Players at the PAX South convention in San Antonio play “Dungeon Defenders 2″ from Trendy Entertainment on Saturday, Jan. 24. The indie game was one of dozens on offer to play at the three-day event. Credit: Omar L. Gallaga / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In this week’s Digital Savant column, I talk about the gigantic conference for gamers, PAX South, that landed in San Antonio over the weekend and which will likely be around for years to come based on its success. You may have seen me post about it over the weekend with some photos and updates, but the column is a deeper dive into why the event is significant for gamers.

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

As noted by Holkins and Krahulik in their Q&As, there are a few generational shifts happening in gaming that were well-represented at PAX South. Younger gamers are making celebrities out of YouTube and Twitch network players, preferring at times to watch others preview or play games than to pick up a controller themselves. The huge crowds around the Twitch booth, where live broadcasts were streaming directly all weekend, were a testament to its popularity. At one point, Krahulik noted, they were drawing a smaller crowd at their own autograph signing than next-generation gaming icons such as Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach, a wildly popular YouTube video star.

Gaming has also gotten more mainstream and more inclusive. PAX South had a dedicated diversity lounge, and it appeared to draw many more women than a typical tech or gaming conference. Panel programming included one featuring five women who work in human resources at Austin game companies including BioWare, Gameloft, Battlecry Studios, Arkane Studios and Certain Affinity. They spoke about the slow but steady progression toward getting more women and minorities into the games industry and retaining them as they grow into leadership positions at these studios.

You can read the full column here. And check out the great video from Efren Salinas that goes with the story. Oh, and here’s a comic that the Penny Arcade crew drew live on stage during the event. It’s pretty Texas.