Unlike a certain author from a major publication, I attend PAX East to experience the culture and games, not to view it as a sociological experiment. The culture, games, and the people are what PAX is all about, these are not people to look at in a mocking or degrading fashion, instead these are people who fuel an industry that is now larger than the movie business. PAX East is very much the people's gaming convention and the experience is one that is full of amazing moments that far outweigh the few tedious ones.
Before I begin, a description of PAX is necessary, but instead of paraphrasing or making up my own, it just makes sense to give the official line: "PAX is a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers. We call it a festival because in addition to dedicated tournaments and freeplay areas we've got nerdcore concerts, panel discussions, the weekend-long Omegathon event, and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers. Even with all this amazing content the best part of PAX is hanging out with other people who know their shit when it comes to games."
Going to PAX East isn't something you just decide to do, well unless you live in Boston of course. Being from Ottawa, Canada I have to pre-plan a great deal every year for the event. Thanks to Blogcritics I can apply for a Media pass, but I am not guaranteed one. The application involves sending story samples, getting a letter from your editor and your personal credentials (business card, ID, etc). Once the application is sent you just pray it is accepted because three day passes sold out by January 9th, a full four months before the event!
Travel and hotels are stressful enough, but the real challenge of PAX east preparation is the schedule. Not only are there dozens of very interesting panels everyday, there are literally hundreds of games of the digital and tabletop variety to check out. Attending as media, I also have the opportunity to have meetings with various companies that range from quick demos to extended play sessions and interviews.
Pouring over the schedule and e-mails from media contacts, I ended up with a schedule that is nearly impossible for a human to complete. From start to finish, the first two nights I have something slotted for nearly every hour (including events before the show even starts on the Friday). Sunday is a shorter day (till 6PM), but every hour is occupied there as well. At times there are two - three panels at the same time worth attending and a tough choice has to be made. The breadth of content is amazing and these decisions are great ones to be forced to make.