As soon as you walk into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center this week, you'll see dozens of costumes from well-known videogame characters: Katara and Aang from "Avatar: The Last Airbender," to the more ubiquitous, like the ones convention-goers Danielle Carlo and Alicia Fasciano chose.

“I'm Ronald McDonald and I have my Hamburglar here with me, and then we have little Happy Meals to give out to people,” Carlo said. “Would you like one?”

Three people in costumes pose together.
Denise Bartels cosplaying as Katara from "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Alicia Fasciano as the Hamburglar, and Danielle Carlo as Ronald McDonald.
Paris Alston GBH News

More than 100,000 video game enthusiasts are in Boston this week for PAX East. The four-day convention is a celebration of all things gaming culture with tournaments, demos, panels and performances.

Aside from surprises like Carlo and Fasciano's miniature happy meal, the massive expo hall features hundreds of exhibitors: booth after booth of games, merch and even some delicious floral brew coffee. There's a huge arena in the middle of the convention floor where gamers can compete on the big screen for all to see.

This year's convention features big names in the gaming world, like MatPat, creator of YouTube series The Game Theorists, and performances by musical artists like Pink Navel and Videri String Quartet.

The fun and games can be educational too. Curvin Huber, a professor of animation and visual effects at Lesley University, was at PAX for the third time with his students, who were showcasing games they've built.

“It gives them something to work towards, a goal, to present it to the general audience that we have here,” Huber said. “But even though this is mostly a consumer event, there are a lot of developers, art directors and people like that in the games industry that they can network with."

With so many industries using gaming technology right now, from film and television to the medical field, there are many places his students can use their skills outside of gaming, Huber said. But at PAX, they're showing their creativity.

Two men pose at a convention center booth.
Lesley University student Jake Anderson and Prof. Curvin Huber at PAX East.
Paris Alston GBH News

One group of students is demoing their game Aquxe, which simulates the craft known as aquascaping by allowing users to build their own aquariums.

“You're given an empty tank at the start of the game, and your job is to place items in the tank, adjust the sand and the structure to create some kind of nice ambient environment,” third-year student Tyler Ashbrook said. “It's a very simple game, very relaxing, and it was a hassle to build.”

Jake Anderson, who is also a junior at Lesley, came up with the concept. He said he was inspired by his love for his own pet fish.

“Over the summer, I had nothing to do, so I started designing my own fish tanks and I noticed there's a lot of art involved in that,” Anderson said. “You gotta look at the composition of your tank. You need to know what's right for your fish, what's not right for your fish, all while making it look beautiful.”

He said he also wanted to use the game to show people how to properly take care of their fish — the kind of educational purpose he'd like to see video games used for more often.

“There was actually just a great presentation here about someone using gaming as a way to educate people,” Anderson said. "You can pick up a book on aquascaping or how to keep fish, but it gets boring after a while. This is an interactive way to learn.”

Elsewhere at PAX, a game called "Obsolete Souls, Episode 0: Operation Haiti" is changing the faces seen on the video game screen.

It focuses on a fictional Haitian queen running around the island in search of her missing daughter. It was created by Central Mass. native Denzel Dauphine-Weatherspoon, who said he was looking for more representation in gaming.

“I want to see characters like me,” Dauphine-Weatherspoon said. “And I know other kids want to see characters like them, too, but also just bringing more Caribbean influence into the game space. Like, you look here, we have gamified versions of all these different Haitian locales. We have Haitian characters. We're translating the game into Haitian Creole, and we're going to do Haitian Creole voice acting.”

He said that culture, as well as this positive and powerful depiction of Haiti, is especially pertinent now.

“Haiti's not in a good spot right now, so anything people are going to see on the news, it looks crazy,” Dauphine-Weatherspoon said. “They're like, Haiti's insane. It's this crazy, wild, corrupt place. And I'm like, nah, man, Haiti's mad beautiful.”

The game is beautiful and colorful by design, he said.

“The characters are mad colorful,” he said. “This is a really beautiful place. You just got to actually take the time to look at it.”