"Hey, where is The PAX 10?" An enforcer pointed up, another didn't even know. The Mega 64 guys, whose merchandise booth was around the corner from The PAX 10, couldn't even tell any of us where it was.
That's a problem.
I don't have much interest in checking out games from the major publishers at PAX. Sure, I'm looking forward to Aliens: Colonial Marines, Mass Effect 3 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, but all of 'em are coming down the pike soon enough. I'll probably encounter each of them multiple times in the next few months--it's just how the media cycle works.
Spending an afternoon milling around The PAX 10 is one of my favorite activities at PAX Prime and PAX East. Some games will go underground for years, some will never live up to their potential, some will be picked up by a massive publisher and maybe, just maybe, become industry sensations. I've said it before, but if you want a snapshot glance at the future of games, tour the PAX 10. Everything's right in front of you.
Except it wasn't this year. The PAX 10 was on the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center, two escalators above the main hall, without great signage to point traffic in the right direction.
The lack of appropriate signage is besides the point, though.
What made The PAX 10's previous location so special was the inability to miss it. The PAX 10's booth--if you can call it that--has never been as flashy or expansive as something like this year's monstrous Firefall area, but if you were walking towards the "big" games, The PAX 10 was in your peripheral vision. You were almost assured to find it, and perhaps something great might grab your eye!
Developers and attendees I spoke weren't exactly happy, either, expressing marked confusion over the location change. Sure, there were a solid block of people coming through The PAX 10 booth, but the shift upstairs was awfully confusing.
You could argue The PAX 10 has become enough of a thing that people will seek it out anyway, but given the massive numbers of people who attend PAX as a whole---there were 70,000 this year!--that's probably untrue. Forcing people to walk within The PAX 10's vicinity helped nudge the kinds of people who don't spend their spare time seeking out neat independently developed video games for their own edification.
I tracked down the spectacular-looking Fez because I've known Phil Fish for years, but how many PAX attendees can say that?
Each year, PAX becomes bigger. More locations, more booths, more games, more people. Change is inevitable, understandable--as are missteps. That said, here's hoping this year was an oversight, part of PAX's growing pains as more corporate money comes in.
PAX has power to change the lives of the developers we cheer for. Hopefully, that's not forgotten.
Onto PAX East, then.