My first day at PAX East was also my first experience of a huge American convention. It was HUGE – about twice the size of the largest event I have attended prior to that.
After a bit of a scary moment lost in Boston, I did make it to the hotel, and I got at least a bit of sleep, which was nice. The bed was comfy and the view was nice, in a big-city kind of way, which I enjoy.
Day 1 of PAX East
My research told me that there was a French patisserie in the building, so I made my way there for breakfast and that really helped me set myself up for the day.
My next challenge was to figure out exactly where the convention centre was – after having trouble finding my hotel last night, I wasn’t optimistic that I would have an easier time finding the convention centre which LOOKED like it was very close by on the map. Luckily, it really was right across the road!
I have never been to a PAX convention, as I mentioned, but I also have never been to any convention even remotely this size, I don’t think. The closest I can get is the Rose City Comic Con in Portland. The latest stats I could find for that show an attendance of 70,000 in 2019, whereas PAX East has more than 130,000 – almost double. And apparently, this was a light year, and there are usually many more people there!
So I had no idea where to go, or even what a “queue room” was, although it wasn’t hard to extrapolate it from the name. So I experienced my first really big game convention queue, waiting nervously, worried I would be late for my morning meeting with the lovely Grace from Snowbright Studio! But then, suddenly, we were all released into the MASSIVE main hall of the convention centre in a big rush, and I was at PAX!
It’s really hard to convey the sheer STIMULUS of a PAX event. There are people, lights, noises, massive displays, more people, amazing cosplay, animated dinosaurs, holograms, more people… and still, this cavernous building swallowed us all up. Seeing a whole park of food trucks taking up only a portion of the width of the building still didn’t really help me compute the size of the space.
As the queue cleared so quickly once the doors opened, I actually had a whole lot of time to kill before my 11am meeting, so I wandered over, spotted the Snowbright Studio booth, then went and bought myself a copy of Deadly Dowagers by my good friend and fellow designer Sarah Shipp. It was really fun, because all the people working at the booth who heard me ask for it cheered, then more came over to also tell me how much they loved it. They were so impressed and excited to hear that I actually tested it with the designer, which is so charming and at the same time, a bit of a reality check for me – I am suddenly “one of the people who play-tests games with game designers”, which is a bit like showing my backstage pass at a concert. I have the privilege of access, and it’s exciting.
One of the reasons I saved these PAX East blog posts to release later was so that I could also link to Sarah appearing on the Meeple Syrup Show to talk about Deadly Dowagers, so I will pop that here:
And here is my unboxing of Deadly Dowagers:
In case you hadn’t gathered, this was 100% my first priority for PAX East day 1, hahaha.
Anyway, new game in tow, I headed to the Snowbright Studio booth and met up with Grace, who was kind enough to sit down with me and have a chat about Drayer Ink, what we do, what Snowbright does, how a relationship with them could work if we were to sign a contract for them to publish any of our games, and then we talked a bit about the sell sheets I had with me. I also got to meet Eric from Japanime Games briefly when he stopped by to say hi to Grace, but we didn’t cross paths again for the rest of the show, so we will have a better catch up at GAMA, I expect!
After that, I was at a bit of a loose end – I have never really attended events, I always work them. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I drifted over to the Unpub area and decided to try playing some unpublished games and help out.
I decided to get Jamie to give me the spiel and try to turn it into a reel – I think it went ok!
At this point, I realised how late it was, and decided to get some food. There were more food trucks outside, and chicken and rice sounded wonderful, so that’s what I got – it was really pleasant to sit outside in the brisk, fresh air and eat tasty food.
When I got back to Unpub, they were kind enough to let me use one of the empty tables to play-test Mycelia: Fungus Families, and I got in several tests at the higher player count, paying particular attention to the possibility of adding set collection to the game, as suggested at TokenCon the week before.
By the end of that block, I was pretty tired, but I had ben seeing Emma Larkins from the corner of my eye for some time, and I decided it was time to get myself the long-desired copy of Abandon All Artichokes straight from the designer! She was even kind enough to sign it, which was awesome.
That evening, pretty tired, I decided to just head back quietly to the hotel and have some proper food, so I gave myself a very expensive steak. No, I did NOT use the ketchup.
After dinner, I had a nice shower and put myself to bed with the Cozy Companion by Snowbright Studio.