PAX West 2016


I used to write something about the various events going on in the games industry, but when I actually started partaking I stopped. In a few cases that is warranted – when judging some competition, for instance, it’s difficult to be 100% ethical when writing publicly about it – but other than that it seems good to reflect on their value.

So, PAX West. Also, PAX Dev. I’ll start with that, since it came first.

I’m not entirely sold on the concept of PAX Dev – that they disallow journalists or recording in order to allow presenters to speak more freely. Even if we could rely on people to keep their mouths shut, there is no vetting process of attendees so you have no guarantee whatsoever that the people who should not hear what you have to say will not be in the audience – this being the case, presenters stuck to topics they could have just as well given at GDC or Indiecade. The big drawback, of course, is that there is no way to watch recorded presentations after the conference.

As conferences go, there were a some really good presentations and some that were mostly rehashes of old content or thinly-veiled marketing ploys. Not quite the quality of GDC but good in terms of value for the cost – especially if you already live in Seattle. And they do get bonus points for having tables in all their rooms.

PAX West itself was a weird beast – the stores and panels felt like they were taken from comic con, the boardgames would have felt right at home at a PnP/boardgame convention, the AAA studios had smaller versions of their setups from E3 and the independent games were laid out in much the same way as you’d find them at Indiecade. But the variety works really well – for all of those shows, attending a single day is usually more than enough for me but with PAX I was still finding more things to do for the entirety of the show. I suppose part of that is the lines – like any consumer show, the lines are long to just about everything. Also, the panels are going to be interesting to the fans rather than educational. But when it comes down to it, PAX is a show that is more than the sum of its parts.

My favorite games of the expo included Owlboy, Pit People, Celeste, Enter the Gungeon and Fossil Echo. Not going to get into why for the unreleased ones just yet, but Enter the Gungeon had really tight controls and interesting varieties of weapons and enemies that made it fun to play, it also was very visceral and satisfying and clean art with consistent theming. I don’t play a lot of roguelikes since I like finite experiences, but I will make an exception in this case.

Posted on Sep 09/16 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture, Meta-blog | No Comments »