San Antonio, home of the Spurs, the Alamo, and now the official spot for PAX South. Being that this is only the third PAX to grace the banks of the scenic San Antonio River, a tributary of the Guadalupe River, it isn’t quite as large as it’s East and West cousins. But, what PAX South lacks in size, it more than makes up for with heart.
PAX South: Size Doesn’t Matter
Walking through the expo hall of PAX it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There are so many lights, TV monitors, and throngs of fans, it’s basically a sensory overload. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the console free play room, a place where you can rent games and enjoy some good old multiplayer Smash Bros. action. To lounge about on the many beanbag chairs and watch streamers live broadcast is a welcome idea after hours of wandering. The temptation to wait all day in line to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a valid one, but there is so much more to see.
Looking at the overhead shot, PAX South appears compressed. Smushed together in a large convention center, at times it made me wonder how everyone/thing could fit inside such a small area. Given how massive the convention center itself is, I was expecting things to be a bit more spread out. But, despite the confined space, there is no way to contain the passion, the fandom, or the geeky madness.
The Cos-Players were out in full force, representing their favorite characters from Star Wars to Destiny.
These dedicated, passionate fans, geeks like you, these people are my people. They make PAX about so much more than the latest games or the swankiest swag. January 27th-29th was a weekend filled heart and soul, for those three days, everyone at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center were friends. For that weekend, the geeks ruled San Antonio.
The Games of PAX South
PAX, all them really, aren’t about the heavy hitters. “Triple A” developers don’t have a strong presence here. Nintendo and Capcom are the biggest names to show up, and they were only showing off the things we could already play or knew about. There were no “major” announcements, no surprise reveals. The focus was, instead, on the indie gaming scene, the games we seem to lose in the flurry of hype surrounding the likes of Mario or Street Fighter.
The one major thing I took away from visiting with developers and creators of these smaller games—games like Hello Neighbor, Monster Boy, or Death Squared—is that there is a palpable passion. You can feel it when they’re watching you play their creations, hear it when they speak of it, and in some cases you can even see it in their eyes.
They’ve created something personal, something that means the world to them and at times is a metaphor for the things they’ve been through or how they perceive life. To just expose one’s self in such away, to open yourself up to the unbridled criticism of the masses, press or otherwise, is an act of bravery. PAX celebrates that bravery by giving them all a moment to shine out of the spotlight of the gaming behemoths that swallow them up during an event like E3.
Growing Pains at PAX South
During one of the many interviews I partook in, I was told that this years PAX South was twice as big as the previous, but still paled in comparison to PAX East, or West. Ultimately PAX South will get huge, but for now it’s in its awkward teenage years. A free-for-all that at times feels disjointed and overwhelming. Lines snake into other lines and soon you find yourself approaching one booth when you swore you were just in line to play something totally different. Sometimes, even with the handy World Map and the official APP, the smaller booths were harder to find, and when you’re trying to make deadlines, navigating through a sea of people who are just as “lost” as you can be a headache.
No doubt next year will be even bigger, they’ll have ironed out some of the details, and PAX South will be every bit the spectacle it deserves to be. But I like it this way, all heart and no fluff. I think PAX South should stay just the way it is, just like the way parents wish their kids wouldn’t ever grow up. Alas, there is no magic time capsule I can put this weekend in, and when PAX takes their trip south in 2018, it’ll be like a complete stranger to me and to anyone else who returns.
You Geeks stay with us here at DHTG, we have a ton of news on many gaming gems and more from PAX South that we’ll be rolling out all week. Some are just hands on impression, others are games I can almost guarantee you haven’t even heard of. Either way, you’re sure to find something new to love.