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A Goodjer's Guide to PAX Prime 2010

Penny Arcade Expo is on its way. If you're joining us and the 60,000 or so of your odder fellows in downtown Seattle over Labor Day weekend, you've got a great time in store.

We've done our homework, and we've got info to help you make the most of your trip.

GWJ is going to be on hand in full force.

  • Check the schedule for our luminaries showing up as panel guests. Julian Murdoch will be at Rookie Years: Stories from First Projects on Sunday from 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM at the Serpent Theatre. Several of the podcast crew will be running around, too, so keep an eye out.
  • The Official GWJ Slap and Tickle will be held on Saturday, September 4th at the Rock Bottom Brewery. See this thread for details, and I hope to see you all there.
  • There are unofficial gatherings, too—peruse the forums and come hang out!
  • You fellow forum-goers are going to be all over, and to make it easier to find each other, we have chosen a symbol to identify ourselves—Stan! Here’s a link to Stan in all his radiant, 300dpi glory for your printing pleasure. If you forget or can’t print it or whatever, I will also be printing out 100 blank ones to bring with me and I have real badge clips this year so we don’t have to punt. Find Momgamer or Amoebic for one and sport your Stan in style!

Important show information:

  • Please take a look at the PAX homepage. The official schedules are out, along with the exhibitor lists and concert lineups. If you want to get a jump on planning out your fun, it’s all there for you.
  • Changes for venues. There are some serious departures from last year’s setup. The “Main Theater” stuff is going to be at a new and different location entirely, there’s an off-site satellite theater at the Sheraton, some of the tabletop is at the Annex across the street, and the main registration desk is also off-site. These all come with attendant changes in how lines and stuff work. Hit the website and take a look. This is crucial info if you’re going to attend big events like the keynote, the concerts, etc.
  • There will be internet access on-site, but experience has shown it will be stomped on a scale that cannot be described without charts and an easel. For anything crucial, I’d scope out a local Starbucks or check into your hotel’s offerings.
  • A great way to get info is via your phone. There are several services out there, but I’m personally partial to Expo Junkie. Works with just about every platform and it seems to get better every year; this time around they’ve incorporated access to the official PAX Twitter feeds.
  • There were issues at PAX East with people selling counterfeit badges. If you’re buying sight-unseen, do not accept a PDF of the barcoded order printout in lieu of the actual plastic card. Contact [email protected] with any questions you have, especially if you bought your badge through unofficial channels.

There are going to be a metric bunch-teen of people around, and events spread out all over downtown Seattle. A few notes to help you plan:

  • Houseapes are welcome, but there are a few things you should know. If you’re planning on bringing little kids, please be aware there are many places in the convention center proper where you cannot use a stroller due to fire codes. That includes, for example, the Expo Hall and all the Trade Center theaters. I don’t have specific rules for Beneroya but I’m assuming they’re similar; five blocks can’t make that much difference to the fire marshal. Please plan ahead for tag-teaming with someone who can stay with the stroller in one of the free areas, or you might want to think about a baby carrier or backpack or something. Oh, and please consider how you’re going to keep track of little ambulatory ones in some of the ridiculous crowds.
  • Please remember there’s no coat check. If you bring it or get it on-site, you have to haul it around. If you’re bringing kids or lots of equipment/pen-and-paper paraphernalia/tiny metal troops/etc. or plan on any epic swag gathering, you might want to plan ahead with a backpack or a way to stash stuff in your car.
  • They did a pretty good number on the Nerd flu/conSARS problem at PAX East. Getting people to keep their hands to themselves with that Iron Guard salute and some pretty heroic sanitation protocols in high-contact areas like Console Freeplay kept them from spreading anything too interesting, and that was with a norovirus outbreak going around the local colleges at the time. These precautions (and more) are going to be in place at PAX Prime. Please help by watching out for yourself, too, with frequent hand washing and/or use of the Purell dispensers all over the place. Especially if you are going into or going out of high contact areas, such as the Freeplay areas and the Expo Hall.

How NOT to have to call "Medic!"
Believe it or not, it is possible to have fun and still take reasonable care of yourself. Keep The Four H’s in mind:

  • Hydrate: It’s summer. It’s going to be hot. Getting dehydrated under these circumstances is a bad idea. Caffeine is a diuretic, so make sure to drink at least as much of something like Gatorade or just plain water as you do Red Bull or Coke. There are water coolers all over the place in the Washington State Trade and Convention Center.
  • Hygiene: You’re in a large building rubbing elbows and flux capacitors with a whole heck of a lot of people. If you’re clawing your way to the top of the standings in the Warhammer tournament, the last thing anyone needs is to be stuck downwind of someone who skipped a few steps from their toilette this morning. And you don’t want to be that guy, either. Showering and liberal use of deodorant is a necessity.
  • Health: Remember that large crowd I mentioned above? Even if they’re not stinky, they’re not germ-free. Ditto for planes and trains and automobiles. Your immune system is your friend, so eat something real once in a while. Red Bull, Pocky and Ramune are not in any food group. And don’t forget to stay on any medication regimen you use in your regular life. Good shoes and new socks are another good idea; those travertine floors are murder after you’ve beat feet on them all day.
  • Hibernate: I know zombies are cool to see on a movie screen, but it’s not nearly so cool when you are one. If you haven’t slept for two days you’re going to feel pretty awful. And that’s not fun at all.

For a quick rule of thumb, at a minimum take one shower, eat two REAL meals, and get four to six hours of sleep per day. If you want to be proactive, right before you go to bed drink a full glass of water and take two Tylenol (or other NSAID). Do the same with breakfast. It can make a huge difference in how you feel by the end of the day.

We'll see you there. Remember Wheaton's Law, and remember to have fun!


Oooooh. This list of local businesses will give you discounts if you show your PAX badge.