“Welcome Home” says a man in an orange Enforcer shirt to those entering Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio. It’s the first day of PAX South, and the lines to enter dwindle as most attending have already entered.
Penny Arcade Expo, know as PAX was created by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, authors of the Penny Arcade webcomic. The two focus on gaming in their strip, and wanted a convention to celebrate their love. Over the years, PAX grew from 3,300 people at their first event in 2004 to near 70,000 for their Seattle event in 2017.
As the conference grew, PAX added locations. The first was PAX East in 2010, held in Boston. In 2013, the conference went international, adding PAX Australia. In 2015, the conference added its fourth destination, PAX South, in San Antonio, Texas.
The conference centers around all things gaming. Panels about anything from favorite board games, video game strategies to Cosplay materials are ongoing throughout the day. Holkins and Krahulik host a few, including a Q&A session and a live role-playing game.
The vendor hall offers a glimpse at the latest board and video games, providing attendees hands-on gameplay. Part of the hall is setup for PAX Rising, which showcases independent developers and their games. It provides small teams an opportunity to show their games to a large audience. There is also substantial space for the big gaming companies to show their latest titles.
Playing games is what PAX does best. Dozens of rows of PCs allows attendees to plays against each other, or by themselves. Another room dedicated to classic video games has Nintendos, PlayStations and other consoles lined across tables, with a full library of games. For analog gamers, there is a board game library and hundreds of tables available to challenge new opponents.
For those that would rather watch than plan, another hall has multiple large screens and seating. Here attendees can watch E-sport competitions, as players and teams battle each other in various video games. PAX also opens competition on various games to anyone who wants to enter.
For those that enjoy games and the surrounding culture, PAX provides a safe and enjoyable atmosphere. Some might say it even feels like home.