With PAX East in my rear view mirror, it’s time to reflect on the three days I spent in the equivalent of gamer Disneyland. It isn’t perfect, but PAX is a fun experience I highly recommend all of our readers attend at least once.
1. You haven’t seen miserable people if you haven’t seen someone waiting in line for three hours to play a ten minute demo. I don’t understand why people do this in the first place. There’s a ton of things to do and see at a show the size of PAX, so sitting on the floor to play your DS for a few hours just so you can try a little bit of The Last of Us or watch a video about Assassin’s Creed IV seems like an extremely inefficient convention strategy. You really didn’t give PAX your hard-earned cash just so you could sit on the hard convention center floor playing a handheld game you could’ve just played in the comfort of your own home, did you? Judging from the hangdog looks on the faces of those I saw in such lines, the answer to that question is likely a resounding “no.” This isn’t 1987; we’ve got clouds and internets and digital distribution and all kinds of things that should have made waiting in line to use one of twelve consoles or PCs obsolete a long time ago. I realize the marketing department wants to control the experience and give their representatives a chance to sink their claws into convention goers, but this is silly. Where’s the reservation system that lets you sign up for a time to try out Remember Me? Where’s the demo room wherein you can try anything you want for fifteen minutes? There has got to be a better way to show off your product to such a large audience.
2. Enough with the zombies already. You know that funny feeling you get whenever you see two Starbucks across the street from each other? That’s how I felt in PAX’s indie area, where you couldn’t take more than three steps without seeing another game based on the undead. We’ve officially reached zombie saturation, folks, and it’s kind of a shame so many indie studios have decided to try to capitalize on what’s hopefully a dying trend. By definition, independent developers are free to make interesting decisions about the future of their products, so why have so many of them decided to focus on the new “it” genre rather than actually choosing to innovate? Sure, they probably think that’s where the money is, but we’ve already got more than enough big name zombie franchises. It doesn’t make sense, and I really hope this is the end of it.
3. Console gamers should get ready for a weak summer. Remember Me and The Last of Us looked promising, but the expo hall felt a bit empty this year. Many companies were there to show off games that had already been released, HD remakes, or upcoming DLC. Nothing hammers home the fact that we’re at the very end of a console cycle quite like standing on a packed convention hall floor and wondering where all the hot new games are. Color me extremely surprised that there was no real mention of the Playstation 4, either. Why not show some of the gameplay footage featured during Sony’s February announcement? It felt like the big guys were just mailing PAX in.
4. Cosplayers are the true heroes of PAX. I quickly lost track of the number of times I spotted a cosplayer and thought to myself “that can’t possibly be comfortable.” These people are true troopers. An armored bikini is a terrible choice of attire on a 35 degree March day in Boston. Navigating a packed convention while wearing a mask that severely limits peripheral vision seems downright impossible. Given that my legs feel like Jell-O even though I wore sensible shoes all weekend, I can’t imagine attending PAX in six-inch stilettos. The convention just wouldn’t be the same without the fun of rounding a corner and suddenly coming face-to-face with one of your favorite characters, and so I tip my hat to the hearty men and women who put in the time, energy, and effort to bring those characters to life.
5. What is it with gamers and shorts? That was not a warm weekend. I’m not sure it ever topped 40 degrees outside, and the biting wind that typically whips through that area of Boston does not help. Despite the harsh weather, I encountered several individuals waiting in the outside line wearing short pants. Were they tourists who didn’t put enough thought into packing? Color me confused, especially given how cold I was despite my heavy jeans and warm jacket. Once I got inside, I saw several other people removing their snap-away workout pants to reveal the shorts they wore underneath. That sight, quite honestly, confused me even more. What is it with gamers and shorts? Can someone please explain this to me?