Playing Your Class at PAX East 2017

PAX, and conventions more, er, conventionally, are like MOBAs. They’re big, loud, full of a lot of people and generally more enjoyable as a group. You go there with a role to play, and you better play it or you’re not going to have much fun.

So consider this a character guide to going to a big convention. It’s not a comprehensive guide, because a guide to all the characters you can play at a convention (Cosplayer, TableTopper, Purel-ist, etc.) would run wildly outside my knowledge set, but it covers the three main classes and should get you on your way.

Character: Dad
Main: Corral
Secondary: Wrangle
Ultimate: Buy Souvenir

Dad is a support character, like Mom and Evangelizer (the significant other to a non-gamer who has agreed to attend this dumb thing because they love you). The important thing to remember when playing Dad or any other character in this class is that you’re not attending the convention for you. That Prey demo? Forget it. The line for it is three hours long, and you’ve got kids with you.

Your job is crowd-control and making sure whomever you’re at the show with is having a good time. As Dad, that means making sure you have snacks in your knapsack, and money in your wallet for some sort of souvenir. The primary mistake that I see a lot of Dad players making is when they try to control what their team is interested in. Stop that. You’re just going to pull aggro and nobody’s going to have any fun at all. Your goal is to get back to the car with everyone happy and either excited to talk about some games on the ride home, or tired enough to take a nap (depending on the age of the kids).

Follow your team’s lead. The kids are on offense when you’re in this role. You can point things out, but don’t drag them away from something unless it’s wholly inappropriate for their age. In the PAX map, that means steering clear of the Devolver booth and not letting anyone see the kiosk where they sell anime mouse pads.

Character: Giq
Main: Play Demo
Secondary: Random Discovery
Ultimate: Leave without a virus

Giq is an offensive character, but maybe not as offensive as Nacho-Muncher or Aftershave-is-basically-faster-soap guy. Giq is there to see some games, but as you can infer from the truncated version of the word “geek,” lacks the attention span to stand in lines for long periods of time.

The thing to remember about playing Giq is that you have to go in with a plan. Do some recon first, perhaps as a support character on an earlier day, so you know where things are. If you can’t do in-person recon as a different class, then use your map skill to plot a route through the convention floor. You can see a lot in a few hours if you play your cards right. Here’s a pro-tip: Don’t over-schedule yourself. Pick half a dozen things, preferably in different parts of the expo floor, and take your time between them. You’ve heard of staying in your lane? Forget that here. There are a million things to see, and you’ll miss a lot of them if you blindly charge from mob to mob.

Finally, don’t forget to feed. Water, food – these things are important, especially in an environment where your attention is pulled away from such trivial things. You can eat food from the commissary, but I recommend bringing a sandwich and a few bottles of water from home. There are a lot of benefits to bringing your own health-kit, but the main one is that you don’t have to wait in lines for non-gaming related things. Sure, those nachos might smell wonderful as you walk by, but eating a peanut butter sandwich while waiting in line for a hot new demo sure beats waiting in line for nachos followed by waiting in line for the hot new demo. That’s, like, fifty percent less waiting in lines!

Character: Homer
Main: Make Lunch
Secondary: Nap
Ultimate: Watch Twitch Stream

Homer is a ranged character. Very long range. So long-range that Homer isn’t even at the convention. There are many reasons to play Homer. Maybe you can’t foot the bill for hotels and airfare. Maybe you have someone who wants to play Giq living with you, but someone has to stay home and watch the kids. Maybe you just don’t like crowds, but you still like to know what’s going on. Fortunately, this is the twenty-first century, and you don’t have to actually “be” someplace to be there.

The interesting thing about this character is that Homer can be played either offensively or as a support character. If you want to see the sites of the convention without actually being there, you can do some of that. If you want to support someone who’s already there, you can do that too. Homer is incredibly versatile.

If you’re playing Homer offensively, you’ll want to get a Twitch account. You don’t have to stream anything, but you can use it to subscribe to the livestreams from the show and get notifications of when interesting things are happening. The best part is that you can jump from stream to stream, so if that panel on making macaroni Serenity models isn’t working out, you can jump to a discussion about techniques that probably won’t work for you for becoming a successful freelancer. Even better than the best part (as Kipper the Dog would say, they’re equal-best!) is that you don’t have to wait in any lines. At all. None. You just click a mouse, and you see the panel on your screen of choice, and probably from a better vantage point than if you’d been there as Giq or one of the other members of the offensive class. Even more equal-best? You don’t have to shower. Not that this is an impediment to some conventioneers, but you’re reading this guide, which means you’re a considerate person who likes to play an offensive class inoffensively if possible.

If you’re playing support, keep the web browser open to the convention map. You might get a text from the person you’re supporting asking for help remembering something they wanted to see, or wanting to know where something is. Just remember that the text questions should go largely one-way. You can, occasionally, tap your offensive friend for news about the convention, but try not to bother them with questions about where the potato chips are or whether they think you need milk. Remember, as with playing other support characters, today isn’t about you.

There are other characters to play, but I’m no expert on the whole range. Hopefully these tips and tricks can help you play whatever class you choose a little bit better.

Until next year, conventioneers!


We've found that late-term pregnancy and strollers clear the lane really effectively.

wordsmythe wrote:

We've found that late-term pregnancy and strollers clear the lane really effectively.

Depends on the convention. At some, all it does is draw PVP aggro.

You know, I had a similar situation back when I was in drumline in high school. Maybe back then I developed a demeanor that appropriately conveys "I might break your fingers if you touch."