PAX East 2013 – Exhibitor Impressions
I apologize for the wait on this next entry here. As you may be able to imagine, time can get a little cramped on projects. Regardless, here we are for another post!
As mentioned before, this post will be regarding my experience at PAX East, not as an attendant but as an exhibitor. What did I experience? What can you expect if you want to exhibit? All answered and more.
To begin, I will mention what a phenomenal job the Reed Exhibitions staff, who is the company that works with Penny Arcade to host PAX, did in all parts of this process. Everything went exceptionally smooth, and despite just first time jitters on my part looking back the process was really simple.
At the time we approached PAX about exhibiting, we were really unsure of what we had to do, and if we’d even be accepted as an exhibitor. Luckily, they are very accommodating for indie developers and we were accepted right away without hassle. We registered for a 10ft x 10ft booth, and we were on our way to being at PAX East!
From there, we made preparations to get together materials for a booth. As first time attendants we were granted a carpet and a table. Everything else was on us at this point.
We decided to make cardboard standups. Larry, the Hamster Drop artist, and myself designed the cutout image. I got them printed at a local FedEx printing store, on glossy thick paper then went and acquired a few giant pieces of cardboard by simply going to Home Depot and asking them for it. They were very helpful and let us have them for free. I cut down the cardboard into pieces as much as possible and folded it up to take with us. The constructed cutout would not fit with us on the trip, so it had to be constructed upon arrival. We had intended to make as many as two, but when we got there it was obvious we only needed one. The second cutout printout was left uncut and hung up on the back curtain as a poster. At the end of the last day of the convention, we gave away the cutout, and poster.
For swag we decided to go with plushie hamsters (as you can see here, and here, and here). This turned out really well. We did a high score contest every hour, the highest score winning the prized hamster plushie. In theory this sounded like a great idea, and it did fairly well. One hitch we found was that the people who would have liked to get the hamster the most were sometimes powerless to do so. In our case, many little kids were unable to compete at that level. In the future perhaps a lottery system would work best, but I’d still like to find a way to include a high score contest for something. For those who could compete, they enjoyed it very much.
One thing that helped tremendously was having kiosk stands for our tablets. In this case we used iPad’s. We chose to bring and set up four stands. Having a stand seemed to help tremendously. This allowed us to let people play at more comfortable angles, remain standing, and without fear of dropping it. No one at the booth had to hold or steady the iPads. Personally I was under the impression everyone would have had them, but we were the only ones that did.
This leads me into the next bit, where in hindsight we could have used more space. The volume of traffic we experienced, which admittedly appeared to be atypical for our size of developer, was pretty overwhelming at times. So much so we had crowds of people bleeding over our borders and clogging traffic in the walkway. If we had more room we could have avoided a lot of clutter and crowding. The next time we go, I’ll be looking into getting more space.
I didn’t get much sleep while on this trip. However, despite not being rested, I felt very awake and alive, perhaps running on pure hype alone. I didn’t even get to eat the first day, we were so busy. The food at the convention center was really expensive anyway, so I probably wouldn’t have even if I had the chance. In subsequent days we ordered from Harry O’s, which I really encourage you to visit if you happen to be in the area. This is high grade family owned Italian, without high grade prices. Best part is, they deliver to the convention center! What a treat that was to have them for lunch.
While we’re on the topic food, to top off the the last day we hopped over to No Name Seafood for the best seafood I’ve ever had. Note: I live in upstate New York without access to an ocean, so take this testimony for whatever its worth. Prices were extremely reasonable, everything was fresh and done very well. You can’t beat the atmosphere either.
As far as lodging goes, my advice would be to get this early on so you can get to the convention center easier. Boston traffic is no beast to take lightly, and the longer you wait to book, the less likely on foot will be an option to get there in the morning. Due to cost factors and booking later we stayed in a surrounding territory around Boston called Waltham. This worked out fairly well being right off of the Mass Pike, which leads directly to the convention center. The travel time varies, as does the traffic, but it wasn’t too bad all things considered. It could have been a lot worse.
That about sums up my impressions in general. I realize this kind of article isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so next time I promise to talk about Hamster Drop itself more. I’m thinking of writing about my perspective on the art, as a creative director. I also promise not to make you wait as long for this one!