Wow. PAX East this year is huge. Huge enough to warrant a move from the smaller-huge Hynes Convention Center in its premiere year in Boston to the huger-huge Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. I’m not entirely sure of the difference in square footage, but it’s generally a good idea to give yourself five minutes to travel from point A to point B around here, especially considering the traffic of cosplayers and the the requisite obese.
The first thing that greets you upon entering the BCEC is a towering statue of Him from Bioshock Infinite, and the first of many staged photo ops. Descending the escalator down to the show floor is the greater spectacle, however, and make no doubt about it: in only its second year, PAX East has become quite a spectacle indeed.
Descending down onto the show floor imparts a sense of grandiosity that wasn’t seen last year outside the snaking length of lines for the panels. The lines are very much still here of course, although there seems to be more room to accomodate larger audiences. What’s even more appreciable, however, is the sense of awe. There, before and below you as you ride the escalator down, is the state of this industry and the state of this industry in Boston, laid out in a sea of monitors, lights, booths, booth babes, and noise.
Yes, in its second year in Boston booth babes are entrenched, with nearly every major industry player represented with two pair of logo-emblazoned mammaries. Pretty faces to be sure, though perhaps I am a fool to think they were there for game-related chat or newsworthy knowledge. After making a pair squirm through two questions I already knew the answer to (and about the game that was written on them) they giggled and asked if I wanted a silly hat. I respectfully declined and worked my way toward a dude with glasses.
If what the presence of these traditionally E3-specific inclusions mean is a bigger, louder, and more inclusive show, then I suppose I support it. I appreciate what all these things mean for this industry. Games are increasingly becoming mainstream, and now Boston is a central gaming hub.
If you don’t believe me on that last part consider the explosive indie influence: whereas last year a small island of booths displayed local indie games, this year that number has doubled if not tripled. In a sense, the indie guys who line the periphery of the floor in the smaller booths bring reminder to us of the certain humbleness to games and their development and from where game-making originated. In a live taping of Feedback, panelist Matt Keil reminded the audience how indie developers are the ones bringing about some of the most memorable innovations, pointing out Bastian in particular.
Folks who know me well know I’ve been pushing for the Boston indie scene for some time, encouraging my friends to move to my favorite city and look for jobs here. I’ve up to this point been unable to bring any game industry hopefuls into town, but with the way things are looking at PAX in only its second year here–and with some dozen panels revolving around landing a gig in this industry–I feel good about what all this spectacle means.