For the serious gamer or the casual gamer venturing out for the first time, these are some local, fun activities you might enjoy.
Penny Arcade Expo – PAX East
New England is home to a thriving community of developers and gamers alike, many of whom come together for one of the largest gaming conventions on the coast, the annual PAX East conference, which is happening this week.
With the rising popularity of the Seattle-based con, PAX East was started in Boston in 2010. The conference takes place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and garners some 50,000 game enthusiasts. With console and PC gaming, board games galore, panels, bands, and even an old-school arcade room (my personal favorite), there’s something for everyone. An impressive exhibit hall features big game developers like Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft, Nintendo, Capcom and many, many more. Other booths showcase local newcomers, like Giant Spacekat’s Revolution 60 game.
This con is not to be missed. Tickets sell out months in advance, but last-minute attendee-wannabes might be able to find sales online.
Take a Game Home
Couldn’t make it to PAX, or in town and need to get your gaming fix? Massachusetts has many game stores and locales for all types of interest.
One of my favorites game stores is Eureka Puzzles, a Coolidge Corner-based (Brookline, MA) store that boosts a variety of mind teasers and games. Boston’s Compleat Strategist has card and RPG games in the Allston/Brighton area. In Cambridge, the cleverly named Games People Play has puzzles, kid-friendly teasers, chess and the ever-popular European board games.
Gather With Friends & Gamers Alike
If Starcraft is your thing, “barcrafting” has recently sprung-up around MA. Rather than going to a bar to watch a football game, watch a Starcraft tournament in the company of other beer drinkers. This taking-the-world-by-storm online scifi battle game is especially big in Asia, where a lot of the matches take place. For barcrafting events, check out the Barcraft Boston Facebook page.
Comic book stores often host game nights, focusing on Magic: The Gathering card tournaments and other games. Here’s a small sampling of some of the standouts:
- Comicazi in Davis Square
- Harrison’s Comics and Collectibles throughout New England
- JP Comics and Games in Jamaica Plains
- Modern Myths in Northampton
- New England Comics throughout New England
- Pandemonium in Central Square
- Tabletop Arena in Lowell
- TJ Collectibles in Millford
- Toy Soldier Games and Comics in Ames bury
Universities like Harvard, MIT, BU and others have chess and board game clubs. The MIT Strategic Games Society is open to non-affiliate MIT guests. Or just swing by Harvard Square to spend a buck or two to compete with chess experts in front of Au Bon Pain in the spring.
Finally, on the quirkier side, join fans at one of the performances of Video Game Orchestra, a local band that specializes in video game tunes.
Are there any game stores or events in MA you like? Let us know in the comments below!
Kristina Grifantini is an award-winning multimedia science and technology writer who has written for MIT’sTechnology Review, Sky & Telescope magazine, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the Alzheimer Research Forum, EBSCO Publishing, and many others. She is currently the Communications Specialist at the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality; check out her website here and follow her on Twitter @kgrifant.