If I was going to attend only one convention this year, I decided it would be Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Washington. PAX did not disappoint. It is truly a nerd prom of epic proportions. There were giant displays from all the big publishers, video game tournaments, table-top games, and above all, thousands of fellow gamers to enjoy it all with. That being said, it’s a big convention. If you’re not careful, you could be swept a way in a tide of bodies smelling of old sweat and despair. Here are a few ways to make your PAX experience less zombie apocalypse and more geek apocalypse…whatever the hell that is.
1. Forget Trying To Play Triple-A Titles
Unless you’re a fan of standing in line for 5 hours or more, steer clear of the larger publisher booths. Sure, you get to play Skyrim, but you’re giving up at least a quarter of all your available expo hall time to do it. My friends were only able to play Mass Effect 3 through some drunken blackmail. Just enjoy all the new gameplay videos on the big plasma screens and check out the stuff at the indie booths, which are frankly a lot more interesting.
2. Bring Your Own Food
When dinner time rolls around at PAX, there will not be a restaurant, cafe, convenience store or hot dog cart without a line winding around the block. Make a stop at Costco on the way down to pick up some non-perishables and guard that stockpile like Mad Max. However if you’re like me and you didn’t pack enough, you can hit up the bakery desk at the Cheesecake Factory. The lineup for their restaurant hides a tasty salvation from the lunch rush mobs
3. Do Not Look For Swag, The Swag Will Find You.
It’s easy to get antsy about swag when you arrive in the afternoon and the only program schedule you could find was sticking out of the trash. Fear not. PAX turns Seattle into Tokyo for the weekend. The companies attending are desperate to get your attention and get you telling everyone else about them. You can get swag for playtesting, standing in line, or really pathetic puppy-dog looks. Swag is everywhere.
4. Trust The Enforcers
With over 85,000 attendees, there was no part of the convention center that wasn’t absolutely choked with people. If it weren’t for the professional management and the bravery of their volunteer enforcers, the attendees would have resorted to cannibalism within hours. As a veteran con-goer, I’m more used to a more “populist” form of crowd control. This generally means volunteer management, which means the inmates are running the asylum. Lines are hours long, and they are separated and mooshed together haphazardly in a futile attempt to make them go faster. PAX has none of that crap. They cap their attendance, and their staff is well versed in the art of mob-mancy. So, relax. They will get you to your panel…eventually.
5. Able-Bodied Attendees Seen Taking The Elevator To The 2nd Floor Of The Sheraton Hotel Will Be Punished Through Summary Execution.
The Sheraton was kind enough to give their upper floors to PAX attendees, which sounds nice. There’s also an elevator that skips floors 3-20. Also nice. What’s not nice is when you’re trying to make it back to your hotel room while drunk, hung-over, or sleep deprived and you think you’re going all the way up but SCREEEECH!! Not so fast, Sunshine. Someone was too lazy to take the escalator that was literally 10 FEET OVER from where I just became 10% more nauseous. If you are disabled and can’t take the escalator, I understand, but for the rest of you, show some consideration, okay?