With three weeks until PAX West, it's time to start thinking about how to spend your time at the convention. Four days may seem like a lot, but those days will fly by in the blink of an eye if you if you show up without a plan.
PAX is a lot like Disneyland (especially when it comes to long lines that never seem to end) and it pays to be prepared. It's impossible to ride every ride and see every show, but if you spend some time familiarizing yourself with everything it has to offer, you'll have a better shot and getting to see and do all the things that matter to you.
There are over 100 tournaments, panels, concerts, and events scheduled each and every day of the convention, not to mention the tabletop free play, exhibitor floor, scavenger hunt, PC play area, and much, much more. Trying to decide how to spend your time can be a daunting experience, but don't worry: we think we can help. Here are the panels at PAX West 2019 you absolutely do NOT want to miss.
Penny Arcade Q&A - Friday 11:30 AM Main Theater
Kick off the weekend first thing on Friday morning at the Penny Arcade Q&A hosted by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, authors of the Penny Arcade webcomics and creators of PAX (did you know PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo?). This Q&A is the first event on the main stage and is the best way to get into the spirit of PAX.
Holkins and Krahulik are talented entertainers and will spend an hour on stage answering questions about gaming etiquette, yoga moves, friendship, and everything in between. Their signature style is equal parts laughs and sagely advice to help gamers navigate through life's many trials and challenges. If you're trying to do PAX right, this is the place to start.
Gearbox Main Theater Show - Friday 1:30 PM Main Theater
The Gearbox show is like a mini E3 press conference and this year is one of the biggest for the studio, as hype for Borderlands 3 is at an all-time high. Gearbox has promised a closer look at the game as well as updates on Risk of Rain 2, We Happy Few, and Homeworld: Remastered. As always, there will be some big reveals and exclusives for attendees, so if you're looking for the gaming conference experience, you won't want to miss this. You'll have a front-row seat to everything new Gearbox announces this year, and if history is any indicator, there may be some really incredible prizes being given away as well.
Acquisitions Incorporated - Friday 7:30 PM Main Theater
The popular D&D-style podcast Acquisitions Incorporated makes its yearly return to PAX West as a live game of light-hearted fantasy role-playing. Starring the aforementioned Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik as their characters Omin Dran and Jim Darkmagic, the Penny Arcade authors will be joined by Lead Rules Designer at Wizards of the Coast Jeremy "The Crawfish" Crawford operating as DM.
The trio will be joined by a cast of yet-announced "friendscociates" for a hilarious three-hour session of role-playing, improv, and comedy. The current iteration of the podcast collects all the live performances from the past three years of PAX conventions all around the country. It isn't required listening to attend, but it will give you a great idea of what to expect at the show.
Roll for a Sanity Check: Games and Mental Health - Saturday 1:30mPM Sandworm Theater
PAX is a fantastic environment for celebrating how much gaming has benefited all of our lives, and this panel, which consists of game industry insiders and mental health professionals, is focused on the therapeutic and social values that gaming offers. Whether you personally struggle with mental health or know a gamer who does, this panel is sure to be full of enlightening conversation about the power gaming has to help us overcome mental health challenges and develop a sense of community that is immensely important to those of us that suffer from social anxiety.
Noclip: Video Game Documentaries LIVE - Sunday 11:30 AM Hydra Theater
Danny O'Dwyer and two producers of the crowdfunded video game documentary series Noclip will host this panel about the making of some of the best making-of documentaries out there. Peek behind the curtain that's behind the curtain as the affable Danny O'Dwyer shares exclusive clips and fun details about his adventures in video game documentary making.
If you've seen any of Noclip's projects, including the recent Hitman series, you know you're in for a treat with this panel, as Danny is consistently delivering some of the highest quality game industry content out there.
Double NintenDare! A '90s-Fueled Nintendo Gameshow 9:30 PM Cat Theater
Get ready for a nostalgia overload as this game show makes its first return to PAX West. Contestants will compete for fabulous prizes by answering Nintendo trivia in a Double Dare-themed show complete with "digital challenges" and '90s commercial breaks. Personally, we'll be going to hopefully relive the glory days of bubble tape, moon shoes, and that ridiculously catching jingle "It's fun getting into trouble!"
Omegathon Final Round
While more of a tournament than a panel, the Omegathon Final Round is the official end to PAX and the culmination of six round amateur tournament played throughout the weekend. Twenty attendees are randomly selected to compete in the Omegathon and given the month prior to PAX West to bone up on the games.
This year, the competitors will be playing Doodle Rush, Bombfest, ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS, Party Golf, and Super Bust-a-Move in a single-elimination tournament. The final round is always kept secret but over the years has been everything from Tetris, to crane game, to Halo 3 before the release of Halo 3. This is the grand finale to PAX West, and you won't want to miss it.