My Favorite Part of PAX

Posted by | September 01, 2015 | Opinion | One Comment
PAX Prime 2015

I’m fresh from my second PAX convention, exhausted but happy. If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon that is PAX, here’s a quick description: PAX is a gigantic gaming convention. PAX started in Bellevue, Washington in 2004, and now there are four PAX conventions: PAX Prime in Seattle, PAX East in Boston, PAX Australia in Melbourne, and PAX South in San Antonio. More than 80,000 people attended PAX Prime this year, and tickets sold out five minutes after they went on sale.

When you go to PAX, you are among gaming enthusiasts. And not just video-game fans are represented. There’s also a huge tabletop gaming contingent at PAX. Everywhere you go you see people playing games. In the giant Expo hall there are hundreds of video games being played.  People stand in line for hours to get a chance to play new games. And in rooms and hallways and nooks big and small in the convention hall, there are people playing card games and tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons and The Settlers of Catan.

Pax Prime 2015

Lots and lots of video games at PAX Prime.

I put on my media badge and went to PAX Prime so I could interview game developers and write stories about upcoming video games. PAX is a great supporter of the indie games sector, with its Indie Megabooth and PAX 10. My main interest is how games can be used to educate and inform, so I mostly passed by the big boys (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, etc.) and concentrated on the Indie Megabooth, where I talked to a lot of great people showing off their amazing games.

Indie games are like other things indie (indie books, films, and music)—they’re made out of love. Indie developers are not generally thinking they’ll make it big or make lots of money. They just want to make something cool, and sometimes—not very often—their idea takes off.

Mushroom 11 PAX prime 2015

The Mushroom 11 dev team.

I saw a few games like that this year. (See my posts on Mushroom 11, Evergreen, Eco, and Mini Metro.) The thing that struck me when I talked to all of these indie developers was just how excited they still are about their original idea. And they’re thrilled when you like what they’ve done. For my part, I am nothing but impressed. These folks had a creative idea, but that’s when the work really started. They assembled a team to do the insane amount of work it takes to develop their game’s gameplay, music, and art. They didn’t know if their work would ever pay off. And now they’re at PAX, showing their games to thousands of people and bringing them joy.

So that’s my favorite part of PAX—the way humans bring joy to one another through their creativity and hard work. Thank you game designers, developers, artists, and musicians. You inspire all of us.

Linda Breneman

About Linda Breneman

Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.