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PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia

Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia

During the day, PAX is a chaotic bustle of fans, enforcers, media and game reps, thousands upon thousands of people flocking through the Seattle Convention Center, bright lights offset by dark expo floors, and a constant hum of excitement, cheers, and laughter.

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But I like it here at night. After hours, the rooms dedicated to PC gaming and console freeplay fill up, and the quiet hum and mellow socializing of the freeplayers offers a welcome break from the chatter and bustle of the day. There are two kinds of freeplay rooms: in PC Freeplay, attendees can check out a PC station to have an impromptu LAN party, and in the much more lively Console Freeplay room, they can check out consoles from the PS3 Slim to the Dreamcast.

Perhaps coolest of all is the BYOC room, where the truly hardcore can bring their own machines to play all weekend, should they so choose. As I toured the room alongside my friendly enforcer escort (interlopers are not allowed, since many of the machines are quite expensive), he waxed rhapsodic about how great it was that so many people came together like this every year just to play games.

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He's right, it really is something; a calm, mellow place where hundreds of digital worlds exist alongside of one another; light flickering through a cavernous room as man and machine find common purpose: to connect.


You can contact Kirk Hamilton, the author of this post, at kirk@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
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Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
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Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
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Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
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Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
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Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia
Illustration for article titled PAX After Hours: Behold the Screen-Fields of Freeplayvainia

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DISCUSSION

I keep telling myself that one of these days I'll get myself into BYOC at PAX, but the freeplay areas are nice. One thing that wasn't mentioned though is the Retro Freeplay Area. It's in a separate room this year, but it offers a whole bunch of retro stuff (mostly NES, but I also saw SNES, N64, Genesis and Saturn stuff available too.)