The Ninjabot

PAX Prime Survival Guide

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 9:36 am by Victor Chaves


Every year, hundreds of thousands of fans attend all manner of conventions, expos, and shows throughout the world. As a regular attendee of PAX Prime, as well as various other shows around the country, I generally have a list of things to do and things to have that help me survive the event. The paradigm I will be discussing is PAX Prime, but these items and rules can definitely be applied in different ways depending on the show. After reading through, think about how these tenants can apply to the show you’re attending next.

How About Some Good Old Rules?

Keeping clean is an absolute must—Nobody wants to smell your musk. It’s a bit harsh, but the bare minimum is to shower everyday before the show, with a nice helping of deodorant, none of which is hard to do. Second-day con smell can be a blight for anybody waiting with you in line. By not cleaning yourself up, you’ll be communicating to anyone with an olfactory capability that you don’t care about the community, and that you don’t want anyone to be around you (including Shigeru Miyamoto, who I assume can smell nerd from a mile away). So get an Ivory bar and rub those pits.

Get plenty of sleep—Ever think you can survive on less than five hours of sleep, then realize that even the ultimate Halo-Zelda-Infamous crossover announcement at the exhibition hall can’t wake you up? Maybe five hours can keep you going for the boring work-week, but the sensory overload and the long hours of activity with little to no rest is going to destroy you after day one. If you don’t rest long enough after the first day, the rest of the con will become a slog, and your enthusiasm will wither into apathy. Don’t let this happen! Get your rest so you can be as excited as the ten-year-old in the Goron costume next to you.

Always have a place to drop off swag—At every convention I attend, I always leave with a pile of stuff (some free, some not). Imagine the hassle carrying all that stuff throughout the day and night, rolling in with three bags of figures and posters into a party. Lighten your load by parking a car near the convention (pack it with a cooler to store food for a cheap lunch!), a close hotel room, or if you know someone running a booth that might have some room for you. Make plans ahead of time and figure out a way you can unload and get back into the action as soon as possible. It seems obvious, but people overlook this all the time.

What Should I Bring With Me?

A bag to carry stuff—The goal here is to always be able to hold all your stuff and still have two hands free for playing a demo. Schlepping things around all day can be annoying, but carrying it all in your bag will at least make your time exploring that much easier. Personally I repurposed a Game Gear travel kit bag to carry all my things, keeping it old-school and useful.

A USB battery charger—Inevitably your phone/3DS/camera is going to die at the most inopportune time, the cellphone is going to be searching for signal, both 3DS systems will have constant street passes (yes I have two 3DS’s!), and the amount of cosplayers at the show will drain your camera by noon. This year I won’t have to look for an outlet, but instead use my dual-USB brick of a battery charger that can recharge my iPhone fully at least nine times (with a 3DS USB cord, I get seven charges). The charger I got was the Anker Astro 15000mAh which has a great rating on Amazon and is currently $40, well worth the money to have the peace of mind that your devices are working.

A portable chair—By the end of the second day, my feet are busted and my legs are screaming for vengeance. All the waiting in lines and standing around does a real number on you especially if you have a job where you sit down all the time, like me. What I carry around with me is a very tiny tripod chair that I use whenever I know I will be standing still for at least fifteen minutes. Everyone walking by on day one might think you’re lazy, but by day three or four those jeering faces will become jealous. I use the Travelchair Slacker model, which weighs 1.9 pounds and can hold up to 275 pounds. Looking online, I found them for less than $30. Stop sitting on the ground and pull up a chair!

That’s the basis of my convention attendance. With this I am usually well-prepared and able to survive the arduous crowds and long hours without spending a lot. If there is one philosophy I follow in conventions, it’s that I never wait in a line for more than a half-hour. My time is too precious to wait for a panel that can be seen online or a game that is mostly unoriginal. Of course, if you have your own philosophies or tricks, write a comment below and tell me what you do! Happy Convention-Hopping!

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian as he balances PAX, Final Exams, and Band Practice!

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