A Non-Nerdy Girl’s Guide to PAX Prime

pax prime seattle 2014

This summer, I went on a trip to Seattle with Kev and his friends, whose primary purpose was attending PAX Prime. Before diving into what this event is all about, here’s a little background info that you need to know about Kev and me.

Kev is a hardcore gamer, who spends approx. 5-6 hours everyday playing video games. War of Warcraft, League of Legends,and Hearthstone are some of his favorite games. When he is not working, he plays games. Whenever he is free, he reads game-related news and forums. Pretty nerdy, eh? But that’s his hobby.

On the contrary, I don’t play ANY video games, not even Super Mario Kart. Kev made me play Mario Kart once and I sucked so bad that it was a pain watching me play. Sorry, I am just not a big fan of video games. I like board games though, especially those that are light and fun to play with friends and family.

Up till now, you might get a sense that PAX Prime is some sort of gaming convention. (Yes, it is.) And you might wonder why on earth I agreed to go to PAX with Kev! Am I out of my mind? Well… he promised to bring me to all those great places to eat in Seattle. Haha, I must admit I am an easily satisfied person. But I am also a curious cat. I wanted to know what those boys were up to and why it was such a big deal. That’s how I got myself into this.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t a torture for me at all. I did have some fun and most importantly, it helped me understand Kev’s world better! If you are like me going to PAX Prime for the first time and have zero-knowledge/experience on video games whatsoever, you’re at the right place. In this post, I am going to share with you what to expect and what you can do in this grand gaming festival to get the most out of it. Read on 😀

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So… what exactly is PAX Prime?

PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo, first created in 2004 to celebrate the gaming culture. Every year, PAX Prime draws thousands of people who are interested in video games, role-playing, tabletop games and collectible card games to Seattle. The 4-day festival is usually held on the Labour Day long weekend. There’s also PAX East in Boston, PAX South in San Antonio, and PAX Australia in Melbourne. The events were so popular that for PAX Prime 2014, all tickets (4 day passes as well as single day passes) were sold out in less than two hours after they went on sale.

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What should you prepare?

  • a comfortable pair of closed-toe shoes
  • a big backpack (to put all the swags)
  • water
  • snacks
  • something to keep you busy while waiting in line, e.g., books and magazines (or kindle if you’re the digital type)
  • mobile internet data plan (to connect to your FB or Twitter account to enter prize draws)
  • portable charger
  • camera with an extra battery

What to expect?

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  • Don’t be surprised if you find yourselves waiting in ridiculously long lines. Even on the first day, we had to loop around the Convention Center and waited for 40 mins just to get ourselves into the Expo Hall. For some of the popular games, it was not uncommon to wait in line for at least 1~2 hours to play the demo.

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  • People EVERYWHERE. PAX is big and is spread across 7 buildings. But don’t forget this is one of the largest gaming events in North America that attract tens of thousands of people. No doubt you will be surrounded by people at all time, with very little personal space. 

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  • Majority of the games you’ve never heard of. If you’re not a video gamer like me, you will wonder around with a blank look, not knowing most of the games and the characters. That’s okay. This is an event where exhibitors come to promote their games. For non-gamers like us, they are more than happy to explain and show us what the game is about. And you know what? Sometimes hardcore video gamers don’t even know the games because exhibitors use this opportunity to bring in upcoming games to get the crowds excited! 
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You might not know who Teemo is, but you must have known what this yellow pet is!

  • You will be overwhelmed. There are lots of things to do and see at PAX –  freeplay, tournaments, panels, autograph sessions, exhibitions…etc. It is impossible to see everything in 4 days. So where should you begin? I summarized a few things below that I enjoyed doing. If you are a non-nerdy person like me, it might be a reference to guide you through your next visit to PAX Prime 🙂

Fun things for non-nerdy people to do at PAX Prime

When your friends are busy playing battle games, listening to panel discussions, or watching tournaments, how can we non-gamers entertain ourselves?

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  •  Taking photos of cosplayers. I was surprised to find out this is not an event solely for young male adults, but also one that has girls, dads with little boys and moms with infants as attendees! On top of that, it is not difficult to see that some people put in great amount of efforts in their cosplay!

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  • Play board games. Kev and I spent considerable amount of time exploring new tabletop games. Tabletop vendors were scattered all around, with some hidden in smaller rooms. Most of them had copies of board games available for free play. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the games. Ask the staff for help. They will teach you how to play. For those who crave competition, check out the tabletop tournaments schedule. If something sparks your interest, you can register on the day of the event. This year’s tournaments featured popular games including Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders, King of Tokyo, Dominion and Agricola.
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We learned to play Netrunner, Witcher, and XCOM from the Fantasy Flight Games crew

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You can also purchase board games on the spot

  • Try casual video games. Not all games are the hardcore battling type that involves killing evil monsters. I managed to find a few casual, fun games to enjoy myself 🙂
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Project Diva, a rhythm game in which players press the buttons to match the symbols that appear on the screen

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At the Oculus booth, we put on the virtual reality headset and experienced 3D gaming!

  • Collect swag. One of our main goals was to collect as much swag as we could to get our money’s worth. Sometimes exhibitors just handed out freebies to the people they encountered. But oftentimes, you must lineup to play their games in order to get the swag.
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Those are all the pins I collected from the event. Some of which I had to line up for hours and completed the game to earn them.

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At the super smash bros booth, they gave out the special red towel to the winners who won the 3DS multi-player games. I had never played the game before, but I miraculously defeated 3 other players and became the winner! It was my lucky day 🙂

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After 4 days of PAX, we brought back tons of swag, including t-shirts, wristbands, lanyards, pins, bandana, towels and promo codes.

  • Don’t be afraid to wander around and explore. Simply walk around and see what interests you. You never know what you will bump into.
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We were tired from walking and it was then that we saw the oxygen bar. I had always wondered what’s an oxygen bar. That day, we finally got to try for free!

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Basically, the bottles contain flavored scents that you can breathe in through your nostrils

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Hey, I found hello kitty in street fighter costumes! Aren’t they cute?

It wasn’t so bad, was it? All in all, I had an enjoyable time at PAX. It was an eye-opening experience for me. If we are attending again next year, I think 2 days will be enough for me 😛 I will be particularly interested in watching the omegathon.

Hope this is a useful guide for those of you who are interested in the event! If you have any secret tips on getting giveaways, please share with me 😀

Link-up //WeekendWanderlust // Big thanks to A Brit & A Southerner and other co-hosts. For more travel posts, please click on the image below.

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2 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Lol! Interestin, glad u had fun in a gaming convention :p

  2. GREAT article! My husband and son went to Minecon last year (the convention about Minecraft) and my son went to PAX east for one day. What he said about his experience completely agrees with what you’re saying. I’d probably put “bring your own portable charger” in bold and all caps, because from what I’ve heard, there were lines to outlets as well!

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