As Sub Cultured gears up to swap out our “y’all”s for “youse guise” this weekend at PAX East, we’re keeping in mind a few tips we learned and tricks we forgot to utilize from its little sister convention, PAX South. Hopefully this list will make the trek from San Antonio to Boston a little easier!
Always double check your suitcase.
Ridiculous, right? Number three on a pretty short preparation to do list: double checking what you packed, which is standard fare right after organizing your travel and remembering where you put those passes. But trust me, it’ll keep you from wearily heading downstairs to the hotel lobby less than an hour after you arrive to peruse the overpriced selection at the gift shop. Twelve dollars for single razor? Eight for some tweezers? Five bucks per dose of Dayquil? The need for Tetris-level organized packing probably depends on how much you threw down to get the room in the first place, because for some a hotel is less for luxury and more of a place to crash with 5 or more friends, so spare cash is limited. Nothing is worse than finally getting to your hotel, wearily searching for your contact case because you’re tired of dry balls and just want glasses instead, only to find out you forgot your contact case. Not that this happened to me or anything.
And don’t forget the emergency kit.
Germs are what give con funk its super power, and since we’re well aware of their presence, it’s not a secret that conventions are giant cesspools of farts and bad hygiene. Though we always want to believe everyone has the same rigorous shower habit, this just ain’t always the case. While you’re wrapped up in reading this on your phones, it looks like broski in front of you on the escalator just sneezed into his hand and put it back down on the railing. Shudder with me and throw some aspirin, Airborne, and hand sanitizer in your bags or pockets and reapply generously at frequent intervals. Just make sure you nab the chewy tabs of Airborne rather than the drink, because that fizz is nasty.
Stop trying to recognize everyone.
Embarrassing story ahead. Because I just assume that no one who carries on a conversation with me will ever want to do it twice, my very first interaction at day one of PAX South took me by complete surprise. As I sluggishly handed over my ID and business cards, the extremely polite dude behind the booth struck up a conversation and mentioned other work that I had previously done for a different outlet. Which was super flattering before preempting my feeling like this giant-sized jerk for not recognizing him. Had he worked at the previous PAX? Did we talk on the internet? Where was homeboy’s nametag? Twitter frans?! There weren’t any context clues to help me remember who this guy was and the guilt was strong in this one, and it didn’t feel like a belated shout-out (like the one happening right about now) was going to make up for it.
A good rule when wandering through hordes of convention enthusiasts for hours on end is to always introduce yourself to the people you stop to chat with – and don’t get offended if someone you met at the last convention doesn’t recognize you at first. There’s nothing wrong with reintroducing yourself and throwing in a handy context clue to help out the cosplayer who has taken hundreds of photos with people or the vendor who has been selling their wares to the thousands every day. We’re all people, and PAX is pa…x…ed. No? Fine.
Instagram challenges are actually pretty fun.
This was Sub Cultured’s first year to try anything interactive at a convention, and because as every attendee knows mashing everything into an entire weekend is super stressful, Instagram challenges are an awesome way to keep track of things you want to see! Plus, getting prizes for throwing a hashtag on the picture you were going to take anyway? May or may not be more of these happening in the future. (Hint: There will.)
Lacking height is a whole lot of no fun.
Can I get a frustrated bucket full of tears for my fellow half-pints out there? You can’t take photos in a crowd unless you muscle your way to the front, the view is forever blocked by shoulder blades, and everything generally requires searching for high ground or constantly holding a camera above your head, which is actually eye level with the rest of the attendees. Time to invest in some wedges and maybe a cosplay to match.
You have a responsibility to the friends you attend with.
Your convention roommates are who you spend the most time with, so compromise is an essential part of getting to do everything you want because your plans might conflict with the plans of your partner in crime. Sit through the panel that you have no interest in and they will return the kindness by hanging out with your friends for awhile on an endless and eternal line. Plus, expanding your horizons and doing things you didn’t originally want to sometimes works in your favor. And if they’re sick, you tough it out and sleep in the bathroom to get away from the snoring, rather than break the fellowship. True story.
Paying attention and being polite is never passe.
But really, personal space is totally a thing, Brobi-Wan Kenobi. Everyone understands the sensory overload that comes with convention halls. Look at that screen up there, wow there’s so much stuff to buy, holy long ass line, what’s that game over yonder? We get it. But being aware of your surroundings, attempt actually to not walk into other con goers, and apologizing if you accidentally bump into someone? These are a bunch of teeny things that make the floor a much better place to be. A go-to golden rule: if you’d appreciate it, put into practice.
But not everyone is going to be nice.
And that’s okay. As much as we all would love for PAX to be like riding into Pandora on Butt Stallion while she farts rainbows and glitter spews from every orifice, it isn’t always like that. Conventions take their toll on humans and can be all different kinds of draining. People react to that in different ways. Lack of sleep, being constantly hurried, and fighting off the con plague are just a few of the places our minds are focusing on rather than obeying rules of not being an asshole. The easiest thing to do if someone is displaying any of these signs at a convention is to be understanding and just let it roll off your back. And then sometimes people are simply Jerkface Mc Douchebags, regardless of the situation. It’s just who they are. And if you run into someone who is that rude to strangers, you’re most likely way better off with the 85,000 other friends and new people you’re going to meet.
20,000 subscribers isn’t a lot when you’re Natewantstobattle.
During his Q&A panel, YouTuber Natewantstobattle was asked what he looks for when searching for new creators to collaborate with for his videos and he mentioned that he doesn’t generally look at the subscription count on their channel, but rather the type of content that they produce. Even creators who only have 20,000 subscriptions can still be in the clear. ONLY. 20,000. I’m giving my 14 subs some hard side-eye right now.
The first three digits of Dookieshed’s phone number.
Another gem from the Natewantstobattle Q&A, when asked how he and YouTube partner Dookieshed met and started creating content together, Nate tried to get him on the phone only to be sent to voicemail, where the automated lady attempted to give all the attendees his phone number. Three down, six to go.
No matter how much you plan, you’ll never see everything.
Panel times, interviews, scheduling lunch and hang outs: there are too many variables to produce a perfect schedule with less conflict than an episode of Game of Thrones. And that doesn’t include bathroom stops, running into randoms, and stopping to buy swag. Take a cue from Elsa’s clear vibrato and let it go, because pouring more stress onto a pile of bullshit pancakes won’t make your weekend any more delicious.
You’ll also never have enough time to see everyone you meant to.
Friends from all over the world are coming to this one place that you are also going to be at, and dammit, you want to spend quality time that doesn’t involve posting funny photos on their wall! Dem feels, bruh. I know them. Facebook starts blowing up and you know where everyone is in theory, but if one friend is a cosplayer who is participating in group activities, one is doing three panels, one is an exhibitor, and on top of that you’re trying to coordinate with the people you’re rooming with then all your glorious plans just ain’t coming to fruition. Pick a core group and keep them text message ready, because R’hllor knows you wont have service in the convention hall.
Developers get nervous, too.
And they want to talk about their creation! For first timers presenting their brand-new proverbial baby to the community, conventions can be especially nerve-wracking. And just because devs are the proverbial celebrities of the gaming convention world, being put on a pedestal in the eyes of Random Convention Bro #394, doesn’t mean that they won’t have IRL reactions. They’re super awesome people and they want to talk to you and tell you about the awesome stuff going on and give you swag! Don’t be shy.
Coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Coffeecoffee. Caffeine.
There is absolutely NO SHAME in napping on the hall floor.
Every Penny Arcade Expo comes fully equipped with an area completely dedicated to recharging, which is basically just a pile of giant pillows thrown into the corner of the hall. Want a comfy place to charge your electronic doodad? Poof. Need an easy to describe area to meet up with people? Yep. Is it naptime? Boom. It’s a staple of the convention, and one of my very favorite features. No shame.
Prepare to be in friend’s photos. Especially candids.
Always have an eye out for when someone tries to discreetly shove a camera in your face. This also helps prepare you to photobomb everything in a 10 foot radius. Because when you get home from the convention and all your friends have posted “PAX South 2015!” photo albums on all their favorite social media outlets, unprepared people will have nothing to show for it except an account of everything you ate, naptimes, and an inability to find yourself because of height. Because friends are those jerkbags that jusy love candids.
Sometimes it’s okay to just veg.
Parties? Meh. As awesome as all the parties sound, sometimes it’s nice to kick back in the hotel and act like this is actually, you know, a vacation of sorts? You’re allowed to sleep and it’s allowed to be fun, because the next convention is always right around the corner!
But I can’t give away all my secrets just yet. What are your favorite convention hacks? PAX East will be held March 6-8th, 2015 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, straight in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts! Let us know if you’re attending in the comments below!