PAX is literally days away at this point. I’m still panicking! And I’m a PAX veteran! So I thought, with only a short time to go, I’d throw together one last PAX Aus Survival Guide, for all those little bits and pieces you might be feeling unsure about.
Regarding cosplayers – Encountering cosplayers is one of the delights of any convention, but if it’s your first time and you’re not really sure how to approach someone, it can be a little intimidating! It’s perfectly okay to address the cosplayer by their characters name. Just use your basic manners, please, thank you, the whole deal. And also keep in mind, it’s perfectly okay for a cosplayer to say ‘no’ in response, they could be in a hurry, or missing part of their outfit at the time and not be comfortable with it. Also, try to avoid asking cosplayers if you notice they’re busy, talking to someone or sitting down to have a bite to eat. And if you want a photo with them, always ask first before any posing that involves touching or getting a little too close. If you have a specific idea for a photo you want, talk about it with them first, don’t just spring it on them. It’ll make for a better experience for everyone and a better photo for you. Remember the golden rule: Cosplay isn’t consent.
Regarding photographers – If you’re a cosplayer yourself, whether first time or hundredth time, you’re probably gonna want your photo taken. For the average person wanting a photo, it’s important you be as polite to them as they are to you. Whether they’re a pro or just a regular con-goer, do you have a business card to offer them so they can find more of your work? If they’re a professional photographer, make sure to ask if they have a card for you, too, so you can find your photos later. And most importantly, remember to thank anyone for taking your photo. Whether you ask for one, or they ask you, either way, be polite!
Regarding lines – Lines for panels can get very, very long. And as a result, they can sometimes be a little unruly. Always follow whatever the enforcers tell you, which will generally be asking you to smush up close to make the line a little more organised. Also if you’re wondering, lines are absolutely great points to start discussions. Remember, if they’re in line for the same thing you are, that already means you have something in common! Spark up a conversation with the person next to you, but if they don’t seem into it, give them a little space.
Regarding enforcers – Enforcers are there to… Enforce. They’re there to make sure the convention runs smoothly, they’re volunteering their time and are doing it because they love the convention. Be cool to them. Follow anything they say to the letter, do everything you can to make their lives a little easier. Don’t be a dick, basically. If they tell you that you can’t stand somewhere, find somewhere else to stand. If they ask for your ID or your badge, don’t groan and say it’s the thousandth time you’ve been asked that day, just show it to them. Maybe offer a smile. Without them, PAX wouldn’t be able to run at all.
Regarding manners – Your parents taught you basic manners, right? Use them! Always! Manners are the most important things in life, and if you’re looking to get a little further, a little extra information, or maybe an extra free pen from that stand giving out free pens and stuff, a please and a thank you go a long way. But don’t be pushy about it. And of course, don’t be a dick to people, just, generally. Catcalling, offensive jokes, if you wouldn’t do it in front of your Grandma, don’t do it here. Use your common sense.
Regarding indie games – There are a lot of indie games and a lot of excited developers who want to show you their games. Don’t ever scoff and brush them off, don’t be a dick to them because you don’t think their game looks interesting, and if they’re being a little too forward for your liking, politely excuse yourself and move to the next booth. They’re trying their best to sell their product, and likewise, you’re trying your best to have a good time. Stop and play their game if you have the time, ask questions, but also don’t feel obligated. They’ll likely understand, so long as you’re polite about needing to move on and see the next thing.
Regarding enforcers 2 – Enforcers are there to… Enforce things, but they’re also there to help you. If you need something, ask them, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. If you encounter harassment, tell an enforcer, and they’ll do their best to help you out. If you’re feeling unwell, tell an enforcer and they’ll help you with what you need, whether it’s medical attention or just a seat. One year, I was having a bad bout of my own illness, brought on by a combination of exhaustion, over-excitement and a bad cold. I was in desperate need of seating while waiting in line, I informed an enforcer, and they were all too happy to let me into the panel a little early so I could sit and recover. They’re all really cool people.
Regarding indies 2 – You might be at PAX for all the bigger titles, like your Cyberpunks or your Pocket Mans, but we have a lot of hard-working indie developers who have worked tirelessly to bring their games in some kind of working order to PAX. You should try some out. Every year there’s some quirky games, some heartfelt games, and some just darn good games. If you have time, please try a few! I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Have a plan – Like I’ve said previously, the first step to any good plan is to get the app. Got the app? Good! Now you’ve put the panels you want to see in, make sure you also block out some time for other stuff. Want to see a specific game? Block out some time to wait in line, as well as the time to play it. Block out your lunch break. Block out the blocks where you have nothing going on so you know exactly how long you have to wander around just looking at stuff. Keep your eye on the official PAX Aus Twitter for updates. Be prepared for anything and everything. The better you plan, the more you’ll see. This is especially important for those going only one day, but if you’re going multiple days, you can be a little laxer on the planning side of things and just go with the flow. The vaguely planned flow.
Cookie Brigade – The Cookie Brigade will be moving around the convention offering delicious treats for a gold coin donation, raising money for Child’s Play. They offer a huge range of delicious treats, and if you ask, they even have dietary requirement suitable treats! The best part is, every single one of them is delicious. You can usually find them around lines, or just wandering around generally, offering their wares as the best kind of NPC’s. But if you want to specifically get that tasty cookie, keep an eye on their Twitter, and maybe even tweet at them and you could have a cookie bearing brigadier showing up with choc chip goodness you crave.
Giveaways – Almost every booth will have some kind of giveaways on the day. It’s a good idea to do a lap of the show floor, making notes of who’s offering what, and when. Another good tip is to find the Twitter accounts of the people offering the stuff you want, so you can receive live updates on exactly when they’re going to be giving stuff away. A helpful booth staff member will always be willing to tell you what to expect when to expect it, and probably give you a card or something with their Twitter on it. As well as a pen, or some mints, or something like that, usually for following said social media account.
Cheat codes – I mean, there aren’t any, which sucks, but maybe if you quote the Konami Code to an enforcer you might get a high five.
Things to avoid:
Regarding cosplay 2 – You may have a big unwieldy cosplay, and this is fine. You might also have a weapon, which is also fine, so long as it’s been thoroughly inspected and approved by weapons check. But what you need to keep in mind is how other people are going to work around you. Don’t block thoroughfares with your outfit. Don’t be pointing your weapon at people, and especially don’t think your weapon deserves its own seat. It doesn’t! Those seats are for butts!
Regarding health and personal hygiene – You might find a lot of people offer fist bumps, or even elbow bumps, instead of a hug or a handshake. This is because they know the dreaded PAX Pox all too well and want to avoid it. Always be hand sanitising so you too don’t get it. Also, the deodorant thing, please use a lot of it, and shower regularly.
Regarding yourself – Don’t neglect yourself and your needs. Take time out, even if you think you don’t need it. See a panel to get off your feet. Eat lunch. Stay hydrated. There are usually a few places around that offer free water, check with an enforcer or just explore to find them. Don’t burn yourself out in the name of video games.