PAX Prime 2011 Lessons
- Buy passes / book hotel early! The slacker that I am had an opportunity to buy my pass when they went on sale but put it off for no real reason. Two days later, they were sold out. It was pure luck that I was able to attend this year. Not only that, but naturally all hotels were booked solid that weekend, and I narrowly managed to find a room. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked out. Do not delay in getting these two vital things taken care of! Also, at the very least, try to give yourself the Thursday before and the Monday after for traveling, it’s a bummer coming in late and leaving early.
- Don’t try to do everything. You can’t. There is so much to do at PAX and there is no possible way that you’ll be able to do it all. You probably won’t be able to do everything that you want to as well. But you know what? That’s alright, because whatever you do end up doing, will be a blast.
- Find 1-2 things you absolutely must do each day, then do it. Lines are unavoidable and the longer you take to get into that line, the more it will grow. Look a the schedule and figure out what you want to do, then make that your priority for the day. Whether that be attending a certain panel, obtaining that rare piece of swag, or playing that epic demo, make sure to actually do it. My “must do” for my only full day in the expo hall was Mass Effect 3. I waited 30 minutes in line, got a cool medal, and am now even more excited for the game; I’m very glad I did it. If I waited until Sunday to do it, the wait was a whopping 5 hours long. If you really are dedicated, you could wait that long, but then you’d miss out on so much more.
- Be flexible / don’t overplan. This is in the same vein as the previous two. The schedule is packed full of things going on all day, not only that, but they’re going on all over the place. So it’s very tempting to plan out your day, figure out where you’re going, what to attend, coordinate when meals are, etc. The thing is, there are so many spontaneous things that go on as well, and you may be surprised how fun they are. Had I went straight for food like I had planed on Saturday afternoon, I wouldn’t have met Felicia Day and Jonathan Coulton. Or if I had left to sleep instead of wander around late night, I wouldn’t know how awesome Zombie Mosh is.
- Everyone is your friend, they just don’t know you yet. The PAX community is very open and friendly, don’t be scared to strike up a conversation with people there. Ask that guy in line who he’s cosplaying as. See if you can join that group in whatever game they’re playing. Comment on whatever cool thing you see around you. Just make small conversation. Nearly everyone there are gamers at heart, so you automatically have something in common.
- Snacks and water bottles help. A lot. I bought a few boxes of snacks (Cheese Its, Cliff Bars, M&Ms, etc) at a supermarket and packed my awesome water Bobble in my bag. They were great for holding me over until meals. Drinking lots of water was also good for the large amount of walking I did. If you’re willing to share your snacks, they will make you very popular in lines too!
- Bring a poster tube. I ended with quite a few posters from booths, all of them preserved thanks to a poster tube. They’re not that big of a hassle to carry around with you either.
- Check out indie games and the PAX 10. The developers are usually the ones showing off the game so they are very passionate and excited to talk to you about them. Plus, there’s like no wait either. When I played Retro/Grade, I had a guy narrating for me, giving me advice, encouraging me, and really happy to see me enjoy the game. In contrast, the Mass Effect 3 crew couldn’t really help me figure out how to do cool omniblade finishes or lead me to the right area for the next scene to trigger. Both were enjoyable experiences, but quite different.
- Do not miss Paul And Storm. I only knew of one song (Opening Band) thanks to Rock Band, and I was definitely only there to see Jonathan Coulton. But man these guys blew me away; they are absolutely hilarious. I am definitely making it a point to see them again!
- HAVE FUN! Don’t forget why you’re at PAX; to have fun! Don’t let anything get in the way of that!
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