I’ve been lucky enough to attend every PAX East since they moved it to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in 2011. It’s strange how long ago that feels now. A lot has changed over the last six years (for better or worse).
We’ve got a list of five trends we were excited to see at this year’s convention.
1. More Games
When we first attended, the back of the main hall was mostly round, folding tables and some food carts. The tabletop area didn’t show up for another year, and that now stretches almost all the way to the back wall. With its steady rise in popularity, tabletop games are getting their own PAX experience this fall at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia.
The Indie Mega Booth is my favorite place to wander in between appointments, and now includes a mini version and a PAX Rising area. Even the larger publishers are making better use of their floor space and packing in more experiences.
2. Diverse Characters
Joey and I both played a dozen or so games this year where the main characters weren’t grizzly-voiced white dudes. I’m still perfectly fine with the occasional space marine. However, I couldn’t help but notice the female leads and a variety of backgrounds for the characters I was playing.
Even the cosplayers got in on the fun this year. We’re used to seeing the occasional guy dressed as Princess Peach, but there were plenty of men embracing popular female Overwatch characters like Zarya & Mercy.
3. Mercys Everywhere
Speaking of Mercy, Overwatch cosplay is overtaking League of Legends, which typically dominates at PAX. Everywhere I turned, I could find a D.Va (sans-mech), Mei, or Mercy. McCree, Reaper, Junkrat, Roadhog, and one impressively massive Reinhardt all made appearances as well.
I’ll give credit to the guy dressed as Pool Party Graves, though. No shirt in 11-degree weather? That’s dedication.
4. Full Platform Representation
One thing I’m still not used to is asking “what are you releasing on,” and hearing “PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo.” In all of my time covering this show, the most common answers have included exclusives.
It’s refreshing to see Nintendo embracing not just third party developers, but proactively reaching out to smaller indie devs to get them on their platform.
OK, I might be cheating on this last one, but I’d like to give a shout out to Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry in Boston. Over the course of two nights in Beantown, we hit different spots for “white trash tots” (tater tots covered in beer cheese) followed by a trip to the North End for cannoli and coffee. All of this was amazing.
Rounding off the list, I would like to give credit to the staff at the convention center for always being incredible hosts. The food is getting better and includes more options than ever. Just don’t try and stop me from hopping in a cab and getting my pastry fix when the show ends.