For whatever reason I woke this morning a bit early and with nothing really planned for this time I jumped online to find that PAX East was happening this weekend and was about to start in a few hours! I was excited and once again consumed with the idea of conventions and the infinite potential they give the socially awkward, like myself, to find and come together with others that are like minded and just as socially inept. Had I somehow gotten my hands on tickets when they were on sale I would have been there, but nope once again they sold on in a matter of hours, which brings up the first of many little things I find wrong with the current convention scene and its apart lack of wanting to change to make it more accessible for those who have less free time, and less in their pocket books. So once I got over the boohoo poor me I can’t go again, I got to talking with a friend about the whole thing and it makes me feel like they want to keep some sort of nostalgic small indie convention feeling, while having it compete with the likes of Comic Con (San Diego), and E3. The problem with that is you can’t have you cake and eat it too without giving a little.
Let’s get some background information before I just rant and come off like a total ass that is just jaded from never being able to attend PAX.
My first PAX was PAX Prime in 2009. My buddy and I were looking for something to go to since it had been a while since we had gone to CES or other type of convention. I can’t recall who found PAX but it was stumbled on and seemed to be they type of venue that we would both enjoy. Have no clue about the history of PAX, Penny Arcade or the community I jumped into the forum and joined a few community events to get a feeling of who attended the convention and to give me some way of meeting people that had been before. I attended the Pre-PAX Crawl, met some of the nicest people I have ever met and had an amazing time helping with the PAX Prank, I knew from there this was something I wanted to do again. So for the next two years I went to Prime two more times and went to east twice. I can comfortably safe I’m not a noob to PAX or conventions. I have nothing but love for PAX but, and this is a Sir-Mix-A-Lot size big but here, PAX you’re going to have to change, with the ever increasing popularity of video games, the rise of the geek culture from the basement of your Mom’s basement to the front lines of modern cult and society things that once where uncool to attend and like are now growing at exponential rates.
The idea that PAX wants to try and keep it as the convention for the gamer by the gamer is great and noble, but let’s be honest its grown too big for itself. This last year East sold out in a matter of an hour or so and Prime will likely do the same and once more crash the servers of the ticket sales client. The fact is that PAX needs to mature and change venues to some place that can handle the growth that’s happening. It’s great that the guys from Penny Arcade are keeping the show local but Seattle is not built of a convention of the size of PAX Prime now. As for East well Boston is a great location the convention area is lacking hotel space near the convention center, I’m sure if you have ever been to BCEC you will agree. If the city/industry builds up in the years to come around BCEC East will be fine, but Prime you’ve out grown you britches bro.
Ok so assume Prime gets moved, let’s talk about the positives and negatives.
– Negative –
Loss of local presents in Seattle
Loss of some of the nostalgic feels
Loss of access to some of the younger folks if moved to some states
Washington Convention Center as a very cool unique layout/feeling
– Positive –
Growth! – Changing the venue to some place like LA or Las Vegas would allow for exponential growth
Cheaper accommodation – Have a convention downtown in a large city makes staying close to the event cost, lots. Switching to say Las Vegas would allow for hotel costs to be halved if not more. Currently I priced 4 days for Prime at a close hotel and the bill was pushing 1500$. I booked a 4 day stay in Vegas for a convention AT the local for 500$ not to mention the layout of Vegas lends itself to big conventions.
More tickets – changing venues to a larger location would allow the ticket limites to be raised and allow for more convention goers. This would also allow for the potential of lowering ticket costs, making up for the cost in ticket sales.
Travel – Seattle wasn’t bad to travel to but Vegas being strictly a tourist area makes traveling there on the cheap a bit easier. Most airlines have deals on air fare.
The negatives might kill the “feeling” of PAX with a place like Las Vegas but at the same time there is no telling. I feel it would not kill the feeling but change it for the better in the long run. Yes you’re in a desert at the same time Vegas is still growing and plenty of conventions that happen there survive and thrive. The area has lots to offer and the fact that the costs imposed on convention goes has the potential to be affordable to the masses again is a huge upside. What’s the worst that might happen? PAX Las Vegas the one that was a one night stand. There is nothing to keep it there if it fails. I feel it stays where its at it will die, and it will not be a silent death.
No matter your view on the subject leave a commit lets at least talk about the possibility.