My family and I are still beaming from our first visit to PAX Prime, Seattle’s premiere gaming convention last weekend. The convention featured games for console, computer as well as table top games for three action packed days.
Seventy-thousand attendees enthusiastically endured hours in line to get into the Seattle Convention Center, then lined up again to play the newest beta launches of the biggest blockbuster games (while receiving plenty of terrific swag to remind them to buy the game later).
It was the largest PAX ever and one of the biggest gaming cons in the world, a clear sign that the gaming industry in our region is booming.
There were plenty of cosplayers (fans dressed in amazing detailed costumes as their favorite game character), hardware vendors to help you can decide what components to put in your next gaming computer, multiple gaming tournaments and indie game developers there to talk about their latest releases. It was an all out two-way geek-fest where fans got to share their giddy appreciation for the games while game producers chatted up the end-users and learned what they think of their product. The passion from both attendees and exhibitors was electric.
Maybe, but let’s look at the facts. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), three quarters of all U.S. families play games and 72% of those play computer or video games. Consumers spent $25.1 billion on video games and peripheries in 2010. The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 41 years old (Surprised?). Seventy-six percent of all games sold in 2010 were rated “E” for Everyone, “T” for Teen, or “E10+” for Everyone 10+ (It’s family affair, just like ours; we’re the prime demographic!)
The ESA website boasts that, “entertainment software is now one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy. And video games are driving technological and societal advancements that serve gamers and non-gamers alike. From education, to health, to business, the computer and video game industry is helping Americans lead healthier, happier and more productive lives.”
In my opinion, team-based action shooter Firefall had the most impressive exhibit with plenty of big screens for visual stimuli as well as dry ice extending the experience of demo play. Firefall also has a pretty clever social media campaign featuring ‘Daily Missions’ involving pictures and videos to be taken in front of specific locations then uploading to your social networks. Don’t have a smartphone…meh, you’re out of luck! (I guess they figured their demographic as a heavy smartphone user and judging by the laggy ATT 3G service at the convention center on the first day, they’re right!)
Ubisoft launched Assassin’s Creed Revelations, their fourth installment of the epic historical third-person action video game; The plot and the artwork of the game is striking as it takes place in Ottoman Constantinople in 1511 AD. The story integrates real historical figures and geographic locations with a Sci-fi twist.
Despite all the “smoke and mirrors” of these bigger funded top brand games, I was also drawn to the innovators; the developers of indie games. *PAX Prime showed their commitment to exposing gamers to fresh ideas by allocating 10 free booth spaces to indie game developers who often don’t have the funds to promote their hard work but are fueled with passion. I interviewed a few of these developers to hear about their games and personal stories.
Matt Gilgenbach’s exhibitor persona, with his yellow miner hat, sticks out from the hungry indie game crowd. As co-founder of 24 Caret Games, he has developed an interesting story where the game must be played, in reverse, in order to save the space time continuum. His team has created a stunning and engaging visual game called “Retro/Grade” (soon to come out on Playstation 3).
My family was excited just to encounter a game that we could use our guitar controller for now that Activision’s Guitar Hero no longer being manufactured.
I also interviewed multi-talented creator of Universe Sandbox, Dan Dixon, who shared how he started this project and what makes his video game so unique.
Universe Sandbox is an interactive space simulator for Windows based PCs. It’s a powerful gravity simulator and an open ended game where the user can manipulate stars, entire galaxies and change variables for to see vivid graphic animation. As a parent & former home-schooler, I think this is an great way for families to satisfy their curiosity about astronomy combining different “what if” scenarios. You can buy it here for $10.
Ryan Maclean, founder of DrinkBox Studios talked about their new followup game to About a Blob, entitled Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack for PlayStation Vita. Check out their site: www.mutantblobsattack.com
The blob grows as he devours through each level! Younger kids will love it, and it just reminds me how a big bolus of food will track down an esophagus during digestion!
Nice job guys, great to meet you at PAX Prime!