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The Five Types of People at PAX

William Murphy Posted:
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I thought this week we’d take a humorous slant on The List. Call it a diversion from our usual game oriented chatter, but with PAX being the first fan convention I’ve attended it was ripe for observation. I’m the kind of person who likes going to large gatherings of people because I like watching them. If I’d really thought about it while in college, I probably should have gone into sociology or anthropology. PAX is something special for those of us who like to people-watch. It’s the type of convention, much like Comic Con where different sects of fandom collide. It’s a place where everyone can feel absolutely safe to show their true inner geek and let loose for a weekend of fun.

And so in the grand tradition of dissecting idiosyncrasies, this week’s List is all about the five types of people I saw at PAX in no particular order. There are probably more no doubt, but these are the five that stood out in my mind. And rest assured it’s all in good fun. In fact, I’m more than one of these myself. I’ll let you decide which… feel free to comment and add your own types below!

The Swag Rat

I feel a special kind of kindred with these folks. To them the price of admission to the event is more than worth the hours they’ll spend scouring the booths looking for free t-shirts, blow-up weapons, hats, buttons, posters, stickers, and so on and so forth. They’re the folks who bring an extra piece of luggage to the show just because they fully expect to fill it on the way home. To them, free stuff is good stuff no matter what crap it really is. In my time at PAX, I saw no fewer than several dozen people with severe scoliosis caused by the burdensome weight of their swag-stuffed backpacks.

The Celebrity Hound

Did you guys know Wil Wheaton was at PAX? In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s there every year. But what you didn’t probably know is that there are people whose sole goal in life is to hunt him down and force him to recite Wesley Crusher or Gordie LaChance lines. There was a party we attended on Friday night that apparently was going to play host to Wil. I’ll admit to being excited. In fact my comrades in arms even sent me on a covert mission to find out if he was anywhere in the cramped corners of the club. So I guess we can all be considered perpetrators of this type. I mean, it is Wil Wheaton after all. And for the record, no, Wesley Crusher and I didn’t meet. But the restraining order he placed on Jon is still pending. I think it only applies to the greater Seattle area. So that’s good for our Editor in Chief, and bad for Wil Wheaton.

The Booth Babe Boyfriend

It’s one thing to attend a fan convention and want your photos taken with the beautiful women the companies hire. If you take a look at our PAX photos, you’ll understand at least that much. The female visitors to our site might even wonder why there are no handsome dudes in tight clothing to be found, but rest assured that the sausage quotient of PAX is far greater than the number of the fairer sex in attendance. In that interest the organizers of each company’s booths have no doubt gone out of their way to hire some comely ladies to gain the attention of potential customers. However, hearkening back to the restraining order mentioned above, it’s a wonder to me that these women don’t fear for their lives and request the combat advantage of blunt objects at their disposal. The sheer amount of young lads who believe that these hired PR personnel are actually there to have advances made upon them and perhaps to plan the future of their married life and offspring is troubling to say the least. Gentlemen, we all understand that the “booth babe” is a startling and beautiful creature. But let’s at least try to respect them and their jobs, shall we?

The People Repellants

I have to be careful writing this one, because I really don’t want to offend anyone. PAX is a show that requires a lot of walking. It’s also often cramped with thousands of people. It goes all day long, can often be warm due to a collection of body heat, and in general the event can wind having something akin to a greenhouse effect where gases and odors gather in one unseemly building-sized ball of odiferous fury. But like any spreading virus, the smelly cloud of PAX must begin somewhere. I know not, nor do I dare to call out, any specifics. I merely know that on several occasions I was interviewing a developer about their game when we both were forced to give pause and wipe stinging tears from our eyes. It’s for this very reason that I carried with me a spare deodorant and plenty of gum throughout the show. It should be a mandatory practice for all attendees is all I’m saying.

The Game Hogs

There are 60,000 strong people moving in and out of PAX Prime every year. There are around 100 or so games (probably more) on hand to be played and experienced by the attendees. And yet, there are those who will gladly and without guilt take over a kiosk for hours at a time if the game’s demo allows it. Even when said demo has a sticker above the monitor that says: “Please end your play session after 15 minutes to keep lines moving,” there are those who choose to ignore such pleas and act blissfully unaware of the long line of disgruntled gamers who are waiting on that one person to give up the keyboard or controller. Of all the many different types of gamers and fans to be found at PAX, these are probably the enemy to us all. If you see one in the wild, be sure to report them to the authorities. Or just whack them on the head repeatedly with your blow-up sword from Dragon Age 2 until they get the point.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.