Jo Wylie ‘16 / Emertainments Monthly Editor
PAX East 2014 – a bustling, exciting mix of fans, developers, innovators, and amazing ideas. The big Boston gaming convention this year was as exciting and important as always, and a number of your Emertainment video games writers were lucky enough to spend some of their weekend at the Boston Convention Center.
Milling amongst the surrounding rooms, the many theatres, and of course, the Expo floor – its indie games, big developers, tabletop sections, and technology companies – PAX was amazing for any breed of gamer. At the end of the weekend we collected together our highlights from corner to corner of the convention center….
The first thing I noticed about it was how ridiculously huge it was. I walked through the doors leading to the expo hall and was smacked in the face by the sheer bigness of the room. Below me I saw thousands upon thousands of people, all like me, ready to check out everything that this huge convention had to offer. I was at PAX East, and I was just a small dot in a sea of gamers. I walked around the show floor in a kind of daze at first, dumbstruck by the sheer magnitude of the stuff around me. I had loved video games since I was younger than I can remember, but this was the closest I had ever been to the industry. Here I was, seeing demonstrations of games that had never been shown to the public before, I was looking and reading about things that I had only read about online, like Watch Dogs or the Oculus Rift, it was surreal to say the least. As I walked around the shops, purchasing gifts for my like-minded friends, I realized that this was a truly exceptional place and that I should savor every last minute of it.
As a League of Legends fan, I spent the majority of my time at the Riot Games Booth at PaxEast 2014. Outfitted with a large display, a set of gaming computers, and smaller League of Legends hubs, the Riot stage dominated the front of the PaxEast expo hall. Dedicated League of Legends fans could earn League swag, including posters, little toy poros, lanyards, and in-game skins by talking to Rioters, or League of Legends employees. The great thing about this is fans had to engage with the creators of the game they love. Some cool things I learned from my time at the Riot booth: the next League of Legends will be a Support Champion that is similar to the ADC Graves. Also, the Beastial Huntress Nidalee has been hinted at getting a major re-work. The Riot booth was one of the most popular stands at PaxEast and a lot of this had to do with the friendliness of the staff and the openness of Rioters to engage with their players.
The highlight to PAX East for me was certainly the Bioware Base. Here, fans were given the chance to get a really in-depth dialogue going with developers, writers, and designers. Too big for a simple stall on the Expo hall floor, Bioware had taken an entire room elsewhere in the center – this meant that at every hour of every day you could go to the bas and find another panel, interviews, or photo shoot and autograph sessions. It also meant the place was less crowded and quieter, and it was easy to meet any Bioware idols and hearing what you wanted to hear.
Ascerbic party game Cards Against Humanity’s presence at PAX East was predictably fantastic. Attendees found packages of “Pwnmeal,” an “Extreme Gaming Oatmeal” with flavors like “MOBAnana Bread” and “Cinnamon K/D Ratioatmeal.” But inside held a surprise–oatmeal. And some exclusive cards! Those who showed up to the panel got to pitch card ideas to the Cards Against Humanity team. The worst were mocked, and the best were workshopped by the team–debate ensued over whether “A floor that is literally made of lava.” was funnier than “A floor made of lava.” Literally won out, by the way, and those cards were printed that night, able to be picked up by the panel attendance the next morning, with a special pin taped under their chairs.
The Gearbox panel was another wonderful high point of the PAX weekend. Situated first thing on Sunday morning, the main theatre was packed to the brim with hundreds of fans, all passionate and excited about the panel. The panel itself, where Randy Pitchford (CEO), Brian Martel (Executive VP) and Mikey Neumann (Chief Creative Champion), along with a number of guests, talked, was lively, involved, and welcoming. Featuring an exclusive trailer for the Pre-sequel, a gift draw, Randy Pitchford halting proceedings to show us his new magic trick, and ending with a free copy of the pre-sequel for every single guest, this panel was amazing.
Johann Sebastian Joust had one of the most unique video game environments around. A crowd surrounded a space where eight players with Playstation Move controllers–Sony’s Wii Remote/Mood Ring mashup – circle around each other, trying to jostle their opponent’s controller. There’s no screen–everyone’s in meat space. Players move to the tempo of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and as the music speeds up and slow down, the amount of motion necessary to jostle the controller changes. Later in the night, they played rounds with the music replaced by Call Me Maybe. Watch a video of people playing–it’s funny and simple and social, in the best sense.
I’m no stranger to the large scale convention–but PAX East was unlike anything I’d experienced. The huge attractions and amount of detail that the vendors went to for attention was incredible, and the venue obviously catered to the fans. But the companies present weren’t the only ones bringing their a-game; the cosplayers at PAX were few but proud, and certainly talented. From homemade key blades from Kingdom Hearts and classics like the Ghostbusters, to old favorites from Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, every costume had creativity and heart, and shone on the show floor.
What was your PAX highlight? Let us know!