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Saturday, April 23, 2016

10 Tips for PAX East Boston

According to IGN, PAX East is the Penny Arcade Expo for the East Coast being held in Boston from April 22-24, 2016, with many panels about video games and the culture around them. Attendance is over 10,000 and tickets sell out typically in like 10-30 minutes. This year, I attended for the first time. Here are ten tips to help you survive day 2.


1. Wear comfortable shoes. It is a long day and you'll be waiting on lots of lines.

2. Bring a refillable water bottle and a backpack. I remembered the backpack myself but had to keep visiting the Diversity Lounge and their water cooler to get a drink of water. You can certainly buy a water bottle in the building, but they're not cheap. And of course you can possibly win one, too.

3. Give yourself plenty of time to get through security. Here is where not having a backpack gets you through security faster. If you can fold it up when empty... that would allow you to get through the no backpack line. Of course, if you're in costume and have a weapon, expect to spend extra time there.

4. Have a plan on what you want to see and do. It is a large conference. If you don't plan until you hit the show floor, you'll never see or do all you want to see and do.

5. Sign up if you can to reserve a spot to do anything you want to do. Some of this can be done beforehand / online. The Vive / Oculus Rift Virtual Reality (VR) demo area had a signup where you could reserve a time and try it out. You had to show up at your reserved time and skip the long line of people who didn't reserve a spot. Many other booths had similar arrangements. If you do sign up, show up on time or lose your chance to play.
6. Don't be afraid to wait on line to play something you really want to play. Waits could be upwards of an hour if not longer for the good things. The Rift Walk wait in the first floor East lobby was crazy long and the area closed at 5pm so if you didn't line up early enough, you never had a chance to see. There was a long line already when I arrived before 9 am.

7. Personally, I liked leaving the conference center to get lunch. There are food trucks outside and plenty of options in the city nearby. If you need a snack, stop by the #BuckingCouch from Totino's to get some pizza rolls.
8. Many booths give out raffle tickets and want you to show back up at a particular time to try to win something. Focus on the bigger booths for this as they'll have more prizes to giveaway and thus you should have a better chance to win something. The NewEgg booth had like 20-30 different items to giveaway and I was there for 20-30 minutes for the drawing at 3. Yes, there was a big crowd, but I felt I had a real chance of winning. At 5 I stopped by one of the smaller booths, OCZ for their drawing as I had a raffle ticket for that. Still a big crowd, but only two prizes. When that was done, I walked by another booth that was still going strong with prizes for people to win that I missed because I went by the smaller booth. Get as many tickets as you can if you plan on waiting. For a wheel spin at one booth I had one ticket, and happened to get what I wanted, a t-shirt. Everyone else on line had two tickets and got to try to win something twice. Still the same wait on line. Other booths, like LogitechG, had things to do for you to win something, like take picture and share online with hashtag. There was also a scavenger hunt of sorts to find all the companies based in Massachusetts to get a prize. Any time you didn't have to wait around or come back to find out if you won the better.

9. Be sure to check out the Indie Megabooth or whatever it is called. Spread out very wide towards the back, it is great to see what some of the smaller shops are doing. They might not be as prepared to handle the crowds or people in general, as they're more focused on the game development, but there were some interesting games to explore there.

10. Most importantly, have fun.

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