People of PAX: South ’16

Community is such a vital piece of what we’re all about at ASTRO Gaming: it’s where we came from, who we are, and why we do what we do here. In fact, we’re such huge supporters of our community, we thought we’d try something new. Conventions like PAX and E3 are a large piece of the gaming industry, and while some are lucky enough to attend these shows in person, many others have to watch from home.

We wanted to tell the complete story of gaming conventions and give our community a voice. We took to the show floor at PAX South in San Antonio, TX and sought major archetypes found at gaming conventions to paint a more comprehensive picture of what you get when you buy your ticket and attend one of these incredible shows. Enforcers, Developers, Vendors, Streamers, Fans, Pro Players, Industry, and that’s just scratching the surface! We’re calling it the People of PAX, and PAX South was our proving grounds, with the first batch of interviews found below in their full format.

Table of Contents (Click to advance to each interview)
The Cosplay Artists
Tabletop Gaming
The Enforcer
The Vendor
The Developer
The Pro
Industry Insider
The Livestreamer
ASTRO Family

Cosplay: Sabaku No Saya & Nami Ki Cosplay

PoP_Cosplayerv

What brings you to PAX South this year?
Sabaku No Saya: It’s fun, I mean, getting to see so many cosplayers. So many cool designs, people making their own stuff. It’s amazing. And seeing all the new games that are coming out and getting to play them is absolutely great. It’s fun.
Nami Ki Cosplay: Basically the same as she said, and also, I really like cosplaying. So any convention is a good convention to cosplay at.

What made you fall in love with video games?
Sabaku No Saya: Well, when I was a kid, I played Pokemon Ruby. And it was just so much fun and my cousin introduced me to it and we played on his Playstation 2 for Kingdom Hearts and Yoshi’s Island, and I thought to myself that this was really really fun, I really like it. So, ever since then I just started playing games. Any console I could get my hands on. I just got a PlayStation 4 and I’m so happy about it. I was playing Fallout just before this. It’s a lot of fun.
Nami Ki Cosplay: My first game was actually The Sims when it came out when I was 5 or 6. And my babysitter had a Sega, so I was playing Sonic and Yoshi’s Island and then it just kind of stuck. My sister would show me more and more games, and I’d just start playing them.

What made you get into Cosplay?
Sabaku No Saya: My first convention was Mizumicon, I think I was in 6th grade. And I saw lots of people in awesome costumes. And I thought to myself: “I kinda wanna do that.” My first one was Light Yagami from Death Note. My first year I entered my first contest and I really liked it. When people compliment my costume, I feel really proud of myself.
Nami Ki Cosplay: I actually started out with CyberGoth, and I did that for 6 or 7 years. And I recently started doing coplay last Spring, and I just jumped right into it. This is my 3rd cosplay costume. I just started making everything myself. And it’s really fun. It’s a nice little hobby to keep your mind off of things.

Any advice for people who want to get into Cosplay?
Sabaku No Saya: Don’t be afraid of what cosplay you want to do. Just be courageous, and do it. Sure some people are going to be negative, but that’s just people. If you really love it, just go for it.
Nami Ki Cosplay: The one rule I follow with Cosplay is: so long as people can recognize where I’m from, then I know I did a really good job. So long as you have fun making it and wearing it, and it’s comfortable. Don’t wear anything not comfortable!

Tabletop Gaming

PoP_Tabletop

How has the gaming community changed or impacted your life?
W: Oh gosh. I mean, usually it’s just a source of friends, mostly.
M: I don’t know if we really thought of it as the “gaming community.” There’s a lot of interesting people who are just wanting to have fun. It’s just like people who enjoy any other hobby. When everyone all gets together, they just get excited.

What’s your favorite game?
W: 7 Wonders and Five Tribes, both tabletop.
M: Probably Starcraft. Laughs

What’s one thing you’re looking forward to seeing here?
W: Oh, god. I really wanted to see Karmaka, it’s a new indie tabletop game.
M: I’m excited to see Dreadnought, they have a huge booth and that’s cool.

Enforcer: Amy Sterling

PoP_Enforcer

What brings you to PAX South this year?
This is the first time I’m actually working at the convention. This is my 4th PAX, and, I mean, I’m really big into gaming. That’s one big thing. I plan to go into it as a career. I’ve been studying art for 4 years now, I’m a concept artist so this is a really great place to get that done and make connections.

What made you fall in love with video games?
Oh my goodness…that’s a really hard question! I’ve been playing them since forever, it’s just a great way to escape. It’s a great way to portray art, portray a message. Some of my grandest memories have been playing video games.

How has the gaming community changed your life?
That’s an interesting question. We tend to be known as “nerds” a lot, and because there’s kind of a stigma behind that term, we’re kind of considered the “outcasts”, and because we’re used to that term, the fact that we can gather here and become that really strong community, I think gamers tend to be a lot more family-like than other communities.

You mentioned you wanted to make a career out of gaming. Can you go into detail?
As I mentioned earlier, I want to get into concept art. I’ve also done quite a bit of 3D modeling, as well. I love to create characters. I love to create environments, creatures, stuff like that. Any sort of beautiful thing I can contribute to a game, I would love to end up doing.

What’s your favorite game?
Oh goodness, you’re making it so hard on me! (laughs) The game I’m most addicted to is probably League of Legends. I think the game that has made the most profound impact on me is Undertale. It’s amazing. I think it’s the Sweetheart of 2015. It’s an indie game with an enormous community. Once you play it, it becomes part of your soul.

Vendor: Chris Darbro, Swiss Army Knife @ LootCrate

PoP_Vendor

What brings you to PAX South this year?
Well, we’re showing off Loot Gaming, that we just launched here. Loot Gaming is Loot Crate’s gaming-specific subscription box where it’s all gaming products with premium exclusive content.

What made you fall in love with video games?
Oh, man… my first video game experience as a kid was playing games on my grandfather’s computer, and playing Pong. I also played NES playing Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. That was just the greatest thing for me. Then that kind of spiraled into me becoming a hard-core gaming addict when I was a kid, and being the guy at school who could talk about all the latest imports and who had all the latest issues, of EGM, Tips and Tricks, etc. I was THAT kid at school.

How has the gaming community changed your life?
I mean, we’re here at PAX. Definitely not where I pictured myself 10 years ago. I’ve always been a longtime fan of Penny Arcade. Grew up with Gabe and Tycho and the Penny Arcade comics. To see what used to be just PAX Prime spiral into this amazing craziness of PAX East, PAX AUS, and PAX South now, is amazing, and to be a part of it and have a booth here is fantastic.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
On a mountain full of Loot Crate everything…(laughs)

Where do you see gaming going in 10 years?
That’s a tough question, but the possibilities are really what’s intriguing. When you see how far and how popular VR has come right now, and see what’s going on there… the rate at which technology advances blows my mind. So maybe we’ll have like, crazy neural implants or who knows what. We’ve had Google and everyone else already accessing all of our data for a while, so we’re good. We’re used to it. (laughs)

What is your favorite game to play right now?
I am a bit of a Call of Duty fan, Destiny, and I’m still rocking Pokemon X on my 3DS.

If you could describe yourself as a video game or a video game character, who would you pick?
I’ve always identified—and this is such a cheesy cliché answer—but I’ve always identified with Link from the Zelda series. Since day 1.

Game Developer: Frank Lucero, Executive Producer for Dreadnought

PoP_Dev

What brings you to PAX South this year?
Dreadnought! I’m showing the next big video game I’m working on here with Graybox & Jaeger.

What made you fall in love with video games?
Oh god. When I was a little kid, I had too much time on my hands, so I played around with the Nintendo. I used to program on the Apple II, because I wanted to make the games I played. So that’s kind of what got me into it.

How has the gaming community changed your life?
Oh, my god, the gaming community IS my life. Changed my life? It formed my life! I grew up into it, been doing it ever since I can remember. When I was young, I was dong coding on the Apple II, and now that I’m old, I’m building giant, AAA free-to-play games.

What’s the one thing most people don’t know about developing video games?
That it’s hard. That it’s REALLY hard. That it’s stressful. And it consumes a lot of your life. Everyone just assumes it’s fun and games. But it’s not, it’s real work.

What is the impact of using high quality headsets when developing games?
It makes it more immersive these days. Back in the day, you had a speaker, then it went to 2 speakers. Now we got 5.1 and 7.1 Surround Sound, which is great, so you can do a lot of environmental effects. You can have people sneaking up behind you, like big giant spaceships trying to shoot you from behind. You know, that kinda thing.

Where do you see gaming going in the next 5-10 years?
Obviously more digital. Less retail. Which is great because it gives a lot of the smaller guys an opportunity to get themselves in front of people. Before, if you didn’t have a relationship with a large retailer, it was hard to get your product to people. Now, you can deliver products through Steam and I think that’s going to continue to dominate, so I think you’re going to see the retail market being more focused on the big boys, but I think you’re going to see a lot of the smaller publishers have an opportunity to get their games out and grow.

Pro Gamer: Joey Aldama, professional Smash player

PoP_Player

What brings you to PAX South this year?
100% completely to play Smash.

What made you fall in love with video games?
Why wouldn’t you fall in love with them? Video games are fun.

What was your earliest gaming memory?
Probably playing Super Mario Bros. 3 with my older sister.

How has the gaming community changed your life?
Entirely. I’ve been in the community for maybe 10 years now, and I went through that phase from being a kid to becoming an adult and I wouldn’t be who I am without the community. At all.

How long have you been playing Smash?
Competitively? Since 2007.

Can you tell us how you got into it?
My best friend Mango lived a couple of houses away from me and always wanted to play, and I wanted to play, so we just tried to do better than each other and it was kind of a competitive little friendship. Once we started playing Melee in tournaments it was a whole new ballgame. The same thing, but just trying to beat everyone else and be better than each other.

Any advice for up and coming Smash players?
For Melee, it’s one of the hardest games, technically, to play so don’t get frustrated if there’s not an immediate sign of progression. It takes time to actually play this game and be decent at it, and it takes even longer to get to where most of the top players are at. Most took 10 years to get to the top. So if you wanna get there, be patient, grind it out and have fun while you’re playing.

Industry Insider: Jordan Tayer, Influencer Relations Manager and Host @ Twitch

PoP_SOMA

What brings you to PAX south this year?
PAX South this year for me is for hosting duties. I used to be on the Community Team, and I’m now on the Sales Team for Twitch, but I continue to be forward-faced and do Community Spotlights and community focused stuff on the Twitch booth.

What made you fall in love with video games?
I kinda always have been in love with video games. I grew up with them. I was four years old when I played Duck Hunt and Mario Brothers. And it was just something in my life. So it was a love that was always there. I didn’t know I was in love with it. It was just a part of my life. Always.

How has the gaming community changed your life?
The gaming community changed my life by allowing me to get paid and survive in this crazy world… by playing video games! By immersing myself in nerd-culture and stuff that I liked to do, for a hobby and for fun in my spare time, is now something I get paid to do. So that’s pretty perfect. So that’s how it changed my life.

Any advice for people looking to join the ranks of the gaming industry?
To join the ranks of the gaming industry, you need to make sure you really like it first. It’s fun to play games and it’s fun to have a hobby, but when it becomes your life, and your livelihood, and you pour your heart and soul in it, you’re going to realize it’s got bad times, too. It’s going to be stressful. And if you can get through that, and you still love it? Then you should definitely be in the gaming industry.

Do you have a favorite game to stream?
I love streaming DayZ, whether it’s the mod or the stand-alone. That’s kind of been my bread-and-butter for about 4 years now. I like open-world games where I could forge my own story. Kinda do whatever I want. I get ADD very quickly and so I have to be able to run around in big wide open spaces (laughs) to keep it going, right? So, typically, DayZ, yeah.

If you could describe yourself as a video game or a video game character, what would it be?
Hm. That’s a good question. I like it. It would be- because it’s my favorite game- Crono, from Chrono Trigger. Cuz, I’m kind of a history buff…this is such a weird answer… but I’m a history buff, and I’ve always wanted to see the future and go back in time, and see human history its entirety. And Crono gets to rock the Middle Ages & Prehistoric era, and he goes to the future and sees all this cool stuff… as a kid, I thought that was amazing. So, if I had a chance to step in his shoes… I’d probably die cuz he lives in a dangerous world, but if I had, like, an hour to be Crono, I’d take that.

Where do you see gaming in the next 5-10 years?
Well, the easy answer is evolution and growth, and it’s going to be massive, but it’s going to leave the “nerd basement” and it’s going to lose some of the… I guess the- I don’t want to say negativity, I hate to say negativity- because gaming and the gaming scene have evolved. But, the overall masses still look at gaming as a niche little thing. And “nerds” do that. I think, in 10 years, everyone will be a gamer whether it’s on mobile, a tablet, or on a console, or their PC. And I think it’s going to be so ingrained into our culture that there will be no terms or labels because everyone will just be a gamer. And it’ll just be a part of our society, more so than it already is.

Livestreamer: Jordan “LEGIQN” Payton, professional livestreamer

PoP_Legiqn

What brings you to PAX South this year?
What brings me to PAX South this year is streaming for ASTRO and seeing all types of nerds together as one unit. It’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.

What made you fall in love with gaming?
My older brother got me into it playing Super Mario when I was like, 2 years old. And I just never quit.

How has the gaming community impacted your life?
It’s impacted my life by letting me meet thousands of new people on a monthly basis. Meeting viewers, fans… I just love it.

What do you love most about streaming?
The live interaction you have with viewers. Unlike a YouTube video, you get all your responses literally in seconds, and I’m a weird, so I say all kinds of crazy shit. It’s good to know that people like that.

What’s the hardest thing people don’t know about streaming?
Maintaining a sense of stability and a sense of entertainment for long periods of time. So, you go 2-3 hours, and that’s fine. You go, like, 6 hours? Your eyes start to get really red and you start to panic a little bit… I’m okay with that.

What’s your favorite game to stream?
Call of Duty: Black Ops III at the moment.

Favorite moment from streaming?
One of my favorite moments is I have an alter-ego named RedBull LEGIQN: I drink 2 or 3 of them at one time and one time I ended up shirtless. Not sure if that’s within the guidelines of Twitch, but it ended up being okay.

Why is good audio crucial to having a quality stream?
You want to make sure you audience isn’t listening to a muffled weirdo behind 4 pairs of socks. That’s why I use ASTRO.

What are your top 5 requirements for your streaming setup?
You gotta have a bad-ass PC, have the best headphones, a quality microphone, obviously a sweet chair to sit in, and most importantly, a great smile. And I like to make sure it’s always crooked.

Any advice for people looking to get into streaming?
Make sure you fill a niche that you feel like you can actually fill. A lot of people just want to do something because other people do it. In reality? Just do what you like and what makes you happy?

How do your fans influence what you do?
My fans influence the way that I create content on a daily basis with feedback to and fro, just getting to talk to them. So pretty much any of the work I do is based off the response get from them, and whether or not they like it.

If you could describe yourself as a video game or video game character, what would it be?
It would probably be Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars, any of them, mostly because I don’t move a lot and I really like to eat. And I am a mob boss. I own a gang—several gangs. #PinkWall

ASTRO Family: ReDValoroso, ASTRO Family

PoP_Fan

What brings you to PAX South this year?
Definitely the environment, the people, the overall amazing gaming experience.

What made you fall in love with video games?
I guess, the sense of adventure. The mythical story within every video game. It doesn’t matter. Different worlds, different characters, it’s an interactive story that I just fall in love with every single time, no matter what game it is.

What’s your favorite video game?
Oh, definitely CoD. Definitely more of the zombie side, the story, the lore, with that game. But more just trying to survive to high rounds against the undead. That’s basically my favorite.

How has the gaming community changed your life?
I can’t even put it into words. The gaming community is one big family. It doesn’t matter what game you enjoy: it’s that we all share the passion of video games. And that bond, no matter what video game we may be enjoying… it doesn’t matter. It has that inseparable bond. I just truly appreciate that. And for me it’s that lifelong bond really shapes how I am as a human being.

What’s your favorite ASTRO product?
Oh, definitely the ASTRO TRs. I rocked the Neon series. I have a red at home but I definitely enjoy the TRs. They are fantastic and I definitely recommend them to anyone who hasn’t picked them up yet. I will be getting a pair, definitely.

What do you love about ASTRO?
What don’t I love about ASTRO? It’s a family. Not only is it just about a product, it’s a family as well. You know who’s rockin’ ASTRO and you know when you see that person and make eye contact with them, you know that’s an ASTRO guy, you’re a gamer, and I like you. That’s exactly what I love about ASTRO. There’s a sense of bond not only there as gamers but also because ASTRO is the best.

Special thanks goes out to everyone who gave us a few moments of their time. Look for us at upcoming shows, and you, too, could be a part of the story! GG ASTRO Fam!

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Related Links

ASTRO @ PAX South 2016

PAX South 2016 Roundup

PAX Prime 2015

ASTRO at PAX East