In general I will spend most of my time at any convention in the panels. I’m really grateful NYCC having a preview night as it gives me a chance to see their show room floor much more than I ever would without it. So even at an event with all the 1,001 delights like the exhibitor hall at PAX East I still found myself in the panel rooms for most of the weekend. I just enjoy learning and seeing what other people have to say. Also as someone who does panels himself I like to see what other panelist do right that I’m not doing, do wrong to avoid doing myself, and are talking about in general for new ideas of my own. Even a comic book or video game convention can be a wellspring of inspiration.
Apparently PAX panels are infamous for filling up quickly like they were Hall H at SDCC. I was warned and by several people no less. I was told that you had to be in line for any panels at least a half an hour if you were wanted even a chance of getting in and if a panel was popular you might want to try an hour early. At first I was really worried. I had scheduled a panel every hour for the length on the convention so I assumed it would be much like NYCC: I would probably get locked out of every third panel I went to and have to either camp my next panel or explore the show floor. This was not a terrible plan. I did not really have a major time put aside to explore all the games there anyway so if I was missing panels it was a good time to check out the rest of the con.
That said I easily got into all but one of the panels I wanted to see and I rarely had to show up way in advance. I did not have a press pass so it was not even the power of the fifth estate getting me inside. I’m not sure if it was just that I picked panels no one cared about, if it was a slow panel year, or if it is just the natural tendency for con goers to stand in lines for no reason. All I know is that the only panel I could not get into was Six Months Into the New Console War. Not sure why that was the hottest panel especially since I later went to Console Launches: A Post Mortem which was a fairly similar panel. I admit I BARELY squeaked into Games That Are So Bad, They’re Good but I came to that 2 minutes after it started and panels like that are notoriously popular. So Bad, It’s Good is partially the lifeblood of the Internet. I can’t exactly say what the truth of the matter is but I do think this reinforces my idea that 80% of line culture at conventions is caused by people assuming that they need to line up in advance more than actually needing to line up in advance.
But that is a lot of meta talk. What people really want is to know the good, the bad, and the fugly of the presentations at PAX East.