RTX: Halo, High-Tech, & Creepers.. sure clenched 2013 attendees’ Rooster Teeth.
For Mrs. Hoobastank’s 5th grade class (I’m not an actual student and no longer welcome at or within 1,000 feet from this or any other school ever again)…
Dear my fellow 5th grade student-Americans,
What did you do for your holiday weekend? I bet it was lame and stupid and you probably only had sparklers and your mom probably wore that stars & stripes bathing suit that she should have retired after having your little brother completely wrecked her body. I bet you didn’t see Slender Man creepily standing behind people and derailing a question & answer panel. I bet you didn’t see one guy give out another guy’s cell phone number to a room of 5000 people and another few thousand watching events unfold live on the internets. I also bet you didn’t see Halo’s Master Chief eating nachos.
I did. And, that makes me cooler than all of you milk carton-sucking losers who haven’t even had your puberties yet.
I spent my 4th of July weekend in Austin at RTX 2013, the annual fan convention for Rooster Teeth. Some of you might have not heard of Rooster Teeth, probably because your parents are super strict and never let you drink soda or watch TV and have so many parental filters on your computer that you can’t even see Google. Not for nothing, but your super strict parents are probably super repressed perverts who do things at night that would make you want to burn your eyes out with bleach. Don’t believe me?
Just ask your mom about leather masks and pegging.
Rooster Teeth is the company behind the long-running “Red vs. Blue” series, as well as one of the top-rated comedy podcasts and “The Achievement Hunters” series, in which average gamers obsessively quest after achievements…and cuss a lot. They are regulars at events like PAX and E3 and just about any other convention where gaming and the internets have a place of prominence.
Three years ago they decided to have their own convention and this year they topped 10,000 attendees and are looking to hit 15,000 next year. But what exactly goes on at these things? For one, a whole lot of Halo. but that’s to be expected when the company’s flagship product “Red vs. Blue” is produced within the framework of Halo multiplayer games. There’s more than just intergalactic theocracy, though. The Imperial Legion’s 501st was in attendance, as was the Mega64 crew and a number of YouTube personalities.
DAY 2: BOOZE BABEZ SATURDAY
Wait a damn minute, what happened to Day 1?
That’s an excellent question. A day job happened. Unfortunately my GHG salary (which consists entirely of “atta boys” and memos telling me to say fuck more often) doesn’t quite cover the crushing debt that comes along with limping into middle age, so I had to work Friday. That means among other things, I missed the premier of Rooster Teeth’s anime series “RWBY” (pronounced Ruby). Do I like anime? Not really. Did I want to see this? Fucks yes! (Sorry Mrs. Hoobastank)
So I had to wait for Saturday to get there. Luckily, most of the big panels were set for the weekend.
First up was the Achievement Hunter panel. If you’ve ever been to a convention panel, you likely dread the part of the hour when they announce they’ll open the floor for Q&A. To my instant and complete horror, these dudes announced right out of the shoot that it was going to be all Q&A. This meant an almost solid hour of idiots asking questions easily answered by the internet or blatantly licking sack and begging for jobs. This cavalcade of asshats were threatening to wreck the whole damned thing until Slender Man showed up. Yes, THAT Slender Man. He stood at the mic and said nothing as a wave of delicious awkwardness washed over the panel. Eventually Rooster Teeth co-founder Geoff Ramsey dispatched Slender Man with a homemade Minecraft sword given to the panel by a member of the audience.
After that, it was time to hit the exhibition floor. There was plenty of things here for gamers with no real RTX agenda. Iron Gaming had an area devoted to game tournaments, Halo was showing off the latest and greatest to the franchise, Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag was playable in the Achievement Hunter lounge and there was a booth where attendees could try out the Oculus Rift VR headset.
This is where you ask me if the games were any fun, and I lie to you about them being fun. You go stand in line for 2-hours to spend 5-minutes on a game you couldn’t care less about. Thankfully, there was a booth selling booze, and it was near a place selling corsets.
Suck it, nerds. I’ll go for alcohol and pushed-up boobs any day.
The Imperial Legion 501st had a booth on the hall floor, as did Mega64 and a way rad collection of retro gaming systems. Who needs Assassin’s Creed on a boat when there are Commodore 64s and Sega CD systems to be had!
The highlight of Day 2 came from an unexpected place: The Voice Actors panel. A group of voice actors from the cast of DC Universe Online were joined by Earl Alexander (Louis from Left 4 Dead) and Jen Taylor (aka THE Jen Taylor, aka Princess Peach, aka Cortana from Halo). The panel members gave insight on the voice work behind their popular game roles as well as advice on breaking into voiceover work. This very nearly was my favorite panel if not for a moment of epic dickery on…
DAY 3: NOT-SO-SLENDER SUNDAY
Now I, my fellow 5th graders, am a man. And as a man, I can acknowledge when I’m not doing something right. Somewhere around the end of Day 2, I realized I was not maximizing my potential. Having arrived a day late, I didn’t get all the info on what my way rad press badge got me. At RTX, they love them some media. Even little media like God Hates Geeks (Watch what you’re saying, boy! — Maniacal Moody). That press badge was exactly the same as a VIP badge, and carried all the same benefits. Waiting in lines? Shit no. That’s what the unwashed masses do. Turns out, I was quite washed.
Armed with that knowledge, I set out to make Day 3 my bitch.
First was the Halo & Hollywood panel, which promised to discuss the film future of the game franchise. Unfortunately the guys from 343 Industries (current guardians of the franchise) either missed their wake call or misplaced their give-a-fucks and didn’t show. That left the panel to the top Halo fan film makers and pro-level cosplayers. They addressed why it’s hard to make a Halo movie in the first place (Master Chief doesn’t talk and has even less personality than Superman) and how “Forward Unto Dawn” may have laid the blueprints for how to handle the franchise on film.
There was also talk of the Spielberg Halo series that is coming out as an Xbox One exclusive.
From there, it was a quick zip across the convention center for the Rooster Teeth Podcast in the main panel room. The room was quickly filling up with the 5,000 or so members of the audience packing in for what would turn out to be one of the most talked about moments of the con.
Joel Heyman (the voice of Caboose in “Red vs. Blue”) was allegedly pretty drunk when he took to the stage and went into a meandering story about how “Achievement Hunters'” Jack Patillo was a dick for not letting him sign the real-life model of the “Tower of Pimps” from their Minecraft Achievement City. Jack, who found out via text and Twitter that 5,000 people were egging the drunken Joel on to sign the tower anyway, came up to confront Joel. This led to one of the classic arguments that makes the RT Podcast so great.
When Jack left, Joel started calling out a string of 10 numbers…Jack’s cell number. Within minutes, Jack was storming back onto the stage very, very pissed. Burnie Burns, one of the Rooster Teeth founders tried to smooth over the situation by stating that he tried to call Jack to warn him….but the number was busy.
That proved to be the gift that kept on giving. As I got to the Mega64 panel, event staff members were going around telling people to delete Jack’s number from their phones. These people were on red alert, descending upon anyone who even mentioned Jack and his phone number.
I was only marginally aware of Mega64 before attending the panel, but it was a fan-making experience. Somewhat of a cross between sketch comedy and video game versions of Jackass stunts, this crew came armed with plenty of videos encompassing their 10-year history. I know I’ll be playing catch up on these guys’ work, and you should too if you aren’t already in the know. Seriously. Do it. You’re not going to convince me that you have better things to do if you’re reading this story; the only exception is Moody, who is usually very busy tweeting about his most recent commercial gig (Beyond belief. – Moody).
I closed out RTX with the Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures panel, which was a strong finish. The animated adventures are usually audio take from the podcasts and animated by Jordan Cwierz in his “unique” style that repeatedly drew insults and barbs from Burnie and Gus Sorola (another Rooster Teeth Founder) during the panel. There was an outtakes reel from the 100 episode (funnier than the actual episode) and some special secret promos that I’m not even allowed to talk about except to say “Fucks yeah!”
As a long-time fan, I’m naturally biased towards this convention. Would I like to see more branching out beyond the Rooster Teeth brand (much like the Mega64 and Women of YouTube panels)?
Sure. But, I’m confident that’s coming.
Gus told the story of the con’s brief history. When the Austin Convention Center asked what they expected for last year, Gus told them 4,000 last year and 10,000 this year. They all but laughed at him and told him to set more realistic goals. Well, they hit both of those marks and Rooster Teeth is aiming for 15,000 in 2014. That’s going to mean more space and more panels. Naturally, that means more outside influences joining the mix. It’s possible that RTX will eventually evolve into something bigger than just a RT fan con, but right now they are hitting a great balance of small focus and big delivery.
Moral of the story, my fellow 5th graders, is you’ve got a year to get your puberties and then get your tickets to RTX 2014. Just tell your overprotective mom that you’re going to do Jesus stuff and wish her and your lame pops a happy pegging.