Where do I even begin with this weekend? I don’t really know where to start so I’ll just take it from the top. I was practically bouncing and literally buzzing with excitement as I counted down each of the last 7 days leading up to Beyond (BEYOND!) 300 on Twitter. That excitement turned into distress and turmoil when I found out my plane was delayed an hour and a half.
Determined to make the show, I persevered and kept a positive attitude. I thought out the plan of attack on how to ensure I didn’t miss the show. Not only was my experience on the line, a friend from Twitter who had never used public transportation in San Francisco was relying on me to get him to Beyond 300 on time.
I touched down at 4:05 PM and called my soon to be new buddy Jack to begin the escort mission of escort missions. We got on the BART at 4:25 PM and counted down the minutes, constantly refreshing Twitter and checking in with friends to make sure we weren’t missing anything. A quick thank you to those of you on Twitter that kept me abreast of what was happening via the live stream and in the audience. You helped keep me pushing to go even as our legs burned while power walking, bag in tow, from Montgomery station all the way to the IGN offices.
We arrived with not a moment to spare and were some of the last people to make it up to the fourth floor office. We were greeted by Eriq Martin who was super kind and gracious. He saw my luggage and kept it safe for me during the show, stowing it at his desk. This, by the way, is all while my body, hot from walking decides to sweat from the exertion and stress of the mile long hike. I looked to Jack, beads of sweat on his face as well and said, “man I’m sweatin, how do we stop sweatin?!”
My friends from 200 were already there and had saved me a seat, because they are so rad and kind. The office was packed! A sea of humanity is a bit of an understatement as in between the carefully arranged sections of chairs were walls of bodies. The turnout was incredible! People from all over the globe had made the Beyond pilgrimage to celebrate with my favorite internet personalities. Australia, Canada, and Japan were just some of the international locales in which my fellow Beyonders called home.
Scromagnon, a band that includes Tal Blevins and Casey Lynch, were jamming out and entertaining the masses, while pizza and beer were available for consumption. It was everything 200 was but to the second power. 300 was bigger and better in every way imaginable and it hadn’t even started.
When it finally did, boy were we in for a treat. Right away, we were introduced to Shuhei Yoshida (no joke!), and he spent a few minutes talking about why he loves the guys so much. It then turned into a string of Beyond alumnist cameos with the likes of Chris Roper and Sam Bishop gracing the stage and contributing to the Roper Report. The final Beyond alum was introduced and it was none other than The Powerhouse, Ryan Clements. It warmed my heart to see him there, reunited with Greg, Colin and Andrew for such a special occasion and they discussed a range of topics before moving on to questions and answers.
Just like at 200, the privilege to ask the guys a question was rewarded with a pick from the swag table. The swag table at 200 was impressive to say the lease but remember what I said about 300 being bigger and better. They had Astro A40 wireless units, HD video capture devices, fight sticks, Gela skins. It was like swag overload!
Ryan was tasked with picking out guests from the audience to ask questions and this time I was chosen. I raised my hand as he meandered through the crowd hoping to be picked and when he pointed to me, I almost had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. My euphoria instantly turned to fretting as I realized I was going to go up on stage to sit next to Colin, ON CAMERA, to ask them my question. To say that I was panicking would be an understatement. I’m not going to lie, my heart was pounding in my chest the entire time I was up there. The only thing going through my mind at the time was, “don’t say anything too stupid.” Looking back, especially after watching the stream later, the entire experience up on the stage was a complete blur. I’m not sure how I survived it without making myself look like an ass but I somehow managed.
Once I returned to my seat I shoved my swag gift, an Elgato HD capture device which is going to be put to great use, into my purse and watched a bit more of the show. As the feed sometime blinked on and off the monitor from the wall of bodies standing on cables and connections I decided to get up and maximize my live experience and watch the remainder of the show via the recorded video stream later. I ended up running into Mark Ryan, Casey Lynch and Troy Baker just to name a few. I gushed about the Last of Us to Troy, telling him that he and Ashley Johnson deserved Oscars for their performances. He actually performed a song in the middle of the show, but you know… it’s not like I couldn’t do that (how the heck is he so talented?!).
The show ended with an amazing collaborative effort between Danny Wiessner and Pandamusk, a video called Go/Beyond! It pulled on the heart strings and was simply stunning. The Sony and IGN cameos were great. The entire Beyond crew make appearances, including Powerhouse, and the PlayStation cast included the likes of Cole (inFamous), Kratos (God of War), Joel and Ellie (The Last of Us), Nathan Drake (Uncharted) and many, many others. When I watched it at home today I found myself tearing up near the end as Greg, Colin and others yelled, “beyond,” finding their inner strength to revitalize the PlayStation heroes. Both Danny and Panda are so talented.
The party continued at the office. I ran into friends I had made on Twitter and fans I had never met before. I ended up snagging David Ballard and talked his ear off as I gushed about the Last of Us. I let him know how fantastic the game was, in every aspect and let him know how proud that game made me feel to be a gamer. The party soon moved offsite to Pete’s Tavern. There I met with other IGN superfans and personalities. The highlight of the night for me was an incredibly touching chat with Jack DeVries where we ended up sharing coming out stories and I ended up crying. The vibe at Pete’s was great. Everyone was obviously having such a great time. I ended up running into Eriq again and got him a shot, reciprocating the fact that he stowed my luggage at his desk for me. I eventually tracked down Greg and Ryan, separately of course, and talked life and being engaged. Everyone at IGN, including the majority of the former employees, are extremely friendly and approachable. I spoke briefly with Roper, who I had never met before. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.
When I finally got to the airport on Sunday and waited to board to go home I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with relief, happiness and sadness. I was grateful to be going home because the weekend, even though it was phenomenal, was really taxing. I was tired and missed my fiance. I was so happy to have made so many new friends and reconnected with old ones. I knew I was going to miss San Francisco, but I have the memories to keep me warm. In the stillness provided by the airport terminal I had time to reflect on the weekend, IGN, Beyond and all that it has meant to me, and (surprise!) I got really choked up. I’m getting choked up just writing this right now! I know, I know, I’m a total crybaby now.
I just wanted to wrap this up with a few thank you’s. Greg, Colin and Ryan: You guys mean the absolute world to me. I know I’ve told each of you already how you got me through my dad battling cancer but it’s not like I ever forget and you’ve been with me ever since. You help me get through the difficult days and you make the good ones better. I love you guys and have the utmost respect for you. Scott Lowe: If you hadn’t invited me to dinner on Saturday, I wouldn’t have known exactly how awesome you are. I mean, I knew you were really cool but didn’t know just how cool. It was great getting to know you! Marty Silva: Thank you for reading my piece on the Last of Us. Your feedback made me so happy and helped keep me motivated to keep pushing and writing. Jack DeVries: Our talk Friday night was one of the highlights of my weekend. It was really special and meant so much to me. I wish you all of the best and hope to see you next time I’m in SF. Casey Lynch: I have so much respect for you. I remember meeting you for the first time at Beyond 200 when you were the brand new EIC of IGN. You were so friendly then and remain just as friendly today. You’re a great guy and I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart. Panda: You’re extremely talented and brilliant. I can’t wait to see you at the next event, whenever that is. Thank you for working with Danny to create such amazing works together. Ryan, Samantha and Mike: It was great to spend time with you guys Saturday and more so on Sunday. You’re great people! Albert, Tim and Keller: You are my Beyond crew. We rolled to Beyond 200 together not knowing one another before we met at 21st and have been tight ever since.
I’m sorry I don’t have the time or space to name everyone by name but I loved meeting all of you. Everyone was so nice to me. I know it may seem trivial to many but the fact that so many made no issue about my being transgendered meant the world to me. It’s not just that you guys weren’t offended or weirded out by my presence but none of you acted like I was coming onto you just because I was being nice (It’s who I am, I can’t help it)! You’re all so kind and that’s why, when Greg says we’re all friends and family, I know it’s true. It is an honor for me to call you my friends and I will be ever grateful to you for sharing these memories with me. Until next time, BEYOND!
P.S.: If you missed the show, you can watch the entire video stream here