2p has asked me to help cover PAX East this year and since I have limited knowledge of all things PAX’s, I figured this is a good opportunity to do some research, synthesize some facts, and discover the history behind this storied convention. Over the next few days I’ll inundate myself with reading a bunch of useless crap, trying to sift through the detritus that is the internet to provide you with some “golden” content. I’m doing all this, dear reader, so that all you have to do is digest some of it with your eyes. Then, hopefully, you will shit-out some of it through your mouth and share some of the proverbial crap that I’ve dished out for you. So bon apatite, my first article is going to start from the beginning; that is, how PAX came to be and why we should care.
The Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, was created in 2004 by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the founders of popular web comic strip: Penny Arcade. While it wasn’t the first, Penny Arcade has become the longest and most popular web-based comic strip of all time. Started in 1998, the author, Jerry Holkins, and the artist, Mike Krahulik created a comic strip that dedicated itself to the esoteric world of video game culture. The thrice-a-week-comic became widely popular over the years that the two founders not only made a living off of their craft, but actually started a foundation that has raised millions of dollars for patients in children’s hospitals.
The Child’s Play Charity, the foundation created by Krahulik and Holkins was founded in 2003 in response to a column condemning gamers as “violent, antisocial slackers.” Since then, through various fundraising techniques, the Charity has raised over 40 million dollars and is by far, the most popular charity that is dedicated to gamers. The foundations goal is to donate video games, consoles, toys, and books to children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters. Primarily run by Jamie Dillion, the foundation has helped combat stereotypical opinions about gamers by understanding the power of videogames as media outlet, and using the gaming community to create a massive charitable organization. Dillion argues that “the community is absolutely the driving force of what makes Child’s Play successful” proving that some gamers actually do a heart, and we are not all the “violent, antisocial slackers” that certain agenda driven, media outlets would like people to believe.
Much like the Child’s Play Charity, PAX was initially created by videogame fans, for videogame fans. Primarily focusing on the gaming community and culture, the Expo was first created in the mind of Jerry Holkins, and is described as the event that he wanted to go to “that did not yet exist.” In 2004, the first PAX Expo launched in Bellevue, Washington with an estimated 4,500 attendees, which is impressive when you think about how it all spawned from a single web comic. Since then, the convention has proliferated to the point where PAX Prime and PAX East have become the largest gaming events in North America.
From live concerts to just chilling with your 3DS, the PAX conventions are place were the “introverts” come out for a couple days to become extroverts! With almost every videogame and console at your fingertips, the PAX events take LAN parties to another level as social networking and connecting with friends is the core of what makes up the convention.
Saying that the PAX conventions have been a success thus far would be a drastic understatement. Krahulik and Holkins have single handily turned the once-perceived, niche gaming community into force that is recognized globally. Thanks to gatherings like PAX, the gaming community has literally turned into the epicenter of all things technologically advanced, as social media, podcast, and blogs are popular places where we can all let our freak flags fly!