Use code PAXEAST20 at checkout to save $20 off your purchase of $100 or more!

[by Jaydree Scott]

It’s almost time for one of the biggest events in gaming to take over Boston.

This year’s PAX East is set for March 28 – 31 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. For the uninitiated: PAX, first known as the Penny Arcade Expo, is a series of gaming conventions that first began in 2004. Since that time, it’s grown to be a celebration of gaming culture that has spanned across the United States and Australia.

Heading to PAX East for the first time? Here are five tips to help you level up.

Tip #1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is key! From the studios and developers showing off upcoming games to the various panels and live events that take place, there’s no shortage of things to do at PAX. Before the convention, take a look at the schedule and event map to see where everything takes place and make an itinerary of the events that you’d like to attend. Sometimes events will take place outside of the main exhibit hall or in nearby buildings, so keep that in mind.

Tip #2. The Early Bird Catches the Worm

If you’re trying to play a certain game, see a panel, or have a chance to meet your favorite developers and content creators then you should get to the exhibit hall as early as possible. Tens of thousands of people head to PAX each year, so you can expect to see some pretty long lines even an hour after the doors open. Get there early to ensure you make the most out of your day.

Tip #3. Find Your Favorites

Familiarize yourself with the convention space and pay attention to where different companies are so you can come with a plan of action. Plus, plenty of creators announce the panels or events that they will be a part of weeks ahead of PAX, so be sure to check their website or accounts.

Tip #4. Hygiene and Self-Care Are Important

It’s easy to get lost in the experience of PAX, but it’s important to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Whether that’s making sure to eat throughout the day or keeping yourself clean, it will make your time that much better. You’re bound to be shaking a bunch of hands and touching even more controllers, so a travel-sized bottle of hand-sanitizer is your best friend.

There’s nothing worse than standing in line to play a game that you’re hyped about and the person in front of you smells like they haven’t showered since the weekend started. You’re going to be walking around the show floor for a while, and with all those bodies in there it’s bound to get hot. Apply a liberal amount of deodorant before heading to the convention center if you plan on being there for hours, or set some time aside throughout the day to make sure that you’re refreshed.

After all that walking around you’re bound to work up an appetite. Keep some granola bars or chips in your bag for when you’re waiting on line and hunger starts to kick in. Looking for an actual meal? There will be a food court at the event, but the surrounding Boston cuisine is definitely your best bet–especially if you’re an out-of-towner!

#5. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

The beauty of PAX is that you can speak to the people that have a hand in crafting the virtual experiences that we all love so much, while also celebrating gaming culture with your fellow gamers.

Use this time to do something that you haven’t done before: go to a tournament for a popular fighting game, check out the tabletop free-play area and bring out your inner RPG character, or head to one of the many after-parties that are held at nearby bars, restaurants or event spaces.

The convention is all about having fun and seeing your favorite games, gamers and game-makers, so it’s important to remember that! Don’t get caught up in standing in line for too long, it’s all part of the PAX experience so embrace it. Hey, you may even make a new friend or two.

Still haven’t purchased your passes to PAX? It’s not too late! Use code PAXEAST20 to save $20 off your PAX ticket purchase of $100 or more. You can find all tickets to PAX East on SeatGeek here, or view select listings below.