PAX Prime is next week in Seattle, and while I went last year for Massively, this year I’m sitting it out. Part of the reason is not wanting to leave my pregnant wife alone with three kids (who are starting school next week, no less), but mostly it’s because I have mixed feelings on the whole convention experience.
It can be a huge rush, that’s for sure. There’s a palpable excitement in arriving in a downtown area swarming with geeks who are passionate about games and I won’t deny that prowling the expo floor — when I had time — was like exploring some sort of digital nirvana. I loved interviewing devs, getting swag, hanging out at events, and getting to push out news. And it was certainly a nice break from my normal routine.
On the other hand — and I cannot stress this enough — it’s exhausting. Going as media is so different than going as a fan, because mostly you’re bouncing from appointment to appointment, trying to find time to write in between, all while looking in envy at everyone else with their freer schedules. So many studios elect to hold interviews away from the convention hall for cost reasons, so it’s a lot of trying to find hotels and running all around downtown. As a bonus, Seattle likes steep up and down streets, which is a joy to walk.
It’s also mentally draining. I feel very alone at these things, knowing few people and feeling cut off from my family. I’m also slightly prone to feeling claustrophobic in crowds, which the expo hall has in spades. Being short doesn’t help with that!
So I had no desire to go back this year. I’ll be looking with interest from afar, as I do with most conventions and trade shows. I think we’ll be getting some good stuff considering that there’s a lot happening this fall with MMOs, but it’s not like previous years where massive games like RIFT, WildStar, or Guild Wars 2 were centerpieces.
I think if I got some time to go on a vacation, I would try to find a quiet cabin somewhere and spend a weekend reading. That would be bliss.