PAX Preparation Lessons of 2019

PAX West 2019 is a wrap and it looks like I didn’t post this for 2018. So this is a 2 year old refresh of the PAX (or other convention) preparation’s list. This compendium comes from several years of PAX attendance along with great posts from the Penny Arcade forums and other feedback.


• Thursdays (day 0)

• Get badges before the convention starts to avoid day 1 lines!

• Fridays (day 1)

• Always get in line for at least (2) games and use the other time to scout the floor to get a feel for what you want to do Saturday and Sunday.

• Saturday (day 2) and Sunday (day 3)

• The day to sign up for and try the major titles as everyone is trying too. Use the Playstation Experience APP; Ubisoft had demo signups open each day; Square Enix tickets to play FF VII Remake

• Mondays (day 4 or Final day)

• Clean up day. Use the day for purchases, PAX XP, photos, the indies and 6th floor booths. Don’t use it for a major titles you missed the other 3 days. Don’t be surprised if lines are capped for the day (meaning convention) and you are left out. If you pick one day to do raffles, do it the last day as the booths don’t want to ship all their stuff back.

• Preview the companies online before the event to see what they have planned – games, events, giveaways, raffles, etc.  Yes, do this before PAX and it could pay off.

• Pick the games/booths you really want to see and plan your time/date.  Make it a point to do them first and on the first day.  Waiting until the last day could result in sadness. 🙁

• Walk the floor the first day and visit each booth to see what they are doing for cosplay competitions, raffles, and/or tournaments.  ONLY do this if haven’t done your research before PAX and ONLY do this if you are not constrained for time.

• Walk the floor the first day to see who is doing dev demos versus player game demos so you can save the dev demos to the last day as needed.  Typically the last day (Monday’s) always seem to have full lines and once they are capped, they are capped for good!  If they are doing player game demos, you might want to pencil them into your calendar and do them as soon as possible.

• Work with your friends on attending raffles as you can’t be in two places at once.  And since your friends have raffle numbers too you all can share in the loot. 4:30 tends to be raffle times.

• If staying in a hotel and you have the money to make it happen, then stay either the day before (Thursday) and after (Monday) or at least the day before (Thursday) so you don’t have to be pressing the time curve.

• Buy your merchandise the first day so the size and/or print you want is still available. Recommend buying at the Sheraton as you can peruse the merch and are not in a long line.

• Read Reddit threads to help you find info, parties, Easter egg hunts, etc.

• Be social – saying hi to the person next to you could introduce new friends and meet possible industry folks.

• Paint miniature figures.  Each year there is a room that gives out free figurines and you get to paint them.  Make sure you do this first thing before time and figurines run out!

• Watch Twitch while in line or later that night in the hotel room.

• Pick (2) panels per day

• Attend panels that don’t stream on Twitch

• Don’t wait on that party you want to attend.  Buy your tickets as soon as possible when they go online.  Yes, there are free parties, but if you wait you could be left out.

• Try more games!  Especially the indie games.

Items to take

• Plastic box or container with lid for cards, flyers, handouts, small swag items

• Take a laptop just in case of whatever happens.

• Bring your own snacks and booze.  There are stores downtown, but you don’t want to have to make a run during the PAX experience and avoid the higher costs and taxes that come from buying in Seattle.

• Bring medical supplies – headache meds, anti-acids, bandages, Neosporin, NightQuil and DayQuil, Claritin, etc

• Bring a  poster tube.  Whether capped or not, plastic or cardboard, having a tube will save your peace of mind and posters from unwanted damage.  AND DON’T FORGET TO TAKE IT HOME WITH YOU FROM THE HOTEL!

• Bring a power strip along with extra plugs and cables.

• Buy new socks and change them mid way through your PAX day.

• Buy new shoes.  Bring two pair in case one pair aren’t working for you.  Bring hiking shoes as a possible backup.  Two pairs allow you to switch things up.

• Water bottle.  Or whatever you need to stay hydrated.

• Gatorade will help with the hangovers.

• Mints/Gum.

• Notepad/pencil/pen/sharpie.

• Cell phone and backup power charger.

• Hand sanitizer.

• Flashlight.

• Contact/business cards.

• Sunglasses.

• Bring a collapsible empty bag in case your luggage cant carry the swag home with you.

• Bring plastic bags and carabiners when you need that extra bit of storage.

From the Penny Arcade forums!

• If you have a hotel room or staying in Seattle, a mid day shower can re-energize you.

• Bring your own (non-white) towel especially if you are sharing a room.

• Prepare yourself for the lines at PAX by conditioning your legs prior.  Squats are good along taking walks with a loaded down backpack.

• Eat lunch at 11 am to avoid the crowds and minimize time away from PAX.

• Each day, pick one non-expo, non-free play thing to do and do it.

• Juicy Cafe smoothies – get two as they usually supplement a meal.

• Plan to queue early for the popular panels.

• Bring Zombie dice or a handheld to pass the time.

• Table Top free play is a great way to meet others.

• Gold bond or baby powder for the rash from walking?

• Do the QR search the first day.

• Pick up your swag when you can.

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