The PAX Survival Guide

So you’re going to PAX, eh? You thought ahead, snagged your passes, and are finally on your way to one of the biggest gaming of the year. Congratulations! Of course, getting there is just the beginning. Next you’ll face the real challenge: making sure that you get to do everything you want to do! Fear not, eager PAX attendee! I’ve attended a few PAX shows in the past and have learned a few useful tidbits along the way. Tidbits I’m going to share with you right here and now. Whether this is your first time going or your fifth, chances are these simple tips will help you out (even if they’re just reminders). 

1). Get There Early

Seriously. Whether it’s the line to get into the convention hall itself or the line for a panel you want to attend, you’re gonna want to get there early. Due to the sheer amount of people at the convention, being able to just walk up to a game or into a panel is extremely rare. Plan on being in line at least one hour early. Sometimes it’s overkill. Other times it’s not early enough. Most of the time though, getting there an hour early will be enough to get you into all of your events and panels.

2). Use the Bathroom beforehand

Unless you’re lucky enough to be attending with a friend, there’s usually no getting your spot back once you leave the line. Get your business taken care of before getting in line.

3). Bring Something To Do

It doesn’t matter if you’re there for the game demos or the panels. If you’re at PAX, then you going to be spending a lot of time waiting in line. Make sure you’ve got a couple of charged devices or a book to keep yourself from dying of boredom.

4). Make a Bee-Line to the Game You Want to See the Most

Day One. Bright and Early. First thing on your list. Whatever game you most want to see at PAX, get there immediately. Lines for games form fast at PAX. And once they’re formed, they’re not going to get any smaller. You best chance to play your game of choice is to get there in the opening minutes of the first day before everyone figures out where everything is. After that, it’s only going to get harder. Sidenote: studying the expo hall map beforehand makes doing this a lot easier.

5). Don’t Eat at the Convention Center

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with eating at the venue, it’s just that it’s kind of a waste of time and money. All the food available in the convention hall is just going to be the same stuff you could get anywhere else. The only difference is that you’ll have to wait forever and pay more than you’re comfortable with in order to get it. You’re better off leaving the convention center and walking to the local restaurants. This is especially true at PAX West, where all kind of awesome food is only a few blocks away. Believe me, both you and your wallet will be happier if you get your food elsewhere!

6). Try New Things

You might be at PAX for a few specific things and that’s it. You might be perfectly happy with those things, and that’s absolutely awesome. However, PAX is so much more than an expo hall and some panels. Tournaments, new card games, comedy shows, arcade games, the classic game hall, concerts, and so on. These are just some of the other things going on, and you’d be surprised by just how much fun there is to be had with them. You don’t need to sacrifice the things you already enjoy, but you definitely won’t regret staying open to some of the other things PAX has to offer. I guarantee it!

7). Make Some PAX Friends!

Talking to new people might be difficult for you, or it could be the opposite. Either way, there’s no better place to make some new gaming buddies than PAX! It’s seriously perfect! You don’t even have to think of an ice-breaker! “What have you been playing lately?” Boom. Conversation started! If you’re at PAX, then you’re the type of person that loves video games and who probably love talking about them just as much. Guess what, most everyone else who’s there is the same way. So go for it! If nothing else, it’ll make your time waiting in line that much more enjoyable.

PAX is always a blast for anyone who enjoys games, but it does take a trip or two to learn how to maximize your fun. Maybe these tips will help or maybe you already knew it all. Either way, here’s hoping that your next PAX experience will be the best one yet!

Have you been to a PAX and have some tips to share? If you haven’t been, are there any questions you’d like to ask?

Lede image captured by Hatmonster @ PAX Prime 2015