PAX East 2010: First Thinkernations
Good news everybody, I'm awake and slowly making my way down to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston and kick off my very first PAX East. I am really excited to catch up with some media friends, make new connections and try my hand at some of the game demos that await me. I am obviously not alone in this, as this convention is already totally sold out! That's right! In it's first year of existence the PAX East conference has sold out of all pass types and filled Boston's mammoth Hynes convention center. (No small feat for sure) This got me thinking though. How did they do it? After my morning dunks run it came to me:
There is no other big gamer convention on the East Coast.
Before you get up in my grill, lets look at that last statement again: "There is no other big gamer convention on the East Coast. I love Dragon*con, and hope to go one day, but Dragon*con is a Sci-Fi con and while there is a lot of overlap between the gaming community and Sci-Fi community Dragon*Con does not by design cater to the gaming community. At this point you might be thinking, "Hey NinJa, what about VGXpo? It's on the East Coast." I would say you are right, VGXpo is on the East Coast (Philly baby, how you doin?) and over the last few years has definitely grown in attendance, but I'm not sure that it meets the "big" requirement in that I doubt anyone outside the Pennsylvania area who is not in the business of video games is aware of the conference, and that bites into the overall success of your con.
I heard that gear change in your thought processes (especially since mine moved as well) to the New York Comic-Con, but again, the name alone says it all. Like Sci-Fi, there is a great area of audience overlap between Comic lovers and gamers (Cassandra Cain BatGirl FTW!!) and I doubt that there is anyone on the planet that has not at least heard of Comic-Con but it's focus has shifted a bit in the last few years and is now more about comic books that are being release as feature-length films and the main comic content with some sprinklings of video games.
You have to be big in the sense of brand awareness (not necessarily square footage), at your core really be geared towards video games and the gaming community and PAX definitely does that.
After all this thinkernation stuff I was left with one question: with the gaming industry so large and still profitable through the recession, why is the East Coast just now getting a big game convention? I'm sure the Penny Arcade folks are not the first group to ever think it could be done, but why has no one else brought a big gamer con to New York, or Boston, or even Washington, D.C.? It just makes me wonder. In any event (he, he, I made a pun-ny) I am glad that there looks to be a very successful and long-term big gamer-con on the East Coast that I can visit to get the community and content exposure I love as the trips to LA ain't cheap y'all.
That's enough of that. The snow has stopped, and I'm off to get my badge to start tracking down friends and meet some new gamers. Make sure to follow me on Twitter as well as the official event hashtag (#PAX).
It has begun.