This year I was able to attend my first PAX and it was pretty fun. The conference lasted 3 days and was a very good time. Throughout the past few years I have been to CES, E3, and GenCon but none of those are quite like PAX here in Seattle.
I went to the conference believing that it would be just like attending E3 but it wasn’t. Both conferences are very large with E3 attendance this year at 45,700, while PAX is now over 70,000 but is open to the public while E3 is not. So it is safe to say the PAX in Seattle was very packed but manageable. I would say the experience is much closer to that of GenCon in Indianapolis, Indiana which is focused mainly on board and card games and an attendance of 36K. There were long lines at each game being shown in each booth but yet there was no complaining from attendees as I could see.
PAX does not have as many giant booths like you would find at E3 because the conference is not as focused on industry and media such as E3 so there are no keynotes either. I feel like this could change though because the conference is almost twice as large as E3’s attendance and growing.
Overall PAX was a great experience, people were friendly, I met a bunch of new friends there were always things to do to keep you busy and most of all it was fun. I went as media to PAX but I never felt out of place. I did attend Dungeons and Dragons Live with Wil Wheaton and spent a good amount of hours in the Retro games Arcade on the second floor, I do love Pinball. PAX was big but not too big as to not be able to meet up with friends and run into friend that were also attending that I had not communicated with. However PAX being crammed into the Convention center in downtown Seattle seems like it won’t last much longer if PAX keeps growing worked well because of the multiple levels which did take some time getting used to. Once you get your bearings at PAX and reading through the god awful maps they provide you, you are on your way to mastering PAX navigation.
PAX Prime in Seattle is in a good location because you are not limited to the same old convention center food because it is right downtown in Seattle. Right outside the front door is a plethora of restaurants including the Cheesecake Factory that was quite busy the entire weekend.
Bottom line, if you are on the fence to attent PAX for yourself and you are a gaming nerd, give it a shot and attend next year. Be aware though, PAX badges sold out in hours not days. If you cannot get a badge for PAX you might be able to pick one up on a 3rd party site where someone is selling them. I would love to hear your opinions on your personal PAX experiences if you attended in the past or this year please post in the comment box below.