An Outsider’s View of PAX East 2011

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by Lynn

I’m not a die-hard gamer. I don’t dress up in costumes, except on an occasional Halloween. I don’t own anything Pokemon. So when my husband suggested attending PAX East in Boston, I was skeptical. In all honesty, I looked at it more like an opportunity to spend time alone with my husband. In fact, if the PAX expo was canceled, I would not have been disappointed because that would have meant more time to spend with him (it’s been YEARS since we’ve had time to ourselves, literally). Like I said, I’m not a die-hard gamer.

But I was in for a sweet surprise! PAX East delivered and then some! When we first walked in, we were awed by the elaborate kiosks; from the stone walls of Dragon Nest, to the S curve of Gears of War 3, to the chain link fencing around Alienware, and the cubes of Portal 2 and Battlefield 3. Thousands of people poured into the convention center, some in costume, to play their favorite games, learn new ones, and purchase accessories. I found myself completely wrapped up in the energy surrounding this expo. I couldn’t wait to see the new Nintendo 3Ds and check out Zelda. But I also found myself wanting to learn more about the Gunnar glasses, Turtle Beach headsets, and to attend some seminars (Internet Relationships and Legal Issues in Gaming).

While I am mainly an Xbox360 and Wii player, I found myself gravitating to the PC games to check them out. Typically, PC games involve too many keystrokes for my clumsy fingers. Plus, the games that I’ve played before were very simplistic – think minesweeper and solitaire. So imagine my delight when I stumbled across Vindictus, Fable III, and Dragon Nest – three of the best PC games I found there. Fable III was in 3D! I always thought the 3D glasses would be cumbersome and uncomfortable. But when you see the imaginary world coming alive in front of you, you forget completely about the glasses. I could have played that game all day. I must also tip my hat to the staff at Dragon Nest who took the time to thoroughly explain their game and how to control the character. They created a PC game that had minimal keystrokes for optimal play. Within just a few moments, I was maneuvering my character around her world with ease, a shocking feat for someone who’s all thumbs like me. Now if only I could afford the computers necessary to run these games…

And PAX was about more than just games. It was largely about the people too. I had no idea who anyone was when I first got here. My husband had been talking to the family for months, viewed pictures, and knew people’s names (real and gamer) on sight. I knew no one. But that’s the great thing about gaming, it brings people together who might not normally meet, either by distance or by personal biases. Everyone associated with was so sweet and welcoming. Meeting everyone was probably one of the greatest highlights of the weekend for me.

In addition to meeting these people, I got to party with them too! From working the Spirithood raffle at the Gamers Gone Wild party with Allyson, to getting McDonald’s with Rudy and Mark, to partying at the Frag Dolls party with Ryan, I certainly hope lifelong connections were made.

PAX East personnel and the convention staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable, as well. Whenever we got lost, and we did often the first day, they were able to direct us to where we needed to go. When we stopped someone walking past to ask a question, they always answered it accurately and with a cheery disposition, even if they had somewhere they needed to be.

The only downside to the entire convention was the food prices. $3 for a soda? $5 for a plain hot dog? Really? Just because you have a captive audience doesn’t mean you should take advantage of them. If I’m ever able to make another conference, I would hope this is something that could be addressed. It probably won’t, but I can dream.

And I do dream…of going back to another PAX convention. It has made me excited to try out my new Gunnar glasses and expand my platform preferences. It has turned this indifferent, occasional gamer into a die-hard believer.

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