PAX East Shines the Brightest at the Indie Megabooth
PAX East is best experienced near the back of the exhibition hall, right after the racks of fantasy-inspired mouse pads and just before the Magic the Gathering card tables. Right in there, that beautiful center, is the Indie Megabooth, where freshly birthed (or almost birthed) games are waiting to be interacted with.
It's easy to overlook the Indie Megabooth. From the top of the stairs, you first see the lights of Playstation, XBox, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming; you hear the boom of Blizzard's theme-park speakers. And while you might be first drawn to Detroit: Become Human's sleek lineup of flat-screen TVs or the massive PUBG tournament taking place at the Aorus booth, you will quickly learn, as I did, that these booths are nothing more than queues upon queues upon queues.
It's like Disney without the fast pass. I waited in line for an hour for a PC to open up at the LAN area, just so I could play a couple rounds of Overwatch and then promptly get kicked out. Standing in line at the Nintendo booth seemed like a full day affair, rather than a momentary decision. This is to be expected. After all, who isn't excited for Dark Souls on the switch?
So I found myself at the back of the exhibition hall most of the time, right at the Indie Megabooth. Every single day, new games were advertised on new banners and new developers would be wandering around, soliciting gamers to come give their booth a try. Like apt sale people, they always have a way of getting you to sign up for their alpha or discord or follow them on twitter.
I only played a few games during my short time at PAX, a couple being a small multiplayer game called Save Your Nuts, which is like a quirky version of FIFA, involving squirrels and dogs, and another small game called Relic Hunters, a beautiful third person multiplayer shooter. But it was just nice being in that space. It was jammed packed, yet everyone was excited and intrigued. Standing behind strangers, who were invested in their momentary new lives, I examined all of the talent and imagination that the developers had put into their silly, scary, heart-warming, or simply fun games. And there they were, waiting for gamers to say to them "this was really cool."
It makes me hope that all of their games could be successful in some way, yet I know many of the games might fade under the shadow of Playstation or Xbox. And in fact, I felt like a hypocrite as the developers foisted buttons and pamphlets into my overflowing hands. I told them I would look them up on Steam, but I never did. Although maybe I should.
It's a strange thing. While I found my time at PAX's Indie Megabooth special, I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of indie games particularly. I, like many other consumers, fall back on AAA hype and marketing. And to be honest, I would have completely forgotten about the indie scene entirely had I not been forced there by long lines. But maybe I should remember that it's the in between experiences that matter.