How PAX Became the Biggest and Best Festival for Geeks
From a small, local gaming festival to the world's largest, multinational festival and pop culture movement, PAX only used 9 years. Recently, Forbes interviewed Lance Fensterman, the PAX's initiator and global vice president of ReedPOP, asking the origins of PAX and where PAX is going in the future. There are some good things that other game exhibitions can learn.
"PAX has always been special, because it's more than community, it's almost family. Every show opens up with someone from the show saying, 'Welcome home' and that's what it is for these folks. It's home. And they know they're amongst family here." Lance said to Forbes. The massive amount of PAX goers was from varying backgrounds, they huddled together, shoulder to shoulder. But there has never been an incident, or a violent issue in PAX. If you have joined China Joy or some other exhibition, you would know it's hard to have a no violence record.Ordered but relaxing place makes PAX attractive.
The nice atmosphere was not only including goers' contribution, but also had volunteers, and organizers' efforts. For that, we have to mention ReedPOP's "Fans First" cultural manifesto. The company tries to make every decision through the prism of "Is this good for the fans? Will the fans like this? Is it fun for the fans? Does it make it easier for the fans?" They tried to use the rule as their guiding principle in everything, which they were proud of and loved. And nice feedback from fans became their greatest power to keep going.
No ‘BOOTH BABES’ Policy
Convention of games and comic are the place that fans can come and find entertainment. But entertainment didn't mean revealing, pulp and disgusting. In 2010, Penny Arcade, the co- initiator of PAX polled on the issue of "booth babes" at gaming expositions in its own readership community. 6,313 people took the poll, with 60 percent of respondents favoring or strongly favoring the ban on booth babes at gaming expos. So the No 'BOOTH BABES' Policy came up. For some fans and organizations, this new concept is hard to adapt, but Lance insisted "It's the right thing for us. We think it's the right thing for us, because it's the right thing for the fans, for the industry and for the community."
Personally, I agree what ReedPop and PAX did. Revealing booth babes may satisfy a small amount fans, but it also drag down the taste of a world class convention. I think if you were a true fan of games and PAX, You would not want to see your "home" became a place full of hyping and revealing. Maybe No 'BOOTH BABES' Policy is a small detail, but it showed an attitude that what kind of convention PAX wanted to be.
Geek Cultural Identity
Comics, video games, cosplay, table top games and the gadgets of cutting-edge technology, these geeks' interests have been regarded as fringe, weird and extreme, and branded as inherently antisocial. So did geeks and geek culture. Even though some geeks like Mark Zuckerberg and Big Bang Theory guys received recognition by public, but the stereotype of geeks and geeks culture still existed. Under this condition, PAX acted more like a shield, a pure land, where geeks can find identification, where like a home. Everyone who attends PAX is content, because they are surrounded by others who share their passions and who may be hoping for the same dream in their own lives.
Organizers made a pure, homey, high-level convention for fans, and fans consciously protected this pure atmosphere, no one complains about space, no one cuts people off in lines, no one fights on the endless queues or shows unkind behavior. Everyone is valued here. And, all are respected in this community of fellows. This benign interaction between fans and fans to conventions makes a bond that tied geeks together, and let PAX became the biggest, greatest fellowship of gamers, geeks and civility the world has ever known.