With the imminent arrival of the next Penny Arcade Expo I thought I would run through a few tips and tricks that I’ve picked up going to PAX in the past, as well as other conventions. Some of what I cover will be common sense, already on people’s minds and can even be applied to other conventions so forgive me if you’ve already thought of anything I write and I’ll keep the PAX specific stuff up the top.
When prioritising panels and attractions attendees should note that all panels in The Main Theatre and some in The Wombat will be streamed live to the PAX AUS Twitch channel and uploaded to the Penny Arcade youtube shortly after PAX. If you don’t get into some of these panels it’s not a big deal because you’ll be able to watch it later and for those who, for whatever reason, cannot attend PAX this year, you can still follow along from the comfort of their homes.
The PAX social media sites are a really handy tool for keeping track of queues and events filling up, if you’re lucky enough to get a signal. At Q&A Panels it is always a good idea to ask a question, often panellists will have giveaways to those who participate. So wait until the line for the microphone builds up and then join the end, even if you don’t get to ask your question you may still get some free stuff.
Wash your hands, this isn’t to say that nerds are dirtier than the mundanes but whenever you gather a large number of humans together in the same building for a prolonged period of time, with food being prepared and everybody touching everything, disease spreads. We’re lucky that PAX AUS is at the end of the flu season, in 2009 Swine flu spread through PAX in the US. Anti-bacterial hand washes are a good idea to bring along. Although they do not kill viruses, killing off germs and bacteria can help a lot.
If the Oculus Rift stall is near the bathrooms, DO NOT PUT ON THE OCULUS RIFT. You will get pink eye and it will be unpleasant. This is not to scare anyone away from any attraction or shame anyone who gets sick. Just be aware that these things happen and you should do your best to avoid getting sick. Stay safe and I hope nobody contracts the PAX POX.
Make sure that all your electronics are charged and you have the appropriate cables with you. This is a common sense thing, but it’s important to have on your mind the night before. The worst feeling is walking into the convention centre and realising you don’t have your phone charger with you and knowing it will go flat some time that day. You might get lucky with handhelds and find a willing person to share with in The Handheld Lounge, otherwise there will be lockers that can be rented to secure your devices while they charge.
Queue Magic is my favourite format of Magic the Gathering, it’s so relaxed and casual. It’s also great to meet new and interesting people; and it passes the time. If you aren’t into MtG that’s fine, you might want to bring along a simple dice or card game to play while you wait in line or play with any of the free products Wizards give away at conventions.
If, like me, you are taking medicine that allows you to function, like anti-depressants or anxiety medication, make sure you’ve got your dose on you. I know most people are already on top of this, but it would really suck to miss taking your pill on Friday and have the rest of the weekend ruined because of it. Strepsils and Panadol, or any throat lozenges and light pain killers are a good idea to keep on you for an emergency.
If you’re attending the convention with children it’s a good idea to pick out a rally point in case you get separated. This is unlikely to happen, but it will put all of you at ease. If there is an emergency The Enforcers are there to help. If you need them for any reason just shout out for one and they’ll come running or if you just need to ask a question they’re there to answer. Do not be afraid to ask for what you need; they’ll be the ones in the yellow shirts with “ENFORCER” emblazoned on them.
Spend time in the queue room before you get into The Exhibition Hall memorising the maps of the convention centre, either in the app or in the booklets you will get in the swag bags. It is a good idea to know the location of all the booths you want to check out, and knowing where the emergency exits and bathrooms are is not a waste of your time.
Know how you’re getting home. If you plan on staying late, have a way home planned out. The last trains leave the CBD at around one o’clock in the morning, trams run a little later and The Night Bus is always an option.
The last thing I wanted to talk about is Cosplayers and the adage Cosplay is not consent. This is not just about inappropriate touching or groping, but photography and conversation as well. Cosplayers are there to have fun just like everyone else, so ask permission before taking photos or videos. I don’t want to scare anyone off from engaging with cosplayers, just be aware of how you interact with others.
Have a great time and I’ll see you in The Tabletop Play Area.