Once again, I got the boys together for a trip up to Boston. The weather certainly was all over the place, as were we. This marks our third PAX East. There were some good things, some not so good things, and personal struggles. Let’s get into it.
- Boston has some excellent food and drink options, albeit pricy. While there were a few disappointing places during our stay, we found some great spots that had awesome food at reasonable prices. Certainly seems like a foodie town.
- LANning and gaming with friends and randoms in person will always be a favorite for me. This year, we actually spent about an hour or so just doing LAN, something we haven’t done in the past. We played CSGO and PUBG. I’m not a fan of PUBG but I had fun anyway. It’s the experience of being able to coordinate in person and frag folks in a shared setting that makes this a fun time. I highly recommend spending time in console or PC freeplay.
- I always try and attend at least one panel per day. This year I attended two panels, both related to getting jobs in the industry. One involved breaking into the industry and the other was about non-development jobs in games. Both were helpful, had good moderation, and a diverse panel of industry insiders. The queue lines for each panel were managed well. I was able to arrive about 30 minutes ahead of the panel start time and the lines were not bad at all. I highly suggest you make time to go to panels during your PAX trip.
- Indies were plentiful this year, which is a great thing. I love to see small and midsize developers making games they love. Many events out there focus on AAA titles so I have always felt that PAX gave an opportunity to the smaller devs to get their games out to a wider audience. The indie mega and mini booths were packed full of interesting titles; however, it was pretty platformer heavy. More on that later. P.S – if you have an opportunity to play “Puss!” I would highly recommend it.
- Cosplay was on point, as always. There seemed to be a good amount of diverse cosplayers. Of course, Overwatch and League cosplay dominated the show but I was able to see some other cosplay such as Destiny that made me happy. PAX certainly is a cosplay hotspot.
- This year, there was a lot involving streamers, eSports players, and other online personalities dominating the expo hall space. Facebook, Mixer, Twitch, Geico Gaming, Riot, and more had huge booths or spaces dedicated to “partner lounges.” These companies probably had the largest booths on the expo hall but only a very small sliver of those booths were available to the general con-goer. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of having a space for these folks to chill and feel special; however, this may have given off somewhat of an “us and them” vibe. You couldn’t get into these booths (with few exception) unless you were a partner/popular personality. Couldn’t they have just done that off the floor? Maybe this is my age showing. I know that the up and coming generation of gamers enjoy meeting and watching their favorite streamers. There just has to be a better way of balancing the need to satisfy that demographic and the amount of space taken in the expo hall.
- There were not a lot of AAA games at this PAX. Most of the games were indies. Now, I love seeing a ton of indie games at PAX. I encourage it. But, the lack of major players showcasing their titles made me feel off. It almost felt like the AAA community gave up on PAX. Sure, there were a few titles, such as Final Fantasy, that had a major presence but nothing compared to years past. I remember PAX being a place for the “normal” person to play both small and large titles prior to launch. Now, the scales are weighted more heavily toward indies. Again, I love seeing indies there but, the fact of the matter is you’re going to need some major titles to keep the hype and attendance up.
- Boston is an expensive town. You really have to work if you want to find, what I consider, reasonably priced food and drink options. Hotels charge several fees and taxes, including a convention tax. Traffic is also an absolute nightmare at rush hour. It took us an hour to get from the convention center to our hotel, which was about a mile away, one day. If you enjoy walking, avoid the frustration and just walk to and fro.
Every time I go to PAX, it continues to remind me of how badly I want to be in the industry. The barrier to entry is very high and, at my age and location, I’m doubtful it will happen. The nice thing was that, this time around, I got some excellent tips on networking and how to remove some of those barriers. .
Two specific panels that I attended were dedicated to breaking into the game industry. I found the topics and tips provided to be quite helpful. These panels helped rekindle the fire to maintain 2XP Gaming, even if it is just myself. I’m thinking about blogging more, maybe starting a solo podcast, etc. Anything I can do to keep my name out there and stay relevant. And sure, maybe it won’t get me into the industry. In fact, I highly doubt it. But if I can do something I’m passionate about and get more opportunities to follow my dreams, it is worth it.