PAX East: Not Everyone is Here for Play

We are now just days away from PAX East 2017. I find myself recapping previous years, thinking back to all the faces I’ve seen and hands I’ve shaken. What strikes me the most are some of the games and developers that really had me convinced that they were the next big thing, which then fledged and fell into the abyss of unlaunched, or unsuccessful games. Most notably, I think of Firefall, a game that, a few years ago, went as far as to purchase the right to have the honor of displaying a huge mechanical statue at the entrance of the Boston Expo Center for all PAX attendees to see. It was a brazen move for a game that had had limited exposure, but was promising to be the next champion of online games for us all to disappear into for weeks on end. It wasn’t.

From what I know, they out spent themselves (partially on sweet swag, which included a messenger bag I still use today) and went under, only to put out their own light before stepping fully into the sun [Ed Note: Firefall still exists, but has certainly petered out for all intents and purposes].

Each year since, I have walked the concourses at conventions the country over talking with developers, interviewing players, and documenting the phenomena that is our gaming community, wondering which games will make it, and which will fall into the same traps as so many before them. This year I carry double cynicism as Nintendo has released the Switch, which will steal much attention from the small indie devs who cram together at the Indie Megabooth, displaying their passion projects to the world.

As much as I know how bleak I must seem, this is really a positive piece, as I hope I am not alone in wanting those small guys to beat the boss and come out victorious! We have an amazing community, one that is quick to help out fellow gamers through charity (see Pixels for a Cure, Extra Life Gaming, etc) and one that is so f#cking creative that it’s hard to believe sometimes (cosplay, art, and yes, developing an indie game!).

As many of us head out for our yearly pilgrimage to Boston, let’s keep in mind that while for us PAX is all fun, games, and cosplay; for many of these devs, it’s a stressful make or break scenario where a lot comes down to consumer interaction, response, and support. Maybe instead of toasting that last IPA at 3:00 AM, you donate $5 to a cool looking side scroller in the Indie Megabooth, or buy a T-shirt from one of the many amazingly talented artists in the small artists area.

It is our community, let’s keep it moving! Hope to see some of you this weekend!