Category: PAX

There’s been a change of plans. I’m going to park…the car. At…harvard…yard. (Wink) (Nudge)

Due to some fancy footwork, some projects, luck, and various sundry things I *will* be attending PAX East in Boston weekend after next.  I’ll be there all three days.  I’ve not set out my schedule yet, but as soon as I know more I will post it here.

I’m really happy I was able to make this happen as I’ve attended every PAX on both coasts since 2007 and was really bummed I might miss it this year.  I’m trying to figure out if there’s something creative I can do before hand to have on hand at the event both for backers of my Kickstarter and anyone else.

More details soon.

There’s been a change of plans. I’m going to park…the car. At…harvard…yard. (Wink) (Nudge)

Due to some fancy footwork, some projects, luck, and various sundry things I *will* be attending PAX East in Boston weekend after next.  I’ll be there all three days.  I’ve not set out my schedule yet, but as soon as I know more I will post it here.

I’m really happy I was able to make this happen as I’ve attended every PAX on both coasts since 2007 and was really bummed I might miss it this year.  I’m trying to figure out if there’s something creative I can do before hand to have on hand at the event both for backers of my Kickstarter and anyone else.

More details soon.

If you read one single post about PAX Prime, this is at least that one.

Look I’m not going to bandy about people.  I’ve been busier than a one legged man doing the Price is Right timed “Put everything in the cart and get across the finish line” in a warehouse full of bionic legs.  But I’ve only been that busy because we’re doing some UNPRECEDENTED stuff for PAX Prime coming up in just a few days.

Not only are we doing Halofest, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of THE THE THE TEH HALOZ*, not only will we have booth space showing off Gears of War 3, Kinect games, and other assorted awesomeness, but we’ve got panels galore and a special expo floor project we need YOU to be a part of.

This year at PAX we have an unprecedented** number of panels.  They are all uniformly set to be AWESOME and you should go to every one of them:


@XboxSupport: Customer Support in 140 Characters or Less
Wolfman Theatre
Friday 5:00pm – 6:00pm
What is the Elite Tweet Fleet? Come meet and chat with members of Microsoft’s @XboxSupport Twitter handle about the joys and challenges of providing support for Xbox and Xbox LIVE in less than 140 characters. Members of the Tweet Fleet and Forums Support team will be on hand to answer questions and discuss helping customers through social media.

Major Nelson Radio: Live!
Unicorn Theatre
Friday 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Join Major Nelson, e, lollipop and Stepto as they record the podcast with you, the studio audience. Fun WILL be had. << [EDITOR’S NOTE: Seriously you do not want to miss this. I’m can’t tell you what will happen but it will be something…something wonderful]

We Make Xbox and Xbox LIVE. Ask Us Anything
Unicorn Theatre
Saturday 5:00pm – 6:00pm
What does it take to work on Xbox? How do we determine what cool features to add? What was it like in the early days of creating Kinect? Who has the highest Gamerscore? Ask us anything. We mean it! Join an expert panel moderated by Xbox LIVE’s own Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb as the people who work on creating the Xbox itself, as well as Xbox LIVE, take your questions.  Panel Experts are Eric “e” Neustadter, Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse, Ben Kilgore, Jerry Hook, and Laura “lollip0p” Massey.

Running Xbox LIVE

Unicorn Theatre
Sunday 4:30pm – 5:15pm
Ever wonder what it takes to run a world-wide entertainment service? Join members of the Xbox LIVE operations team as we walk you through the history and present of Xbox LIVE. Learn about the early days of the service, see what it’s like to prepare for a major game launch, get a look inside how teams making the hardware and software have to take into account how it all comes together on Xbox LIVE, and how we take into account safety and enforcement. Hear some great stories over the past 9 years of the service. We promise we won’t get too technical on you too! (PLEASE NOTE: This presentation will not include Q&A as we encourage you to join us for our separate open Q&A session. This session will end slightly early to allow for travel to the Omegathon/PAX closing at 5:30pm)

That’s a lot of panels right?  I GNO.  I especially know since I am helping with most of them.  Which brings me to the next cool piece of news.

We have 50 Xbox and Xbox LIVE employees who have volunteered to work shifts each day wandering the show floor wearing these:






Our goal?  For you to talk to us.  Now, of course, “Ask me anything” doesn’t mean we can answer *everything* because of our confidentiality agreements.  And we might get our fair number of trolls.  But at PAX it is my belief that people in general not only obey Wheaton’s Law but also are excellent to each other.  So we want to talk to you. If you see someone wearing this shirt, please feel free to go up and speak with them.  Tell them what you like or don’t like on Xbox LIVE and Xbox.  Hate Kinect?  Love Kinect?  Tell us.  Hate Xbox LIVE?  Love Xbox LIVE?  Tell us.  We’re gathering all the comments in order to take it back to Xbox HQ and learn to be even better for you guys.

And finally here is my official schedule for the weekend:


Major Nelson Radio LIVE! 6:30-7:30
Halofest VIP party (short speaking segment around 8:30)


We make Xbox and Xbox LIVE, ask us anything!  5:00-6:00


Halofest panel, memories of Halo 11:30-12:30
Running Xbox LIVE 4:30-5:15

My unofficial schedule is that I will be attending the PAX keynote, Wil Wheaton’s Awesome hour on Friday at 2:30, I’ll be at the Saturday night concerts, and on the Expo floor and surrounding areas Sunday. Please stop me and say hello!

So that’s it!  PAX Prime is almost here!

*God damnit Goddammit autocorrect.

**I love using unprecedented twice in a post.

A PAX on you all.

Up until three years ago, I never got sick.  I mean like, ever. If I did, it was usually some minor 12 hour sniffles.  Now, like clockwork after every PAX some gamerborne virus or bacteria of the underworld, some pestilence of the Kilrathi, some infection of the Dark Savant kicks my immune system right in my immune system’s balls.

I now refer to PAX as the weekend before I take a few sick days.

I’m ensconced this time in Port Townsend, a place I go for spiritual and now physical healing.  This is my first full day here and I’ve already had an ear irrigated!  Does that sound like a good time?  I’ll tell you what it sounds like, it sounds like a tiny guild navigator has taken up residence in my right ear and keeps burping water of life directly on my eardrum.  The dizziness that ensues has convinced me the Japan earthquake permanently tilted the earth inwards. [NOTE: In all seriousness the Japan Earthquake is a tragedy on levels that make Katrina look staid.  Statistics show that 100% of my readers have a cell phone because they are all geeks.  Please text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 as you read this for earthquake relief in Japan.]

I’m trying to say, I’m back, but I’m not whole. Illness is but a part of it. I wrote last year about PAX East and PAX in general that I don’t think I can really top so please go check it out here. The best I can do here is to recap the more surreal moments:

  • Nerdforce One:  Our flight out of Seattle contained just about everyone from Microsoft, both Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade, and a billion other game industry geeks. Bored, but with access to the Internet, we began to spin tales of wonder about our flight.

  • Seeing the enormous turn out for our tweetup just before the opening of PAX, and how patient and awesome gamers are.  Despite a cold drizzle, people stood in line around the block and we reached venue capacity in just minutes.  Sorry folks we’ll pick a bigger venue next year, but Lucky’s definitely stepped up and helped us get people in and through to say hello.

  • I met Jane McGonigal very briefly a few years ago when discussing safety online, and she smartly and soundly rapped my knuckles against an assumption I made using a ruler forged from her enormous knowledge of facts. Her keynote was magical, as all PAX keynotes have been.  I truly fear for the Earth, this collection of ever increasing 50 minute talks to open the event.  It’s creating a library of inspiration and knowledge that must one day collapse in upon itself. Every time I think it has no where to go but down, it goes up.

  • I had made it clear before that our presentation at PAX East was for those who had not been able to see us before.  Much of the content was repeat.  However I did insert a tiny observation that was new into the talk, and the reaction stunned me.  I cribbed a line from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and applied it to gaming and got a reaction I was not quite expecting.  I will excerpt it:

      We’ve had a good time talking humorously about the ins and outs of enforcement, I wanted to finish off talking about something that I talked a little bit about last year. I was playing BulletStorm the other day, any BulletStorm fans here? (Some shouts) How many of you play Anarchy, online? [Fewer Shouts] Ok then one or two.  Anarchy is really tough, it’s a multiplayer mode to the game.  And what is involved in that is actually working together as a team.  It’s very much like Horde mode or Firefight in other games where basically players have to defeat incoming waves of enemies.  The thing that makes BulletStorm more interesting is that it requires the team to work together on specific challenges or you don’t pass the level. You can kill all the enemies on the level and you will not progress because you have to work together as a team on the team challenges.

      So I started playing the game and I was completely new, and there were other new people but there was one guy who was awesome. I mean, he was killer.  And he was teaching us how to actually play as a team.  He would help set up the team environment that was required for us to score the additional amount of points that we need. And as I played with this guy, I felt like I was really having a blast not just because I felt that BulletStorm was a fun game, but because here was this person who was taking the time to help all of us to become better so that we could succeed and progress.

      I last year about sportsmanship.  I spoke about last year about how it is upon us as gamers to spread that word about sportsmanship. And fun.  And fair play. And I talked a little bit about obeying Wheaton’s law, which I think we all should do. And I thought, as I was playing this guy, about when I was younger, and played in the world of arcades, and a park near my home.  Where you often times had that same camaraderie where someone next to you might be cheering you on to get to the next level of a video game even if they had the next quarter, on top of the arcade machine that showed everyone they were going to have the next game. They were excited about that.

      And I wonder if it isn’t time as well, for us as enforcers of course are here to help protect. But, as I think we all got out of the keynote today that we are all contagious vectors of AWESOME (for those of you who might have saw that), I wonder if it’s not time to go a little bit beyond Wil’s suggestion and not just not be a dick or discourage dick behavior, but maybe be excellent to each other.


      That BulletStorm guy?  He was being excellent to everyone…

The applause was loud and full throated and really stunned me.  But it shouldn’t have. This was PAX.  Of course they would agree with being excellent to each other.

  • The convention center in Boston is AMAZING.  Upgrading from the Hynes last year, now we had a venue that PAX truly shines in.  The traffic flow was good, the expo floor and tabletop areas were wide open and amazing.  I saw more at this PAX in a shorter amount of time than any previous venue. It was like the entire building was designed for us.

  • Doing the Major Nelson Radio show live has become a twice yearly event I so greatly look forward to. The crowd’s excitement is infectious, and it just seems to me we feed off of that so much better than each week when we sit in a room doing it.  Not to say we don’t do a good job, but the PAX live recordings?  I treasure them.  Take a listen.

  • Saturday night’s concert row has always been my favorite. I can’t wait for Jonathan’s new album to come out, and Paul and Storm treated the PAX East crowd to a couple of rarities I don’t think they have heard before.

  • Sunday morning was probably my favorite, as that is when Sean Baptiste of Harmonix debuted his new show, When I Grow Up.  Sean was diagnosed with an inoperable benign brain tumor that nonetheless was situated in a really bad place, causing a buildup of cerebral fluid.  After undergoing 12 brain surgeries to properly correct the problem, it left Sean still the same awesome funny person, but with some unique new challenges he has to overcome every day. While waking up from one of his surgeries, he was struck with an epiphany: what ever happened to all the things he dreamt of wanting to do as a kid?  What if he tried to do them now?  When I Grow Up chronicles the first experiment: Stand Up Comedy.  Sean premiered the episode at PAX East on Sunday at noon.  I’d been following his travails for a while, since I hold him personally responsible for my addiction to Rock Band and I think he is also an awesome person.  So we had him on as a guest on the Major Nelson podcast to help drive attendance to the premiere.  The show was fantastic, everyone loved it.  And I was deeply moved to be included in the credits for the first episode.  Please check it out, its an amazing story, and an amazing journey.

    Saturday night I got to meet Randall Munroe, creator of XKCD.  Sunday night I got to spend the night drinking and chatting with him, MC Frontalot, Paul and Storm, and a host of other amazing people.  The most surreal and awesome thing, is sitting next to Randall as he read “The Petal Falls Twice” to us out loud in the hotel bar. Warning, that’s not just not safe for work, its not safe for the human mind.  Now imagine it’s being read to you by Randall fucking Munroe.  The strangeness of this life cannot be measured.

I don’t have much more to remember now, as cold medicine begins to work its weird magic and the dolphin at my feet urges me to sing the fencepost in saran wrap.

I’m trying to say I’m fading a little bit. 

In closing I would like to thank every single person who came up to me and said hi or asked me to sign my book or a badge or just wanted to talk.  You are the reason I love PAX so much and I would trade all of the above gladly to make sure I still got to answer your questions and reminisce about JoCoCruiseCrazy or just hang out and marvel at the event overall. Thank you, thank you, and yet again thank you.

The Dolphin grows inpatient, and I only have so much saran wrap. Why must I toil on vacation?

PAX East 2010: A love letter to summer camp

It’s March 28th and the physical me is present in seat 6c of a 737-800 cruising away from PAX East 2010 in Boston at 34,000 feet.  I’m heading back to Seattle along with a number of other attendees.  In theory I am looking forward to being at home with Rochto and the dogs, back at home after the culmination of two weeks of prep and work, ready to take tomorrow off and relax. But if you could scan the mental state of anyone on the plane, there’s just a wormhole in seat 6c.


1982, and Summer camp was the greatest thing ever.  As a kid growing up awkwardly, summer was the thing of fresh beginnings.  A place where the cliques or trials of school were cast aside in favor of the daily romping with the neighborhood kids that you might not share schools with.  During the summer, you weren’t the person you were in school.  Or, more accurately, you could be yourself more freely without any real repercussions of forced time spent with those who didn’t quite understand you.  When school started up again it always felt like every year was a fresh start and would be different from the things that weren’t pleasant about the previous year. 

But the best manifestation of the freedom I always felt during summer was summer camp.

I started going to summer camp around age 10.  In the south most summer camps are usually organized by your local church, but that’s not quite the real point.  The point was for 2 weeks you were away from your parents, away from your normal comfort zones, and most importantly, away from your normal discomfort zones.

At summer camp you were all equal.  You typically only knew a few of the kids you spent time with, and because you were away from home and perhaps missed it, the tolerance level and friendliness level was much higher. Kids who might beat the crap out of you if you went to school with them nine months out of the year were suddenly interested in why you had all those graph paper drawings of dungeons.  In turn, when it came time to pick teams for baseball, no one knew you were always last to be picked in physical education, and by surprise you could find yourself playing shortstop instead of right field. Nobody played games at summer camp like Dodgeball or Wall Ball, instead it was the classics: Soccer, Baseball, Football. Summer camp became a place you went to be among people who might not be like you, but felt the same excitement about being in a new place and being with other kids.


It’s the day before PAX and I’m grumpy. Flying always makes me grumpy. But at least I am on the ground in one of my favorite cities on Earth: Boston.  And I am planning to spend the next 72 hours with people from all over the world who love, as much as I do, the idea that your imagination and a little bit of framework (be it tabletop cards and boards or the vast worlds that consoles create) can fundamentally unite all of us. I feel a charge of excitement.  Beyond a couple of set PAX related events, the recording of the Major Nelson Radio show and my own speech, the next 72 hours hold a kind of promise and mystery that felt familiar, though I can’t place it in the moment. I get off the plane early because I was at the front, and stand for a moment waiting for my friends.  Suddenly a big stupid grin slaps itself on my face before I can even tell you why it’s there.

I am at PAX.  Better yet, I am at PAX East.  The very first Penny Arcade Expo ever held outside of Seattle.  I am with a posse of awesome friends, in a city that has no idea what it is in for, and I am about to encounter a crowd some 70,000 strong that has never experienced anything like they are about to experience.


When you went to summer camp typically you provided your luggage and a variety of other things to your camp guide.  Their job was to make sure any special needs were held by them.  This included medicines or other essentials.  But every kid knew one of the great secrets of summer camp was the backpack you got to bring in yourself.

The idea behind the backpack was that you would fill it with books or perhaps items from home that would keep you from getting homesick.  Invariably any smart kid would certainly pack one or two of these types of things.  But the smartest among us would pack it with anything we couldn’t get away with playing with at home, or if you were really bright and had an entrepreneurial streak: candy.

After a tentative first few nights missing home and hoarding your treasures, the inevitable friendships would develop. Free from the responsibilities of having a set bedtime or having to worry about school, late night sessions were spent teaching the best hitter on the camp baseball team what those weird dice were while everyone shared the rich kids stash of atomic fireballs.  Comics would be pored over and traded. Arguments over the mystery of the girl’s camp across the lake would ensue.

Each morning we gathered in front of a central area for breakfast.  And they would let you choose your own breakfast!  You could have anything there, and more if you wanted.  There was cereal of all kinds, pancakes with syrup, eggs and bacon! At home you got what was delivered to you.  But here!  Here for the first time you could mix and match, have whatever you wanted!  Each child chattered excitedly in line: “what are you going to have?”  Kids who never had time for each other elsewhere were  awash in the freedom of a place where being yourself among a common thread like being away from home was opening everyone up.

Away from everything else, you reset expectations.  We recharged that part of all of us that saw kindred spirits and then bonded with them. 


It’s one day into PAX East.  I walk through the lobby of the Sheraton hotel on my way to record the Major Nelson Radio show.  Across all the tables of the lobby, cards and games are spread out.  I spot Munchkin, Magic the Gathering; several people had spread out a Settlers of Catan game on the huge hotel lobby main table. The Sheraton staff seem perturbed, this was a business hotel.  A nice hotel.  What are all these people doing playing games everywhere?

I hear an argument break out as I pass a table game, an arcane rule argued.  It was argued politely and is resolved just as I exit earshot. I move out into the main hall, again a grin I cannot control on my face.  I spend a lot of time like that, smiling just at the charge of being around so many diverse people all in one place. People of common purpose and passion.  This as much was the main message of the opening keynote of the event, delivered by Wil Wheaton: “Welcome Home.”

I move through the main hall to spot the line of people waiting to get into our talk and I balk for a moment.  They are turning people away, so many people wanted to hear our talk.  Each week we sit in a small conference room and record the show for tons of people to listen to.  This is the first time we are going to record it live in front of an audience.  And there are so many people who want to see that, they don’t have a big enough room for us and the audience.

I pass some people who recognize me and said they can’t make the talk, and I offer them some Xbox LIVE Avatar codes for PAX East Hoodies as I apologize.  They are beaming with excitement as if they never tried to get in; this is their very first gamer event and they are going to the expo floor, where they would be able to play games that would not be out for months. Their energy is infectious and banishes my nervousness at the talk.  They are so grateful for the event, and so excited to be amongst gamers. That silly grin hits me again.


I was holding a gold spray painted rock in my hand.  It was the middle of summer camp, and this was the “Gold Rush.”  Overnight, the adult camp guides had scattered gold spray-painted rocks across the camp. On this particular morning, we had all been told that overnight the local (nonexistent) gold mine had exploded, scattering gold nuggets everywhere. Of course this was preposterous but the 10 year olds in us couldn’t help but want to believe.

The goal was to gather the most gold nuggets, then whichever kid had the most would win a prize when they “turned them in.”  It didn’t take long for this to seem fishy to us.  “If these are real gold nuggets, why would we give them away to the camp guides?”

The rocks were pretty convincing.  As we began to spot them and gather them we could see that only certain parts of the rocks had gold on them, roughly looking like the types of gold rocks we’d seen in the occasional western film. Most adults would have spray painted the whole thing.  Still, we knew the unlikelihood of actual gold being scattered around the area from an explosion in the night we had not heard from a gold mine we’d never known about was extremely high. We then began to inquire as to the prize for the nuggets. It was, essentially, a ribbon plus anything you wanted for dinner that night for the top five kids who got the most rocks.

Quickly we began trading fake gold rocks for candy.  Each of us knew that the prize did not equal the hunt unless there was a market.  Thus unified,  We gathered rocks for those who wanted the ribbons and special dinner, and in return we got candy.  No one lost.  If anything, we bonded more closely together because we became united against the one influence from our outside world that was present: grownups.


I am sitting in a bean bag, amongst all my friends, watching Paul and Storm perform Frogger: The Musical, mere feet from me. The chorus at the end is a bit of a play on the end of the video game, with the refrain “And Now I’m Home”.  The soul of PAX, and there is a soul of this event, is a unique mixture of sense of camaraderie and place of comfort.  The song speaks to that very deeply, all through the lens of a decades old video game, a funny parody, and a finale that melds all of those aspects so well that an auditorium filled with geeks and nerds and gamers are all singing along loudly while waving thousands of cell phones and Nintendo DS handhelds back in forth as they sing “And now I’m home” as loud as they can.  I stand up from my coveted VIP spot at the front of the stage and I look back behind me and I see everything that PAX means to all of us, wrapped up in one magnificent moment of song and light and singing and unity. Silly? Sure, a lot of people might say.  But when you’re there and you see it, you kind of realize just how fucking outstanding it is to be in a room filled with thousands that you can be pretty sure you would like to spend at least some time with them.

Not one of these people typically gets the chance to sing this song, in this way, and in this time. It is a celebration as much of where we are mentally in addition to where we are physically. I look around at my friends who are with me. I probably don’t need to tell you about the smile again.


We’re all clustered around a bush beside a wooden bridge that overlooked the dry creekbed below.  There were four of us and for all we knew we’re the last four going to be left if we screwed up. Our flag football belts were brightly colored and might have given us away, but it was a moonless night and the bush provided enough to hide behind.  We whispered amongst ourselves. It’d been 10 minutes since the game of Jail had started.  The counselors had yet to show themselves.  One quick grab of the belts around us meant we were out of the game if it broke away unless we could be rescued by our team mates.

It was the second week of camp, near the end.  The excitement is high.  Not only were we out late at night by permission, we were playing a game against our camp guides that we had a decent chance of winning.  The goal was to reach the safe house with your flag belt intact.  If enough kids reached it to equal or better the number of camp guides, we would win.

My team was the scouting party.  Behind us were another 30 kids spread out in groups of three or four, set to scatter if we gave the call.  We couldn’t see anything across the bridge at all.  Beyond it on the other side, in plain view of lantern lights, was the safe house.  So far we had eluded the adults! One of our scouting party wheezed a bit from the dash to the bush.  He was scrawny and even more of a typical nerd than I was, but we had learned already from late night fooling around the camp he had superior night vision.

“I don’t like this” he said.

We argued briefly that it was possible that the adults had gone to the other side from the figure eight pattern that the play field represented. Therefore a mad dash was our only chance.  After brief consultation we gave the go ahead signal for the first few groups to come up.  Carefully they crossed the bridge and then waited.  Nothing. 

Perfect!  The adults had obviously come around the opposite side where we had just left.  Our scout party gave the all clear.

When about half of us were across the bridge and enormous roar arose from the dried creek bed below us.  On both banks camp guides poured out from below the bridge screaming loudly and began yanking belts as fast as they could.  Terrified and exhilarated and chagrined at the same time, my scout party bolted into the woods with the intent to circle around to the safe house in the confusion.  Upon reaching the trees I was grabbed roughly by the waist from a guide hiding behind the tree and my flag belt stripped off.  I lay there for a moment dazed and only slightly disappointed.  That was one of the most thrilling 15 minutes of my childhood.


My PAX East panel is beginning, it’s the moment I had traveled to deliver.  The theater I am delivering the talk in is full, and I note with some amusement the enormous 75 foot arched ceiling of the room.  Fitting for my plan to open my talk with a pseudo-religious reading from the Xbox LIVE “Book of Enforcement”

I take a deep breath and say:

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the cathedral of enforcement!

The following presentation is rated T for teen. It is presented under a Creative Commons non-commercial non-derivative attribution license.

A note here, I have been made aware there are some users of Foursquare in the audience is that correct? [applause] I have been instructed to tell you to cut that crap out. There’s only one mayor in this room, and it’s me. And let me be clear, I’m not getting ousted by no one, no how.

Another public service announcement I have been made aware that there are a lot of geeks out there taking some doses of airborne to avoid conSARS. Apparently there is some bad airborne being passed around out there. I want to urge you all to avoid the brown airborne. hey man, it’s your trip do what you want to but be careful with the brown airborne.

That’s right, I just made a Woodstock joke at PAX.

All right now that the announcements are out of the way ladies and gentlemen my name is Stephen Toulouse and I am the director of policy and enforcement for Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service. I am commonly referred to alternatively as “Stepto” after my Gamertag, or “That stupid bastard” after the effect I tend to have on your online gaming experience if you violate our terms of use and draw the ire of the banhammer. Which is named Chaucy, by the way.

To my side is Boris “Boom Boom” Erickson. [applause]

To his side is Andreas Holbrook [applause]

Coincidentally Andreas is also known as “Boom Boom” but he often insists that the B’s in “boom boom” be inverted when spelling it, because that’s how he rolls.

I would like to ask by show of applause how many of you have heard my speech from “PAX Prime” [applause]

I would further like to ask how many of you by show of applause have come here having heard that talk to witness a new chapter read from the Xbox LIVE “Book of enforcement” [applause]

[I turned to Boris and Andreas]

Wow Boom Boom…and…Boom Boom. I’m disappointed. This crowd doesn’t appear to muster up the energy for a reading. How many of you are hung over?

[loud applause]

[Andreas]: I think you have to ask for thunderous applause?

Thanks boom boom. Ladies and Gentlemen I was remiss in my query. By show of thunderous applause and also making the Arsenio hall show crowd noise, how many of you showed up today to hear a new chapter read from the Xbox LIVE book of enforcement.

[Thunderous applause and hoots from the crowd.  I wait for crowd, then slowly pull out the book of enforcement, a large leatherbound metal studded book.]

[I pause for effect]

And a voice spoke out among the heavens and said, let there be a vast void! And it was so, and it was good.

And a voice spoke out among the heavens and said, let there be light! And there was light! And it was good.

And a voice spoke out again and said “let there be an Xbox LIVE vision camera!” and there was an Xbox LIVE vision camera! And it was good!

And the voice spoke out once again and said “Let there be more light!” and…and…and the camera needed more light so…

And the voice cried out again saying “seriously bring in some lamps and stuff from the other room and open up the blinds and hey I think there are some flood lamp bulbs downstairs” and finally there was more light!

And it was good.

And a voice cried out “Let there be games that use the camera to its fullest extent online!” and it was so! and it was…

[I pause]

Well I mean it started out as good?

But there was merriment! And people did use the vision camera to wave and say hi to other users in games. And there was a glorious detailing of tells in Texas Hold’em. And the righteous did use the camera to smirk and gloat on slapping a draw four on that smart ass punk who did just proclaim Uno…

[I pause again, take a look at the book, turn it over, etc.]

Ladies and gentlemen I apologize, whichever apostle who wrote this gospel was clearly really into Uno [cough THE PRO cough]

But yea, verily! There was a dark shadow on the heart of the Xbox LIVE service. That shadow did take the form of males aged 35 to 55 who allowed the camera to broadcast their iniquity to their fellow players. Their behavior defied the rules and the very foundation of decency. Players were exposed to such atrocities as “the flaccid ‘All in’”, the “my girlfriend will [hrmasfdjhasdkjh] for Microsoft points,” and on at least one occasion the dreaded, the feared “Helicopter.”

Ladies and gentlemen I must pause to let my team recover from the very mention of “the helicopter”

[Boris and Dre put their heads in their hands]

You guys ok?

[Boris and Dre nod]

I mean surely that guy had to hurt himself even doing it right?

Let me proceed.

And a great cry came up from the users saying “Why! Why would anyone do this? Why is there something EVEN CALLED THE HELICOPTER?”

But the service was designed to be vigilant. And my children, the service heard the cries and swept into action. There was a righteous punishment that came down from the heavens. It blocked the offending accounts and banned consoles and was heard all the way to the very halls of the [Hans Gruber voice] F. B….I.

And there was a wailing and gnashing of teeth! And the service did smite them directly upon their camera exposed bits and parts and…stuff and things. And they were filled with punishment.

And the service looked upon the fires of the work they had done, and it was good.

Can I get an amen?

I’m reaching the heart of my speech, the part I cared most about delivering. I had just ran through briefly how the enforcement team operates, and I continue:

But more importantly I think is why we do what we do. And I think there are two levels to that. The first is a personal investment and the second is the investment we as a company bring to the service.

I grew up in the world of arcades, and a local park by my house. For those of us who were children in the 70’s, computers and games weren’t quite as ubiquitous and pervasive as they are today, mainly because of cost. And of course the number of people using the Internet back then was heavily outnumbered by HAM radio operators. So I learned my concepts of gaming and sportsmanship in the physical world. If you cheated, there were repercussions. If you were a jerk, there was a reaction to that which was immediate, and sometimes tactile. I admit it, there were times when I violated Wheaton’s law. And either through correction by my parents, or correction by a swift punch to the throat, I learned the boundaries of behavior.

Now, there is a subset of all humanity known as jerks. And the Internet has connected all of humanity. The ability for all of us to interact wherever we are in the world in real time and in a variety of ways is almost…almost making up for not having our damn flying cars that our childhood said we would have by now. But somewhere between the arrival of 500 million America Online CD’s and now, something happened to some of the basic ideas of sportsmanship. Not just trash talk, but also the fundamental underpinnings of fair play and accomplishment. Yes there were always jerks on earth before, but now they had a conduit. And of course Xbox LIVE is simply a subset of the Internet so like everyone else we have jerks too.

There are times when I hear someone saying something online and I think “really?” When did that enter their heads that that was ok? I’m not talking a random off color joke or funny exclamation here. I’m talking violent speech. Hate speech. Sexist speech. Homophobic speech. Racist speech. It being over the Internet doesn’t make it ok. In fact, nothing makes it ok.

A second thing I’ve noticed a bit more of lately is somewhere with the application of anonymity came not just the idea you could be a jerk and get away with it, but also the idea that people have a right to something they have not earned. Not just because they want something they didn’t earn, but because they feel entitled to it.

When I was a child, the most competitive thing I ever did was participating in Swim meets. I’ll pause for a moment so you can make your orca jokes mentally right now trying to imagine me swimming.

I only did it for a couple of years and I wasn’t very good. My number of green "participant" ribbons severely outnumbered any other ribbons I had on my achievements board. But one meet I really trained, and I really practiced and through that hard work I ended up taking home a red second place ribbon. That ribbon meant more to me than just about anything in my childhood at that time, even most treasured possession, a large size Optimus Prime that had Roller in the truck trailer and had an actual plastic chrome truck grill instead of a sticker. For a long while that red ribbon made me really happy.

So I learned behavior and I learned accomplishment. And those things became important to me.

I look at those Gamerscore cheaters out there, or those people trying to hack up fake 10th prestige ranks in Modern Warfare and I wonder…why? What world do they live in that that became not just ok, but something they demand? Someone asked me once after I gamer score reset them why I did it? They actually tried to explain to me that their fiddling with some hex values in a tool on their PC to make everyone think they had played hundreds of games was their right, and we shouldn’t do anything about it. They laid claim to an accolade they did not earn and, in a bizarre perversion, were proud of that.

It was as if instead of one bright red ribbon standing out amidst a deep field of green ones, I simply stole the box of ribbons and filled my board with blue first place ones then asked my mom to be proud of me. I would have gotten a smacking like no other. I’m serious she would have popped me so hard my head would have left a red shift.

I get that there will always be cheating, and I get that I’m probably not the person who’s going to be the first person ever to understand all the aspects of it and make it go away. It is actually because of that fact that I am very proud of my company, Microsoft, for not turning our backs on bad behavior and cheating on the online service. We may not be able to get them all, but we will get them eventually. We don’t Gamerscore reset people so much to punish them, as to show you that we believe in the value of the experience we provide.

I’m so proud of my Little Rocket Man achievement in Half Life 2 Episode 2. I carried that Gnome all the way across Episode 2 even on the car level with the helicopter chasing me. I can’t imagine flipping a bit somewhere and granting myself that just to brag that I had it. Or 10th prestige in Modern Warfare 2, which takes many days of continuous play to earn. We want the people on our platform to not just feel a sense of pride in their legitimate accomplishments, but also know that there are people like my team out there working to help protect that.

I know there’s ways that we can improve, and that’s why we’re here today at PAX to hear from you. I believe strongly in the work that my team does around safety and behavior and around fairness. I believe we are the check against the lack of some real world consequences that govern behavior. But more important, Microsoft believes hat to. We believe that we need to invest in helping to govern bad behavior on the service.

I’d love to one day put me out of business. (I would still like to get paid however for achieving that, but we can negotiate that…) So I have some requests to make of you. Chances are if you’re listening to this you’re not part of the problem, but we can all be part of the solutions.

Because please know this, If there’s one last bastion of ignorance out there that still questions the integrity and honor of us as gamers, it due to the behavior of that small subset of people online, not just on Xbox LIVE but any online gaming service, that makes people feel unsafe or disgusted or just plan sad for the future of our world and our species. That’s why it’s important to have a team like mine, and that’s why it’s important that people on Xbox LIVE help us as well by filing those complaints and muting players that are bad and letting us know.

If you’re a parent, please please talk to your children about sportsmanship and fair play, and online safety. I don’t just mean watch them and make sure they don’t cheat in a game or game with unsavory people, I mean please talk to them about the importance of those things as concepts. Why they matter. We have an entire web site that we have made in partnership with child and parent groups across the world called There you will find all sorts of educational materials that can help you teach your child not just about safety and good behavior online, but also about how to integrate gaming into a healthy lifestyle that, like my childhood, integrates the awesome world of games into a lifestyle that mixes in play time outside, schoolwork, and family time too.

Please be involved in your child’s gaming even past the age where you feel they must be doing ok, because hey they’re smart kids and surely couldn’t be causing any problems. I promise you some of the worst behavior we sometimes see occurs right around that age group when a parent might feel more confident in not being as involved, in the 15 to 17 year old range especially. But also please make use of our parental controls as well for younger gamers to help enable and restrict their activities as you see fit. If you’ve given a console to a child and they set it up, I can promise you they or their friends will occasionally do or say some pretty bad stuff. Some of the hardest discussions I have to have in my role at Xbox start with "Actually, I’m afraid little Jimmy did indeed threaten to rape one of my employee’s grandmothers till she flies across the room"

And if you’re an adolescent or college student or young adult, first off, please obey Wheaton’s law, and don’t be a dick. But more importantly, it’s ok to point it out to your friends who are breaking it, that that just isn’t cool. We need more of you to let that buddy who’s screwing up the entire battlefield match by continually taking the only Blackhawk, waiting until it’s filled with teammates then smashing it into that lighthouse out near the ocean that that type of behavior is Not Approved. I know there are fantastic people all over our service and that the bad guys are a tiny fraction. But I know how youth and anonymity can lead to ….questionable choices. Please be an example to your friends where you can.

My team has a lot of power to take action on the system. But it is nothing compared to the power you guys have as parents and players to affect change. Let us know how we can help you.

Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity tell you all this today. I hope this, your last day at PAX East, is even more awesome than your first day was.


I always felt deeply depressed the last day of camp.  Not even the breakfast could cheer me up.  People packed bags and generally started half heartedly making goodbyes they realized they didn’t want to make. We were friends under very specific circumstances and it was the magic of taking us out of the normally cloistered circumstances of our lives, combined with being in a unique place where as kids we could do unique things that bonded us so strongly.

Some of us continue on as pen pals, and some of us might go on to see each other next year at the same camp if we were lucky.  But the sadness was always overcome by the great memories and knowledge that those times were amazing and among some of the best you could have as a kid.

Then the busses would come and we’d return to tearful mom’s who’d missed us terribly throughout the whole time we were gone, just as much as we’d missed them the first day.  And you realized once you got home to your parents and your toys and your own bed that things in the normal world were pretty good too.


I’m back in 6c.  There’s turbulence over the Rockies which is par for the course. I think briefly about whipping out my phone and looking at some of the pictures I took over the course of the event.  But I don’t.  Earlier in the airport bar enjoying a beer I did that and suddenly that same sadness from so long ago came welling up and I realized I didn’t want the weekend, that soul of PAX, to end.

So I sit and think instead.  I think about landing, and that reminds me that I’m coming home to my dogs and my wife, who I wish were with me all the time.  I have some great games to play and some important work to get done.  And there’s PAX Prime in Seattle coming up soon. And I met some amazing new people and can talk to them and all my old friends too over the Internet or LIVE.

And I think about how awesome it is to live in the future, and that smile comes back again.