Boston Takes Her Place in the Video Game World

3/31/10

PAX East sold out months early. Attendance was twice what the committee had planned for the first game industry convention on the east coast in 10 years—more, if Atlanta isn’t your idea of “East Coast.” We filled the Hynes to capacity with 60,000 gamers, developers, press, and game company representatives. The show floor was jammed. There was a forty-five minute to an hour queue for every panel, and nearly every session turned folks away.

Next year, after a hugely successful first run, games will be taking over the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Games for Thought‘s major concern? Worse access to bars. Gamers poured (sometimes literally) a huge amount of cash into our city this weekend.

The consensus: The first ever PAX East outgrew the Hynes before it hit the ground. And for next year, and all the years coming—that’s a good thing!

Some of the usual suspects of the show floor at PAX Prime (yearly every fall in Seattle) passed on this sister East Coast Penny Arcade Expo. But vendors on the packed floor who showed their stuff were dealing with swirls of a solid crowd all day. The Boston Indie Showcase, the MIT/Singapore GAMBIT Lab areas, Turbine’s huge booth, and (off the floor) the Harmonix music lounge made our own game industry a bigger focus for industry and fans alike.

I’m CEO of a game startup in Somerville, but I was also there as an industry blogger. Having moved back home to from the West Coast a few years ago, because I feel this is the best place for me, my son, and now my new social game company, I was interested in what the rest of the gaming world was feeling about Boston. The best thing about being at an event like this with a press pass is that it gives you license to approach anyone with a question.

There was plenty of opportunity to ask. While people were in long lines for events, I found fans and pros from a half dozen countries and about twenty states, and asked them about their impressions of games in the Hub of the Universe.

The consensus? Boston rocks gaming, hard.

Whether it was a game developer from London, a gamer couple from Ohio, or PR consultants from the West Coast, everyone was rating Boston’s game industry on par with other US centers in everything but size—and recognized how fast we’re growing.

“Would you see this, packed to the gills, otherwise?” one fan from the EU asked. “We came from everywhere, and part of it is, we wanted to see what Boston has.”

Jeffrey Sheen, from Stargazy Studios in London, thinks Boston has it better than … Next Page »

Shava Nerad is the founder of Oddfellow Studios, a game software company in Somerville, MA. Follow @

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  • http://www.dailygrommet.com Jules Pieri

    Welcome to Boston Shava. It’s nice to have another woman with an ambiguous first name join the local tech scene. :)