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PAX 2014 less about the games, more about good times

PAX Prime has come a long way since it began in the Meydenbaur Centre in Bellevue, Washington. What began 10 years ago with a small attendance of 3,000 and simple Xbox setups has blossomed into something that is beyond comprehension.

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By Jeremy Hannaford (Contributor/Photos) – Email

Print Edition: September 3, 2014

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PAX Prime has come a long way since it began in the Meydenbaur Centre in Bellevue, Washington. What began 10 years ago with a small attendance of 3,000 and simple Xbox setups has blossomed into something that is beyond comprehension. 

An incredible number of developers, both big-name and indie, brought their games to the show floor and gave many eager fans exclusive demos to upcoming products. And as always, the promise of free t-shirts and pins lured in vultures — as long as they had the extreme patience to wait it out in three-hour line-ups. 

As it was my seventh PAX, I decided to take things a little differently from previous years. Having always focused on trying to play and obtain every game, this time I took the role of an observer and recorded many interactions with fans and developers alike. I still took part in several demos and acquired some free swag, but I was determined to commune with as many PAX-goers as possible and ask them why they endure the lines, the horrible body odour, and the lack of personal space.

Tim Schafer, creator of Double Fine Productions, who was attending his fifth PAX, commented on the overall appreciation from the community. 

“I love PAX because everyone you meet loves games,” Schafer said, “and everyone wants to talk about how they like your game or another game that you like, and it’s all about the enthusiasm that helps you kind of recharge your batteries for the next year of making games. 

“Sometimes it gets hard and you want to know why you’re making them. Well, you’re making them for people who love them.” 

That sense of appreciation could truly be felt around the Mega Indie Booth with games like Screen Cheat and Darkest Dungeon. Conversing with the developers displayed their sense of excitement as they watched people play their games and provide critical feedback about the game.

But I enjoyed the sillier side of PAX as well. Ubisoft had a massive octagon setup in their Far Cry 4 booth which allowed PAX goers to enter the ring in animal sumo suits and duke it out primal style! Despite the compactness and overwhelming smell of Lysol, a friend and I truly enjoyed making fools of ourselves. 

Such moments as Canadians serenading others at a Sims 4 pancake party, or a custom-painted bus with a zombie on the front promoting Sunset Overdrive, helped add a sense of childlike fun to PAX. It is about enjoying oneself in every way possible, whether it be late-night board games with friends or fighting in overly sanitized sumo suits.

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