The Penny Arcade Expo is a show that brings together gamers from all walks of life into one place to celebrate the hobby they all share in common. Being a fan of video games, the opportunity to freely express one’s love for gaming amongst peers is a feeling that is indescribable. However, attending an event such as PAX as media is a completely different experience, allowing one to see a totally different side to the industry. All of these aspects working together help to make an experience rivaled by very few other events, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. This is the story of the first PAX East I ever attended, my very first event within the game industry as a member of the gaming media.
One of the biggest highlights for me at this year’s PAX East was the opportunity to see many faces I had conversed with regularly online. After having interacted with a Twitter name, a Skype icon, and many other social media outlets for so long; it was a nice change of pace to talk with people I’ve collaborated and interacted with in the flesh. Luckily for me being part of the gaming media, there were moments where everyone from different outlets could take the time to hang out away from the hordes of gamers at the convention, as well as the hordes of gamers attending the convention. Moments like these made for great opportunities to strengthen the bonds I’ve had with many colleagues I have come to know over the years, as well as make many new friends I never knew I had along the way. What makes conventions totally worth the hassle of planning and traveling is the people that help bring out the best of everything the event has to offer, it is something that is irreplaceable and invaluable.
The meat of what makes PAX East a great event though is the overabundance of games and everything else involving gaming culture. Whether your love is for major titles from the likes of the big three or anything from the indie scene, there was something for everyone to love. Walking through the convention floor, I was greeted with tons of games both new and never-before-seen, all of which I was ecstatic to get a chance to play. This was further re-enforced by my time spent with some games behind closed doors during appointments with different publishers and developers, something I never thought I would experience before. Having the chance to see games from some of my favorite developers, like Square Enix, Capcom, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo; in a setting devoted solely to gaming was unlike anything I had experienced in past conventions. For any fan of gaming that is more attracted to playing the games and conversing about them with others easily rather than concerning themselves with exclusive news and reveals, PAX East is the show you need to be at.
Outside of the main show, the culmination of everything surrounding PAX really bookended the entire experience well for me. Being part of gaming media with the ability to attend parties that celebrated many different things about gaming, as well as exploring the city of Boston was a special highlight. The total experience of everything being connected to the main attraction for me was something that really kept the momentum of PAX East going strong all the days I attended the convention. This same feeling of euphoria stood with me well after I returned home from the madness of the show. Events such as the Frag Doll’s community event and the Neverwinter Dungeons and Dragons party were only a fraction of the great times that I was a part of outside of the convention center. For me, these were times where I saw a different side to the field of gaming journalism, where my passion for gaming took a totally different direction from what I was used to.
Overall my experience at PAX East 2013 was something that I will never forget. While possibly being outmatched by an eventual trip to “the superbowl of gaming journalism”, this was a trip that was much needed for me. Both as a professional in the making and a life-long born gamer, PAX East was an event that brought forward so many great lessons to be learned and moments to witness. Whether it was the panel that The Koalition’s own Anthony Fraiser partook in, the untimely encounters with Gametrailer’s host Geoff Keighly and IGN’s Mitch Dyer, the many parties I attended all around, or even snapping a picture of a father and son cosplaying together; PAX East 2013 had many different things to love about it. For anyone looking to attend a show about gaming, whether you are a fan or a member of the gaming media, the Penny Arcade Expo is a great place to start.