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Massive Crowds Converge On South Boston For PAX East Convention

SOUTH BOSTON (CBS) - Tens of thousands of video game enthusiasts are converging on South Boston this weekend for one of the largest digital game conventions in the country.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports


As many as 80,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend 2013's PAX East convention at the Boston Convention Center, which runs Friday through Sunday.

In Photos: PAX East 2013

PAX, which stands for Penny Arcade Expo, was launched in Seattle in 2004.

Marty Sharma, Managing Director of MassDigi, the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, calls this an "immense event."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake reports


"It's the largest of event of it's kind," according to Sharma. "You get everybody (ranging) from people who play video games to people who play table top stuff. You've got people in costume. It's just a huge event for the local development community. 40 Massachusetts companies are showing various games and (related) products. It's a big deal!"

Sharma says the biggest growth area in games right now is in mobile. He says one of the hottest games is put out by a local developer. Pwn, pronounced "pone," is a game that resembles fake hacking.

Sharma acknowledges that the past year has been a rough one for the video game industry. "We've seen some studios closing, but we're also seeing a significant shift to these smaller, indie studios. The cycle in games is you get small studios to do really creative things. A few of them get fairly large, a lot of them get bought. You end up with some consolidation in the sector. We're hoping (the data) from the second half of 2012 shows the rise of the indies."

Chris Parsons of Muzzy Lane Software in Newburyport is among those hoping the convention will give his business some exposure.

The company has 25 employees and a handful of games geared toward learning, education healthcare and business.

"It is extremely valuable whether you're showing a new game or just connecting with people and giving them a chance to play your existing games," he said of the convention. "It's exposure. It's a very easy way to get a lot of people in a short span of time to see your games."

While Parsons is there for business, he also admits he's having some fun.

"When you come in that door and you see everything here it is just very exciting," he said.

Another local presence at PAX comes from Becker College in Worcester, which releases a student-made title at the convention.

This year that title was "Pressure Switch." It was Anthony Botelho's senior project.

"I worked on it along with some adjunct faculty and we released it here at PAX for the public to get some feedback," he said.

Botelho says the impact from PAX is huge.

"Look around; we have Nintendo, Microsoft and different companies; and to be able to produce titles next to these large companies is just a great experience," he said.

PAX East first came to Boston in 2010 at the Hynes, but the crowds were so huge they had to shut off the escalators.

Thanks to the size of the Boston Convention Center, there are plans to hold the convention here in Boston for at least the next nine years.

WBZ-TV's Bobby Sisk & WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake & Carl Stevens all contributed to this report.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens spoke with a couple of PAX East attendees.

Watch the interviews:

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