The illustrious Penny Arcade Expo, the ultimate convention in independent gaming, is about to descend upon the west for a fifth time. One veteran has put together a survival guide for those who would be savvy.
The following is based on the past 7 years’ experiences between PAX East & Prime, brought to you by your humble narrator, who will be going out into the field next week as the Powered Labs PAX East correspondent. Here’s part one of our survival series: PRE-PAX.
Buy a ticket: Sounds simple right? Wrong. This is the most nerve-wracking part. You won’t know the tickets are available until they are literally on sale. Once they go live, everyone buying tickets is put into a queue – after the queue clears, people will know if they were lucky enough to get tickets. THIS EVENT SELLS OUT 3DAY PASSES IN ONLY TWO HOURS; SATURDAY-ONLY PASSES CAN SELL OUT IN FOUR. Do not mess around if you want to spend the least amount of money possible to acquire tickets.
If you can’t get a ticket: All hope is not lost. Scalpers will sell their tickets online immediately. I suggest waiting until the last two weeks before the con because then tickets will already be in their owners hands – so any eBay listings that have photos of the passes will most likely be legit.
BE WARY: If you have to get a ticket second-hand, 1. People are going to price gouge. There’s no way around it. I paid $275 for a 3day pass that was originally only $90. 2. You can’t always trust eBay sellers – so check them out before you commit! Check their seller rating! Check their reviews! Ask them questions! Do whatever you have to do to feel comfortable buying these tickets. If you don’t, there’s a possibility that you will get SCAMMED.
Hotel: The only smart thing to do is get a hotel as close as possible to the con that isn’t freakishly expensive. Also, book your hotel ONE DAY before the event to give you enough time to settle in & get organized for the next day
BOOK IMMEDIATELY: As soon as you have a pax ticket!! Or even if you don’t! just book the hotel & pay a little extra so you can cancel it if you don’t end up going.
Shuttle: Check to see if your hotel offers shuttles to the airport & convention center & make sure to reserve a seat with money if at all possible.
Save in your phone: the number/address for your hotel & the number for the closest cab company.
Travel: Fly in early, fly out late.
Checklist: Make a checklist of everything you need to do & everything you need to pack to be prepared. I suggest a note-taking app instead of paper, like Inkpad for iOS | Android.
Business Prep: Print your business cards and prepare your portfolio! If you have a website make sure that it’s up to date as well.
Shoes: Pack comfortable shoes. Get gel inserts, whatever you have to do; you’re going to be walking a LOT.
Clothing: Expect it to be ridiculously hot inside the convention center, but probably snowing outside – so pack clothing accordingly. If you’re going to bring a heavy coat, the convention center provides a coat check for your convenience.
Essentials: Bring a backpack or something the like for your items, documents, & various swag you will appropriate at the con. Sleep with earplugs to ensure you pass out fast/hard. Bring your own pillow, this will allow you to get a better night’s rest. Make sure to bring things like vitamin c, ibuprofen, tissues, hand wipes, deodorant & HAND SANITIZER.