PAX 2009 was my first PAX and may already be my favorite show of the year. Granted, TGS hasn’t happened yet, but there were a few reasons why I think the Penny Arcade folks should be commended for what they’ve accomplished as far as a video game show.
Most people would compare PAX to something in the realm of “it’s a Comic-Con that’s focused on video games that doesn’t smell as bad.” While completely true, and I think I can speak for everyone that went about being happy about the lack of “dude smell” – it’s a show by gamers, for gamers. Granted, as press we got some great content out of the show, but PAX isn’t for the press. It’s for the gamers. And as a gamer, I think that’s fantastic.
Also different from other shows is that the people are nicer, the overall vibe is amazing and the show is extremely organized. All of the Enforcers (PAX security) and organizers should be applauded with how well they kept everything tame. I’ve seen scuffles at other events with security over ridiculous conflicts, but PAX overall feels relaxed and completely chill. You can get to where you want, there’s very few bottlenecks,and if you want to get your hands on a game or attend one of the many panels, just get in line. It’s pretty straightforward. For as many professional shows I’ve attended, PAX has gotten it right in amazing time. It’s completely fun and that’s what a game show should be about. FUN. With a capital WOOT.
The last few years I used to look at GamesCom (or Games Convention in Leipzig, in years previous) to be the best show of the year. They have a press center that business people can get their work done and a public area for the gamers to get their fill, as well. Why the ESA hasn’t taken that model and adapted it to E3 is still beyond me, and something I’ve complained about in previous Letters. But now I want them to pull something from PAX, as well. Add public days with sessions and panels with developers and journalists during E3 as well – and allow the public to see them. There were tons of developer and game sessions that were filled to the brim with gamers and aspiring developers. This just seems like a no-brainer for me. And if the ESA doesn’t listen, E3 and other spring/summer shows could take a serious hit next year.
Next year the spring show line-up will be adding PAX 2010 in Boston in March. Although there hasn’t been a spring PAX before and there hasn’t been a major show on the east coast, PAX 2010 in Boston could really change the landscape of video game shows. Game companies have leaned on D.I.C.E. and the Game Developers Conference to pimp their wares for a number of years now, even though those events aren’t really true gamers events, they’re developer events. PAX 2010 could turn into the really big spring show – not only for us as press, but for gamers’ as well. It’s well after the holiday push and as games are looking at what's coming next spring, PAX 2010 seems like the perfect place for publishers to get these games in front of everyone. Not only could it make E3 step it up but it could return D.I.C.E. and Game Developers Conference to what they’re supposed to be about – Game Development.
And while we still have a long road until March, I’m very much looking forward to attending PAX in Boston. It’s been a long time since I could take a step back and watch gamers just having fun and playing games. Meeting people from around the world that are together just to have fun and play games is pretty amazing. And I would highly recommend anyone that’s a hardcore gamer, wants to attend a game convention, or is just curious – PAX is a show you don’t want to miss. Even though this PAX was my first, I can guarantee I’ll never miss another one – no matter where they hold it.