Over Labor Day weekend, video game fans from all over the world will descend upon Seattle for four days of demonstrations, panels and fun, known as PAX, which is short for the Penny Arcade Expo. If your kids are gamers, you may have heard them talking about the show and wondered what the big deal is. Here’s the scoop.

What Is PAX?

PAX was started in 2004 as an extension of the online game-centric comic strip, Penny Arcade. Since the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is open only to people who work in the video game industry, the creators of Penny Arcade wanted to start a show all about games that was open to the public, and PAX was born. The show has grown in popularity so much that Penny Arcade holds PAX conferences in Boston, San Antonio, and Melbourne, Australia. The annual Seattle show is known as PAX Prime and it’s now the largest convention focused on games in North America. In other words, it’s kind of like Disneyland for video games.

What Happens at PAX?

PAX celebrates all kinds of games and gaming culture in a variety of aspects. The expo floor is where video game companies show off their latest products. Many of the major video game companies, including Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, have booths on the expo floor where show attendees can take a closer look at or, in many cases, play a demo of unreleased games. But video games aren’t the only games on display. Companies that make traditional board games and pen-and-paper role-playing games often have booths at the show as well.

In addition to the expo floor, PAX has a robust lineup of panels and special events. Covering a variety of topics, including the intricacies of how games are made, how to start a career in the game industry, as well as subjects like accessibility and diversity in games, the panels feature speakers from many of the major players in the game industry as well as experts and educators.

Some of the special events at PAX include live concerts by a variety of artists in the “nerdcore” genre of music, and the Omegathon, a tournament where randomly selected registrants are tasked with playing a variety of different types of games, all competing to win a grand prize trip to Japan.

PAX also sets up designated areas where attendees can play new and older video games and board games for free using a library-like checkout system.

Many attendees of PAX dress up as different video game characters, and the show’s organizers encourage this. Known as cosplay, some of these costumes can be extremely intricate and difficult to make, showing off a high level of talent and creativity on the part of the maker.


Source: Davann Srey Photography

How Much Does It Cost?

Tickets for PAX Prime are typically $35 for one day or $110 for all four days, but the show is sold out and there are no more tickets available.

The Pixelkin staff will be attending PAX, and we’ll have details on some of the highlights from the show next week.


This article was written by

Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she's a mom, she's passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.