Iconic 1977 Apple pillow at PAX East

March 25th, 2019 10:31 AM
by
Filed under Happenings;
Comments Off on Iconic 1977 Apple pillow at PAX East

Last fall, I contributed to Roberto Hoyos' Kickstarter for "The Iconic Pillow Collection", which would deliver soft, plush pillows modeled after classic Apple products. Mine arrived about a month ago and is everything it was advertised to be.

It's also a great complement for my handmade, one-of-a-kind floppy pillow — though clearly there's a discrepancy in scale between the two.

A floppy disk pillow next to the Apple II pillow.

Objects in pillow may be larger than they appear.

The Apple II pillow is now on sale in the Throwboy store for $39.99. But the best outcome of this Kickstarter is still to be realized.

Every year, I attend PAX East, a massive video game convention in Boston, Massachusetts whose attendance is roughly 600 times that of KansasFest. I do my best to represent the Apple II at PAX, whether by hosting panels about classic game genres or bringing an actual Apple II to PAX.

This year, I was assembling a panel of artists who make crafts inspired by classic gaming hardware and software. It didn't take me long to realize I had just backed such an artist on Kickstarter! I reached out to Roberto Hoyos, CEO of Throwboy and co-host of the podcast That Thing You Made, and he enthusiastically answered my call.

Our collaboration will be "The Art of Craft: Inspiring Game Creations", being held Sunday, March 31, 1:30–2:30 PM in Arachnid Theatre.

Slide with panel details

Video games are art — and art imitates video games. The characters, colors, and aesthetics of our favorite digital worlds have spawned an industry of apparel and crafts that keep us warm and add a flair of the fantastic to ourselves and our homes. We'll hear from amateur, hobbyist, and professional artists and creators about the inspirations and tools they use to create, enjoy, and sell their custom clothes, jewelry, furniture, paintings, and more.

Featuring:

Follow along with the #paxcraft hashtag on Twitter, and expect Apple II pillows on display in force!!

Reboot Our Roots at PAX East 2015

March 2nd, 2015 8:38 AM
by
Filed under Game trail, Happenings;
Comments Off on Reboot Our Roots at PAX East 2015

This week marks Boston's sixth annual PAX East, and my sixth time attending the video game expo with Juiced.GS editor Andy Molloy. Inspired by our Apple II magazine's 2014 cover stories about Leisure Suit Larry and Shadowgate, we'll be bringing our retrogaming love to bear on the event.

On Sunday, March 8, at 1:30 PM EDT, I'll be moderating the panel "Reboot Our Roots: Bringing Our Favorite Genres Back to Life"

Many of today's indie games are spiritual successors of yesteryear's hits, from King's Quest to Gabriel Knight to Quest for Glory — with some even being developed by the same teams that brought us the originals. What's it like to reboot a franchise or genre after 30 years? How do you update a classic while staying true to the original? Industry veterans share their stories of revisiting their roots, taking up their heroes' mantles, and what they've learned in the intervening years.

I'm excited to be hosting this panel with so many talented developers. Katie Hallahan of Phoenix Online Studios will be representing Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, as well as the King's Quest fan sequel The Silver Lining, which I previously presented at KansasFest 2010. Steven Alexander will be on the panel discussing Quest for Infamy, a spiritual successor to Quest for Glory, while Dave Wadjet will present his original creation, the Blackwell series, a point-and-click adventure inspired by the games of yesteryear.

This will be my third year moderating panels at PAX East, and the third year the Apple II has influenced my contributions to PAX. In 2013, I coordinated the donation of an Apple II gaming rig to become a permanent part of the freeplay console room. And in 2014, I moderated a panel on gender equality in gaming, which was made possible through 8-bit connections.

If you're in Boston this weekend and have a ticket to this sold-out show, please stop by "Reboot Our Roots" on Sunday afternoon and say hello — it'll be great to meet fellow gamers who have been around long enough to appreciate these classic genres and franchises. If you can't make it ot the panel, it will be recorded by Travis Stewart of Broken CRT Productions and will be posted to Apple II Bits at a later date.

UPDATE (May 25, 2015): Here's a video of the panel, as well as coverage from 2Old2Play.

Apple II & feminism at PAX East 2014

March 17th, 2014 1:00 PM
by
Filed under Happenings;
Comments Off on Apple II & feminism at PAX East 2014

Two years ago today, I was at GameFest, the opening weekend of The Art of Video Games, an art exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It was the performance of chiptune artists 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer that drew me there, but I went home with connections to the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers.

A year later, that connection landed me on stage at Boston's PAX East gaming convention, moderating a panel on the best video games of the year. Having developed my moderation skills at KansasFest, I found PAX an exciting and encouraging venue in which to continue hosting discussions on some of my favorite hobbies.

Emboldened, I sought to return the PAX stage in 2014 with a panel of more critical social value. Inspired by the work of Anita Sarkeesian, whose work I discovered upon backing her Kickstarter, I started brainstorming with Juiced.GS associate editor Andy Molloy as far back as June 27 and finally submitted my proposal last month. With the official schedule for PAX East having been announced last week, I'm pleased to announce that my proposal has been accepted, and I will be moderating the panel "Sex, Sexy & Sexism: Fixing Gender Inequality in Gaming".

The Apple II connection? Not only would this panel never have developed without chiptune artists, Juiced.GS editors, and KansasFest sessions — I was also able to feature the Apple II itself at ten seconds into the above trailer.

The Apple II — it makes all things possible!

Panel suggestions for KansasFest 2013

July 1st, 2013 2:48 PM
by
Filed under Happenings;
Comments Off on Panel suggestions for KansasFest 2013

KansasFest is only a month away, and submissions for sessions are still being accepted. I know from past experience that I am happiest when I am able to contribute to an event. For example, this past March's PAX East was my favorite of the four I've attended, courtesy the opportunity to moderate the panel "Will Win/Should Win". I enjoyed being on stage and sharing it with such talented gaming critics as Susan Arendt, Jesse Cox, Charles Battersby, and Will Brierly.

But that wasn't my first rodeo, nor my first panel. Although I've been presenting at KansasFest almost every year for the past decade, lately I've cottoned to the panel format, as it allows multiple voices to be heard and engaged with. I moderated one panel at KansasFest 2010 and in the following years assembled panels for other attendees to moderate:


This was a blast. Let's do it again!

I would like to resume the role of panel moderator at KansasFest 2013, but I've not yet given much thought as to what an appropriate topic might be. Ideally, it would be something timely (as in the 2010 and 2012 examples, above) or which plays to the panelists' strengths (as in 2011, when Bob Bishop and Steve Weyhrich were guest speakers).

What issue is facing Apple II users, either within the Apple II community or in the larger Apple realm, today? What products, be they GS/OS, Mac OS X, Kickstarter, or Juiced.GS, warrant debate? Who has an expertise or opinionated personality that we can exploit with some time in the spotlight?

Let me hear your suggestions!

What to present at KansasFest

April 7th, 2011 11:58 AM
by
Filed under Happenings;
3 comments.

KansasFest 2011, having recently opened for registration, has now put out the first call for sessions. Besides the camaraderie that can be found only in the company of Apple II users, the sessions are perhaps my favorite part of KansasFest. They appeal to all interests, from Apple II to iOS and hardware to software, and all experience levels, from journeyman to artisan.

I attended three KansasFests before being promoted to dinner banquet emcee, but it was six KansasFests before I gave my first session. In 2004 and 2005, I reviewed my favorite Apple II games in a pair of sessions that I barely recall. Bruce Baker continued that tradition in 2006 through 2009, focusing primarily on his favorite Softdisk titles and letting me off the hook. I was again just an audience member for 2006 through 2008, with the exception of a self-running showing of a chapter from BBS: The Documentary in 2007 and, to fill a gap in the 2008 session schedule, a brief and impromptu tour of the social media site Facebook, which I had joined five months earlier.

Then, in 2009, KansasFest started becoming very busy for me! I kicked off a new series called "Classic Gaming Inspirations", which looked at modern-day titles that capture the feel or spirit of original Apple II titles. I also compiled and showed the segments of the television show Dancing with the Stars in which Apple II inventor Steve Wozniak competed.

Deciding that two sessions wasn't enough, in 2010, I cranked up my commitment to an unprecedented five sessions:

If I follow the 2x+1 formula that represents my increase in sessions from 2009 to 2010, then I'll be giving an exhausting 11 sessions in 2011. I'm determined to go the opposite direction and ease up on my contributions, making room for other attendees to participate and allowing myself time to enjoy more of KansasFest.

Apple's Growing Divide Between Users and Programmers

'The brain power there caused the room to tilt a bit!'
said Kirk Mitchell of this KansasFest 2010 panel.

To that end, I've thus far committed to only two sessions: a behind-the-scenes look at the Open Apple podcast with my co-host Mike Maginnis, and a sequel to last year's banquet activity of the live-action text adventure game Action Castle. My tradition of offering a gaming session will again die, I hope to again be picked up by someone who's been similarly inspired.

But I would like to offer a third session: another panel, akin to last year's "Apple's Growing Divide Between Users and Programmers". The Apple II community has some genuine experts in their fields, and the opportunity to tap that collective wisdom shouldn't be overlooked. All I need is a topic that is relevant and of interest, but without being too controversial — we don't want to leave the room with any hard feelings, after all.

What sessions or panel topics would you recommend for KansasFest 2011?