PAX East 2018 may seem like all fun and games, with thousands of attendees arriving at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in full costume regalia to honor their favorite gaming characters. Giant consuls are set up across the vast exhibit hall to showcase the latest games and to test the skills of the gaming public. Hundreds of workshops, lectures, parties and product demonstrations took place over the four day conference April 5-8.
But beneath the festive proceedings there is significant economic impact at play. For starters, PAX East is the largest consumer gaming show in North American. It attracts over 80,000 participants to the city, according to unofficial estimates, who spend money at local retail businesses, transportation channels and hospitality outlets.
Executive Director David Gibbons of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), says, “PAX East is one of the largest events we host and our IT, public safety and transportation teams are all put to the test managing the tens of thousands of attendees who descend on the South Boston Waterfront over four days.
“It is a challenge we welcome because PAX is a great example of an event that delivers significant economic impact not only to the local restaurants and hotels, but also the numerous Massachusetts based gaming companies that get direct access to their best customers from around the world.”
Indeed, Massachusetts companies and educational programs involved with digital gaming stand to gain over the long term in this $67 billion industry that helps fuel the state’s creative industries, innovation economy and educational institutions.
The state-wide center for coordinating these opportunities is the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) at Becker College in Worcester, established in 2011. MassDiGI is designated by the Commonwealth for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the state’s digital and video games ecosystem.
MassDiGI Executive Director Timothy Loew says there is a direct correlation between entrepreneurs and local universities.
“With studios and companies starting up all the time, the Massachusetts video game industry continues to create great experiences for players of all kinds. And, with the talent coming out of nationally-recognized game development academic programs like those at Becker College, Hampshire College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, it’s no surprise.”
PAX East is a valuable stage for aspiring entrepreneurs and game developers to find a ready audience to view new products. One of the most popular elements of the show is the PAX East Indie Showcase, described as “a collection of the best indie games you’ve never heard of available on mobile platforms.” This year’s indie games included BouncySmash, Jenny LeClue-Detectivu, Hexland Heroes and Warhammer: DOOMWHEEL.
PAX may be the largest consumer gaming show in town, but it is just one of the major shows coming through Massachusetts, Loew says. “Esports events like a League of Legends NA LCS Summer Finals (September 2-3, 2017) and an ELeague Major (January 26-28, 2018) bring many tens of thousands of gaming fans to the area – along with Boston teams now competing in the Overwatch League, NBA 2K League and eMLS.”
Meanwhile, the spirit of innovation and collaboration remain strong in Massachusetts, where Loew says there are numerous game maker groups across the Commonwealth that provide an incubator experience for young software developers to work with others. These include greater Boston groups such as Boston Indies, Boston FIG Fest or Women in Games Boston; Another Castle, a collaborative workspace for game developers in Greenfield; and the MassDiGI New Ventures Center accelerator for game start-ups in Worcester.
For more information about gaming opportunities in Massachusetts, visit MassDiGI.
Find out about visiting Massachusetts at MassVacation.com.