The Penny Arcade Expo, also known as PAX, isn’t a gaming convention. It’s not a tradeshow or an expo. It’s a celebration, a Mecca and the biggest party of the year all in one. And we’re going.
There are plenty of videogame-related events throughout the year, but a surprisingly small number of them are actually made for the people who play the games. E3 is huge, but it’s aimed at press. Comic-Con is all about movie releases now. CES hasn’t had worthwhile games to see in years, and the audience of the Game Developers Conference should be obvious.
In 2004, the creators of the incredibly popular webcomic ‘Penny Arcade‘ decided to do something about this. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik created the Penny Arcade Expo, a modest celebration of videogame culture with a total attendance of around 3,000 people.
Since its humble beginnings, PAX has grown substantially, drawing in over 60,000 people in 2010 and spawning a secondary event for east coast fans. Needless to say, it’s been incredibly well received.
One of the biggest reasons for the success of PAX is that it’s made by fans who appreciate the culture of gaming. It’s not created for profit or to reach a demographic. It’s honest.
PAX East 2011 will feature speeches and panels by giants of the industry, game demos, interactive experiences, sessions about getting into the industry, meet-ups for fans of particular games, open tables for ‘D&D’ and card games, concerts, game related movie debuts, tournaments, an orchestral performance, and yes – plenty of parties.
The schedule is so packed that no one person could see everything he or she wanted. Looking at all the event has to offer, I would need two clones in order to attend all the panels and concerts that I want to go to, and that doesn’t even include everything happening on the show floor.
Seriously, check out the schedule. It’s absolutely insane. Saturday night, I have to choose between a documentary on fighting game champ Justin Wong, a musical performance by Jonathan Coulton, or a ,StarCraft, tournament being cast by Day.
In addition to all these great events, there are going to be playable games. Games like ‘Gears of War 3’, ‘Duke Nukem: Forever’, ‘Earth Defense Force 2’, ‘Portal 2’, ‘Star Wars: The Old Repulic’ and plenty more.
As you can imagine, I’ll be at the convention center from when it opens at 10 AM to when it closes at 2 AM trying to squeeze in every bit of enjoyment that I can. I’ll also be blogging about the highlights of the show when I return.
If there’s anything you think I should see, hands I should shake, swag I should pick up, pictures I should get, parties I should go to, or food I should eat, let me know and I’ll do my damndest to make it happen and let you know all about it.
Oh, and if anyone else is going to be there, let me know and I’ll buy you a drink or three!