An Outside Perspective: PAX Prime 2013

18. December, 2013 Gaming, News 2 comments


Two months later and I still have a small gaping hole left in my pixelated soul from PAX Prime 2013. There is something undefinably heart wrenching about walking out the doors of the Seattle Convention Center on the final day of PAX. At that moment the mental countdown until the next PAX Prime begins.

As I sat in the airport waiting for our flight home, I overheard a group of passengers regaling one another with tales of PAX Prime epicness. In the mix of voices was that of a woman named Veronica, a stately middle aged woman who didn’t fit the typical PAX attendee mold. She wasn’t a gamer. In fact she wasn’t a fan of electronics, gizmos, games, or gadgets of any kind. She was an observer who simply came along with her son and his family to find out what this thing called PAX Prime was all about.

Her perspective on the event was quite interesting. There was no fanboyism (or fanwomanism in this case). Devoid of bias, she saw PAX as a wholly different expierience than she had ever imagined. She sent us this article recounting her personal experience of PAX Prime 2013.

Peace radiates for a good 3 city blocks at PAX. All of the war and rage against humanity on top keeps the peace so that the old-school gamers can go below the Gathering Magic and play D&D in the basement. Enforcers seem to be the end-all be-all of the whole “be cool” vibe. All the rage and anger and pain and grief and suffering and hopelessness and worry and danger and loss is pumped, headlong, into wires and cables and plastic and data; therefore, none of it is on the street. 80,000 people was the number I heard, every kind of people, all being kind, polite and happy at each other.

The real game is in the basement with the Dragon. Without technology, without aid of separation, an orc, a dwarf, a human monk, a gnome and an elf get hired to find a thing the goblins stole…turns out…the dragon has it. Games that require theatre of the mind are powerful. To leave all the feelings they generate on the table with the dice is difficult. Especially when some dude wakes up the sleeping dragon and it now has to be dealt with. My belly was laughing as the orc and the dwarf make off with the dragon’s loot while the human monk and the elf roll dice to the death. My son, The Orc, was going to end the fight with his hammer when my husband, The Dwarf, told him, “Dude, don’t be evil”. We all shook hands and I felt revived and refreshed, like I had just took part in the slaying of a bear sized silver dragon and lived. Later, during Left 4 Dead, I played like a drunk having a seizure. Then, I was hungry.

We went outside, on to the street, where it was peaceful. Everyone crossed with the light, the cars obeyed the posted signs, the general sense of purpose and good will spilled over into every transaction at the shops and eateries. “Happy PAX” people would say. It felt very much like Christmas and the weather was beautiful. I hear it is usually sunny at PAX.

The Penny Arcade Expo is about people. The technology is impressive. Our human civilization has invented substantial items and made some crazy cool toys. However, the people haven’t changed much in the last 100 or more years. Connecting face to face with friends you only met online and making new friends is the same as it has always been, really really fun. Whether or not the connections I made over the week last forever, only time will tell. However, there was so much connecting going on, at one time, I had my tongue to one end of the wire and closed the electrical circuit with my friend who’s tongue was on the other end of the wire. For 4 days, I really really had fun.

- Veronica Page Laflin

About author


Brian is the Managing Director here at Substance TV. He is the host of Substance TV, Game Grief, and co-host of Substance TV LIVE. A graphic designer by trade, his other love of 15 years is the bass guitar. Though he shares his love with his family as well. Luckily he has a wife who supports his video game game addiction, and his two amazing children. You can find him on Google + or via his Twitter @fortressfruit.

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  • Brian Castleberry

    I was also surprised the first time I went to PAX how much it is about the community and the people. It’s unlike any other expo or event I’ve been to. Sure there are your random twats who whine or complain, but for the most part people are civil and kind.

  • M. Joshua Cauller

    I really like the notion that PAX is about the people. And as an attendant of PAX East, I can say I was pleasantly surprised to find it true!