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Gamers Enjoy All PAX East Has to Offer

The+main+convention+sign
The main convention sign

The main convention sign

The main convention sign

Brianna Dumont, Reporter

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PAX, an annual convention that is primarily, but not only, focused on video games, is every game enthusiast’s dream. It originally started as the Penny Arcade Expo in 2004 by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the authors of the Penny Arcade webcomic. They wanted to attend a show that was exclusively for gaming, as none existed at the time.   

At PAX, you can play new and popular games, such as Overwatch and Fortnight and browse a multitude of Indie games. However PAX isn’t just for those who play games, those who enjoy watching Youtubers play them can come to see them as well.  There’s a variety of panels to learn about how video games are made, character development, and even sound design. For those who prefer table-top games, there is an entire section set aside for those who wish to play board games or card games. Luckily for those in the Northeast, PAX East is held just a car ride away in Boston, Massachusetts. This year was the first time that there was a fourth day, which extended the amount of time that convention goers had to explore the exposition hall and attend panels. PAX East started on Thursday, April 5th, and ran until Sunday, April 8th.  Convention goers often arrived early in the morning and waited in lines that at times extended around the block, all awaiting the opening of the convention center at 8:00 am.

This Expo hall

The Exposition hall is typically the busiest area of the entire convention. There are the large booths for companies like Blizzard, Nintendo, or XBox, and areas set aside for Indie developers to show off their own games. Indie games are typically made by small teams and can take years to make. These games include fun multiplayer, such as King of the Hat. A game that offers a range of fun characters to choose from and a simplistic level design where each character tries to knock their opponent’s hats off before their own is taken away. There can also be engaging single-player adventure games, such as Candleman, in which the player goes on an adventure as a small candle in the dark world. Along the way, players must light other candles to illuminate the environment and avoid dangerous spikes and bottomless pits. 

Panels at PAX are based on various topics. Some of these panels are Q&A’s led by well-known Youtubers. The two most popular gaming Youtubers who attend are Markiplier and Jacksepticeye who have 20 million and 19 subscribers respectively. Markiplier’s panel took place on Thursday, and the questions were taken from Twitter using a hashtag that the audience came up with, meaning that people both in the audience and those watching at home were able to participate. Whereas at Jacksepticeye’s panel, which took place on Friday, the audience members were able to line up at microphones and ask questions in person. While the panels were both centered around the questions being asked, both Mark and Jack interacted with the audience as well, asking questions or polls for people to raise their hands, or simply making jokes and engaging with the crowd. These panels were held in the Main Theater, while smaller YouTubers’ panels were held in smaller theaters. Each year PAX works for months to arrange what panels will be held in which rooms to make sure all fans and convention attendees get the most out of their experience. Most of the panels were streamed live on Twitch and are available to watch even after the convention is over.

Youtuber Markiplier at his panel

If you want to learn more about a specific career in video game design, you are also able to ask experts for advice on jumpstarting your own career during their panel.  One panel was called Video Game Music Theory 101. The panelist used ordinary, everyday objects to re-create sound effects in video games. During the panel, he used audience member’s random possessions to create the different components needed for these sound effects. For example, a water bottle and a kitchen whisk were hit together to mimic the sound of a sword colliding with an enemies’ weapon in a video game.  A Q&A session was held at the end of the panel and many audience members took that time to ask about the panelist’s own job, advice on what to do to get started on their own career, what programs he used or how he got started in the field.

Another feature of PAX was the PAX XP Scavenger hunt. By registering your badges online before or during the convention, you were able to participate in a convention-wide scavenger hunt. Participants would have to find kiosks to scan their badges at throughout the convention center.  Some were found outside theaters, while others were hidden throughout the expo hall. Scanning your badge would unlock the parts of a sci-fi story where you were the main character. Participants were also able to win virtual trophies and prizes by collecting all of the pieces of the hunt or by engaging in tournaments with other convention attendees.

Another reason that many Youtuber fans attend PAX is for signings or meet and greets. Every year it becomes harder for PAX to ensure the signings are fair, as only a certain number of people are allowed into each signings. While for Jacksepticeye’s signing PAX sent out a tweet when the line started, Markiplier’s signing was conducted differently. People who had missed Jack’s signing were upset, so enforcers and PAX officials met for three hours Thursday night to decide if they would change the queueing for Mark’s. They did end up changing how it was organized and tweeted out early Friday morning that they would be handing out wristbands starting at 8, when the venue opened. While many were still upset that they didn’t get in, it was safer for both the enforcers and those trying to get into the signing. It goes to show how much time and dedication the enforcers and officials put into planning this popular event.

PAX is definitely growing in popularity and sure to become bigger in the coming years.  

 

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Gamers Enjoy All PAX East Has to Offer