Photography by Fearless Photoworks
Thanks to a friend snagging an extra set of badges for me, I was able to attend my first PAX this past Labor Day weekend. It was everything I had expected it to be and more! There’s so much to take in that it leaves a first-timer like me overwhelmed rather quickly. Luckily for me I have a lot of friends that are seasoned PAX Prime veterans at this point. They gave me some pointers on how to tackle the con. Despite that, I still felt more than a little lost at times, but not upset. Everywhere you turned there was something to experience!
PAX Prime is the largest con I’ve been to in Washington. I’m used to the convention center from years of attending both ECCC and Sakura Con, but PAX is so large it overflows into the neighboring hotels and theaters. That alone can make navigating a little confusing, but they also renamed all of the locations and panel rooms to things like Sandworm and Wombat Theater. I could have done without that but it wasn’t so bad once I figured out my way around.
Obviously the highlights of PAX are the game demoing and swag collecting, and I did my fair share of both! The main exhibitor halls can be a lot to tackle, with all the big name booths in one congested area. I found myself deciding ahead of time where I wanted to go so that I could make a beeline for it. I also kept to visiting those areas mostly early in the morning before it became horrendously over crowded. I’d say some of my favorite demos from the main exhibitor hall were LittleBigPlanet 3, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call™, and Sonic Boom. Visiting the big ticket booths is obviously a must on at least one of the four days, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’d say my favorite area to frequent was the sixth floor. This had the indie games as well as the queer and diversity booths. Did you know there is a RuPaul’s Drag Race game? I had no idea until this con, which delighted me to no end and I promptly installed RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis. There were a ton of great upcoming games in the indie room as well, some of the ones that grabbed my attention the most being Chariot, Dragon Fin Soup, and Together: Amna & Saif
Despite the massive crowds, everyone was very nice at PAX. People would say excuse me if they bumped into you and hold the door open for one another. The environment inside the convention was very friendly with a general gamer camaraderie, which is refreshing considering all the animosity often seen towards female gamers online. I didn’t see any of that in the convention; no one was questioning any ladies’ geek status or claiming the cosplayers were just seeking attention. If this happened it wasn’t in my presence at least, and for that I am grateful, because kicking ass and taking names can get kind of tiring. But really, I know we’ve got a long way to go as far as equality in the industry, but it’s always refreshing to see progress.
Speaking of cosplay, everyone looked amazing! PAX cosplayers really step up their game with the level of detail that goes into their cosplays. There were also a lot more cosplayers than I had anticipated. It had always been stressed to me that PAX wasn’t about the cosplay but about the demos and swag, so I came expecting very few cosplays. While there aren’t as many cosplayers as you’d see at, say, Sakura Con or ECCCC, there were definitely quite a few and I can tell the cosplay community at PAX is growing. The con itself even had a place for cosplayers to go and take a break, cleverly named the Cospitality Lounge. Cute name right? You weren’t allowed in unless you were in a cosplay or accompanying a cosplayer. This allowed people to take a much needed break from cameras. I debuted my Fat Princess cosplay on Saturday of PAX and took the opportunity to check out the lounge. It was pretty great. They had stations with supplies for repairing cosplays, along with a photo booth and free water. I hope more cons take note and offer spaces like this for cosplayers.
The best thing for me was that there is something for everyone at PAX. Whether you’re a seasoned, hardcore gamer or a vaguely interested passerby, there is something that’ll interest you. There’s also something for every type of gamer; mobile, PC, console, and tabletop.
I’ve never considered myself much of a gamer, I’m kind of hopelessly bad at most games and stick to the role of spectator as a result. Some bad experiences with elitists when I was younger left the taste of gaming with anyone other than close friends and family kind of sour to me. Despite that, I felt genuinely excited to try games in public for the first time in a very long time. Everyone was very encouraging and didn’t mock my hesitance to play at times or make fun of me when I did poorly. I had a wonderful time at PAX Prime and would love to become a regular attendee, assuming I can score tickets again.