Well, friends, it’s almost time for PAX East 2020! The time where gamers and lovers of geek culture head to Boston, MA, from February 27 – March 1st, 2020. Seeing how this is going to be my 7th time heading to the event, I figured that sharing what I’ve learned over the past few years would help every who’ll be in attendance. Trust me, you’re going to wait to read all of this! No need to thank me either.
How do I acquire a badge for PAX East 2020?
By now, you should already have your tickets for PAX East 2020. Especially since they tend to go fast, but if for some reason you don’t have any, don’t despair. It’s not too late and your first place should be to head over to the official PAX East website. The single-day badges are $60, while the new four-day badges are $225. At the time of this guide, the 4-day badges were still available, however, only the single-day badges for Thursday and Sunday are available.
That said, you can still find single day PAX East badges on the following websites;
- Reddit’s PAX Pass Exchange (highly recommended)
- LYTE (Service created by Reedpop to help stop scalpers)
When should I expect my badge?
Reedpop typically sends out badges for PAX East about one month ahead of the event. Meaning at the time of this guide, the badges should be going out or are already in transit. Keep checking your physical mailbox. If you don’t get your badge(s) at least two weeks before PAX East, be sure to contact Reedpop and Penny Arcade at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where is PAX East 2020 being held?
Just like every other year, PAX East 2020 is being held in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), in Boston, MA. This convention center is massive, and if you’re heading to PAX East, be prepared to get lost a few times. There are multiple floors, places to buy food tons of rooms not including the show floor (where most of PAX East is held) and even a connected hotel. There’s also parking outside of the venue, but that’s pricey.
Is there an app?
There sure is! Reedpop has an app that was recently released for PAX South that took place recently. You can find this on iOS and Android by searching for ReedPOP Mobile. Currently, the PAX East version is available and it doesn’t look like anyone who downloaded this for PAX South was impressed by it. Sadly, this means that the Guidebook app that most are familiar with hasn’t updated for a PAX event since PAX Aus 2019. Chances are it won’t be updated for PAX East 2020, either.
Dress for the weather
Please, please, please, be sure to check the weather before heading out to PAX East! As it’s held in Boston, MA and is located by the riverfront, it’s going to be cold. Seeing how this year’s event is being held at the end of February 2020, it’s going to be usually colder. Be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes; sweatshirts, hoodies, insulated pants, etc. I don’t want to see anyone wearing shorts and a tank top.
Be prepared to wait if you have a backpack/bag
If you’re coming to PAX East with a backpack or bag, you’re going to be subject to a bag check. Every entrance has one, so there’s no getting around it. To help make the line move as quickly as possible, have your bag already open so the checkers can see inside of the bag clearly. The sooner you do this, the faster you can get inside the building.
A helpful tip is to not bring a bag. Unless you’re there as media/press, simply come without a bag. There are so many booths that give out free bags while inside that may not even need one. Carry a folding bag or a drawstring sack that you can stuff into your pockets and pull it out when needed. If you are media/press, you’ll have a separate line that moves quickly, so don’t worry. There’s less of you than there are attendees.
Please wear deodorant and shower
Let’s be honest here, no one likes to smell the stench of someone who doesn’t use proper hygiene; deodorant and showering daily. Events like PAX East are usually full of people who don’t like to wear deodorant or shower, and sadly it causes some displeasure of the other people attending the events. Don’t be this person, and be sure to bring and wear deodorant. While it might be cold outside the BCEC, it’s going to be warm on the inside. This means people are going to sweat, and sweating means stench without deodorant. Please wear deodorant, shower daily and be thoughtful of others. Otherwise, I’m sure that we’ll see more than a few tweets and posts on the internet about the large amounts of stinky people.
Go to the restrooms while you can
There are two constants are PAX East; long panel lines and extremely long restroom lines. If you have to relieve yourself, try and find a restroom that’s out of the way as it will have fewer lines. Those on the showroom floor, or close to panels are going to have long lines of people who need to use them as well.
Don’t be jerks to the Enforcers
The fine folks at PAX East with those red shirts that say “Enforcer” on them aren’t the bad guys. Yes, they may be pushy at times, but instruct you to move along, but that’s their job. These are folks who have volunteered their time to help make this event the best it can be. While you may not agree with everything they do, they’re there to help you. For example, during one PAX East event, an enforcer saw that I was a little tired from multiple appointments and went out of their way to fetch me a bottle of water. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. Be nice to them, they’re there for you. You may even make a new friend.
Don’t be jerks part II
Everyone who’s attending PAX East is there to enjoy themselves. You, me, that person over there, everybody. So it goes without saying that you should be on your best behavior. Don’t shove people, no trying to knock people over, no cutting in line, no stealing, no fighting (unless you’re doing it in a game) and no harassing anyone. Of course, you can act like, well a jerk, but do so at your caution. There are police officers there who won’t mind escorting you out of the event.
Just be cool, and have fun.
Take care of yourself, please
PAX East takes place over 4 days and during that time I’m sure you’ll want to see and do everything. Which is great and all, but if you neglect yourself then you’re only hurting yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat a good breakfast and/or lunch, stay hydrated. If you find yourself starting to get tired, there are plenty of places in the convention center to take a breather and relax. Don’t beat yourself up, or the event will not be fun.
You also want to avoid wearing boots, high heels or anything that is going to hurt your feet after a while. You’re going be doing quite a bit of standing up.
Also, make sure you bring something to entertain yourself while you wait in line. Lines and PAX East are a thing, so be prepared. A Nintendo Switch, smartphone, 3DS, PS Vita (What are those?), anything to help you pass the time away. Or if you’re there with a friend(s) or family, talk with them about how awesome the event is.
Bring a backup battery/charger/power bank
If you are attached to your smartphone/laptop/tablet, then you’re going to want to bring a backup battery, power bank or charger. Sure, there are charging stations in multiple areas, but there are even more empty outlets that you can just plug into while you enjoy some downtime. In terms of Power Banks, the larger the better…. unless you’re flying. Airlines will only allow you to carry 20,000mah rated power banks, while others won’t allow you to bring them on at all. Be sure to check with which airline you end up using, otherwise, they may search your carry on bag and take it from you; power banks ain’t cheap!
Of course, if you’re driving, then I highly recommend taking the largest one you can find. Such as the 30000mAh Aukey USB C Power Bank. I’ve used this for some time now and it usually lasts me for a day or two of attending events. Or the MAXOAK Laptop 50000mAh power bank if you’re covering the event as press or media.
Bring your food and drink, or go outside and eat
Now, there’s nothing wrong with buying food or drink while you’re in the BCEC. However, if you can then I’d advise you to either bring something to nibble on and drink before you head over. Or if you find yourself getting hungry and you can step away outside, then do that. Food and drink are outrageously overpriced inside of the convention center. Those prices are devised to get you, the hungry and the thirsty to spend ridiculous amounts of money. If you have the time, then take the trek to South Station, which is about 12-15 minutes down Summer Street. Head to the Seaport, which has plenty of places to eat or order some food via DoorDash/Grub Hub, or any other delivery service and have it delivered to the convention center.
I typically bring a water bottle and refill it when I pass a water foundation.
Here’s a map of places around the area where you can get some food, and for much cheaper.
What is there to do at PAX East 2020?
What can’t you do, should be the question. PAX East is the East Coast mecca of gaming events. Every year, thousands head to this event to play the latest games, check out some demos, see what the indie developers are up to, catch some panels, waste millions of dollars on all that sweet swag and more. If you’re a gamer, a lover of geek culture or a cosplayer, this is the event you wait on every year.
I suggest you take a look at the PAX East app and create a plan of attack. This way you’ll be somewhat prepared, here’s a lot of stuff to do. Also, be sure to bring lots of money, just trust me with that.
What panels should you attend?
I’d love to say all of them, but that’s not realistic. So what I will tell you is to make sure you check the official PAX East website and the PAX East app to see what panels are going to be available and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that the popular panels will have long lines and not everyone will get inside to check it out. If there’s a panel that you simply must see then make sure you’re in line at least 2-3 hours before it starts. Yes, it stinks to lose precious hours just to hold a seat but that’ all just part of being at PAX East. If you can’t do that, then check to see if that panel is also being streamed – most of the bigger ones typically are.
Be mindful of the Cosplayers
Cosplayers are a big part of PAX East and every year, they come out in full force. You’ll see a lot of amazing cosplayers, some amateur, some professionals, but all of which are looking to have fun. This also means there will be lots of people looking to take photos of them or with them. However, if you plan on doing so, please be courteous to them. They don’t own you anything and they’re there to enjoy the event like you. If you want a photo, ask them first. If you plan on hosting their photo on the internet, try to have a business card to give them so they know where to see it. They might also ask for your business card so they can request a copy of the photo you took, or they may give you their business card.
Approach them respect and they’ll respect you. Also, while you’re snapping that photo, why not talk to them? They love that stuff! Ask them how they’re enjoying PAX East, compliment them on their cosplay or ask them about their favorite game.
Be aware of the Cosplay weapon policy
This is super important for cosplayers! If your cosplay has any prop weapons (guns, swords) you need to be aware of the cosplay policy. Otherwise, the security folks will take your prop from you or deny entry.
Be sure to read the policy below or here:
- All costume props and weapons must be inspected and will be “peace bonded” by an Enforcer at the Information booth. This is done via attaching multicolor zip-ties to your props. Once “peace bonded”, you won’t have to have it inspected again for the duration of the convention.
- Live firearms including airsoft, either functioning or de-commissioned, are not permitted.
- Nerf guns must be rendered inoperable – you’ll have to show and explain what you did to make it as such.
- Replica firearms made from metal, solid resin/plastic/rubber are not permitted.
- All firearm costume props and weapons must be rendered inoperable and are required to have an orange safety tip at all times.
- Any bow-type weapons must be unstrung or strung with a low-tensile thread. All prop arrows must have soft, non-metal, blunted tips made out of foam or cardboard only.
- Metal swords, knives & spears are not permitted. Any sharp implements are likewise not permitted (to include needles, syringes, ceramic blades).
- Stilts and costumes which include stilts may be prohibited from certain convention areas. Be aware that you may be asked to remove them.
- Costume weapons are for fun! Enjoy your costume, but do not strike, swing at or brandish weapons at other attendees.
Attend those parties
While most of the fun at PAX East is at the convention center, there are other places to also enjoy yourself. There’s a number of parties that will be happening during the event, and I recommend you try and attend some of those. Every year over on the Penny Arcade forums, there’s a dedicated post that highlights those parties, check it out.
Some of these parties include the Acer Predator Gaming After Party, PREGAMER PAX East Edition party, and several others. They’re a nice way to enjoy a slightly less hectic time and you’ll meet a lot of interesting people as well.
More than anything, just have fun. This is the reason you’ve traveled as far as you did, to have fun. To make new friends, partnerships or whatever it is you do. So make sure you do that, be excellent to everyone and try to get back home without getting sick. Though, good luck with the latter. Hopefully, you’ll run into me or vice versa.
We’ll see you all at PAX East 2020, this February 27 – March 1st, 2020!