Penny Arcade Expo: Tips for the PAX'er

ZedCavalryZedCavalry I swear, I'm not that immature.Melbourne, AustraliaRegistered User regular
Hey all!

In 200 odd days, another PAX Australia is going to dawn upon us, and seeing as the event is going to be bigger than last year's, we're going to have a buttload of new PAX attendees. I just thought it might be fun/useful to compile a list of tips which may apply to everyone, and may not be covered on the FAQ. In saying that, please do visit the FAQ stickied at the top of the "PAX Australia" threads for some information coming from the guys who run the damn thing, or are at least experienced enough to know what they are talking about.

In saying that, I have I few tips which I personally found to be lifesavers last year:

1. Bring bottles of water from home.
Alright, water is a thing that we need in order to... well, live, so it's pretty important to have some of the stuff available to you. Now, as with any convention where you have a large amount of people, the prices for basic commodities such as water get jacked up a little bit, so unless you're willing to down around about $20 for three bottles of water, just bring a few bottles yourself, and save yourself some money for merch on the floor.

2. Wear comfortable shoes.
There isn't going to be many places to sit and rest - that's pretty much guaranteed. I'm sure that there will be a few places, but they will always be occupied by one of the many thousands of people in the same venue as you. Also, there's lines. Lots and lots of lines to stand in. So just make sure than when you leave in the morning, you put on your magical cloud insulated hover shoes to walk around in for the day, or you're going to have a day of painful feet.

3. If you really want to see something, line up early!
Just in case I forgot to mention it, there's probably going to be a lot of people at PAX, and if you have a panel that you really want to see, then line up in advance for it. I'm not talking 10-15 minutes early here - I'm talking maybe an hour or so early. You're going to a place where there's probably people who want to see what you want to see, so it's better to get to line early, or risk being disappointed by a sad whiteboard proclaiming the end of the line without you in it.

4. At the start of the day, bring a relatively roomy bag.
You're going to buy stuff. It doesn't matter what you say, or how "tight" your budget is - you're going to buy stuff, and you do not need to be constantly holding said items in your hand for the whole day. At the beginning of the day, you'll have a relatively empty backpack of some sort, which will progressively get fuller as you spot the next piece of merch to buy. Trust me, this will be the best decision you've made all day. I made the mistake of bringing a bag packed with stuff on the first day, so I ended up asking the Popcultcha booth for an extra box (which they gladly gave me) to lug stuff around in. It was not comfortable. Do not make that mistake.

5. In terms of swag/freebies, take stuff that you want, and don't just take it because it's free.
Remeber when I said that your bag was gonna get full? Well, make sure it isn't full of crap that you don't want, all because it was free. Believe it or not, you are allowed to politely refuse any swag or freebies offered to you on the show floor. If you insist of being a swag-hunter, then make sure you have an extra large bag, but generally, take stuff that you want, or stuff that you're interested in, and don't fill your bag with those K-On! plushies that were being offered to you when you have no idea what K-On! is.

6. If possible, go with a group! It's more fun that way!
At last year's PAX Aus, I made the trip by myself, and although I had loads of fun, it's safe to say that it would have been more fun with a group. Gather a group of friends together, or, ask around on the forums for some people you can meet up with! You'll be surrounded by like-minded people, so if you do make the trek alone, then talking to people and just interacting in general will make PAX a better experience for you. Although I admit that I was the creeper who would stand alone with a camera in large crowds last year. Just go with a group, whether it's one you organised with friends, or a random group of PAX'ers in the same boat as you.

Alright, that's all I've got so far. If you have any tips of your own, feel free to post them and I'll edit them into the main post! If you have any questions, please got to the aforementioned FAQ stickied at the top of the "PAX Australia" section of the forums.


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    BekerBeker Child's Play Program Director SeattleRegistered User, Penny Arcade Staff regular
    7. Make a plan, but don't feel you have to stick to the plan.
    Making a plan is important to maximize your experience. Browse the online schedule when it comes out, If you are a fan of someone who will be there, hit up their social sites to find out what they are doing, any after parties, raffles, etc. But as important as a plan is, remember that it will not survive contact with PAX. As soon as you enter those doors your plan will begin to flex and change as you find distracting shiney's, panels you didn't realize were happenings, new friends that are going to this booth to see this demo "that is amazing and you need to see it now", etc.

    8. You will NOT see everything.
    The event is specifically designed this way. Its not mean, its simply a requirement for managing this many people in this small a space. You will sometimes have to make tough choices between 2 or 3 things that you really want to see at a time. My advice is to think about what you really don't need to see live, a lot of this content will be filmed by fans or news media and can be watched afterwards. WIll there be a benefit to being there in person, chance for an autograph, giveaway, pure visceral fan experience?

    9. Eat at least one sit down meal a day.
    It's important to stay hydrated, but its also important to ingest some solid foods. Yes there is always a ton of amazing stuff going on, but take the time at least once in the day to sit down, look over the program, browse the flyers and books and swag you acquired, talk about what you saw with some friends, review your original plan and how it will get modified, etc. It will let you re-engage with more energy and a more focused plan.

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    zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    There's plenty of it that is specific to PAX East, but this thread about first time PAXing at PAX East is great for a lot of general con advice.

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    HeadhunterHeadhunter Registered User regular
    I've suggested this elsewhere, but it is critical: lots of people + small space + hot temperatures = very easy to get sick. Take any and all precautions you have to, I've adapted 3 simple rules:
    • Shower as often as possible, I try for at least 2x a day even when the convention centre is mad far
    • Get a lot of vitamins into your system, I drink tons of orange juice for East and as much of the specially concocted replenishment drinks as possible from The Juicy Cafe for Prime
    • Wash your hands often, you can also carry a little bottle of sanitizer with you (don't rely on the dispensers, they're constantly empty)

    I've been extremely sick after both an East and a Prime before (once for 2-3 months), but the above have kept me from contracting the dreaded PAX Pox for the last couple of years. Better safe than sorry!

    "Perception is reality." -unknown
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    KwaizyKwaizy PAX AUS Enforcer Manager CanberraRegistered User regular
    To add to the keeping healthy, you can also minimize human - human contact while still showing the love in 2 ways.
    - 1. The Iron Guard. Cross your forearms over your chest. This symbolizes a hug and reduces the risk of PAX POX. It's very important to do this to panelists, band member, PA staff, as they have a lot of people wanting to touch them.
    - 2. The elbow Hi 5. It's a Hi 5, but with your elbows! You don't eat with your elbows, so you stay healthy, plus to looks and feels rad when you pull it off flawlessly.

    Say it with flowers, Send a Triffid.
    Sanity is a slippery slope, and I'm wearing Teflon shoes.
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