While I still felt PAXEast 2015 was a great convention, there were a few things that made it feel smaller and perhaps a bit less organized than last year’s event.

Proximity to GDC: A few developers I spoke with on Friday let me know that some members of their team wouldn’t arrive until Saturday (or were totally out of it on Friday because they just got there) because GDC was still going on. This is kind of curious that two major video game events would not only happen back to back, but also be overlapping. GDC is in California, PAX is in Boston…that’s not a lot of wiggle room. I’m not privy to scheduling or the planning that takes place but I’d imagine that part of it was venue availability. The convention was a full month before it was last year.



There were also a curiously small number of after parties. The only big ones of note that I saw were IGN (which was held Sunday due to Harpoon’s St. Patrick’s Day parties on Friday and Saturday) and Gearbox’s (an invitation-only party at EPIC). Last year I felt there were several more. Some of that could be development on the waterfront, some of that could have been a lack of transportation to the events, some of it could have been that it’s pretty damn close to St. Patrick’s Day and there may have been other celebrations being held. Sanshee had to cancel theirs because the venue canceled on them at the last minute. I’m sure this impacted a very small number of people at the convention, but it certainly limits options for people who may not have been fortunate enough to have family or friends in the area. That being said, the convention center was open until Midnight on Friday and Saturday with the standard entertainment options.

Boston is still a Winter Wonderland: The MBTA was running on a “recovery schedule” which meant that many routes either did not exist or were running at a reduced capacity. Last year I took the bus, but this year I took the Commuter Line. The Commuter Line is mostly outdoors and was hugely impacted by the amounts of snow. In addition, the routes weren’t always running on time. Anyone who was driving to the convention saw how restricted parking was. One of the panelists on Day 1 let us know he left at 8 a.m. to ensure he had plenty of time to get there and still showed up 5-10 minutes after the panel began at 11.

These events are planned a year in advance. There’s no way to predict weather or conditions and it’s a very pricey gamble. I heard from an exhibitor that there were a few booths who couldn’t even get into Boston because of the storms and had to withdraw at the last minute. A few of the theaters had some panels already covered up because the panelists couldn’t get there.

Security: It felt about the same as last year, which was the first year that there were bag checks. There were no metal detectors or secondary screening. There were one or two security guys with wands but I’d imagine that was for serious cosplay.

I was a little concerned when I was waiting for a panel and two guys were able to get to the back of the convention center without passes. The Enforcer just told them to go get passes. (Enforcers are not intended to be there as the muscle, and I’m certain if these gentlemen had become hostile, more security would have been engaged.)

Speaking of Enforcers, on Saturday, someone who was identified as an Enforcer allegedly tweeted threats towards Brianna Wu, who made the decision to not have a booth for her studio Giant Spacekat this year. She did come to the convention to sit on panels with security present. The Enforcer went so far as to identify where he was stationed. This was the exception, rather than the rule, for Enforcers, who are by and large really cool and really helpful. Aside from that, I did not personally witness any GamerGate-related hostility and I can’t say that I’ve ever really seen any hostility at all. I have heard male attendees make comments like “I’d date her” or “She should not be wearing that” in reference to a female cosplayer, but that’s the extent of it.

This year’s convention was largely reactionary with games that had already been announced. Last year’s big announcement was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, but no such big announcement was made at PAX. I would say that perhaps the big announcement is not as common at a fan convention as it is at something that is more of an industry tradeshow like E3 or GDC. It’s still very early in the year and a lot of the games that were a big deal at the end of last year were finally demo-able (is that a word?).

This meant I did not get my Fallout 4 announcement. Bethesda, if you are listening, you now have an entire year to get something together for next year’s PAXEast.