The Road to Pax – A crazy and inevitable decision


There is a signed Penny Arcade poster on our wall. Our bosses brought it back for us from San Diego ComicCon in 2001 (most awesome work present ever). We had it framed and hung on the wall as fair warning to all visiting non-geeks. Our second daughter, Raven was 4 at the time. I’m pretty sure she was too young to remember getting it and as far as she knows we’ve always had it. It’s moved house five times. Each time its been carefully re-hung to stand watch over the family.

It’s gotten pretty faded. These days we no longer work for our old company, having joined the growing ranks of indie game devs in 2011. Under Gabe and Tycho’s watchful eye Raven has grown from a shy little girl struggling at school into an increasingly capable artist whose work has been seen by tens of thousands of people. Our eldest has left home to attend Uni. We’ve had two whole other children. We’ve even made our very own video game.

We were just getting a handle on this indie game dev thing, working from home, living at the beach when our world suddenly shifted. We were starting the day browsing the internet when staring innocuously at us from our facebook feed was the most unexpected and wonderful of news – the Penny Arcade Expo was coming to Australia.

Immediately upon reading Nicole and I shared a moment of pure telepathy as we were struck by the same instantaneous sequence of thoughts.

“Oh my god. We’re going to PAX!”
“We’re going to PAX and we’re taking the kids.”
We’re going to PAX, we’re taking the kids and we’re GETTING A BOOTH AT PAX OMG!!”

However, there was a lot to consider before rushing off and committing our fledgling studio to an international public display. This was a huge decision. We’d never put together a booth before, our funds were tight and time even tighter. So we took a deep breath, stepped calmly back from the situation to weigh the pros and cons and precisely 47 seconds later rang the PAXAus people to book our booth.

While we were at it we grabbed tickets for our four daughters, our good friend Bruno and my eldest daughter’s boyfriend, just to be on the safe side. Her boyfriend’s tall and she met him at a D&D game, and I think we figured his height and/or DMing ability might come in handy somehow… maybe. In any case we had a booth booked at the first international Penny Arcade Expo. We were going to show off our little family-made game to the world and our kids were going to be right there with us.

We danced. We cavorted. We ran around with underpants on our heads secure in the absolute knowledge that we had made the most awesome business decision ever. We basked in a happy glow that lasted for about an hour. And then the panic set in. What had we done? What kind of crazy people take a four year old to a massive con while trying to run a booth? What was our booth going to be? Would we have a demo ready in time? Was this even possible?  (Its still anybody’s guess.)

We made plans, did our budget, designed our booth and in time the blind panic subsided to a constant level of stage fright that I’m sure will be with us until the 19th July.

But no matter how bad the jitters get, no matter how wracked our nerves become, the wonder of it stays with us still – we’re going to have a booth at PAX. I’m not sure I can convey how amazing and impossible that seems but looking up at our old framed poster of Gabe and Tycho I somehow feel we’ve kept a promise that we never knew we’d made.

Buckle up Stark family, Disparity Games is going to PAX.