Everything Geeky: Gaming Conventions

The reports are in from PAX 2009 (Penny Arcade Expo), and some of the top anticipated games were hands-on at the convention for gamers to try out. New screenshots, extras, and visuals were given from big names like Left 4 Dead, The Old Republic, Uncharted 2, Torchlight, and many others.

While most of the video game announcements and news circulates earlier in the year with E3, PAX is a great place to get some real one-on-one time with the upcoming games and see them for yourself. This got me thinking to the yearly conventions, and how the mainstream really only knows about E3 or Comic Con. So let’s take a look at some of the best gaming conventions!

Comic Con San Diego (and New York)

Everyone knows about this giant event for all geekdom, although these days it is a much more popular event then what the sci-fi geeks ever expected. Where once we could go to get special edition comics and meet the Star Trek cast, now there are movies and stars galore and nearly every entertainment industry is presented there. It is sold out and insanely crowded, which is infuriating for the loyal fans but certainly better for geekdom overall since it is a place of celebration on all ages and backgrounds. It’s not just for us anymore, which is kind of sad…but it’s one more reason geek is becoming chic. Plus the costumes are killer.

Granted New York is not really anywhere near San Diego’s level of intensity, but it is slowly getting there. Appreciate being able to walk freely while you can.

PAX (Penny Arcade Expo)

It didn’t really get a proper introduction above, so here it is now. PAX was created as a gamer festival by the writers/creators of Penny Arcade, a very popular and well known gaming webcomic. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik wanted an expo that was more for the actual gamer than the developers and companies, giving proper attention to each console and even tabletop gamers. It started in 2004 and has gotten more and more popular with each year, and it officially sold out for the first time in 2009. Focused entirely on gamers, it has booths with consoles set up for people to play their favorites, tournaments, after-hours parties, panels, and even game-centered concerts.

An important note is that in March they intend to have their first East Coast PAX in Boston, MA. So any New England fans will be able to attend without having to fly all the way to Washington!

Game Developer’s Conference

GDC isn’t actually for gamers, it is for the game developers, a.k.a. the people who actually make this industry worthwhile. The panels are much more focused on having a serious discussion on video games and what they add to the entertainment world, plus game theory and where the industry is going. Independent thought is highly encouraged, and originality is applauded. GDC takes place in San Francisco and it is really focused on professionals or the media, but for a price a typical person could attend. If nothing else, this is a convention to look at when you want information about the industry as a theory or to see what the future is like. They also celebrate the Independent Games Festival and the Game Developers Choice Awards, both equally of interest to the common gamer.


BlizzCon is held by Blizzard Entertainment, and it is the place to be if you’re a fan of their games. Since Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo are all incredibly popular series, I’d say that is a huge majority of video gamers. Held in California, it is focused only on Blizzard announcements and previews, with plenty of interviews and panels with the major Blizzard developers, but there’s a great deal of hands-on offerings for gamers to try all of their games at. This year they announced “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm” and had Ozzy Osbourne perform on the last day. It’s pretty fun…but only if you’re a Blizzard fan.

Tokyo Game Show

There is nothing (repeat nothing) like the Tokyo Game Show, and it is the largest video game convention. Almost every major game developer – international including western and eastern publishers – show off their games during it. The first few days are only for the industry, but then they open their doors to the public, and the tickets are very reasonably priced. Just as many major announcements are revealed at the TGS, even more so than at E3. The international aspects of this convention make it unique, plus it’s home to some of the most bizarre and entertaining games out there that may never be ported back to the USA.

Other conventions to check out would be the Leipzig Games Convention, California Extreme, Magfest, and of course E3 itself, although it is uncertain what next year will bring and if the population will be allowed in again. Here’s hoping!


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