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The Huntington News

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The Huntington News

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The Huntington News

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PAX East forges bonds within gaming communities, creates platform for indie developers

Three+cosplayers+pose+for+a+photo+with+a+PAX+East+sign.+The+convention+ran+from+March+21+to+March+24.
Jessica Xing
Three cosplayers pose for a photo with a PAX East sign. The convention ran from March 21 to March 24.

Cosplayers, influencers and indie developers alike came from all across the East Coast to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for PAX East 2024. Spanning from March 21 to March 24, each day overflowed with competitions, panels and meetups for gamers to enjoy.

Although the PAX gaming convention began in 2004, the first PAX East took place in 2010. Since then, interest in the convention has only grown, becoming a place for gamers to forge communities with each other.

Themed events spanned across a multitude of video and tabletop game franchises. For attendees who wanted to meet up in a more informal setting, several rooms were available all day for casual tabletop, console and PC gameplay.

Indie developers, game design students

PAX East, like other conventions, remains essential for indie game developers because it gives them a platform to generate interest in their games face-to-face. The amount of gaming content available online is so vast that it can be overwhelming for many consumers, leaving the work of many indie developers to get lost in the shuffle. At PAX, however, gamers get the chance to play demos for themselves, and having the experience brought to them in person can make all the difference.

Daniel Scalise is the creator and main developer of “A Corgi’s Cozy Hike,” which was available to play as a demo at PAX East. Designed to be laid-back, players get to go on a relaxing and whimsical adventure as a corgi who uses “corgi butt power” to collect treats, build animal sanctuaries and rescue other dogs. Saving animals as part of the gameplay hints at the good cause behind the game. As an avid animal lover, Scalise wanted to find a way to help animals as a developer.

“I always wanted to make games that help the world, so I left my job and started a company making games to donate to animal shelters,” Scalise said. “I saw how much animals did for us, and I saw how much animal shelters struggled.”

One of Scalise’s first games, “Rescue Pets,” began this trend by donating 20% of all revenue to Dog Gone Seattle, a rescue shelter for homeless dogs. For “A Corgi’s Cozy Hike,” 10% of every purchase will be donated to animal shelters, Scalise said. The game is set to release on Steam later this year.

PAX East also proved to be a golden opportunity for college students entering the game design field. Several colleges had their own booths dedicated to showcasing games that students created as projects for their game design programs.

“[One] game that’s here that’s from the students in our program is called ‘Carpool Chaos’ — it’s like ‘Overcooked’ meets ‘Crazy Taxi,’” said Garrett Chinian, a fourth-year game design major at Fitchburg State University. “One of our faculty is also presenting a game that she’s been working on.”

“Carpool Chaos” has been a collaborative effort from students in Fitchburg State’s game design program since the start of the spring semester, Chinian said. The program’s layout involves students pitching game design ideas at the start of the semester and submitting a completed version by the end as a final project. Once he graduates, Chinian has his sights set mostly on contract work as a game artist.

“Most people have their dream studio,” Chinian said. “I would love to work for Rockstar [Games] or Microsoft, but, realistically, I want to try to find an internship at an indie studio in the area.”

Cosplayers

For many attendees, PAX East was the perfect occasion to cosplay as characters from their favorite games and franchises. Throughout the weekend, several cosplay meetups took place where differently costumed attendees could compare their looks. These meetups were especially popular for fans of larger franchises like Pokémon and Final Fantasy.

At the Pokémon cosplay meetup March 24, over 30 attendees arrived cosplaying as their favorite Pokémon characters. After announcing a raffle with Pokémon-related prizes, the two emcees called up cosplayers in groups for photo shoots based on categories such as their Pokémon type and the games their characters appeared in. Finally, everyone joined together at the front of the room for a picture of all the attendees.

Rydia Vielher, an actress and singer in the Boston area, emceed the meetup. Vielher, who cosplays under the name Miz Sylver, frequently emcees for panels and has attended PAX East almost every year since its inception, she said. What keeps her coming back each year is the sense of community attendees build through both meetups and casual gameplay sessions.

“My favorite part is probably seeing people that I don’t see all the time and playing games with them,” Vielher said. “I love going to something like the classic console room and playing games of [Super Smash Bros.] over and over again.”

Online celebrities, influencers

PAX East also provided ample opportunity for online celebrities and influencers within the gaming community to connect with their fans. Many of these celebrities appeared on panels, such as Samantha O’Neill, also known as NintendoFanGirl, a content creator, cosplayer and brand ambassador for Nintendo.

Brian David Gilbert, a writer, actor and video producer, attended as a panelist for “The PAX Panel Show” and “Um, Actually: The Panel.” Gilbert is best known for the videos he produced for Polygon, a gaming and entertainment news website. Given his long history of producing gaming content, Gilbert showed a deep appreciation for PAX East’s attendees.

“It’s mostly the community and how everyone is so excited and passionate about this,” Gilbert said. “It’s easier to make friends with people because we all have similar interests.”

Over the years, Gilbert has amassed a large fan following. Many of these fans excitedly met with him after his appearance on “The PAX Panel Show.” Gilbert expressed his gratitude for getting to meet his fans in person.

“It’s extremely meaningful to meet people in person as opposed to the online experience of getting comments or anything like that because it’s so distant from that,” Gilbert said. “When I make things online, it can be very easy to get isolated, and you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t mean anything, but getting to meet people in person, it’s like I have an impact at least on their life.”

About the Contributors
Darin Zullo, Deputy Photo Editor
Darin Zullo is a second-year journalism and English combined major with a minor in photojournalism. This is his second semester as a deputy photo editor for The News. He has also written for the Global Observer and the Scope and is looking forward to continue working with The News this semester.
Jessica Xing, Photo Editor
Jessica Xing is a third-year graphic design major with a minor in journalism. She has previously served as deputy photo editor and design editor and is excited to continue working with photographers for The News this semester.
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