Published on April 10th, 2012 | by Greg0
PAX 2012: The State Of Gaming Is Strong
Over the weekend, we joined approximately 70000 other people in Boston for one of the largest gaming enthusiast events in the world. PAX is less than a decade old, but had steadily grown into an enormous convention, only this one aimed directly at the public. We attend a lot of shows and events- CES, E3, SXSW and many others- but the PAX experience is unique. Though you may not have made it to this year’s Massachusetts event, the PAX Prime is still yet to come, held in Seattle over Labor Day Weekend.
It was our first trip to the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX East, and we had a great time. We met folks like Felicia Day and Jonathan Coulton, who was there to perform as part of two nights of concerts (that also featured bands like MC Frontalot, Supercommuter, Protomen, Minibosses, and the Video Game Orchestra). We spoke with dozens of fans, who braved lines to check out upcoming titles like Civilization V: Gods and Kings and XCOM: Enemy Unknown (from 2K Games and Firaxis), both of which have us looking anxiously forward to some PC gaming sessions later this year. Microsoft showed off some convincing Kinect experiences, like Crimson Dragon and Steel Battalion. Hundreds of consoles were setup to freeplay, allowing everyone to check out old favorites while lounging- and a classic arcade was setup with some amazing games as well, courtesy of the American Classic Arcade Museum.
The show floor offered plenty of booths beyond the big studios and AAA titles- we especially appreciated a set of amazing XBLA Indie games and some iOS and Android games that offered plenty of creativity and intriguing art design. Even among the big players like Sega, some of the most interesting things we saw were not on our radar- for instance, the upcoming iPad title Total War Battles: Shogun. People watching is always fun at events such as these, and PAX was no different- we caught folks in costumes ranging from Mega Man to a team of Ghostbusters, and hundreds more.
Not everything was perfect- lines were lengthy to get passes, some events and panels were completely packed, and it seemed like two particular changes would have been nice: an RSVP system or ticketing method to get a clear idea of how much demand there is for each panel or event, as well as a moderated question and answer system to fix the regular issue of people rushing the mic and talking instead of asking a question (or asking a poorly phrased question).
That said, the panels were interesting- we watched a Hungarian documentary on the demoscene and listened to Gamers With Jobs talk about how to balance the demands of adulthood (with Ken Levine, from Irrational Games on hand). Gamer and geek icons like Rooster Teeth and CollegeHumor were on hand, and for those wanting a more competitive experience, tournaments for everything from Magic: The Gathering to Tetris Attack and Mario Kart were held. And there was even a magnetic climbing wall, where you strapped on magnets to your hands and feet and made like Spiderman.
Our favorite area, though, was also the largest and most chaotic: the free-for-all tabletop area, focused on board games of all types. This section was open until 2AM, when you could still find hundreds of folks trying out the latest titles, throwing dice, laughing over Cards Against Humanity, or arguing over Risk: Legacy. We met the designers behind the upcoming title “Gladiators”, who taught us their game over the course of an hour. And we tried several of the latest Steve Jackson games, including the upcoming Castellan, which is being released this summer. We can’t wait until next year! Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of our images on Facebook!