With less than a week until the doors of PAX are thrown wide, I thought it might be useful to share some of the things I've learned by attending for the last two years, in a handy and simple do/don't format. Actually, most of this stuff is applicable to any convention you attend. Print one out! Folds up and fits right in your pocket.
Wear comfortable shoes
. I can't stress this enough. During the convention, you're going to be on your feet a LOT. Whether you're standing in the concert hall , perusing the show floor or walking around downtown Seattle on a pub crawl, chances are pretty good your basic mode of transport is going to be the Shoelace Express. Do your feet a favor and wear some shoes that you've already broken in. There aren't too many maladies that can ruin fun faster than a blister.
Bring your portable system and a charger.
PAX is a digital wonderland, and if you ever wanted to play multiplayer on that obscure Japanese game you imported, this is probably your best chance to find someone else as crazy as you are. You can also let your Nintendogs
out to play, battle Pokemon
, or level the hell out of your pins in The World Ends With You.
be standing in a lot of lines, so take advantage of the time to get in a few games of Tetris DS
or Monster Hunter.
Just don't forget the charger, and make sure to power up every night.
Plan your day beforehand.
At any given time there are 5-7 events going on simultaneously. It's simply not possible to see and do everything. You may have to make some tough decisions, but that's where the program guide you get when you register is your best friend. There's a graphical version of the daily schedule
in the guide, so it's easy to circle what you want to do and refer to it regularly. And if something you thought you would like turns out to be less interesting than you thought, don't feel bad about leaving and doing something else for a while. The primary goal here is to have fun.
Plan on using plastic whenever possible.
Normally I wouldn't recommend this, as I feel it's better to have cash in hand when you want to purchase something. However, the ATM in the convention center ran out of cash daily last year, and there's a $3 fee every time you use the thing anyway. So long as you pay back the balance before the end of the month, it's much cheaper and more convenient to use your credit card for whatever you buy. This isn't to say you shouldn't carry some
cash, but plan on using it for food and gratuities, not souvenirs.
Speaking of food, that brings me to the 6-2-1 rule. PAX is a busy weekend, and it's easy to forget to take care of basic human necessities. During each convention day, you should do your best to get:
6 hours of sleep,
2 meals, and
You can try mixing up the ratio, for example getting two hours of sleep and eating six meals, or getting one hour of sleep, taking six showers, and eating a single meal. This has been attempted in the past, and is not advisable.
Bring a camera.
Cosplay pictures, upcoming games, some freak wearing a blue shell hat... You won't be able to post pictures on your blog if you don't have it with you. Try to keep it as accessible as possible (shoulder/neck strap, man bag etc.) so you don't miss capturing something epic.
Last but not least, Wear deodorant.
There will be more than 50,000 people visiting Arcadia over the holiday weekend, which means there will be, at a conservative estimate, 100,000 armpits. Even though you are certain that your sweat glands release the scent of fresh-baked pastries, please apply deodorant anyway. Everyone around you will show their appreciation by not gagging, turning white, or passing out.
Make an ass of yourself.
The PAX rules are written on your badge, and they aren't hard to follow. Breaking them reflects poorly not only on yourself but on anyone you're with... like, say, a certain group of fun-loving bloggers.
Bring home consoles.
I tried to do this last year and found out the hard way that most hotels lock out the inputs on their T.V.s specifically to block this sort of thing. Sure, it's a dick move on their part, but learn from my mistake and save yourself the hassle of shipping a console to yourself at your hotel or trying to take it through airport security.
Spend so much time at the convention that you miss out on meeting other people from Destructoid.
I did this last year and I've been regretting it ever since. Last year I came up with a big group of friends and spent most of my time hanging out with them. I don't regret that, but only after did I think to myself, "Hey. I see these guys all the time. I just missed an opportunity to hang out with people I won't see for at least another year." If you're going, you really have no excuse not to check out the PAX meetup group's Cblog
at the very least.
Forget to leave room in your bags for souvenirs.
It's easy to get carried away, and there's a few things at PAX you can't find this side of Akihabara. You'll also end up with quite a bit of swag, some of it posters and other things that may not travel well. There's a Kinko's in the lower level of the convention center that can help with shipping it back home if that's what it comes down to... but it's easier just to plan ahead and leave some room in your suitcase.
Be rude to the speakers/other guests.
If you need to leave a panel/movie/whatever, try to do so without disrupting other attendees. Don't slam the door on the way out, and wait until you're outside to start talking. This is just common courtesy, but unfortunately that seems to be less and less common every year.
Miss the next PAX.
While this may be the last wholly unifying game show in Seattle, the fact that PAX is becoming a bi-yearly event means there's less excuse than ever to miss one. You will have to make sacrifices in time, money, and perhaps favors owed, but I can attest with no uncertainty that it's entirely worth it.