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by Eric Swain

30 Apr 2013

A recap of part one and part two: the Expo Hall is an over-crowded high stress environment with little reward, whereas the Tabletop area is a calm arena of interest and wonder. The panels are hit or miss, but either way, you have to show up early to get in. And being a game journalist at one of these events isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, except when it is. Oh, and there are lines for everything.

That last one doesn’t go away as we reach the end of this little guided journey through PAX East. In fact, I think it stands as probably the single common denominator for all PAX experiences. I got to experience much at PAX East, as I generally try to see everything I can at least once, but it isn’t possible. Going in you have to know what you are at the convention for and must be steadfast in what you want to do there. Wavering costs you time, which in turn leads to waiting in lines even longer. A dreadful fate indeed.

by Eric Swain

23 Apr 2013

Last time I talked about the Expo Hall, the show floor for video games, and the Tabletop area, the show floor for non-video games. They are, however, a fraction of the entire convention.

They comprise the majority of the bottom most floor of the convention center. The floors above it consist of a single hallway that wraps around the inside edge of the building leading to various rooms filled with various additional activities. The most notable, or at least the most widely advertised, are the panels.

by Eric Swain

16 Apr 2013

PAX is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Regularly the show and its Boston counterpart (the one PopMatters was nice enough to send me to) attract attendees in the tens of thousands. Each show has been larger than the previous one to the point that they no longer bother keeping track. Among all those masses of people are an equal number of varied experiences, some quite similar and others so fundamentally different they don’t even start at the same place. Their interests, their goals, their purposes and day-to-day, minute-to-minute desires are all fundamentally different. And somehow PAX finds a way to cater to them all.

Now this is true of any convention large enough to need police to corral people into the correct lines at the start of the show. And thanks to my press badge, my experience was going to be fundamentally different to the vast majority of people in attendance. PAX East is a fan convention, and while it may have started as a way for Penny Arcade to create a convention dedicated to all the things that site’s proprietors love, it really has moved beyond them. There’s a good chance that if you talk to a random person at the show that they wont know what Penny Arcade is or anything about it, only that they loving gaming, and that this is a convention hosted in their town or, as in my case, on their coast as a celebration of gaming. That part of PAX has remained the same.

by Eric Swain

26 Mar 2013

Bientôt l’été (Tale of Tales, 2013)

There is technically one more game of the type that have come to call the “First Person Walker” that I haven’t talked about here at PopMatters yet, The Stanley Parable. However, that game is getting an HD Steam release later this year with additional content that I’m inclined to wait for the finished version before discussing at length. But last year saw a sister genre arise, or as close to it as developers dared, that appears to be something like a “Third-Person Walker.” Namely, I’m thinking of games like Journey and Bientôt l’été.

The First Person Walker is defined by its reduction of all the interactive elements of games until the only major verbs that describe the actions in them are “looking” and “moving.” While I describe them as minimalist, both Journey and Bientôt l’été do not reduce themselves quite as far as the levels reached by Dear Esther, Proteus, or even Thirty Flights of Loving, a game that still has you pushing buttons, opening doors, and allows you to peel an orange. In fact, the rendering of a body on screen seems to force the game to give the player something else to do.

by Eric Swain

19 Mar 2013

What I have been calling, the First Person Walker, is a subgenre that rose to prominence last year. It has defined itself through its minimalism. Instead of dealing with all the baggage that established genres come with , the FPW reduces interaction to its barest elements. In doing so, it reduces the complexity of our relationship to the other elements and tropes in games.

Dear Esther is the immersive sim reduced to its barest essentials. Thirty Flights of Loving is the simplest form of the cinematic action game. The last of this triumvirate of games released in the previous year in which you do nothing but walk, though, is Proteus: the minimalist open world explorer.

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