Post PAX Prime: A Reflection

pax prime lovers


In a word, that’s precisely how I feel after PAX. It was the same after East last March. Probably even more so since it was my first one. You see the size of the triple A’s, the capability of big indie publishers, the talent of indie devs, the devotion of the fans, the passion and ambition of everyone around you. It blew my mind in March and it blew my mind last weekend.
You may not already know who I am within Playism because I’m not that vocal and I am the man behind the scenes as far as gamers are concerned. I’m our senior content manager: dev relations, biz dev, what-have-you. I’m the deal maker you might say, overly dramatically. I’m insanely lucky to be doing what I do. Games are not easy to get into in the first place, but my position is particularly special. I get to do the fun stuff; I get to meet smart, fun people, play their games, geek out about about what I love and set up opportunities for these new friends I make.
It also puts me right in front of the amazing things everyone is doing. I need to be passionate and ambitious. And again, I’m lucky because that’s not hard to do when the people I get to work with are so brilliant. And when the fans are so rad.
It’s humbling.

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At PAX Prime I saw 80,000 fans, hundreds of game developers, booths that cost tens of thousands, games that cost anywhere from several grand to over a hundred million dollars. Even the lunch lines remind you that you’re still just one person, no matter what you’re into or trying to do.
It’s hard to believe how big it all is, especially when you’re old enough to remember that it wasn’t always like this. Games are so ubiquitous now, but that’s a development that came to be in the eight years since I left the U.S. for Japan. Now when I visit I see more commercials for games than I do even for movies. It’s cool to like games now and gone are the days where a plot-line like Tom Hanks’ Big, where overnight a kid becomes an adult who likes toys and games, would make any sense. This homogeneous acceptance of and demand for gaming has birthed a market that dwarfs that of the one I grew up with.
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The Passion and Love for Games:
When you’re exhibiting or talking to folks, you get so caught up in their passion and love for games that the booths crowding around you shrink into the distance and you’re left with a landscape free of obstacles, full of possibilities.
The PAX-goers have to put up with so much bullshit to be there and yet they are thrilled to have the experience. The tickets cost a lot to start with and many even fly in, get hotels and spend a ton on merch. They wait in crazy long lines for entry, games and food. They have to really give a damn to deal with all that for what is a hobby to most. They have to really care. And they have to really treasure that couple-sentence exchange they get to have with their favorite creators. That takes some serious passion on the part of fans.
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The Talent:
You may not know this, but exhibiting at PAX is hard. Aside from the tremendous costs involved, it is also difficult to make it past the curation process for the various expo groups and publishers. You have to be exceptionally good and even that is often not enough. I can think of several fantastic games that were not chosen for either PAX 10 or Indie Mega Booth this year and it wasn’t because the organizers are big meanies. Far from it. There is just a hell of a lot of games out there that kick ass, so competition is super rough. Those games need exposure and PAX is one of the best expos they could attend to achieve this.
I can’t possibly list all of the developers I talked to who are infinitely smarter than I am. Or who have overwhelmingly impressive artistic vision. Or relentless devotion.
Gargantuan scale, ceaseless passion, superhuman talent, undying love for games.
To me it is so very damned humbling.
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I’m in Korea this week for Busan Indie Connect Fest, a new expo being organized primarily by Marc Flurry, the lead dev of Thumper. And I’m in Tokyo for Tokyo Game Show next week.
Awe is a feeling I am well accustomed to at this point and I have grown to relish it. I see much more of it on the horizon. Keep an eye out because I can’t wait to share it with you in the months to come.

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