August 3, 2006
A Shift to a Gamer-Focused Conference? PAX vs. E3

The video game industry will be changed fundamentally by the news that broke a few days ago: that the E3 games conference will be downsized significantly. And, according to my colleague here at the Convergence Culture Consortium Alec Austin, the biggest beneficiary appears to be the Penny Arcade. Take a look at this post from them regarding their PAX gamers conference.

Now, reading much from me about the latest in the video game industry is like getting your weather report from a clerk at the BP have to take it with a grain of salt because there's a good chance I don't know what I'm talking about. While I was quite the gamer in my younger days, I hadn't played video games to any great extent for years until I got a PS2 last Christmas from my wife (a wife who wants you to game...yes, I am THAT lucky). And, owning the machine really hasn't increased my gaming any. I've played a total of 10 minutes this summer so far.

But I think any discussion of transmedia would be a shame without looking at the gaming industry, which provides so much innovative thinking for what we're calling convergence culture. Considering the amount of energy prior E3 conferences have generated, it seems to many that the highly exclusive annual event, even if its attendance is restricted, is nevertheless the biggest event of the industry. So many major stories flow out of that conference that it affects all the "unwashed masses" who aren't able to sneak in across the world.

But, with E3 now being downsized, Alec--and the bloggers at Penny Arcade--point out that PAX will be picking up some of the slack, with its emphasis on gamers. How will this affect the gaming industry? PAX won't likely have all the grand theatrics and slickness of the E3 conference, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have the potential to create an even more charged creative atmosphere if all the energy that once flowed through E3 is transferred to PAX instead.

I'm sure Alec or many others could elaborate on this exponentially, but I just thought it was worthy of highlighting this week, since it could have a fundamental impact on the industry over the next few years.