I went to PAX PRIME over the weekend, as in the Penny Arcade Expo – a four day gaming extravaganza in Seattle with panels, concerts, game play pretty much everywhere, and a monster exhibit hall for people to check out games, talk with developers, buy swag, etc. etc. Dan and I only went Saturday and Sunday but here’s one word I’d use to describe PAX PRIME 2015: INSANITY!
Let me start by saying that I am a casual gamer. I’m not super knowledgeable about the gaming industry but do enjoy a variety of video games, PC games, and tabletop games. I’m a Minecraft, Borderlands, Age of Empires kind of gal who sucks at Mario Kart (Diddy Kong Racing is better) and enjoys a good board game night with friends. But I’m not going to pretend that I know enough about gaming to give you a good rundown of everything I saw at PAX. I will say that if you like games, you should go to PAX. There are hundreds of new and classic games to play and watch, but to be honest my favorite part of the entire two days was taking a photo with Pikachu, because Pikachu is the cutest thing in the world. This post describes PAX through the eyes of an outsider.
Yes, that is a blood fountain. Isn’t it awesome!? At one point a kid sat on the edge of the fountain and bloody goo seeped out from under the platform. Yumm. You can’t see it but surrounding this fountain is a whole crowd of people. That’s one thing you should know from the get-go, if swarms of people overwhelm you, maybe PAX isn’t for you. So many sounds! So many bodies! The expo hall was PACKED and I was never really alone (yay, fun times for extroverts). As an ambivert I must say that I’m really excited to have zero plans this coming weekend.
I thought I’d run into more familiar faces but no, the crowd was too big. I did run into this guy I went to Junior High with who kind of stumbled into a trash can and then ran away when I tried to say hi to him…oh well… Part of why it’s hard to find people is that there’s spotty cell service in the Expo hall so if you’re waiting in line for a game and want to tell your friend to meet you there, fuhgeddaboutit.
But who needs friends when there is such phenomenal people watching. The cosplayers were particularly fun. Some of these people are very talented and spent a lot of time and likely money making incredible costumes. The prize for best costume goes to this beast of a man who had to be at least 6 foot 7 and was dressed as some kind of caveman warrior…maybe he was a wildling from GoT but he was impressive and stomped around the expo floor growling and roaring menacingly with a giant hammer.
Dan and I and our friends, tried a couple games but my favorite exhibit was Oculus. VR you guys! VR is so cool! I tried the Gear VR which is a virtual reality headset which turns your Samsung Galaxy smartphone into a VR system. You have your headset, headphones, and controller and it’s exactly like playing a game but when you move your head around in real life the game shifts your vision accordingly. Anyway VR is not only cool for gaming, designer Rebecca Minkoff filmed her Fall 2015 runway show specifically for virtual reality headsets so viewers could get an insider look at the collection on the runway. The future is now!
On Saturday night we went to the concert to see 7Bit Hero, MC Frontalot, and Freezepop. I was SO pumped to see Freezepop. In college I was briefly in a synthpop band inspired by Freezepop and even saw them perform at Chop Suey. It’s still my favorite concert to date and have since been a loyal fan. Unpopular opinion but check out the songs Tonight, Manipulate, and Tracey Gold.
When I saw Liz Enthusiasm at her booth at PAX I had a major fan girl moment and had to get a picture with her. I ended up running into her multiple times over the two days and probably freaked her out because I would wave like a maniac, but seriously I wanted to be her in college. Anyway, the concert was fun. 7Bit Hero is adorable, MC Frontalot has a crazy talented band, and Freezepop (my loves) are so fun and dancey. If you do go to the concert, dance your pants off. After a long day at the convention, you could do with some wiggling.
PAX Tips from an outsider
- The tickets sold out in less than an hour. If you have a gamer friend who is in the know about PAX tickets, I would rely on them to let you know when tickets go on sale. This year tickets were $40 per person, per day.
- Bring snacks! And water. And gum. You’ll be walking around a lot and it’s easier to take a food/water break when you need it rather than foraging for food when you’re hungry.
- Get in line EARLY. The only thing I am sad about is missing the chance to meet Felicia Day. We arrived too late and were turned away at her book signing, but in general lines get long fast so if you really want to do something make sure you get there early.
- Bring a phone charger and know that reception is spotty. My phone lost battery real quick trying to send texts and snaps. P.S. the skybridge and atrium have decent reception.
- Don’t be intimidated. If you want to do something or talk to someone, do it! People are friendly at PAX and will likely share common interests with you. Likewise if you see someone with a cool outfit and you want to compliment them. There may be some awkward social interactions but people are there to have fun.
- If the expo hall is too much for you, there’s always Console Freeplay! And Tabletop Freeplay! Both have game libraries where you can check out a game to play with friends. On our second day we spent a good long while off the convention hall floor, just playing games. My current go-to tabletop game is Sushi Go! It’s cute and fast.
Questions about PAX? Wanna talk games? Or about how Minecraft Story Mode looks like the lamest thing ever? Or want to know how to freak out band members from Freezepop? Leave a comment!