This is going to be a bit of a frivolous topic, but I am writing it the night before posting. Tomorrow I have to be up well before dawn to take my wife to the airport. As a result I searched my thoughts for something worth writing about and landed on this discussion. Today the PAX West tickets went on sale… or PAX Prime for those not yet with the program… or just plain old PAX for those who have been living under a rock and missed the slow invasion of the show across the country and world. These notoriously sell out almost instantly, and unless you happen to be watching the site at the exact second it goes live, there is no way you are likely getting tickets. I have two friends who tried today… one of which practically lives for PAX… and while they both made it into the queue within a very short amount of time, but the time I actually arrived at a screen which allowed them to purchase anything… Sunday tickets were almost gone and Monday was in low availability. This is kinda insane given that they have expanded the show to a fourth day and seemingly keep expanding it. The problem is that more people want to go than are tickets available. I am sure a good number of the tickets get snatched up by speculators, and others are buying trying to get as many as their friends in as they can. I even found out that apparently folks have written scripts that are supposed to get them in the queue the second the page is published.
This same sort of madness goes on with Blizzcon but is magnified by the fact that they do several small batches of ticket sales, each of them selling out in a matter of minutes. Whereas with Pax West there is a nearly instant queue, and it simply takes awhile for those folks to filter through it to the other end. Still it seems that you had to get into the queue with the first few minutes to guarantee that you had any tickets to purchase. This presents a huge problem for folks attending, because at least for me a huge part of why I am interested in PAX at all is to use it as a destination to meet up with friends from the internet that I may never actually see otherwise. Just watching the reactions from folks attending both PAX and Blizzcon this seems to be the general consensus and the challenge is that it is nearly impossible to insure that all of your friends can actually attend. I know among my friends they had a complicated system of trying to make sure they could cover all of the people needed for Blizzcon with everyone trying to fight through the queue, and talking over chat to arrange who was buying tickets for whom when someone actually made it through the queue. Watching my friends today it seems like that is just about the only way to actually guarantee attending PAX West as well.
What I am presenting with this mornings post is another alternative. If PAX Prime is not your native PAX location… meaning it is further than reasonable driving distance away from you… might I suggest the alternative of PAX South? Granted it happened in January and is still over six months away… but I’ve been attending since its inception and I have to say it is a pretty great place to be. This past year we had something like fifteen people running around in different numbers taking in all that the convention had to offer. While I failed miserably at spending time with most of the people due to the sheer number, it was nonetheless awesome to get to see and hang out with everyone. PAX South has this super chill vibe to it and has a lot of positives going for it, that might not be the case with West or even East. The show is still very much in fledgling status, but the attendance was up quite a bit last year and expanded to a whole new area of the convention center in order to accommodate a significantly harder tabletop section. While the show was missing several of the headliners that were there the first year… such as Bioware or Gearbox… the indie section seemed to expand massively. What I liked about it was that I could pretty much lay hands on any of the devs attending, and get to talk to them face to face about the game they were showing off. Several of them were extremely excited to be talking about this labor of love that they had been working on so long.
I’ve always gotten the impression that at the larger conventions, unless you are wearing a media badge it can be really hard to actually get face time with the various exhibitors. That seems insanely easy to do at South. It also seemed like it was extremely easy to talk to the various streamers and gaming personalities. While that is not really my corner of the world, I spotted several dozen streamers that I recognized mingling out in the floor or tucked away in a corner always willing to stop and chat with fans. This was absolutely the case the first year as well, because one of the members of my party wound up getting a bunch of autographs from several of the personalities. It is my hope that the 2017 show can somehow pull together the best of the two years. Year one had some bigger names, but year two had way more stuff… and significantly more people in attendance. If this year they can convince several of the larger companies to show products, as well as keep the attendance on an upward trajectory I think there are going to be awesome things in the future. My goal as always will be to meet and hang out with as many people as I can from my extended circles.
I know how frustrating it can be to not get tickets for that event you wanted. I after all tried to get Pax Prime tickets last year, and after the frustrating debacle that it ultimately was didn’t even try this year. South is my home PAX, and is a roughly nine hour drive for me. I will likely attend it every year so long as they keep having them. I’ve gotten the impression that there are others like me that consider it their PAX. However for those really just wanting the PAX experience, without the hassle and overpriced after market tickets… I highly suggest you give PAX South a go. I will continue to trumpet it as the year goes on… or at least until they have sold out the passes. Throughout this post I have linked to a series of YouTube videos put out about the South show, as I am sure a way to try and drum up interest. I know this will be the last year in Penny Arcade’s contract with the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center. I think there is enough interest in the con to warrant it continuing in one form or another, but it might end up moving to another city. I’ve greatly enjoyed both years, and while I would love to have it in Dallas or Austin… just because they are significantly closer drives, I am more than willing to make the lengthy trek to San Antonio. Essentially if you failed to get into West/Prime… South might just be the convention you are looking for.