Four quick tips for getting the most out of PAX (and making it home alive)
[Pictured: a poor soul who barely made it out alive, holding the avatars of those who couldn't make it at all.]
PAX is wonderful. But it's also a downright daunting experience for newcomers and veterans alike. I don't know a single person who just "goes to PAX." It requires planning. It causes stress. For example, I got my haircut last week, and the haircut lady told me I should look into special shampoo for thinning hair. Because of PAX!
OK, so maybe that's just because I'm 31 and almost dead, but still. This shit is stressful. Luckily, I've been through this a couple times now, and I've got a couple quick tips for getting the most bang for your buck.
[Special thanks to Dtoider Qalamari for inspiring this guide. Also, please enjoy the attached gallery, featuring some photos of the avatars I adopted last year: T3HM0RR0W, PhilKenSebben, ninjapresident, and StriderHoang!]
This guy's happy because his feet don't hurt.
Expect to be on your feet for at least 32 hours while at PAX. No, that's not a typo. Thirty-two. Whether you're standing (in line) or walking (between lines), you're going to spend an average of about eight hours upright for each of the four days on the convention floor, where the seating is sparse and never nearby. And that's not even taking into account all the after-parties and walking to and from the convention center every day. ¡Ay, caramba!
So what's a gamer to do? Wear comfortable shoes, ya dork! This goes for you too, cosplayers (assuming the integrity of your costume allows for it). Tennis shoes, sneakers -- pick something you've already broken in to maximize your comfort and minimize the pain and blisters. You'll thank me, I promise!
There's certainly value to be found in planning your day ahead of time. If you know you want to go to a specific panel, by all means coordinate your day around it and adjust accordingly. Ditto for any specific games you want to see, both hands-on and -off.
But whatever you do, don't spend the whole goddamn weekend staring down at a map or app! Explore a little -- you never know what you might find! For instance, last year my buddy Qalamari was just wandering around with some friends when they stumbled upon an envelope lying on the ground... an envelope that led to a weekend-long scavenger hunt spanning the entirety of PAX! Hearing him recount the story to me on Sunday night after all was said and done, I lamented the fact that I didn't spend more time in the nooks and crannies of the show floor myself; who knows what fun things I may have missed out on by only treading on the beaten path!
Make money money.
Cash is king. Whether you're shopping for swag on the show floor, grabbing a quick bite between booths or panels, or hitting up a bar after hours, you'll always want to have cash in hand versus a credit or debit card. It's quicker, more reliable (you never know if a booth will take plastic), and you'll be the best friend of every bartender and server you meet. Let me reiterate: cash is king!
Please do keep in mind that the ATMs at the convention center are prone to emptying on a daily basis, so if you're counting on them to dispense your Benjamins, you'd best get there early. Even still, in my experience, it's worth the trouble!
"Psst. I can smell you."
Please dear god take a shower every day. You know how I said this was a survival guide? Yeah, that's because if you show up smelling like you crawled out of a sewer and I'm stuck in line behind you I will literally destroy you.
And that's all there is to it! Got any survival tips of your own? Share with the class! If you have any trouble recalling any of these tips, just remember: S-E-C-S. Hey, that rhymes with sex!
That totally wasn't planned.
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