I find myself sitting at my computer most weekends saying to myself “Man, I wish I could go do something, but I really want to play video games”. Have you ever felt like that? Your friends want you to come hang out, but the buzz of the computer calls to you, with open arms and a Steam library full of games. The possibilities are infinite! My imagination is the only limit! But still, we yearn for that person to person interaction that computer screens just can’t give us, no matter how social we may be in the world of video games and online media.
Enter PAX East. It was my first time going. I really only went to meet a lawyer who calls himself the “Video Game Lawyer” because I want to work for him, but I discovered so much more at PAX. I dragged my boyfriend Chris with me because I wanted someone to go with, but even he ended up having a good time, even though he isn’t as big of a gamer as I am. The people were incredibly friendly. You could engaged in conversation in just about any line, play games together, or geek out about whatever you were about to play. For me, I found that the most random of times is when I engaged in conversation. I met a pair of dudes in line to enter a post-PAX party on Saturday that we found were from our home state and were really cool dudes. After the panel with said Video Game Lawyer, I met a slew of people who were also interested in whether StoneHearth is a game that should be sued into oblivion by Blizzard or whether the character from Paladins is copyright infringement from Overwatch. The friends I made are going to be invaluable contacts going forward, and I honestly didn’t expect to do such networking at PAX, but I not only networked, but made friends out of these amazing people.
The expo floor is a huge monster and the best part about PAX. Here is where you go to play ALL the games! There were also a number of services or products there, too. Steelseries, Corsair, Newegg, LG, Intel, Discord, Twitch and Samsung were all there, just to name a few. If you’re in the market to buy something for your computer, PAX is a great place to buy with all the sales they have going. They even sold little bitty desktop computers that I saw a lot of exhibitors using for PAX.
Tabletops were heavily represented this year as well. Past the PAX Arena where they held their esports tournaments, there were a slew of tabletop games to play. A lot of the shops even lent you some games to play at the surrounding tables if you wanted to try something out before you buy it. I did end up with a game called Sushi Go!, a cute little game about building sushi and gathering points. Otherwise I didn’t play too many tabletop games, but if that’s you’re thing, PAX is having a smaller version of itself and is holding a tabletop only convention in Philadelphia later this year. It’s called PAX Unplugged, and it takes place at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Center City November 17th - November 19th 2017. More info here.
On to the best part! The games. This is the bread and butter of PAX, held in the heart of the expo hall, and always crowded. Getting through at times was difficult, but I understood why one would move so slowly through the aisles, because there were games everywhere! Others and I described it as “sensory overload” the entire time I was on the expo hall floor because there were so many things to do and see. As a gamer, it was like every direction there was something shiny to look at. I spent most of my time at the indie section of the floor, checking out all the games that people had worked so hard on. Most booths had developers there. Even Shovel Knight, which is one of the most popular platformers out there right now, was filled with developers from one side of the booth to the other. The one Chris was talking to was an intern, but when we went to the counter for some merch, the guy we were talking to was the main creator of the game! He was really passionate about his stuff and was really happy to talk to everyone who loved his game.
Another one Chris really liked was called Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. A really cute platformer about a kid chasing after his diabolical uncle. I didn’t really get a chance to play it, but it was cute enough for me that I would totally pick it up, and Chris really loved playing it. They weren’t sure of a release date yet, but had said it would be finished sometime in 2017.
Enough about him, though, let me tell you about what I played. My two favorites were Snake Pass (March 28, 2017 release) and Crash Bandicoot N’ Sane Trilogy (June 30th, 2017 release). I knew going in that I was going to love Crash Bandicoot. It was like the old version of the game, but better. I know that sounds vague and undescriptive, but when you play it you’ll know what I mean. The graphics got an overhaul and the controls are easier to handle than what I remember from when I was a kid. The challenges are still there and even the easiest level proved difficult if I wanted to get all the boxes. I’ll definitely be buying it when it comes out on the PS4.
Snake Pass was a game that totally surprised me! In this game, you slither around like a snake, moving your controller stick left and right to create a slithering motion in order to move faster, and you have to complete a sort of obstacle course. You must slither up around around poles, climb up mountains, and collect the little bubbles, coins and gems all over the world. The first level took me about 30 minutes to complete and was interesting and very challenging! There’s definitely a learning curve on how to control the snake and get him up the things you have to climb to get to the objectives. This game won best indie game from two different gaming reviewers, so you know this game was a hit. I was surprised that such a simple and cute game would be my in my top two! Check this game out, you won’t be disappointed.
For my first time at PAX, I had an absolute blast. I learned some things that I’ll put to use next year, but it’s an absolute certainty that I will be back next year for the networking alone. The video games are an added bonus for me, but kept my time very occupied and even though we were there from almost open to close just about every day, I still feel like we didn’t see everything. It is comforting to know, however, that one weekend out of the year, I get to feel satisfied in both IRL and behind-the-screen interactions, play a ton of video games, make a ton of friends, and find people who are just like me. I can’t wait for PAX next year.
Jess can be found at https://www.twitch.tv/paralegalprincess