With millions of site hits daily, one of the funniest and most critical videogaming web comics around, and a nationwide children’s charity running every fall (www.childsplaycharity.org), it still surprises me that there are people who haven’t heard of Penny Arcade and its founders, Mike Krahulik (a.k.a. Gabe) and Jerry Holkins (a.k.a. Tycho). What began as www.penny-arcade.com, a web portal and outlet for gaming critiques via regular news posts and comic strips, has grown to be much more than that, despite the popular media’s seemingly best efforts to the contrary (they did a horribly inaccurate job of covering last year’s Child’s Play fundraiser and toy drive). Many of their ideas, including the name of the site itself, are completely spontaneous and random. One day, one of the guys said to the other, “Let’s have a big party at the convention center and invite our readers.” They figured only their nearest and dearest would show up, maybe with a few stragglers in tow. What they got exceeded expectations in every way, and has become known as the Penny Arcade Expo (www.penny-arcade.com/pax), or PAX for short.
Pre-registration for the event began months in advance of the actual show (Aug. 28-29, 2004, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA). Throughout the summer of 2004, Gabe and Tycho, as they’re more commonly known to their readership, dreamed up more and more incentives for people to attend, including: