Gamers Invade Massachusetts

By Will Roseliep


April 5, 2012

space invaders

They're coming ... they're coming ... they're here. (Screenshot)

BOSTON — This Friday, the third annual Penny Arcade Expo East will be held at the Boston Convention Center. Gamers up and down the East Coast descend on the Seaport for three days of game demos, roleplaying, tabletop strategy games, classic arcade games, wide-ranging panel discussions and celebrity keynotes.
Ethan Gilsdorf, who writes for’s Geek Dad blog, said the success of the conference — which is known as PAX East — shows how much the market for video games has expanded.
“Video games as a category of entertainment is huge,” Gilsdorf said. “It’s a $25 billion industry, and it out-grosses movies as an entertainment option.”
The first PAX conference was held in Bellevue, Washington in 2004, and it was a runaway hit with attendees. Boston held the first PAX East conference in 2010, and now both conferences have become annual events.
The popularity of PAX East — which is expected to draw 75,000 people to the Seaport — points to a baked-in game culture in Massachusetts. Timothy Loew, the executive director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, said the state has now become a major industry player.
“We’re in the top five” states for video game companies, Loew said. “About 4,000 people … are directly or indirectly employed in the Commonwealth by self-identified game companies.”
Caroline Murphy is the director of operations for Brass Monkey, an independent game company based in Boston. Brass Monkey Games has benefited from a richness of talent coming from local schools, Murphy said.
“So many of the universities around here … just have phenomenal [video game] programs,” said Murphy. “The trick is keeping [students] here” to work in the industry after graduation.
PAX East 2012 has sold out of its all-access, three-day passes, but fret not, faithful gamers: The City of Boston has signed an agreement to keep the conference here until at least 2023.
For Caroline Murphy, that’s a great thing. “PAX being here for the next 10 years is a signal that the industry here is just going to explode over the coming years,” she said.

pax east faq: can i bring nerf guns

Best to know what you're in for.

p.s. Did you find the game on this page?

Sign Up

Sign-up for WGBH News updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.




Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor