PAX vs. E3: From the Perspective of the Press

There is always debate around which gaming convention is better: PAX or E3. PAX is open to the public where as E3 is only open to “industry professionals”. If you don’t work in the industry, then it’s easy to see which convention you will favor, but today, I take present a view of an individual – myself – who is able to attend both. For arguments sake, I will be writing this from the point of view of the press/media. So let’s cut straight to the chase: I personally enjoy E3 much more than PAX, and let me tell you why.

1. Crowds – Both conventions can be shoulder to shoulder at times – especially the bigger booths such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo – so it can be painful to maneuver through at times. Comparing the two gargantuan conventions, the E3 crowds are much more mindful of each other as most of the media are working on tight schedules.

Crowds at E3 seem to be more professional and everyone seems to be sensitive to the needs of the others around them. There have been many times where I have been in line for a popular game and the person playing will turn around and see the time line that has formed behind him. When the individual notices that many are eagerly awaiting their turn at the title at hand, they politely steps aside and hands the reigns over.

From what I have experienced at PAX, a lot of the conventions goers aren’t courteous. They will sit there and play until a worker has to ask them more than once to let someone else have time with a game. Most, from what I saw, had no care for the others who want or need hands-on time with that game as well.

2. Announcements – Many gaming conventions (Tokyo Game Show, GamesCom, etc.) have awesome announcements from game companies who want wile up the massed in concerns of their new games, but no convention can compete with the announcements that are made at E3. The tone of E3 definitely basks in the plethora of new games, trailers and gameplay footage that hits the Internet in mass.

Most of the announcements delivered from PAX are things we already saw coming or are things that just aren’t that exciting. That’s not to say nothing worthy of excitement is announced at PAX, it’s just all of the major news is usually saved for E3.

3. Cleanliness – It’s impossible to talk about a nerd-filled convention and not touch on the subject of personal hygiene. With E3 being a “professional” convention, you get the nerds in suits and the nerds who work around people every day, so they usually have a better sense of cleanliness. There can be some stinky people at E3, but for the most part, when I pick up a controller it’s usually not covered in a mysterious film of grease.

I sadly cannot say the same thing about PAX, which had a much larger percentage of smelly, unbathed people than what I encounter at E3. PAX is like the Comic Con for gamers; it was apparent that some people in attendance haven’t been out in a public/social setting in quite some time. Not to mention, I felt like I had to Purell everything before I touched it. And let’s not forget the percentage of illness that is reported after PAX is higher than both Comic Con and E3. You do remember the Swine Flu break out from last years’ PAX, right?

4. Booth displays – A good booth can definitely draw attention to your games. E3 is the convention where the companies pull out all of the stops and attempt to achieve the “mind-blowing” when they start planning their booth displays. Such as the 2-story dinosaur from this past Bethesda booth (reused at PAX 2010) or how about live stage set up for Rock Band 3? Not to mention, the booths at E3 just seem to be laid out better as well. They leave plenty of room for crowds to maneuver without wading through multiple gamers frozen in front of a screen in awe of any particular title.

The booths at PAX didn’t have the same excitement to them; they seemed rushed and poorly planned. Most of them were smaller versions of what the company used at E3 and have wires running all over the place. If you didn’t get to go to E3, then the booths will definitely feel massive and detailed, but remember, I am writing this from a perspective from someone who has been to E3. In short: Been there, done that.

5. Booth babes – I don’t know about you, but I like it when a busty woman in an itty-bitty tank top tries to tell me about the game she is hired to promote. It just feels “right”. Since E3 is an 18 and over show, booths can get away with a lot more scantily-clad ladies dancing around various props from video games and more adult flavored hi-jinks.

PAX is open to all ages; therefore booth workers need to be a bit more family-friendly and safe. No girls in cut-off shorts and bikini tops covered in blood pretending to be zombies. No meet-and-greets with Playboy Playmates either. There is still a fair amount of these booth-promoting babes, but just not in the impressive amount as E3 and definitely not in as little clothing as what E3 offers.

I still enjoyed my first experience at PAX and I am definitely not saying it’s an awful show. But compared to E3, there’s nothing else like it for hype and glamour. Now where did I put that Purell and Zicam?