There’s nothing much to be done about the fact Seattle simply isn’t a convention city. By that I mean it’s not New Orleans or Atlanta or Las Vegas which can easily handle conventions of 150,000+ people.
But that isn’t really what PAX is, even though as mentioned in Mike’s post 200,000 people want to attend something that only 60,000 people can fit into. As Robert Khoo said during our “Khoo and A” during PAX East when I asked him about PAX expansion: something like PAX doesn’t really scale well past a certain size under 100,000 people.
That makes sense because PAX is such an organic event. I know that’s technically a goofy use of the word organic, but what I mean is that Penny Arcade simply provides the space and the enforcer infrastructure. Everything else grows out of the people who show up. It’s hard to say what makes PAX such an amazing event to attend except to say it’s never the same thing twice.
Every single time I present at PAX I’m scared shitless. Every time I stand up in front of that crowd I think to myself “These people are spending their hard earned and short lived PAX time at something *I’m* presenting.” It has to be A game. Period. Anything less and I would be upset at having wasted a single precious second of people’s time at PAX.
I love walking through a stodgy hotel like the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle and finding that tabletop gamers have taken over every available space in the lobby, to the staff’s dismay. I love someone discovering the classic game arcade room for the first time. I love the keynotes that embrace and empower the audience. I love those moments during the concerts at night when someone says or sings the thing that makes thousands of people feel like they are talking specifically to them.
PAX is really the convention by gamers for gamers, unlike e3 which is by the industry for the industry. (Sure, there are cons like QuakeCon or BlizzCon. But those are centered around specific titles. As a PAX attendee you can be a PC gamer, tabletop gamer, PS3 gamer, etc and have the same level of experience.)
I made a comment on Twitter to Mike to the effect that it wasn’t really his fault PAX sold out, and yet he replied that actually it felt like yeah it was sort of his fault. And he’s not totally wrong.
But this is a good problem to have.
Too many nerds want to hang out with fellow nerds at a place that exists to serve nerd-dom. There’s probably some “online streaming” bandaids or “adding an extra day” bandaids to be done. For now, it’s probably at least some cold comfort that something so awesome not only exists, but exists at a level of demand that cannot be satiated.
Isn’t this the type of thing we dreamed of for revenge when the jocks and popular people shunned us in school? :>