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Continuing our Battle of the Boston Conventions, we’ve covered the food, hotels, crowds and transportation to and from conventions but need to get down to the nitty gritty details. Management and content are two of the most important factors at a convention — it takes a steady hand from the management to keep the show running smoothly. Without a doubt, these two items are the details that make or break a convention.
Anime Boston was run by a dedicated staff of people as well as a steady stream of volunteers. Many of the staffers have been there for a decade or longer. The volunteers and security staff work very hard to ensure a smooth transition between panel rooms and answer questions very helpfully. The visual and audio personnel are also very knowledgeable about the current systems at the Hynes Convention Center. It should be noted that many of them are on the younger side, early twenties.
Part of the Reed Exhibitions Network, PAX East is a Convention on a whole other scale from Anime Boston and it shows in how it is run. Bigger and more streamlined, there is a formula of sorts to Reed Expo’s work, a flavor that they possess for the lack of a better phrase. In many cases, not only are the security people here strict and professional but friendly as well. Aisles are not only numbered for fans to find booths and for friend to find each other but the industry support from Reed Expo ensures that no matter the panel or the event, attendee’s will have fun.
Winner: PAX East
PAX East was a gaming convention of fairly epic proportion. Not only was a live taping of G4TV’s X-Play done there, but there were all kinds of goodies and free swag for fans. From the free gear bags at Magic The Gathering to the Dance Central 2 on stage prizes, this was a convention that focused on games and games only.
Smaller game developers got to strut their stuff right alongside the big dogs in the gaming industry as they presented their games, many of them strategy games that have won awards or were soon getting ready for full launches.
Industry support is a huge and critical element in the gaming industry and so many of the top game developers also shelled out cash to maintain real estate space on the show room floor. It showed in the towering structures from developers such as UbiSoft, 2K Games and Microsoft that they meant business.
In the other hand Anime Boston had many panels run not by industry professionals but by budding entrepreneurs or loyal fans making a statement about their favorite Anime. There were few and far between professionally held industry panels and those that did take place were often packed out the door of their respective rooms.
In terms of sheer versatility however, Anime Boston had a slice of the pie for everyone. Whether you were a steampunker fanatic, an Anime nerd, a Gaming geek or a cosplay role player, you felt right at home at Anime Boston.
Both conventions featured a dealer room but more often than not, the dealer room at Anime Boston was a bigger success for fans. With plushies, dresses, music, movies, posters, manga, toys and food; this room was regarded as a highlight of the convention for its variety. The dealer room at Anime Boston also had classic gaming consoles for sale, old classic games as far back as the Atari as well as newer fresh out of the factory gaming joysticks.
Both Conventions also featured gaming rooms with classic gaming consoles available for players all the way into the late evening hours so both deserve credit for running an excellent game room. Hats off to Anime Boston for having a better console gaming room than PAX East since Anime Boston’s game room also had DDR, PUMP, Dance Central and a live DJ.
Anime Boston was hurt by the loss of Bandai in North America as well as loss of other industry support. PAX East suffered from a smaller dealer room and a vastly smaller game room but won points for its better established table top gaming section. Pax East also lacked the versatility that Anime Boston provided in spades and didn’t necessarily feel as comfortable.
Anime Boston felt like coming home to that favorite meal where friends and family welcomed you with open arms while PAX East felt like the carnival that just arrived in town to put on a show and then leaves later in the week. It’s two varying experiences and hard to judge but in the end there must be a winner.
Winner: PAX East
By a small margin, the content presented at PAX East was more professional and less prone to errors or crowd displeasure. Pax East won mostly because what it lacked in general variety it provided for in gaming content so high in quality that Anime Boston could not hope to match it.
With demos, free prizes, game play videos and other assorted gaming bonuses, PAX East just plainly felt like the more adult convention to attend. Anime Boston was an excellent jack of all trades that provided a fabulously entertaining experience but felt like it still had some kinks to iron out. Pax East was a well oiled machine for the most part and that feeling translated into a more streamlined experience for fans.
Overall Winner: Pax East
Image Courtesy of WeeScot