Over the past few years, the Penny Arcade Expo (or PAX, for short) events have become the most avidly attended conventions in the gaming community, whether it’s by cosplay fans, board game players or video game fanatics who can’t wait to see the latest in both the indie and AAA departments. This year’s PAX Prime, which takes place in Seattle, Washington, will continue the status quo, with hundreds of game developers, manufacturers, cosplayers and fans flocking the halls of the convention center.
If you’re going for the first time – or don’t know what the big deal about PAX is – here’s a primer that breaks down the five things you should know before making your way out to Seattle. It never hurts to have some common knowledge – or know what to expect when it comes to panels and other events.
Some Panels Fill Up – Quickly
Depending on the popularity of certain companies, some panels may reach capacity in record time. That’s been the case with various concerts that take place during the evenings, with acts like The Doubleclicks, MC Frontalot and other geek-oriented bands.
However, game developers manage to fill the seats quickly, too. Gearbox, the developers of such games as Battleborn and Borderlands, manage to draw a humongous crowd, with the promise of free pizza, exclusive game information and, on occasion, giveaways of game codes or season passes.
With these panels, it helps to get there early – like about an hour or so. If you’re looking to kill time while you wait, feel free to bring a Nintendo 3DS (there’s plenty of StreetPass action going on) or even a board game like Cards Against Humanity. It’s not too big of a problem finding people to play with, and before you know it, it’ll be panel time.
The Indie Megabooth Is Hiding Superstars
One of the big draws for any given PAX event is the Indie Megabooth, where dozens of the best flourishing indie game developers have their latest games on display. Occasionally, there can be a wait, especially with games like the much-hyped first-person adventure We Happy Few, but it’s more than worth it when you finally get your hands on what could be the next big indie hit, like Shovel Knight or Limbo.
What’s more, sessions in the Indie Megabooth are far more intimate, as the developers and producers of said games are right there in the same booth as you, ready to answer any questions you may have. That makes these sessions all the more special, especially with larger AAA titles not having too many members of the development team in tow. Sometimes it just helps to get the perspective from the people who make the games.
Image source: Indie MegaBooth
The Parties Are a Perfect Way To Network
Ready to make a few new friends at PAX? Why not? Most of these people can relate to the same geek-style ways as you, whether it’s showing your forte in board games or showing off your Legend of Zelda backpack.
With that, there are lots of parties taking place, both hosted (by the likes of Twitch or another company) and community-related. No matter which way you go, you’ll find ample opportunity to connect with other geeks and simply have a good time. Leave the drama at home and simply enjoy yourself over a nice cold one, or, better yet, a heated contest of Pac-Man Battle Royale down at the local Gameworks.
The Cosplayers Mean Business, But They’re Nice
If you’re looking to see the best that cosplayers have to offer – but without having to deal with the immense hassle of San Diego Comic-Con – then PAX Prime is definitely for you. There are hundreds of people who dress up as their favorite game characters, or with some sort of twist that indicates that they’re a fan. They’re mostly happy to have pictures taken, and maybe chat about their favorite cosplay secrets, depending on how social they are.
Just a word of advice – be respectful. Cosplayers have been harassed at PAX events in the past, and they certainly don’t deserve it. It never hurts to simply be nice and, hey, maybe even strike up a conversation. After all, most of them are worth a follow on your favorite social network. Remember, BE POLITE!
Don’t Forget To Check Out the Competitions
The main show floor at PAX Prime is chock full of gaming goodness, with dozens of titles to get your hands on. However, you shouldn’t forget about the heat of competition – and, boy, does PAX Prime have it.
There are plenty of competitions happening in the devoted game rooms, whether it’s a devoted round of Super Smash Bros. or a good old-fashioned game of NBA Jam in the classic game room. For good measure, there’s also a classic arcade, where you can shoot for the high score on the leaderboards (complete with three-initial placement) or do a few multiplayer rounds on a pinball machine.
Take a break from the show floor every once in a while and don’t forget to visit these spots. It never hurts to revisit your gaming roots and maybe make a few new friends in the process – unless they totally destroy you in Mario Kart 8.
To learn more about PAX Prime, visit the official PAX web page.
Feature Image Source: PAX Site