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!
Okay, you have GOT to check out the demo of Duke Nukem Forever! I mean, seriously, this game has been hyped for YEARS, and it is finally going to be released, and I have to know if it lives up to the hype!
Also, don’t forget to look to see if there are Bootlegs of Japanese Game Music CDs featuring a popular Time-Travel RPG game. 🙂
For PAX Prime this year, I picked a few things I really couldn’t miss that I would have to stand in line for. The rest of the time I wondered the Expo hall and rest of the convention.
Be wary of having a too full schedule. I did that for PAX Prime ’09. I spent way too much time in line. This year I picked a theme (music/sound) and tried to theme my panels. I felt like I spent much less time in line this year. At least the Enforces have games and other things to try to help people pass the time in line. The Cookie Brigade was also a life saver.
I recommend bringing or picking up some games you can play in line. Zombie Dice was popular. Wizard stuffed SWAG bags with half sets of Magic Cards.
PAX isn’t just about the games or panels. It’s also about the people you meet while waiting in line to see a panel or play the latest beta. TALK to people!
I’ve been crossing out events like crazy, but my list is still super long. There’s just so much! I like your theme idea though.
Talking to people is one thing I’ll definitely be doing. Why spend time glued to a phone or game system when you’re surrounded by like-minded nerds 🙂
Huh? “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. … Comic-Con is all about movie releases now.” I should think that the complaint about Comic-Con would be not that it’s no longer about video games but that it’s no longer about comics. The quote sounds like an immigrant complaining about a later wave of immigrants. 🙂
Well played! I guess my point there was that Comic-Con has strayed from its original intent. When I went in ’99 it was all about comics with a few movie and cartoon panels that were somewhat related. Princess Mononoke, for example. Now it seems to have been taken over by the movie and game industries.
Hmm, I’ve been a frequent user of High Def Digest for a few years now yet never “The Bonus View” blog before.
I’ll be attending PAX East as well and I can’t wait! I’m driving up four of my friends from Upstate NY from thurs-mon and it’s going to be a blast. Last year I felt I spent too much time in the expo hall so I plan on going to more panels, attending IGN’s party, and playing more games with my fellow gamers!
Anyone interested in some Pokemon Black/White? 😀
Damn, I still haven’t had a chance to pick up Black/White. I’m so behind!
Well that was amazing. I didn’t get to see half of the things I wanted to see, but I ended up checking out a lot of things that I hadn’t planned on. All in all a tremendously fun and very tiring experience. 🙂