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To all PAX attendees bringing children....

jdixon1972jdixon1972 Registered User regular
Hello all,

We adopted two children last year (Brothers ages 9 and 11) that are huge gaming fanatics. So, in either my infinite wisdom or delusion, I got all of us PAX East tickets for this year. Now, don't get me wrong. I've been to every PAX East so far, and I pretty much know the lay of the land. Throwing children into the mix, however, has got me questioning everything.

Now, I have a few questions that I hope others who are bringing kids around this age can help me with. 1) Was I suicidal for even thinking about bringing them? 2) If the answer to #1 is no, then what should my game plan be to keep them safe, entertained, and keep me from wanting to shoot myself :) 3) I know certain things have age restrictions, and PAX has always been promoted as family friendly, but I've been to certain panels and things before that can get a little risqué. Should I be worried? 4) I know that I should factor in rest times, but I'm not staying at the Westin this year (Omni Parker) so we don't have the convenience of quickly getting back to the room. Should the handheld lounge be the best rest stop, or are there other locations too? 5) What would be the best meeting spot if we get separated and should I consider getting two way radios? 6) Whats the best places for food for kids in the area? When it was just me, I didn't mind hitting the Wicked Good place for a small snack every day, but my kids are like food vacuums, and I could easily spend way too much money there for them. 7) Finally (I know, probably way too many questions), they've never been to an event this size before. I've shown them previous hand books and pictures from other PAX Easts. I've told them about all the companies that may be there and about waiting in lines and dealing with crowds. I even had the opportunity to get them into the BCEC to look around (there was a car show there this past weekend that we went to) so they have some idea of the layout of them. Is there anything else that I can do?

Thanks for any help you can give me or any suggestions to stuff I haven't thought of....

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    SkrepoSkrepo Registered User regular
    I can't speak about older kids too much, but I have brought my daughter year since she was 2.

    1) Nope. It's the best watching them see all this stuff and people.
    2) Listen to what they want to do, but plan some time so that you can go see some of the stuff you might be interested in. I go by myself on Friday to check things out and get a feel for the floor so I know where to avoid bottlenecks. The past few years all my daughter wanted to do was hang out in the Handheld lounge.
    3) This is up to your style of parenting. Swears will be heard almost everywhere.
    4) Handheld lounge is a great rest area. There are a few other spot though that are quieter and less traveled. The top floor(not the main stage) is usually empty and a nice place to chill if you want to get away from people.
    5) I would suggest the main entrance(inside) as a meeting point. I've never been one for two way radios, but I've been thinking of just getting a cheap cellphone and putting just my number in there incase I get split up from my daughter.
    6) I've packed snacks and carry a water bottle with us which gets us to lunch. I would check the food thread for more local options that would be better for feeding a small army of 2.
    7) I would do another quick walk around once you get there. The biggest area of concern for me is the show floor. I've been lucky that she's been small enough the past years that if it got too hairy I would just toss her on my shoulders.

    But the biggest thing is to just have fun, don't worry too much. I don't think I've ever had a bad experience a PAX with my daughter with other attendees.

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    BekerBeker Child's Play Program Director SeattleRegistered User, Penny Arcade Staff regular
    Show them a red shirted enforcer and tell them if they get seperated to find one if them. They will bring them to the Information Desk at the north lobby. Crowds are big and it happens, but with preparation you can be reunited quickly.

    -Beker/Erick
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    UnstaUnsta Fredericton, NBRegistered User regular
    We tried 2-way FRS radios one year, too much other stuff going on to really be useful at any distance combined with the concrete structure. I'd go for the cell phone route if you need a communication method.

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    ClannMorganClannMorgan Registered User regular
    Congratulations on the newest additions to your family!

    We've taken our nephew each time we've gone...he is now 15. The first PAX we were always together and tried to find things that we were all interested in seeing, ie panels, free play room, etc. but we quickly realized that this wasn't the best plan. The second and 3rd year we had him bring a friend, as there was only so much haning out with us he or we could stand...this has worked best...he always has to have his cell phone on him and on ring, we check in every hour with each other and had set times to meet up for lunch, concerts, etc.

    As far as food goes...boys are food vacuums...I ALWAYS pack tons of snacks, water and drinks for them...they carry them and if they run out I always carry some as backup. So much cheaper than getting snacks from BCEC vendors - buying lunch onsite can be expensive, if we have time we go off site, but that has only happened once, so be prepared to pay $$$ for lunch...and get to the lunch area early, it's a madhouse at lunchtime!

    PAX is family friendly, and I've never had an issue with going to panels with him, or any inappropriate or risqué language, he's heard much worse when he plays online.

    We really enjoy attending with our nephew and his friend and it wouldn't be the same without them there. We hope you all have a great time, again congrats!

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    caerulean_bluecaerulean_blue Registered User regular
    I found the handheld lounge always to be very crowded. On the upper floor there are some quieter areas to be found but not necessarily as comfortable sitting. Last year a Neuro, a vendor of some interesting soft drinks, had a lounge space in one of the rooms. Nice quiet area to sit and they were giving away samples of their drinks.

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    DanQDanQ Registered User regular
    the handheld lounge is very crowded, at least it was last year, it was really hard to move through. Best bet is to just find a seat at the end of a hallway. It's pretty quiet if you walk all the way to the end.

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    jdixon1972jdixon1972 Registered User regular
    You make a good point about the handheld lounge. It didn't bother me much but the crowds could be a problem For the kids. You have to remember, though, that last year the entrance to ACAM was right in the middle of handheld. Now with ACAM not being there this year (trust me, though, I do wish they were coming) I'm hoping that maybe the lounge can be put in a less trafficked area.

    ClannMorgan, you make a great point about the snack issue. They will both be bringing backpacks, so snacks WILL be bought beforehand :) One of my friends suggested that I also by them each those small usb rechargers. I don't want to deal with the 'My phone or 3ds just died' gripe, hehe.

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    ClannMorganClannMorgan Registered User regular
    There are plenty of outlets to use, I've never seen a need to bring a specialty charger...just the regular charger will do. I usually just charge up when I'm taking a break.

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    mpurekampureka Registered User regular
    Wasn't there a designated "quiet room"/"safe space" sort of thing last year? While I don't think the intent was for children, per se, I think it was generally open to anyone who needed a quiet place to "cool down" for a bit. That said, generally if you go all the way up to the top floor, there are plenty of places where you can be relatively away from the madness.

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    ltgruntltgrunt Registered User regular
    mpureka - I believe the quiet relaxation area was the Take That room, which was also volunteer-staffed by mental health professionals (or something along those lines). I didn't get to stop by last year, but I heard great things about it from people who did.

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    jdixon1972jdixon1972 Registered User regular
    Wow, Itgrunt, I never knew about that room! I could have used that room during previous PAXs. I really hope they have it this year.

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    purevalpureval Somersworth, NH Registered User regular
    One thing that we do for our kids (ages 21/2 and 8) is to cut a small hole into a hard plastic top loader (thing they put baseball cards and what not in). Inside of it stick a picture of yourself with your name and cell phone number. We put these on a lanyard and each kid wears one around their neck. If they ever get separated they have something they can easily show enoforcers so you can be contacted.

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    JasujoJasujo New York, USARegistered User regular
    1) My husband and I have gone to each PAX East, except for the first one. We've brought our girls the last two times and they had a lot of fun. Last year, they were ages 11, 12, 14, and 16. They even brought a friend and everyone had a blast! :)

    2) Basically, just see what they want to do. You can go over the schedule with them at home and see if there's anything particular they'd like to attend. Make sure to get the Guidebook app for your phone. We always pick things, but end up doing other things when we get there because everything's so distracting. haha Also, the boardgame section is open later than the video game section in the Exhibition Hall, so go through the video game section first.

    3) There is swearing here and there. I guess it depends on what you want them to hear. Although, I'd rather they didn't hear it, my girls hear it on YouTube and such, so it's not a super big deal for us. Our biggest problem with the panels is getting the children to sit through them. They can mess around on their phones or dses, if they get bored, though. If there's swearing and it gets a bit too much, you can bring something for them to play with and some earbuds. You can go through the whole convention and not do panels and still have fun. It's up to you. :)

    4) When we get tired, we just find a spot in a hallway or near the middle break in the Exhibition Hall and sit. There are always other people sitting around. There are outlets all over, too, so when you sit it's a good idea to charge your devices.

    5) We all stick together and in the Exhibition Hall, we hold hands because it's crazy down there! I worry about just losing my husband when it's the two of us! lol We usually don't decide on a meeting point until we're there because there might be a new decoration (statue, balloon, cutout, light display, etc.) that stands out and is easy to find. They have cell phones, but if you're in the Exhibition Hall, you really can't hear anything. Everyone I've met is super nice, though, and it's not hard to find someone who will help you, if you get turned around and need to find a certain area.

    6) We always bring a backpack with water bottles, that we refill throughout the day, snacks, and some sandwiches. Rice Krispies treats are good because you can buy them individually wrapped and they're light weight. :) Cracker and cheese sandwich packs are good, too. The food is crazy expensive, so we usually only eat one actual meal at the convention, with breakfast before we get there and a late dinner. There are little food carts in the Exhibition Hall, too (again expensive). We get churros every year. :)

    7) Sounds like you're good to go! As much as you can prepare, it's way different to actually be there. Take things as they go. See what they want to do. If they get overstimulated, pull aside for a bit and look at your new purchases, grab a bite, or check your spotpasses (if you're bringing a ds). Also, if your children want to dress up, that's fun, too. My girls just went in geek/gamer t-shirts the first year and dressed up last year. People kept coming up to them for pictures or to ask where they got this or that or to just say they looked cute! Our girls loved the attention! They have been planning what they want to wear this year for the past year. XD Like I've said before, everyone we've come across at PAX East has been so nice and cool. I'm sure your boys will have a great time. :D

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    BekerBeker Child's Play Program Director SeattleRegistered User, Penny Arcade Staff regular
    mpureka wrote: »
    Wasn't there a designated "quiet room"/"safe space" sort of thing last year? While I don't think the intent was for children, per se, I think it was generally open to anyone who needed a quiet place to "cool down" for a bit. That said, generally if you go all the way up to the top floor, there are plenty of places where you can be relatively away from the madness.

    Its the Take This AFK Lounge, it is indeed not intended for children, but as long as they aren't disruptive i'm sure they would be welcome. Its been pretty popular and very successful at the various PAXen its been to so I'd expect it to be a part of PAX for the foreseeable future. Below is a link about them and their AFK rooms.
    http://www.takethis.org/afk-rooms/

    -Beker/Erick
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    SepiothSepioth Boston, MARegistered User regular
    pureval wrote: »
    One thing that we do for our kids (ages 21/2 and 8) is to cut a small hole into a hard plastic top loader (thing they put baseball cards and what not in). Inside of it stick a picture of yourself with your name and cell phone number. We put these on a lanyard and each kid wears one around their neck. If they ever get separated they have something they can easily show enoforcers so you can be contacted.

    I don't have kids but I just wanted to say that this is an excellent suggestion.

    Also I like what Beker said about pointing out the enforcers. This way they know who to go to if they happen to get separated or what not.

    I would also suggest that you ask them to never leave the BCEC for any reason unless instructed by some authority figure (for reasons of possible evacuations or what not).

    Last suggestion .. Have fun and enjoy it. Being 9 and 11 I think they are old enough to listen and understand what rules you put in place for them.

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