The inaugural Penny Arcade Expo was a two-day event held on August 28 and 29, 2004 in Bellevue, Washington. It was organized by the authors of the Penny Arcade webcomic. The event drew about 3000 attendees. PAX 2005 and PAX 2006 were held at the same convention center in Bellevue. The attendance reached 9000 in 2005 and 19,000 in 2006.
By 2007, the festival had outgrown the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, and moved to another venue, the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. In 2009, the attendance of PAX grew to 60,750.
In 2010, the organizers held the first PAX convention on the East Coast. The inaugural PAX East was held in Boston, Massachusetts. The original event was renamed to PAX Prime to avoid confusion. In 2011, a special event for game developers and publishers named PAX Dev was held in Seattle two days before PAX Prime. In 2013, the PAX family welcomed PAX Australia held in Melbourne. PAX South has been held in San Antonio, Texas since 2015. In 2016, PAX Prime was renamed to PAX West.
PAX West is the largest gaming convention in North America and one of the largest events of its kind in the world. Its programming includes exhibitor booths from major and independent game developers and publishers, video game freeplay areas, table top game tournaments, panels on industry-related topics, a LAN party, speeches from industry insiders, and concerts. Live music is one of the core pillars to the show, PAX has played a crucial role in popularizing the nerdcore genre.
One of the main events at each PAX convention is PAX Omegathon, a large-scale game tournament. The four-day elimination tournament features randomly selected attendees who compete in games from all categories (PC, console, tabletop, arcade). It culminates in a live championship match on the main stage that takes place during the closing ceremony. Past games for the final round have included Halo 3, Skee ball and Tetris.
Photo by Kiko Villasenor, west.paxsite.com