PAX East 2024 Highlights

March 24, 2024

I spent Saturday at PAX East 2024 with my wife and a couple friends. PAX East is a gaming convention focused on video games and tabletop and card games. You are free to peruse as you please the panels, expo hall, and different gaming tournaments and play areas. This year I started things off differently with a puzzle room experience that was worth doing. I lined up early to get a spot, I wish they had more of this sort of thing.

Why It Matters

More interactive than the passive act of watching television or TikTok, gaming gives a chance to exercise your brain. Puzzles, reaction time, and other skills are stretched as you try to get to new levels. Despite its massive growth, it feels like gaming is still fighting sports and other activities for mainstream acceptance.

Star Wars Unlimited is the Breakout Hit

I am a huge Star Wars fan and had not heard of the new Star Wars Unlimited trading card game. Released a couple weeks ago it was sold out almost instantly. I had a chance to play test and it had fun game mechanics. It keeps a good pace and requires a decent amount of strategy without the overwhelming rule book of my childhood favorite, the Star Wars Customizable Card Game.

Atari is Back

Atari had a great presence at PAX East with remakes of its classic games to try. With modern graphics and availability on all major consoles the “recharged” versions of the games are faithful updates to the originals. Meanwhile the 50th anniversary collection is a virtual museum that plays tribute to the Atari. I thought the updated 2600+ was well designed, a great tribute to the original console. However playing one in the classic console area reminded me that some elements of the past are best left there. Game controllers have improved since the original CX40+ and playing with one was not fun.

The Panels Rocked

  • I learned about the interplay between video game and space technology from a rocket scientist.
  • Composing for Cozy provided a window into the work of video game composers. If you play games with sound off, you’re missing a lot.
  • I learned about the tough economics of board games, but the fact the market is growing might explain why creators are still toughing it out.

What Was Missing

  • Nintendo’s presence was scaled back with no Splatoon or Mario Kart tournaments in the PAX Arena.
  • Few hardware products or innovations.
  • Sony and Microsoft were absent.
  • Racing and sports games as a genre were not represented at all despite their popularity.

Want to get posts like this in your email?

This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.