Bringing a Kid
to PAX East
April 5-8, 2018
Pop Culture is what my life is all about. My day job is social media, I come home to social media. I attend all the comic conventions I can, and I watch all the latest (non-scary) movies I can fit into my schedule. My house is overrun by Funko Pop! figures, everything Disney you can imagine, and all sorts of table games and game consoles.
My goodness am I bad at video games, but sign me up for a round of Cards Against Humanity anyday. Exploding Kittens? I’m in. Please tell me you’ve played a round of Snake Oil (with or without drunk friends)?
In order to make sure I really saw the full spectrum of the event, I bought my 10 year old, video game loving child, Carter, with me. Armed with a bag of snacks and a portable cell phone battery to run the PAX app, we set off for a day in Boston.
I had a busy weekend so I was only able to go on Sunday. I was hoping it would be a slower day, but as it was sold out every day except for Thursday, it was insane. Parking was full by the time we got there, so we were offered to use valet parking or an off site lot. We chose to park at a garage that we were driving by. It ended up being the same price as the PAX event parking and had a shuttle.
The lines were moving steadily when we finally reached the door, and getting my press badge was easy. The enforcers (PAX staff) were friendly and fun!
Our first stop was a panel for the Nintendo Switch’s First Birthday Party. We weren’t sure what to expect for lines and seats, so we sat in the queue for about a half hour. There were different activities going on by staff members, including video game trivia, zombie red light/green light, and a man with a sign that said “clap when you read this” (he eventually got a roaring applause).
The panel room was spacious and clean, the audio was great. Carter was happy to cheer along as they picked the top 5 games, and boo when his favorites weren’t number 1. I had earplugs. Everything was on time, and when it finished, we made our way down to the Expo Hall.
Before we hit the hall, we got side tracked playing pinball. We will stop for anything Ghostbusters, and to my 10 year olds’ delight. It was free to play.
When we finally made it down to the floor, there were games as far as the eyes could see. It was massive! Booths on Booths of games. New games, old games, indie games. Games. I told my kiddo that there was no way we were waiting in a line for something we could play at home. So of course the thing we did first, was wait to play Fortnite. You know, a game that he plays at home everyday.
Fortnite is the latest craze, or at least it seems. I have never played, but can’t go 2 minutes without someone talking about it, a meme online making fun of it, or the people playing it. It was even trending on Twitter when Drake and Ninja were taking people down on it. They had 8 computers set up and you were placed onto your squad of 4 when it was your turn. Your team works together to take out another team. Last team standing wins. Reason my kid wanted to play so desperately? They had the Raven costume and he wanted to see it. He loved it, we left and he was smiling about how great the headphones were and how he really needs a gaming PC. I told him to add it to his Amazon wish-list for his birthday. This would become the theme of the day.
We walked around a bit, stopping here and there to watch people play. There were plenty of gamers broadcasting from their personal phones, or using the Twitch booth to do so. The technology that was on display was also amazing. State of the art gaming chairs (think Wall-E) and VR like you wouldn’t believe. There was a booth that had a racing game, which you sat in the car and they placed the VR on your head. You used a steering wheel, and the car responded to what you were doing in the game and in the real world. If you crashed, you felt it.
There was a open spot for a game called Escapists 2, and a free pin. No wait, and something for free? You had us. Carter sat down and immediately started to play, my feet were happy to stop as well. It’s an adorable game, whether it wants to be or not. The game next to us was a timed play and the guys were working together to try to figure out how to win. Carter’s was on free play, so he was just running around and from what I gather, building and moving things. It was the least violent game I had seen all day, so that was nice. We sat for a little bit, and then I said the magic words. “Do you want to get some lunch?”
We searched the food court. It was one of the nicest areas at a convention I have ever seen. There were many choices beyond the common chicken and french fries and pizza. There were Mexican, and Chinese and make-your-own-salad options. It was packed. The lines wrapped around, and there were no open tables. We choose to order at Shake Shack and take a short walk from the convention center to the restaurant.
When we came back in, I saw the coat check for the first time. Yes folks… a coat check. I didn’t need it, but I was so excited because there have been plenty of times I’ve had a coat with me that I didn’t want to carry around, or had a bag or cosplay piece I was tired of lugging around. All conventions need this if they don’t already have it!
There was a game library that you could rent a game and then play them on a console in the next room. It was a really fun idea, and Carter liked this way better than a book library, but he really wanted to head back down to the main floor.
As we walked in we stumbled upon a giant sea of computers. There was a half-hour wait to use them and then you got to sit there and play for 45 minutes. The computers were Lenovo desktops with amazing curved screens. The headsets were comfortable and crystal clear (They retailed at $249.99, so they should be) You used Steam to pick a game and a play, I felt like the vast majority of games were told old for Carter, but he found a few he enjoyed. We were given a 10 minute warning and then a 4 minute warning. The Enforcers enforced leaving, but were very nice about it. They then cleaned off your computer and keyboard for the next attendee.
We stopped at Echogear, who sells gaming mounts. They had 3 screens mounted that really submerged you into the race car game it was showing, plus a wheel attached to a desk, and pedals to drive the car. It was amazing! I didn’t know we needed it until I saw it. They had a Instagram contest, so we entered… It couldn’t hurt!
Lines really eat up a lot of your time at PAX, and I understand it. You can’t bring 10,000 oculus rifts and set them up. So as the day was coming to an end, I finally stumbled upon… the card games. It was too late though, I had no more energy left, and not enough time. I waved at the guy showing a couple how to play MOONQUAKE (it’s fantastic, you should check it out) and quickly looked at game called Keep Calm The Game! Think Cards Against Humanity, but more family friendly, but not Apples to Apples family friendly.
Even though I ran out of time to see the things I really enjoyed, our editor attended on Thursday and was able to spend time looking at the tabletop games and telling me about it.
The best part of my day was when Carter asked to go back next year. Because Carter and I like different types of games, we often don’t play games together, (although I will lose terribly at Mario Kart) so it was great to spend a day doing something we both love!