet and we ended up being the first ones there.  However  I didn't actually get to meet him because we were talking while waiting for him and in the midst of conversation it sounded like I was going to have to meet James alone the next night and I started freaking out right there in public.  Bad me.

Pageant Mom made another appearance, basically pushing Dayna out of the way as she was talking to Lewis in order to get her son an autograph.

We headed back to the room to nap some more after the panel.  I was surprised to find out that by this point I had collected 100 Miis with my 3DS.  I had only found 2 people when I was back home, so it that was a fun surprise.  There were a decent number of TGWTG people on there too which was amusing.  I had one more panel I wanted to see that day, but it didn't start until 4:30 so I decided to go down to the merchandise and game room to see what I could find.  I wanted to maybe get some Atari games for Jak, but they didn't seem to sell anything earlier than NES there.  Has the market for earlier consoles really gone down that much at this point?

With nothing I wanted to buy I walked through the arcade and then over to where the consoles were.  This was a huge area opposite the arcade where you could play Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Wii, Xbox, or Playstation games.  A lot of people seemed to be using it for FPS multiplayer or fighting games, but I spotted Super Mario Kart abandoned and welcomed the chance to play an old classic.  I was two races in when someone walked up and started chatting with me about the game.  I asked if he wanted to join me, and he said yes.  We played the Mushroom, Flower, and Special Cup at 100cc.  He got first place on the first two, with me coming in third, but the computer was just too good for us to get past the ghost road in the special cup.  Neither one of us had played the original game in years, so that didn't help.  Anyway, his name was Eric and you can find him on Youtube doing Let's Plays as Thinker2112.  Check him out!

I was feeling pretty good after that exchange. I had talked to a complete stranger for a good thirty minutes!  It certainly says to me that what you hear about cons is true.  You do have something in common with nearly everyone there, and even if you're usually one who stammers your way through a conversation, you're going to do tons better in this environment.  I would continue to have something to talk about with every random person I ran into.  The easiest thing to ask a person is where they are from, and the second easiest is to ask them what they came to see.  Those awkward feelings I tend to have around the average person, the "I don't know what to say" issues, were really just gone.

We parted ways as he went to go check out Brentalfloss and I headed to Zen and the Art of Video Game Reviewing.  This was a panel hosted by Justin Carmichael (Jew Wario), Pat Contri (Pat the NES Punk), James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) and Joey DeSena (of 16 Bit Gems).  It was a silly title, but essentially it was the same kind of thing as what Derek Alexander had hosted the day before, but the extra people meant you got to learn a few different ways to approach it.

I was, of course, mostly there for James.  I don't know why but I was partially expecting him to look different in person, but no - he's the same shy adorable guy you see in his videos.  I sat in the front row on the right side, and tried to take notes and not get nervous every time I thought he might be looking in my direction.

Fairly decent view from where I was.

A few key points they mentioned that Derek hadn't:
  • Research thoroughly and admit when you're not sure.
  • Review the final product many times to catch mistakes.
  • Have a goal when you begin writing.
  • Vary your shots to make things interesting.
  • Lighting is very important.
  • Be animated.
  • Time code footage to aid in editing.
If you'd like to see the panel in it's entirety, check it out here.  The guys really made it fun even if you're not interested in doing video game reviews.

Awesome Shinya Arino (from Game Center CX) cosplayer who I saw while leaving the panel.

I headed back to the room to catch up with everyone and found out we were going to the pub right across the street from the hotel.  Chris (RolloT) and Jason (LordKat) also came with us.  About halfway through an Irishman got up and started playing a mix of covers and traditional Irish songs, which was a lot of fun to listen to.  Despite the fact that a lot of us purposefully didn't order food, our bill ended up being $400.    I had two Blue Moons and apparently that was all I needed to be severely drunk.

Actually not drunk yet here.  It was just a really bright flash on his camera.  That's Jason and Dayna with me.

This is me and Dayna drunk.

We went back to the room briefly to sample some chocolate wine that Breda had bought (It was pretty good!) before I headed to the gameroom with Chris and Breda. I saw James Rolfe going in ahead of us with his wife, his best friend Mike Matei and another guy who I'm pretty sure is their web designer/app programmer Ryan.  I immediately started freaking out.

I should probably explain.  I'm not really one to give a damn about celebrities.  I know that people are people regardless of what they do for a living and I don't think anyone is more important in the grand scheme of things than anyone else.  But I am socially awkward, and I do frequently worry about what people think of me.  I really admire James.  Not only because I think he's a really talented filmmaker, but because he's also pretty shy.  If you watch some of the videos he puts up from when he was young, it's really obvious.  Even now, he's still fairly withdrawn and not a largely animated person unless he's performing.  I watch those videos and I see someone I can relate to, and yet someone who is also conquering that and getting up in front of people and talking and answering questions.  While maybe that should make me think I have nothing to be scared of in meeting him, all I could think was "I can't make a fool of myself in front of him, I want him to think I'm cool like I think he is cool."  So basically any time I saw him anywhere, whether at the panel, walking through the lobby when we left for the pub, or again down in the arcade room, my initial reaction was to freeze, make an unintelligible noise, and then once he was at a safe distance to turn to my friends and go "Did you see?!  It was him!!!"

So we lost track of them as a group but eventually spotted Mike talking to a bald guy.  I point them out to Breda and daring superhero that she is, she put her arm around me and walked up to them.  I could pretty much only stare as she told the bald guy that his head looked awesome and then told Mike that he was an attractive man.  He looked slightly scared but otherwise polite.  We moved on and ended up playing some Mortal Kombat III together.  We're both button mashers so it was fairly evenly matched, but I came out the victor in the end.  After a little bit I spotted James.  This time when she tried to drag me over I froze in place, so she left me standing with Chris and walked over to him herself.  I found out later that she basically told him "Hi, I'm really drunk and my friend over there is a big fan of yours but is too shy to talk to you.  Would you mind coming over and saying hello?"

He did just that.  I believe Chris told  him he was a big fan of his then shook his hand.  Then James turned to me, smiling, and said hi.  I managed to get a slow "Hiiii" out and then he reached over and hugged me!!!  I  continued to brag about this for most of the con.  Mostly because he didn't have to do that.  When he's at a con like that he runs into so many people, some of which are probably down right inappropriate or weird, yet he was willing to hug me in a gesture of "Hey, I'm not scary, see?"  So incredibly sweet.  I managed to stammer out that he was a huge inspiration to me, and I think he said thanks (I was nervous and excited and drunk, I don't remember!).  Then I told him I had a gift for him tomorrow.  Chris started to tell him what it was but I shushed him loudly and said "It's a surprise!!"  James laughed and said "Okay" before leaving to catch up with his wife.

I was ridiculously giddy at that point and we headed up back to the room to tell everyone.  We saw George walking in the lobby and I practically ran to him to tell him and hug him, and then we went back to the room and I excitedly told Dayna.  I'll be honest, I can't remember much else of what happened that night because I was way too happy.  I still had to get through the Meet & Greet with him tomorrow, but he had hugged me!  He was a nice guy!  What did I have to worry about?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

MAGfest X: Prologue and Day 1

I've been wanting to attend MAGfest since I first heard of its existence back in 2010.  This past weekend, I did just that.  I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write some blog posts giving a recap of my experiences there, but what I didn't know was that it was going to be the story of a huge change in my life as a person.

In the days leading up to the trip I started to get really, really nervous.  I was going because I wanted the chance to meet Derek Alexander and James Rolfe, to play a ton of video games and hopefully make some friends.  About the only part of that that wasn't scary to me was playing video games.  What if I made an ass of myself in front of these people I admire?  What if I didn't get along with anyone?  I had seen someone claim that MAGfest was a con for extraverts and I was anything but.  I was sharing a room with six people and only knew two of them, had only known those people for about a year.  I had heard stories of socially awkward nerds saying they felt at home at cons, but what if that didn't apply to me?  What if I was the weirdo even amongst weirdos?

So after much agonizing and nail biting and lack of sleep, I arrived in the Washington DC area around 2:30 on the day before the con began.  First thing we did after check in was what we would continue to struggle with for most of the trip:  Try to find affordable food.  The convention was inside a very nice hotel, which unfortunately meant no freebies to speak of and only really expensive restaurants inside.  Fortunately we ended up finding a Takeout Taxi type of delivery service which made this more bearable for most of the trip.  We also eventually got some food from the grocery and CVS, meaning there were a lot of PB&J sandwiches eaten that weekend.

There wasn't really a whole lot to do on Wednesday beyond getting our badges and wristbands.  You could tell a few other people had checked in early like us, but it was still largely deserted.  I actually spotted Derek Alexander in the hallways when we were walking about, but he looked to be headed somewhere with a purpose and I did not have the guts to bother him at that point anyway.

Four out of my five roommates all knew each other from playing D&D together online, and the other roommate had a decent amount of experience with the game before.  I played all of one game in the past, and was generally frustrated with the lack of actual role playing I did in it.  My point being, this early on I felt like everyone else had something in common and I didn't, and that I didn't really belong.  They were talking about going to a party being held in another room, and at that point I just couldn't do it.  In fact I couldn't seem to do anything but cry.  And then I got mad at myself for crying.  It was a vicious circle. I eventually forced myself to go to the other room and join the party, but found myself with nothing to say to anyone because they were all talking D&D.  I left early and went to bed, promising myself that failing this one night didn't mean my entire weekend was ruined.

Day 1

When I woke up the next morning (at 8 am for some insane reason) I put on my Phoenix shirt, determined to take the "rebirth" theme to heart and start fresh.  I left the room without the two friends I knew and wandered with the others.  The con had not officially begun but most of the rooms were open, so we familiarized ourselves with the layout before heading outside the hotel.  One of our roommies, Gav, is from the UK and he needed to activate his phone for American use temporarily.  It was particularly cold that morning and my Southern self did not enjoy the incredibly chilly air coming off the harbor, that's for sure!

When we got back we ordered pizza and watched an episode of Dr. Who before things finally started to open.  In the arcade room, only about half of the machines were actually turned on and working.  The fighting games were probably the most popular, so we didn't wait around for those.  Instead I tried my hand at Defender (thanks to AdRock's line in "Body Movin'") and found out I had no idea how to play that game at all.  An attempt to play an arcade version of Super Mario Bros went a little better, and I even surprised myself at how good I was at Pac-Man.  I also got to play the Star Trek: The Next Generation version of pinball, which is good because it looked to be broken later on in the con.  This is another complaint about the con in general - far too many of the machines seemed to not work or would break easily.  However it's hard to complain when you're being allowed to play for free.

A ninja playing Mortal Kombat II.  As they do.


I separated from everyone in order to catch my first panel - Derek Alexander's Video Production Workshop.  On my way there I had taken the stairs up from floor 1 to floor 2 and was slightly out of breath.  I elected to take the escalator to floor 3.  I must have looked a little worn out because the guy in front of me says, "You're not upset this early on, are you?"  I laughed and told him I was just tired.  He asked me what my shirt was, and I moved the strap of my messenger bag to give him a better look.  "Oh!  I didn't recognize it at first.  I really preferred Rachel more myself anyway."  "Me too!  But sadly they don't sell Rachel shirts, so I take what I can get."  He introduced himself and we shook hands.  Sadly I lost track of him and didn't see him for the rest of  the con.  But it was my first "random encounter" with a like minded person and I was excited about it.  When I got to the panel room, DJ Cutman was still guiding people through how to make a remix, so I got to hear the tail end of that.  I could see Derek standing on the side of the room waiting, talking to his friends Calvin and Pat (better known to the internet as Pat the NES Punk).  Since I was still in complete shy mode, all I could do was text Jak excitedly and take a very blurry picture of Derek from afar.

I apologize for how bad a pic this truly is.

Derek is best known on the internet for being the Happy Video Game Nerd.  The series started out as a fun parody of the Angry Video Game Nerd series before Derek really made it is his own.  His enthusiasm for the games he talks about can be infectious.  He's branched out into some new series lately, all of which try to bring a more positive focus to reviewing in general.  I get pretty sick of all the negativity out there myself, so Derek's videos tend to be like a breath of fresh air.  The panel had been described on the schedule as Derek taking us through the whole process from recording to editing a video right there in the panel.  Unfortunately he wasn't able to bring all his equipment with him.  Cut him some slack though - the guy came all the way from Alaska to be there!

So instead he gave us some general tips on how to do good video game reviews, and really a lot of the advice also applied to any kind of review.  Here's some of the major things he said:

  • Write the script while you play so it's fresh in your mind.
  • Try to go through the entire game if you can, admit it when you don't.
  •  You may speak differently than you write, so it's best to try to write in your natural speaking cadence instead.
  •  Talk to your audience as if they are intelligent but uninformed.
  •  Record only a paragraph at a time and don't be afraid to re-record when you screw up.
  •  Be interesting, not thorough.
  •  No one is immune to hate.  Don't whine and don't respond to it.  Ever. 
I think that last one is particularly important to all of us who post anything on the internet.  At some point and time, you're going to run into negative feedback.  It's best to simply try to figure out if there's anything valid the people are telling you, take what you can from it, and ignore the rest.

This panel was my first encounter with Pageant Mom.  Being the first day, the panel was not heavily attended and Derek was taking a lot of questions as he went, trying to be as informative as possible.  This lady raised her hand multiple times.  How much did software cost?  What kind of video camera do you need?  Do you really need a Mac or is a PC fine?  How did you get famous?  Is this all you do?  How does someone get noticed?  Basically, her kid has grown up watching these various internet reviewers on Youtube, and he no doubt told her that he wants to be one when he grows up.  Her, being a clueless adult that knows nothing about how these things work and that most of us will never see any real money from doing reviews, thought she'd bring her kid to the con and pester every reviewer out there in an effort to "make this happen" for her kid.  He looked to be about 14 at the oldest, so how that kid was able to stand next to his mom like that and not die of embarrassment is beyond me. 

After the panel I caught up with everyone else to eat and then wander around again.  This time we went to the tabletop section of the ground floor, where there were tons of board games and card games available for you to play at any time.  We ended up picking up Munchkin, and since Breda was the only one of us who had played before, she guided us through it.  Munchkin is a card game that has a bit of role playing quality to it,  but the rules are fairly loose.  Basically you fight monsters and take treasure, and your goal is to reach level 10 first.  It's highly encouraged to cheat or at least screw over the other players to make sure you win.  At first I wasn't really liking it, but once the competition started to heat up it became really fun.  Breda won, probably because with her helping us learn to play so much we didn't start stopping her leveling until it was too late.

This is technically from before we played, but so what.  Our group from left to right: Chris, me, Gav, Dayna, George, and Breda.

Yes, I'm really short.

That was pretty much it for the night.  We all went to bed semi-early because we had a panel to get to in the morning.
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