This post is as much to help me remember what I’m doing as to promote the panels i’m appearing on at PAX East 2012. that said, if you want to watch me up on stage at the show, here’s when and where to do it.

Friday, April 6

Metacritic’s Standardization Problem (And How To Fix It)
Friday, 11:30 a.m., Arachnid Theatre

Metacritic has been criticized for a lot of things over the years, but one of its biggest problems is how it tries to standardize different scores from different outlets. An 85/100 from a site with tough grading standards is very different from an 8.5/10 from a site that gives good scores out like candy, and both scores are extremely different from a “B” grade from a site that doesn’t even use numeric scoring. Yet each of these scores becomes a simple “85” in MetaCritic’s calculus.  This presentation will lay out a new system, dubbed “Percentwise,” which converts scores using a percentile rating based around how outlets actually distribute their own scores across the entire scale. Under the Percentwise system, a game is judged based on an outlet’s actual average review score, rather than what that outlet says should mean “average.” Under the Percentwise system, 50% really is the middle-of-the-road!

Stuff Your Criticism, I Want A Review!
Friday, 3 p.m., Wyvern Theatre

Is there a difference between a game review and game criticism? Do you expect reviewers to talk about why a game is important in the annals of development or do you just want to know whether it’s worth your $60 or not? Should game reviewers even CARE if you’re going to purchase a title? As the video game media matures along with video games themselves, the purpose of a review isn’t as clear as it once was. Come hear what a panel of experienced reviewers and games media pundits have to say about these questions, and then let them know what *you* want out of your game reviews.

PANELISTS: Dennis Scimeca [Freelance Writer, G4, The Escapist, Gamasutra], Chris Dahlen [Freelance Writer, Kill Screen (co-founder), Pitchfork, Onion AV Club], Susan Arendt [Managing Editor, The Escapist], Mitch Krpata [Video Game Critic, Boston Phoenix], Kyle Orland [Senior Gaming Editor, Ars Technica]

The Blankety Blank Panel!
Friday, 6 p.m., Manticore Theatre 

Get ready to match the stars! Join a hilarious collection of writers, pundits, and comedians for PAX Game, the live version of classic TV game show Match Game. Members of the audience will be selected as contestants and challenged to predict how the panelists will answer excessively silly questions. Whoever matches the most answers wins! For a raucous evening of raunchy fun, stop by – and bring your sense of humor.

PANELISTS: Susan Arendt [Managing Editor, The Escapist], Graham Stark [Loading Ready Run], Kathleen DeVere [Loading Ready Run], Bob Chipman [Escape to the Movies, The Escapist], Kyle Orland [Senior Games Editor, Ars Technica], Mike Wehner [Tecca], Dan Amrich [Activision], Russ Pitts [Features Editor, Vox Games]

Saturday, April 7

How Not to Succeed as a Freelance Game Journalist
Saturday, 7 p.m., Arachnid Theatre 

Making a successful go at being a game journalist involves more than just good ideas and proper grammar. Join experienced editors (and former freelancers) Susan Arendt (The Escapist) and Justin McElroy (Vox Games), Kyle Orland (Ars Technica), Andrew Hayward (MacLife), AJ Glasser (Inside Network), and Rob Rath (freelance) as they discuss the common pitfalls, gaffes, and mistakes that give potential employers the wrong impression of you. Think it’s all common sense? Think again. If you’re interested in game journalism, this panel should not be missed!

PANELISTS: Susan Arendt [Managing Editor, The Escapist], Justin McElroy [Managing Editor, Vox Games], Kyle Orland [Senior Games Editor, Ars Technica], AJ Glasser [Managing Editor, Inside Network], Rob Rath [Freelancer], Andrew Hayward [Editor, Mac|Life]


The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently being debated in Congress is quite clearly a massive overreach. It gives the government the potential authority to effectively shut down major, largely legitimate web sites for hosting a minuscule amount of pirated content. It could threaten the very existence of sites that host a wide range of used-submitted content, and could easily be used by the government to stifle Americans’ free speech rights. The bill’s potential effects on the very structure of the Internet make it much too broad a cudgel for a problem like online piracy.

Yet online piracy is still a problem. And despite the myriad flaws with the legislation, I have to say I can kind of see where the Entertainment Software Association industry trade group is coming from when they say they support the law.

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The past year has offered plenty of major stories to keep gamers chattering. Here’s what we thought were the most important stories to hit the industry over the past 12 months.

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While politicians routinely cite video games as a contributing cause for everything from childhood obesity and lower test scores to youth violence, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently labeled a video game museum as something else — a waste of taxpayer funds.
At No. 9 on Sen. Coburn’s “Wastebook 2011” list of 100 federal programs he sees as frivolous is over $113,000 in funding for the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG), an outgrowth of the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y.

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Stories of Xbox Live users seeing their accounts hacked and used to make unauthorized purchases have continued to come in at a slow trickle since they were first widely reported last October. But one user has taken to the Internet with a highly personal account of her hacking experience, and what she says was, initially, an almost total lack of help from Microsoft on the matter.

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“I want to clear my name. I want to get these people to stop bothering me.”
That was the main message from Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo, a former representative for N-Control’s Avenger controller attachment. He gained immediate infamy among the Internet gaming community after a hostile customer service email exchange went viral after landing on popular gaming webcomic Penny Arcade.

In a matter of hours, Christoforo went from being just another customer service agent to a focus of ire for thousands of gamers. Christoforo was featured in mocking images and videos, and the Avenger product he was representing was hit with widespread derision and negative Amazon reviews, forcing the company to publicly drop Christoforo as its marketing representative.

A chastened Christoforo is now looking for forgiveness from the Internet community he unwittingly antagonized, saying in an interview with’s In-Game he was “caught on a bad day” and that he hopes they will “let sleeping dogs lie.”

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Each year brings a host of new technologies to the table that make the gaming landscape seem significantly different from what came before, and 2011 was no different. Here are some of the most important technological advancements the game industry saw in the past 12 months.

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A lot has changed in the over three decades Shigeru Miyamoto has acted as Nintendo’s key creative visionary, shepherding series like Mario and The Legend of Zelda through over a dozen major iterations each. With both franchises now pushing past 25 years on the market, Miyamoto told’s In-Game that the evolution of Nintendo’s series has involved coordination between creating new technology and creating new gameplay simultaneously.
“In the case of ‘The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess,’ specifically, of course we took advantage of the motion-sensing technology to some extent,” Miyamoto said of the Wii launch title that first showed off the system’s motion-sensing remote. “However, we felt that something was lacking and we wanted to do more with more precise motion sensing technology, so at that time we were able to identify the specific technology we really want to use for the next time.”

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To say that writing “Star Wars: The Old Republic” was a massive undertaking would be an understatement. Like seemingly everything in the multi-year development of Bioware’s highly anticipated massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, which has already attracted over a million players before its official launch today, the developers took their previous experience making epic single-player console role-playing games (RPGs) and scaled it up for a new gaming space.
“The Old Republic” is “ten times bigger than any game we’ve ever done before,” Lead Writer Daniel Erickson said in an interview with’s In-Game. “It’s pretty much as big as every game we’ve done before put together.” The game’s 20 writers coordinated on what amounted to 60 man-years of work on the games multiple branching storylines, Erickson said, leading to the humbling thought that “it would have taken one person their entire natural life to write [the game].”

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Microsoft’s Kinect 3D camera got its start as an accessory that lets you use your body as a controller for Xbox 360 games like Dance Central. Since then, hackers have used the hardware for everything from art projects to robotic helicopters! Here are just some of the cool things clever hackers have done with Microsoft’s depth-sensing camera.

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