A few years ago, our writer Emac wrote a Survival Guide for NYCC. While PAX East isn’t exactly the same con by any means, a lot of what she wrote about can be translated to what I experienced at one of the largest video game conventions in the world. Let me preface all this by saying it was my first time at PAX. In the past, The Myrrick, has been our liaison to this indie paradise; but this year she had to take a hiatus and I stepped in. Though we had talked about what to expect from the con, I don’t think anybody could have truly prepared me for what I was about to take on. This was Nerdvana in every sense of the term.
In case you have no idea just what PAX is, the best way to explain it is everything video, card, and tabletop games. Unlike a comic book convention or what we now refer to them as ‘pop culture con’ where you are mostly just SEEING things, PAX is a very hands-on experience. All of the games are meant to be played, which brings me to my first piece of advice.
Plan on being there a while
I’d say this was what kicked my arse the most. I knew that my eyes would behold beauties the likes of which I’ve never seen, that was a given. What I hadn’t truly planned on was just how interactive everything would be. Literally every booth held a tangible item be it a controller, cards, dice, etc. You could just cost by and only look at things, but where’s the fun in that? PAX is meant to be TOUCHED and therefore you’re going to spend a lot of time just playing games. You’re also going to be spending a lot of time waiting in line, waiting to play games as well; but more on that in a minute.
Honestly, this was probably one of the best conventions I’ve been to as far as food choices. There was a food court and multiple stands holding items to eat. It was really pretty awesome. Yet, it’s always a smart idea to make sure that while you’re amongst the hustle and bustle, that you drink some water from time-to-time. Yes, you’ll be able to sip on a BAWLS or a thousand other sugary drinks meant to keep you gaming well into the night; but those are never really going to help you out while traversing the floor.
Have a Plan
While PAX isn’t the size of a New York or San Diego Comic Con, it’s still pretty freaking big. Make sure you really take the time to figure out just what you want to see and try out. This goes up to my above point about waiting in line. It’s going to happen, a lot. Make sure that you take your handy map and head to that spot. Likely you’re going to be waiting there for some time before you touch a game; and while you’re sipping back on that H20, you can go on to my next tip.
Talk to People
Cons are one of the best places in the world to meet other people who are into the exact same things that you are. You think you’re the only person who knows that random indie game that all of your other friends make fun of you for playing? I guarantee that at least 20 other people are wearing a t-shirt of the exact same game. PAX is a wonderful place to truly let your ‘geek flag fly’ and celebrate the games that you love. Not only should you be talking to the people around you, you should also be chatting with the creators. You have to remember that most of them are just like you, a fan of the genre. They’re whole reason for attending the convention is to get you excited about their game as much as they are. I’ve never seen a better display of independent creatives at a con outside of an Artist Alley. It was fantastic to connect with the publishers that we cover on DFAT and Brewelist face-to-face. Truly inspiring. Talk to them, they won’t bite!
This one should come as a no-brainer but I think its worth saying. Being surrounded by literal thousands of people, not being sure where to even start; well it can all be pretty overwhelming. Yes, you’re in a paradise of sights and sounds, but you also gotta take the time to look around, breathe, and just have a good time. PAX is one of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever attended and made me yearn to return for the next year. I highly recommend going for as long as you can. One day is just not enough to take it all in. I had an absolute blast and will be happy covering it for DFAT for years to come!