Conventions are always crowded…this one was PAX-ed!

The post Con blues have always been a thing, especially with really fun ones, like Comicpalooza in Houston, and now the most recent PAX South in San Antonio. I only got a Saturday pass, but still had a blast. This year felt like it had a lot more to offer, even though they were working with a smaller space (I’ve been told) due to other events taking place that weekend.

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This year it felt like there was a decrease in cosplayers, but their cosplays were way more impressive. I went as a Team Mystic Pokemon Go trainer, got to meet other cool trainers, Professor Willow, and other wonderful cosplayers!

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Cool Stuff  

True Dungeon

True Dungeon was my favorite part of PAX this year. It’s a live action version of a d20 tabletop rpg that started at Gencon. It’s short of LARP-ing, and is more focused on teamwork and puzzle solving than anything else. The line was long (almost 2 hours), but totally worth it, even though it was the “light” version with only 3 rooms. Loot and equipment are cool little plastic tokens, so the players get to focus more on the game and puzzles rather than fussing over repeated stat calculation. Even though I’m not into fantasy settings for tabletop RPG’s,  I hope they come back to PAX as the full experience next year!

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Esports arena

I didn’t get to spectate as much as I wanted to, but it seemed to be a big draw. Next Generation Esport (NGE) had their Overwatch Winter Premiere league finals on Friday and Saturday, and the hype could be felt across the entire expo floor. Hopefully they’ll have more tournaments to watch in the future, and a larger variety of games to watch.

Pretty games, got to talk to artists

PAX was created to showcase video games, so it seems wrong to not talk about all of the memorable games I saw on the expo floor! There seems to be a trend towards co-op RPG style games, like Dauntless by Phoenix Labs, and RWBY: Grimm Eclipse by Rooster Teeth. There were also a few puzzle platformers, like Embers of Mirrim by Creative Bytes which had the player character split into mirrored light and dark embers to complete puzzles, Night in the Woods by Infinite Fall which hides a dark story behind a cartoony facade, They Bleed Pixels by Spooky Squid Games which is a pixel art hack and slash game, and Light Fall by Bishop Games which lets the player carry their own platform. My favorites of the day were Dauntless and Just Shapes and Beats by Berzerk Studio. Dauntless drew me because of the  very stylized art style that feels like it could come out of Blizzard, and actually had one of their artists raffle off a portrait session! Just Shapes and Beats was a simple bullet hell-style music game that reminded me a lot of Geometry Wars with its simplicity. Everyone there was passionate about getting their game out there and played which is always awesome to see.

Not so cool stuff

Now for the not so cool stuff. PAX seemed to be plagued with the same issues a lot of cons have: long lines and big name booths really close to each other leading to crowding of the expo hall. That was probably because of the less space that the con got this time around due to the other events going on in town. The biggest gripes I had were how the PAX XP/Arcadia scavenger hunt wasn’t adequately explained, and the fact that there were tickets needed for some expo booths.

PAX XP / Arcadia

With PAX XP, you had the ability to scan your badge at a prize tower kiosk to potentially win prizes like headphones, mechanical keyboards, and mice. With the Arcadia scavenger hunt, there was a little layer of gamification on the whole con, where you find QR codes to scan into the app, or other kiosks to scan your badge at. However, it wasn’t really explained well in the app, and no one really told you that there was a specific order to scan into, which made me just kind of stop playing. If I had more time, I probably would have kept going.

Booth Tickets

Capcom and some of the other booths and events apparently had lines that were so long that they just cut them off at a certain point. If you showed up early enough, you got a free ticket. Which was awesome, but the booths only let in people that had tickets at that point. I came around to them a few times in the day, and neither got a ticket, or in. It became kind of strange seeing these huge booths empty at various times during the day.

Conclusions 

PAX was a blast, and I’m going to go again next year, but I’m probably gonna spring for a 3 day pass. Saturday wasn’t anywhere near enough for everything I wanted to see! I also plan on utilizing the unofficial facebook group, that I discovered last year, which can sometimes be more helpful than the official app. It was filled with cosplayers, photographers, and just people hanging out and chatting about the Con itself. Everyone is helpful, especially towards those “first time at Pax!” posts. Check it out if you like!

Edited By – Maria Belyaeva

Photos By – Melissa DeVarney

 

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