Labor Day harkens the end of summer, but more so to discount sales in the malls. For me though, it will ever hold a place for me as PAX-Prime or Penny Arcade Expo Prime. Since their first started in 2004, PAX has been a place for gamers to congregate and have fun. Remember the times when school finished and you end up someone house to play video games or just chill? Now imagine 50,000+ plus people doing the same thing. PAX is a video gaming convention held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle during Labor Day weekend. Unlike E3, PAX is open to the public and additionally, the convention has workshops to talk about the different aspects of gaming.
My first time going to PAX was back in 2013, but the conversation started back in 2012 when The Captains started to want to go to a geek convention. The Captains is a group of friends that have history ever since elementary. The origin story for the Captain name is for another day. Anyways, I was talking to R-Captain about wanting to go to a convention outside of Hawaii and he suggested PAX, but by the time we were talking about it, badge sales were over, so we started out planning for 2013.
When badges went on sale, they were selling fast that within 1-hour majority of the tickets were sold, and within the day PAX t was sold out. I have been to PAX a couple times now, and badge sales are always quicker to the point that they sell out in minutes. You do get the occasional scalpers and PAX knows about them. The PAX team developed an algorithm, criteria or some SKY net system to monitor for possible scalpers. This means there is another chance to get some badges (not all days go back for resale). Btw, these scalpers were selling badges 3 times the normal price. So… curse you people that scalp, hope you always roll a 1.
I didn’t expect how awesome that weekend when I first got the badges. It hit me on that Friday before the doors open because of the size of the crowd to get into the expo hall.
Look at that! Now a day, PAX might have the crowd line up outside before entering the hall. Problem is that the weather may not be great especially during Seattle’s “Summer” Time. Once you get into the Expo hall, it’s like stepping into Willwonka Chocolate Factory.
The biggest draw for this expo is the public access to a preview of big name video game developers’ games coming out the following fall and winter season. But the real reason that PAX was first developed was to showcase indie game. This is where FEZ, cards against humanity, and outlast got their humble beginnings. (But wait, Cards Against Humanity is a card game!?) That’s another great thing about PAX, it isn’t only about video games but also all types of geek gaming. Card games and to table top gaming. I remember getting a chance to try out Super Smash Brothers for the 3DS and the Wii U months before release. PAX 2016 I had the opportunity to try out FF XV and some VR. Getting an opportunity to play these games before hits the stores made all my other friend envious of me.
Prior to coming to Seattle, we made plans how to attack the Expo hall. I was avid Magic the Gathering fan back then and I wanted to swipe some SDCC exclusive sets that were selling for $60, which they were selling on the secondary market for $200. My friend wanted to pick something up at the Capcom booth, so we all made the effort to try stick together. Once those doors open to the hall, all hell broke loose as we scramble in. That’s the biggest thing about Day 1, is the exclusive merch that is available. The old adage “you snooze you lose” still plays because, by the time I got to my booth, it was sold out. It still holds true now, especially with the VR free plays. Some booths require you to get a reservation ticket to allow you free play.
Speaking of free play, outside of the expo hall there are a lot of things that are happening. There are other free play areas, such as classic arcade, console and PC gaming, and table top. You could even bring your PC rig and set up securely at the convention, so you can still play online with tons of other people in the same room. One of the hugest LAN party that there is. There are workshops that are about gaming development to gaming culture. I went to one that was about how to open up your owning gaming shop which I always wanted to do. There were some panels and developers showing off their demos. By the way, if you get a chance to check out Run Away Guys panel. Instead of a Q and A panel, they do a whole game show. Here is a link to what they do. It’s hilarious panel and sometimes you just want to face palm for the answers that have been given. The expo hall closes at 6, but there are still panels and activities happening all over. Especially concerts at night and after parties. There are some rest areas around the convention center to hang with your friends and chill. I usually spend the ending of my day at the bean bag hand held lounge. Not because I do play any of those games, but I am just don’t want to go home yet, and I just want to chill.
Remember how I said that PAX is like hanging after school for the whole three day weekend. The people you meet might be strangers and may be strangers afterward, but they have the potential to become friends. I say this because I met a few cool people while playing magic. Because of this, I was able to meet this couple? dress as Bub and Bob from Bubble and Bobble. They were able to suggest some great hole in the wall places to eat, like Glos. I do recommend if you are in Seattle to try out Glos especially their french toast. Sugar overload that will tie you down for the morning and they’ll serve you coffee if you wait. And you’ll wait because it is a very packed brunch place.
I spent the end of my fourth day chilling at the bean bag lounge. It was the end of PAX, and it’s like you don’t want to go home back to responsibilities but just want to relax with your friends. Despite the expo hall close and everything winding down, there were still people hanging out playing games. I feel friendships were made, games were played, and just ultimately fun. At the same time, it was a good opportunity to find out what kind of gamer are you, what the whole gaming culture means to you, and where you are going in it.
Due to my upcoming trips, (by the way, of this date, it’s 56 days till Japan) I am unable to go to PAX. But if you get a chance, and just wanna explore your gaming geek side despite not having the E3 level of access, I highly suggest checking out the various PAXs (there are now more PAX conventions through out the year and through out the world). And find your self re-living those gamer days.