Fun and Games at PAX Prime 2012: 10 Cool Things I Saw There
This year I fulfilled a long-time ambition, dragging myself up the West Coast from Los Angeles to Seattle to attend the 2012 Penny Arcade Expo Prime. Since the first PAX — an offshoot of founders Jerry Holkins and Mike Kahulik's popular Penny Arcade webcomic — took place in 2004, the Expo has become a fixture of the gaming industry's calendar, branching off into a second annual event, PAX East in Boston, and —come next year— a third, PAX Australia.
However, Seattle's Prime event remains the original, and so it was that I joined the thousands of other geeky types flooding the Washington State Convention Center to attend some panels, play some games, and soak up the atmosphere on the show floor. Here — to provide a taste of PAX flavor for those who were unable to attend — is a sampling of the highlights I observed. As an added bonus, I have included additional thoughts on the Indie Meabooth — one of the Expo's premier attractions — courtesy of my fellow attendee and sibling, programmer and game designer Jon Gill.
The Mojang Museum
Riding high on the grassroots success of its breakout indie hit Minecraft, singled out by Insomniac President Ted Price in his PAX keynote speech for its focused game design, Mojang's booth occupied a place of prominence on the top level of the Expo's Exhibit Hall. As you can see, the Museum's look was heavily inspired by that of Minecraft and, while a museum exhibit dedicated to a studio just over three years old could be considered premature by some, touches like a proto-Minecraft LEGO model spoke to the reverence for video gaming's progenitors that is a hallmark of PAX.
Lots of Magic: The Gathering
For further evidence of this, one need look no further than the swaths of board games, card games, and assorted tabletop contests that make up a prominent part of the PAX experience, this year none more so than Wizards of the Coast's Trading Card Game stalwart, Magic: The Gathering. Attendees were presented with Magic cards and other associated swag upon arrival; a large booth on the show floor was devoted to the game's digital iterations, and table after table of players stretched the length of the Expo's tabletop area taking part in both tournament and casual games.
Lots of League of Legends
As prevalent as Magic was, however, it had nothing on the spectacle offered by Riot Games' League of Legends. The game as the darling of PAX, which played host to the Season Two North American Regionals, replete with commentators and a hall full of appreciative fans. Live feeds of matches in progress were piped into the Queue Room where attendees waited patiently to collect their complimentary Magic the Gathering (M:tG) swag, providing the uninitiated —like myself— with the challenge of making head or tails of the game's fast-paced matches. My success may have been limited, but there remains something primally enjoyable about watching a giant scorpion tussle with a hot-rodded steampunk robot. The twin prevalence of M:tG and LoL around the Expo provided a nice balance between gaming's analog and digital iterations.
Xenomorphs Attacking Innocent Attendees
This one speaks for itself really...
(Continued on the Next Page...)
[Other Features +]
MORE FROM GAMEDYNAMO