Tim Slager is a Navy veteran and was one of the two Air Assaults who attended PAX East 2016 with Stack Up this past April. 2016 did not start off great for Tim. After being laid off from his job, his home was hit by a Tornado, suffering extensive damage.
Thankfully no one was seriously hurt and the community came together to form a successful Crowdrise campaign to help the Slager’s through this rough time. Through all of this Tim continued to serve his community by lending aid to those in need in nearby Cape Corral.
A quote from Tim on his Facebook sums up his outlook on the events best”¦
“My family has a bad situation, but there are people whom I’ve seen are far worse off than we are. But that does not stop people from wanting to make sure that we are taken care of. The long and short of it is, right now we are.
Thanks to a great many people and the support of friends and family. Today we picked up the pieces of others lives, and helped them find a sense of hope so they can pick up the pieces of their lives.”
Because of Tim’s service, not just to his country but also his continuing efforts to better his community, it was an easy choice to include him as one of our Air Assaults for PAX East 2016. We asked Tim to share his thoughts on his trip and what he enjoyed about PAX.
Returning from active duty to civilian life can sometimes be a daunting experience. You tend to forget that the civilian world has different rules and acceptable behaviors that the service would never accept. The first day at my new job after the service really painted the reality of that. I was scheduled to work until 1800, and as the clock rolled around my supervisor went on his, and the day shift folks all scattered to enjoy their evening. I stood around looking rather silly for almost 45 minutes because I had not been secured for the day. The evening supervisor came and asked me who I was, and I explained I was the FNG, then she proceeded to ask me what I was doing”¦ I was baffled, I was used to sitting around and not doing anything until I was told to go home. She explained that I could have left 45 minutes ago.
Needless to say, this is a mild case of acclimating to civilian life, but it goes to show that something as simple as making the decision to go home at the end of the day is not something the military is used to. I tell this story only to jump ahead a few years to my recent trip to PAX East. I was invited to be the 3rd Air Assault Stack-up.org has done since the organization began. For more info on Air Assaults, check out Stack-up.org. One afternoon Stephen messaged me and asked me if I was available for a chat, so the phone rings and we have a bit of a conversation on how I was doing. Recently my home was taken by a tornado, and while that was just the icing on the cake the previous 8 months had been rather brutal to my family. To speed the story along, he told me I was selected to join Stack-Up at PAX East, and I was ecstatic!
Travel and Friday
A few weeks later an email shows up with my flight info and, as I traditionally do, I stayed awake through the evening to get on my flight at 5am to head up to Boston. After a rather uneventful flight, I landed and headed over to the convention center. This was around 1pm, so the day was short, but the line was not, if you’ve never been to a PAX, you’ll know that these events attract tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people over three days. For whatever reason I was able to talk my way past security and booked it to the Stack-Up booth where I was greeted by Kevin and Andy. I tucked my bags away donned my badge and was greeted by a large group of friends I had made over my time being involved with Stack-Up, and my own organization GGUnleashed.
Eventually, I made my way down to the show floor, having never been to East before I was excited to see what all of the hype was. The show floor at East is MASSIVE, it stretches as far as your attention span will allow. I ran around for a bit just trying to understand the layout (and failing). All the while seeing some great products, amazing booths and a ton of 3DS Street Pass connections. I made my way back up to meet with Stephen and figure out what the rest of the weekend would look like. As it turns out that night we were bound for the Twitch party (Did someone say open bar?)! When the show floor closed we made our way to Olive Garden to regain our strength and have some ZOUPZOUP. That particular ordeal at Olive Garden can be summed up with a thumbs down, though the breadsticks were good!
Time to Twitch!
We arrived by Carola to the Twitch party which was held at a Luck Strikes, a 3 story bowling alley which Twitch, partnered with Corsair rented out for the evening. We were not sure about the open bar before we arrived, but I promise were quite familiar with it by the end of the night. We mingled, we drank, shot some pool, watched some karaoke, and networked. I spent a lot of time chatting with other community leaders, and professionals, having fantastic discussions on building great communities around titles. But, these are the things of a party at a game convention. The ride home was a blur and waking up the next morning at 10 minutes after 11am was also rather heart breaking, but refreshing. After a quick shower, I got an Uber and made my way back to the convention center.
Walking up to the convention center today the line was not nearly as long. I don’t recall if I brought a backpack with me or not”¦ but I know getting in was not difficult. Saturday was a lot more on point with the plans. Kevin and I would make rounds meeting people and, unknown to me, collecting swag for a bag that I would be getting on Sunday”¦ looking back on that experience it reminds me a lot of going shopping with your parents before Christmas and being told that that power wheels you’ve always, always wanted forever really bad is actually for your cousin in North Dakota. Smooth. Anyways, today I got my hands on Lawbreakers which is a new hyper shooter from Nexon; and it was amazing, I am really looking forward to that title! I also had the chance to meet up with some friends at Zenimax and listen to their panel on ESO for a bit.
After some lunch and some encouraging words to those who stopped by the booth to do PT, we went back to the show floor and played the social game of introducing ourselves to various potential partners for Stack-Up. It helps the message a bit more when you can say “Hi, I am a disabled veteran and I support Stack-Up”, it just adds a layer of credibility to the work that Stack-Up does.
After rubbing elbows, we made our way towards Lawbreakers and jumped into a game, one of the perks of being an Air Assault on this particular occasion was we got to skip the lines and head in to play. Lawbreakers was by far one of my favorite titles on the show floor, granted I don’t tend to play a lot of games when I go to gaming conventions, I use the time for social networking and engagement. Lawbreakers is defiantly my best in show for AAA titles that I played. I did get my hands on PlayStation VR (Or Project Morpheus) Saturday morning, which was a thrilling experience of Job Simulator where I was sitting in a cubicle and started throwing stuff around the office. The folks at Sony were super awesome to hang out with, and we even came up with a potential Stack-up engagement piece for future local Stack events.
Saturday night was supposed to be a calm, relaxed and very laid back time”¦. Yea right. Some of my GGU folks and their respective +1s all went out to dinner at a place called Back Deck in the heart of downtown Boston (I assume it was the heart). Saturday was rather chilly as far as the wind was concerned and I loved every minute of it. There is something refreshing about walking around a big city, especially with you’re surrounded by great people. This was the theme of the entire weekend you see. Being at a gaming convention is honestly when I find myself the calmest outside of being at home with my family. I digress; Back Deck was delicious hindsight being 20/20, I wish I had gotten the wings. From there we proceeded to walk for about 20 minutes to a bar called The Black Rose which is an amazing Irish Pub . We decided not to go there to start with, as it had a cover and no one had cash or some people had cash but we did not feel like having one person cover our cover. So we walked back a block to a place called the Ginger Man, which turns out to be built into an old bank, they let us explore the basement which is where the vault still sits. They converted it into a lounge. If I ever host an event in Boston, I will rent out that basement. It had such a great feeling to it.
After the GGU team shared some drinks and said our fond farewells I went back to meet with the Stack-Up crew at The Black Rose where the music was loud and the drinks were all around. Shot after shot we threw back in celebration of each other, of the success of Stack-Up and the comradery that comes with sharing, loving and dedicating yourself to a common interest. I could go on to tell you that I decided to stand at attention for the better part of 10 minutes because it was relaxing, but the truth was I stood at attention for the better part of 10 minutes because I was drunk and it seemed like a good idea. Did I mention we did a lot of shots? The Moving Hazard dev team came by and they came with more shots. A theme is forming here. The night ended with various Ubers and taxis taking people this way and that.
Sunday started out with a bit of a rush to make sure we had all hands on deck, we mustered in the lobby of the hotel and loaded everyone in various forms of transportation, making our way to the convention center. Some people had earlier flights and so their luggage was in tow. Originally my flight was scheduled for 9pm, however with the way that schedules worked out, we were set to be on the Twitch mainstage at 5:30PM. This would not allow enough time to get packed and to the airport so Stephen had to get our flights switched out.
Sunday, for the most part, went the same as Saturday, we spent some time walking around the show floor and just taking it all in. I ran into the Molasses Flood guys (The Flame in the Flood), so I spent some time chatting with them. A few hours into the day we made our way over to Lawbreakers and got into a Stack-Up vs PAX Community battle. My ego will allow me to say that I completely murdered everyone and actually got invited to a tournament at the end of the day. From Lawbreakers, we made our way over to Oculus, where Kevin had arranged a demo with the Rift and their new motion controllers. The game we played was amazing, it was a 2V2 shooter that took place in this old western tavern. If you’ve gone to the Stack-Up Facebook page, you’ll see a video posted where I look super silly but was having an amazing time.
The day started to come to an end so we made our way over to the Twitch mainstage to do sound checks and get ready to play Speedrunners. Twitch Partnered streamers have a good life, a lounge with tons of food and comfortable couches they can just relax on in the middle of the storm that is PAX? Yes, please. We got on stage, did some intros and made our way into Speedrunners which is a fast paced game where you try to knock your opponent’s off the screen. Sometime during this stream, I heard Kevin mention something about a pair of headphones and other things but was really focused on the game. As the stream ends it turned out Stack-Up had gathered an amazing swag bag for the Air Assault guys (THAT’S ME!). With partnerships from Astro, Gamestop, HyperX, Rooster Teeth, New Egg and beyond a gigantic bag full of Astro A50’s HyperX Cloud II headphones, gift cards, T Shirts loot/indie crate etc were handed to us.
To say I was in shock is putting it mildly; however, I was also extremely emotional as my wife had just messaged me a picture of my 14-month-old standing next to the TV staring at me on Twitch, and a video of him waving (I cried, I admit). We were not sure how we would fit all of it in our luggage, but Nolan from Gamestop was awesome and offered to ship what we could not take back to us.
The Stack-Up crew gathered at the ARK booth to take a picture in front of the T-Rex, which was also an interesting evolution trying to coordinate everything! As the loudspeaker announces the close of PAX there is both a sense of relief (I believe the sound is actually from everyone’s feet) and a tangible feeling of sadness. PAX is sort of like the modern day Cheers, but for gamers and not everyone knows your name. As the hall clears out and everyone goes their way you see the teams of various booths celebrating the weekend and prepping to break down their booths (Not the most fun part of PAX). Stack-Up had a small booth and so it was not a lot of effort. We all head back to the hotel and grab some dinner, the evening closes out with some drinks and late night deep conversations about the future and this adventure comes to a close.
I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Stephen, Kevin, and everyone at Stack-Up who invited me to participate in PAX East; my year has been turbulent, but this trip enabled me to kind of turn off all of the bad things going on and just really enjoy what I enjoy. Thank you, Stack-Up!
That is a big thank you right back at ya there Tim! Thank you for your service and for Stacking Up in your community. We are glad you enjoyed your trip to PAX East 2016!
Is you know someone deserving that you would like to nominate for an Air Assault, head on over this this LINK, to get more information and remember to STACK UP!