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.
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.
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.