spring time. Time to emerge from the cocoon of winter, to
step outside into the sun once more and enjoy the thawing
What? There’s finally a massive gaming convention
on the East Coast? Alright - back inside!
2010 will go down in history as the inaugural year of the
Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East. Held in historic Boston on
March 26 - 28, PAX East 2010 was a gamer’s paradise,
showcasing some of the best of every gaming platform, electronic
or otherwise. Much like the original PAX conference still
held annually in Seattle (now referred to as PAX Prime),
PAX East offered exclusive games demos, technology demos,
developer panels, and more, and it was all targeted directly
industry events such as E3 or the Game Developer’s
Conference, this one was for the great unwashed masses of
boy did those masses turnout - the initial 50,000 passes
sold out months earlier, and an estimated 60,000 people
squeezed into the Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston
over the course of 3 incredible days.
did PAX East 2010 feature? The convention started off with
a keynote from the artist formerly known as Wesley Crusher,
geek god Will Wheaton, and comments from Penny Arcade founders
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. Later that night, tech
giant Nvidia officially took the wraps off it latest and
greatest video cards, the GeForce GTX 480 and 470. Graphics
nerds could finally breathe a sigh of relief, as the much
hyped and much delayed cards, built on a brand new architecture,
set new standards for image quality and speed.
course, it wouldn’t be an Nvidia announcement if they
didn’t hype their new 3D vision surround technology
- it’s not just playing games in 3D, but playing with
multiple monitors to give you peripheral vision. While the
technical constraints of a demo in a massive 3000 seat theater
couldn’t really do the 3D tech justice, after playing
games with it on the show floor, I can say that I was truly
impressed with the level of immersion that it added to the
experience. Of course all of the other major hardware vendors
were in the Expo Room as well, pushing their latest gaming
on the Expo Floor - games! Unreleased games, new game demos,
big name games, indie games, locally produced games - the
sheer number was overwhelming and there was simply no way
to play them all. There were huge booths from publishers
such as 2K, Rockstar, Ubisoft, and EA. There was an impressive
demo for Red Dead Redemption -
think Grand Theft Auto in the
Old West - as well as fully playable demos of highly anticipated
titles like Skate 3, Splinter Cell: Conviction,
and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
even more impressive was the effort put into spotlighting
the indie and local game designers that stand to benefit
most from this kind of exposure. An entire area was set
aside for the best independent games in the Boston scene,
including the ridiculous (and ridiculously fun) AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!
-- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity.
spotlighted were some of the newest indie games created
by small teams for download on the PC, Xbox Live Arcade
or the Playstation network. Some of my favorites were Shank,
Joe Danger, and Vampire Smile
- a creative, gruesome, and totally kinetic beat’em
up created by the one-man writing, art, and coding house
wanted to give your thumbs a break there were dozens of
informative panels where gamers could meet their favorite
game designers and personalities, and learn about topics
covering everything from how to design your own D&D
adventures to the the social issues faced by gay gamers.
panels in general were well put together, and my only complaint
is that they were so popular that you usually had to line
up an hour ahead of time to guarantee a seat. The popular
G4TV show X-Play even filmed there, with a PAX East special
set for broadcast April 1-2.
in between all of this was a steady stream of PC and console
gaming tournaments, the all-day free play rooms where you
could borrow a PC or console and to play the latest and
greatest games, the nerdcore concerts every night featuring
acts like MC Frontalot and Jonathan Coulton, the classic
arcade room, the Rock Band lounge, the handheld
gaming lounge, and eight rooms dedicated strictly to tabletop
gaming, all included for free with your convention pass.
Even after three exhausting days, I still feel like I only
scratched the surface of things to do.
most importantly, I got to meet and discuss games with people
who have the same level of passion that I have. I met people
from all over the East Coast who made the trip to PAX East,
and a number of others who came from as far away as (ironically)
Seattle to share this experience. And, with Penny Arcade
having already made the deal to return to Boston in 2011
and 2012 (and possibly 2013), the residents of the East
Coast and beyond have plenty of gaming to look forward to
in the future.
more coverage of PAX East 2010, check back in to FanboyPlanet.com
in the next few days for stories on the evolution of the
world’s most popular Superhero MMORPG, City
of Heroes, a sneak peek at what’s next
in the Dead Space series, and
the gaming rebirth (again) of Prince of Persia!