Tens of thousands of gamers are descending on Boston this weekend for one of country's largest gaming conferences - the annual Penny Arcade Expo.
The weekend-long PAX East conference, which focuses on tabletop, videogame and PC gamers, kicks off Friday at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston. Last year it attracted about 70,000 people.
Billed as one of the largest gaming events in North America, PAX East features free play demos for games, panel discussions, concerts and scores of booths set up by independent gaming developers as well as international brands like 2K Games and XBox. And of course, there are the attendees who show up dressed in creative - and sometimes frightening - costumes.
For Jamie York, the owner of Game Underground, having a booth at PAX East goes without question.
"It's the most important weekend of the entire year for our business," York said of his Framingham store, which sells games and retro video games. "Basically we do two months worth of sales for our store in three days at the convention."
Some of the other features at the weekend event include a discussion on encouraging a healthy relationship with gaming titled "How Much is Too Much? Finding Balance in Gaming, Pursuits, and Obligations," a talk on teaching using video games and a session where attendees can pitch their card ideas to the popular game Cards Against Humanity.
York said that the convention has also benefitted the state's video game industry. He said it's given developers here the opportunity to more easily connect and have face-to-face meetings with big companies.
PAX East debuted in Boston in 2010 and quickly gained popularity. In 2012 organizers signed an agreement with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority that keeps the convention in Boston through 2023.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.