If PAX East was Training Day, Robert Khoo would be Denzel Washington, flashing terrifying grins, oozing confidence. Riding shotgun, the rookie: Guy Blomberg. Nervous, but ultimately capable.
There will be no ingestion of illicit narcotics, this weekend will not end with a climactic shootout on the cold, hard streets of Boston, Massachusetts. But, by the end of PAX East, Guy ‘Yug’ Blomberg — co-creator of The Mana Bar, now content & communications manager of PAX Australia — will hopefully have some understanding of how to take what he has seen here and apply that to PAX Australia in three months time.
Today is his Training Day.
Robert Khoo’s official title is the President of Operations and Business Development of Penny Arcade. A meaty title. He’s also the Show Director for the Penny Arcade Expo. All of them. Back in 2002 he offered Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik a business plan and two months of free work. 11 years later? He practically runs the joint.
Guy Blomberg’s role is a little more fluid. It’s essentially his job to take what happens at PAX — at PAX East and PAX Prime — and help replicate it in Australia. The entire Penny Arcade team is coming to Melbourne, but Guy is there to make sure, in his words, that “it doesn’t feel like this big American show is just plopping itself in our country”.
But his job at PAX East is a little less complicated. All he has to do is follow Robert Khoo, and various other members of the PAX team, around the show — get a grip on what kind of problems arise in a show like PAX, and figure out how to solve these problems.
It’s every bit as hard as it sounds.
Robert Khoo has a pedometer — everyone on the Penny Arcade team has one. It’s part of a running competition. Who will have made the most steps, who will have walked the furthest by the end of the show? It’s a bit like a gamerscore.
Robert is winning. “He doesn’t stop,” says Guy who, by his own admission, is completely exhausted trying to keep up.
“He doesn’t walk — he speed walks. Like that thing in between walking and running? I just kind of skip beside him.”
Guy is planning on getting a pedometer for the Australian show. He doesn’t fancy his chances beating the Denzel Washington of the Penny Arcade team, but he’ll give it his best shot.
For better or worse, PAX is an extremely unique show, that’s part of the reason why the Penny Arcade team felt it was important for Guy to attend PAX East and trail some of the key people. “It’s a really hard thing to describe,” explains Guy, “especially for us here in Australia.”
Australia has had it’s fair share of Expos — we have the EB Expo for games, and Armageddon and Supanova — but PAX is far more community centric. Guy uses the word ‘vibe’ and chastises it for feeling ‘wanky’ in the same breath — but PAX is unique. He got a sense of that when he first attended PAX Prime, but this has been Guy’s first opportunity to experience it behind the scenes, and that’s been a valuable experience.
“Following Robert and some of the key PAX people around is great,” he says. “Being at the show is an eye opening experience in itself. There’s just so much more to PAX than what is reported. It’s important for me to see all that.
“It really is a show built around the people who come here. They are the reason the show exists and that is the focus of everyone on the team.”
Guy Blomberg is learning how a show like PAX East runs, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be alone. Make no mistake — the entire Penny Arcade team is coming to Australia. Guy’s job is the ‘Australia’ part. But ‘PAX’ will remain ‘PAX’.
“PAX Australia isn’t going to be like an offshoot satellite show,” explains Guy. “When I say the Penny Arcade guys are coming over, I mean the entire team is coming over: Mike, Jerry, Ben from the Penny Arcade report, all the key enforcers, the tech people — everyone is coming over to make sure the show runs well.”
That’s part of the reason why Guy isn’t too overwhelmed with the job of helping run PAX. He is being slotted into a well-oiled machine that has been running for years. PAX is big, and PAX Australia may end up being one of the biggest consumer shows the country has seen.
“I’m just a piece of glue in the puzzle that makes up PAX,” says Guy. “So I don’t worry. And anytime I do worry, there’s this amazing group of people who have been doing this for seven or eight years to make me feel better about the whole thing.”
It’s a bit of a weird dream come true for Guy Blomberg who, in 2005, set up Australian Gamer — a site that initially set out to become the Australian Penny Arcade, complete with comic strip and rant ala Jerry and Mike. He is, in short, a Penny Arcade fanboy.
“I even had a geek out moment when I met Robert Khoo,” laughs Guy. “and even though I worked really hard and I’m exhausted — I still geek out at the show.
“I even bought some Penny Arcade merch at the show!”