Boston, Massachusetts brings together at this time of year large groups of gamers dedicated to console, computer, and tabletop gamer’s alike and this event is called PAX East. The convention is sponsored and ran by Penny Arcade with their army of volunteer “enforcers” and from the expos inception in 2004 PAX has grown in significant numbers bringing attention to it from all parts of the world. On my visit to the convention I encountered people from Ireland, France, North Dakota, Florida, and you get the point; there were people from everywhere. With all these different cultures it amazes me how gaming and technology can unite us and bring us to one place.
While at PAX East I had to make the conscious effort to pull myself away from the expo hall to see one or two panels. A panel that caught my immediate attention was called Teaching with Portals which was led by Geoff Moore, from Rage Quit Media, and Lisa Castaneda, a middle school educator who runs her class using only the game Portal. If not familiar with Portal it happens to be a first-person puzzle solving strategy game built with its own level editor that the community can use to create new levels and keep the game fresh. Valve, the creators of Portal, have teamed up with many teachers, throughout the nation, willing to run lesson plans in classes where students will have to complete levels and create their own levels using the level editor given through portal. Valve distributes an educational version of Steam called Steam for Schools which is completely free for teachers and students to use while at school or from the comforts of their home. Results from this program show that students show an increase desire to do their homework and even complete the bonus objectives built into their homework. I would have been “Glad”-os to play video games while for a school grade. If you are a teacher or you just want to learn with portals make sure to check out the website http://www.teachwithportals.com/.
What originated as a realistic zombie survival mod with its open world sandbox that stretches 225 kilometers in size will soon become its own game somewhere in the near future. DayZ project Lead, Dean Hall has made serious attempts to push for a full game by the end of 2012, however, due to complications with the coding and networking issues the release date has been pushed back to the end of 2013. Dean Hall and Mat Lightfoot, DayZ Production Assistant from Bohemia Interactive, begin by explaining some of the new features that will be introduced into their standalone game which were completely nonexistent in the mod due to the limitations of the main game, Arma II. At the panel they were able to showcase a completely revamped movement system which includes sprint, crouch run, crouch walk, and a crawl. There are many customization features such as a drag and drop menu for items found throughout the world and the player will also be able to customize the character’s clothing with different hoodies, shirts, leggings, shorts, sandals, a helmet, or if you prefer to walk around in trousers there is that however beware; Dean Hall did mention your temperature will drop and your character will slowly freeze to death.
Although Ubisoft had no playable demos for PAX attendees to try out, it was quite interesting how their booths were set up; if you have ever attended some of these gaming conventions you would know that the lines for any of these AAA title games are immense, however I lucked out on the last day and only had to wait in line for an hour. Ubisoft made an exclusive PAX video which we were not even allowed to touch our phone for a picture because of the big scary looking bouncers staring us down threatening to kick us out. Other than that the video was about ten minutes long and really focused on the aspects of the main character Edward Kennway’s life and ways he rules the seas. I am going to take an educated guess and say the naval warfare was a hit among those who played Assassin’s Creed III so Ubisoft decided to capitalize and make it its own game. The video explained how the pirate ships will be able to hook on to other vessels for boarding in which case the player will be allowed to roam freely and board the opponents ship which way they prefer whether it be from up above or down from the depths. Assassin’s Creed 4 is looking to be released in the U.S. on October 31, 2013 and in Europe on November 1, 2013; sorry Europe.
So all in all PAX East 2013 was an amazing experience for me and my friends, there was so much to see and only so many hours in the three days there. From participating in a dance competition at the ShootMania Booth to playing chess at the Machinima booth with famous Youtuber Hutch, it was nothing short of a great time in which I will be participating again and again in the years to come.