Video Game Convention as an Organizing System

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Where does a video game convention such as the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) belong in the classification of library, museum, or archive? One might call it a library because that it houses thousands of games under one roof, and attendees can borrow many of the games to try out by themselves or with friends. Another might label it a museum, because within the PAX event, there are many exhibits that showcase the history of the video game industry that educate as well as entertain. The classifications fall short when it comes to labeling the PAX convention an archive however, as an archive is primarily concerned with preserving the original copies of artifacts and its origins. The PAX convention is less concerned with matters such as provenance.

At first blush, a video game convention may not appear to hold much weight as an organizing system, but the levels of organization are in fact multi-faceted. The sheer number of exhibits that showcase the games and the massively large crowds that attend the convention create a dire need for a well thought out organizing system.

Not only do the event planners have to determine where the exhibits will be located in a limited space, but they also have to organize the pathways in which people can navigate through the convention hall and view the exhibits. Just like in a museum, if the exhibits are not displayed properly, and if the attendees can’t navigate to them, then the primary organizing purposes of entertaining and educating have failed.

Because of this seemingly logistical nightmare, the event planners of PAX have to think carefully about every organizational aspect well in advance of the 3-day convention. As any good event planner understands, the success of an event lies in how well organized the pre-planning was, along with how the unforeseen complications that occur during the event are handled. As evidenced by the PAX convention’s growing attendance numbers and sold out tickets year after year, they clearly have figured out an excellent organizing system for their design space.