As you guys probably know, PAX East 2015 was this past weekend, starting a week ago today actually. It was one of the better PAXes I’ve been to and much better than PAX East 2014 in my opinion, even though a few big names were missing this year. What WAS there, however, was more than enough to make up for anyone that couldn’t make it either due to snow or choosing not to attend. I heard a lot of people say there wasn’t much there this year, but I disagree. It was a wide variety of games and booths, so if you only played PC or only played on console, then sure I can see why one would think there wasn’t much to see. But since I dabble between both areas of gaming I thought there was plenty to see, even to the point I didn’t quite get to everything I wanted to before the show ended. I hit my main goals and tried to see as much beyond that as I could, and I think we both made out pretty well.
Instead of going through everything we saw at the show I decided to go through my highlights and lowlights. Since everyone likes to end on high notes, let’s go ahead and get the lowlights out of the way. Thankfully there weren’t too many, and they didn’t really ruin the show or anything, but they’re there.
This has always been a problem at every PAX, and it’s not one that will ever really go away. No matter what you want to see, there’s a very good chance you’ll have to wait in line for it, and for a long time. We’re talking lining up for panels an hour and a half in advance for the popular ones, and even up to an hour in advance for the not as popular ones. The expo hall, being the real big ticket item for many, is full of even longer lines when trying to see or play the games offered. Things like Battlefield: Hardline had at least a 2 hour wait for anyone who wasn’t there when the expo hall opened.
It’s the unfortunate nature of shows like this, and it forces you to really think about what you want to see and when. Do you sacrifice an hour or two of expo hall time to make sure you get a seat for the panel you really want to see? Do you stand in line for that long for a 5-10 minute play session of a single game? Thankfully though,it was nowhere near as bad as last year when every Riot panel we wanted to see was right in the middle of the day, meaning we had to sacrifice most of the expo hall time getting there and getting out of the panel when everything you want to see on the show floor is already maxed out. But this is still the biggest issue at each PAX, and one that’s likely to remain the biggest issue as the show continues to become more popular.
The physical toll standing in the lines takes is sometimes worse than the amount of time you’re spending waiting. At least you can keep yourself occupied in that hour or two waiting with handheld games or socializing, but you’re forced to stand up the entire time. It’s rare that there’s enough room to sit down and even rarer that there would be an available seat nearby that isn’t taken immediately or outside the line itself. It makes finally getting into panels that much sweeter since you can sit down, but hot damn do your feet hurt. Remember kids, wear comfortable shoes, you need them.
The whole “forced to stand” isn’t an exaggeration by the way. It leads into my next lowlight actually which is…
Note, I said “some”, not “all”. The majority of the Enforcers and PAX staff you encounter are super nice, as helpful as they can be, and more than happy to answer any questions or just shoot the shit about games. But then you have an unfortunate few who take the Enforcer role a little too seriously, getting bossier than necessary or having a raw attitude that doesn’t fit with the job description of a PAX Enforcer (you know, the whole “Don’t be a dick” rule?). When someone sits for a brief moment after asking the people around them if it’s ok or a group of friends sit while in line to pass the time with a game of Magic: The Gathering only to be yelled at to immediately stand up gets irritating.
In my brother’s case, he was yelled at to “stay behind the line” while standing in line while his foot was literally 2 inches over the line. He thought the Enforcer was joking since it was far too silly of a thing to get upset over, but apparently he wasn’t. He was dead set on everyone being 100% within the boundary. I understand if someone is trying to schmooze their way into a full line and half their body is standing outside the designated line-up area, but come on, the guy’s toes were barely over and the guy copped an attitude.
Again, this isn’t all the staff, just a small minority I unfortunately encountered this year, but each year there’s always a handful of people like this, especially since many people volunteer as Enforcers multiple years in a row. And I get that with that many people and busting your ass for 3 solid days gets tiring, so people are bound to get irritated. I’m just saying there are some that need to relax a sec and not act like Robocop.
It also doesn’t help when some Enforcers break rules and allow people to line up for panels or other events too far in advance. When the rule is no lining up more than 1 or 2 hours ahead of time and the line is maxed out 2 hours before something is supposed to start, it isn’t very fair to others expecting this rule to be followed. Again, not every line, but unfortunately when it did happen this year it hurt.
Every PAX there’s always some sort of discussion about introducing age limits into the show, preventing younger kids from attending without a parent. I don’t know if it was just my imagination or if some of the exhibitors attracted more kids, but there seemed to be a lot of rude kids running around this year. I get it, they’re kids, but it ticks me off when parents just dump their kids off at the show to wreak havoc on everyone there just so they don’t have to deal with them. Pushing past people, running into people without a single word, cutting lines, standing in the middle of busy hallways, etc. I think it would be fair to make it so anyone under 12 or 13 must be accompanied by an adult, but that’s a much larger discussion. This isn’t to say that all kids were bad and all adults weren’t; we saw plenty of well-behaved kids with and without parents who were having a blast and not bothering anyone. We also saw plenty of adults and kids with their parents who were jerks.
This one is more a pet peeve and a minor annoyance. Where everything moves so fast at PAX anyway this is one of the lesser issues, and gone just as quickly as it shows up.
I ended up writing a lot more than I intended on this, meaning I’ll be splitting the Highlights into their own post. I’ll have that up soon enough, so keep an eye out!