The D Bag’s Guide to PAX East

PAX East is less than a week away. Those popping their PAX cherries this weekend could probably use a little advice. Luckily, we here at D Pad D Bags aren’t just gamers; many of us are also from the Boston area. We know what’s up. The following primer should see you through both PAX and your time in the Boston area.

Limber up – I only attended one day of last year’s convention and I woke up the next morning feeling like I got hit by a bus. I can’t imagine what kind of shape I’m going to be in this year after attending all three days. There will be much stretching and yoga prior to Friday morning. I suggest you partake as well.

Lunch – Don’t eat the convention center food unless you want a severely lightened wallet and a raging case of the shits. Exit the front of the convention center and cross the bridge. Head down the stairs (not the ones in the center of the bridge–the stairway with the metalwork serpent running down the center) and you’ll end up on Northern Avenue. Take a right to find a 7-11, a Fresh City, Sal’s Pizza, and the lunch jewel of the Seaport District, J. Pace’s Italian deli. Don’t pay $12 for crappy chicken fingers in a plastic tray when you can get a delicious chicken parm sub for under 10 bucks.

While you’re over there, check out the waterfront - The Seaport District has some great views, especially at night. Trying to woo that cute chick dressed as Pikachu who you met during Cliffy B’s keynote? Take her over to Legal Harborside to watch the planes arriving and departing from Logan under the starry night sky. Lead that tasty strumpet up the street to the Daily Catch for a look at Rowe’s Wharf. With a mighty yawn, put your arm romantically around her shoulders and proceed to catch ‘em all thanks to majestic Boston Harbor.

Fashion – Are you a cosplayer? You’ll fit right in. Most everyone else will be rocking their newest gaming-related duds. You’re going to be on your feet a lot, so skip the six-inch stilettos in favor of your most comfortable sneakers. We here at D Pad D Bags expect just one thing from you fashion-wise: leave the fedora at home. Nobody wants to see that.

Hydrate – The air inside the convention center is drier than the dialogue in Kingdoms of Amalur. Drink a lot of water.

There’s never a line at the family bathroom – Important to know after all that water you’re going to drink or if, in a regrettable moment of weakness, you give in to the dark temptation of the convention center’s supposed food. These facilities are typically a lot cleaner, too.

Bring something to do – You’re going to be waiting in line a lot if you want to check out the big name games. Handhelds and tablets are great, but you could make some new friends if you bring a card or board game. If you’re like me and you’ve got a bony ass, you might also consider bringing something to sit on. There are probably still Scott Colby tailbone divots in the convention center floor from last year.

Talk to the indie guys - The bigger name games might have prettier booths, but that dude in the corner with a stack of business cards and an iPad is going to be more fun to converse with. He’s going to actually want to talk with you rather than just usher you through his presentation as quickly as possible to keep the line moving. Show the indies some love.

Bars – Need to get your drink on? You’re going to have to travel a little bit away from the convention center unless you like expensive margarita joints or snooty chains full of trendy young professionals. If you’re looking for a cheap ‘gansett and you don’t care about the quality of the bathrooms, head to JJ Foley’s or the ultimate Boston dive, the Tam. There’s plenty of sketchy, skanky fun in the Faneuil Hall area, specifically at Hennessey’s, the Bell in Hand, and Jose McIntyre’s. Durty Nelly’s is a fine place to grab a Guinness in relative quiet. Don’t bother looking for any sort of happy hour deals; Boston is too good for that kind of thing.

But there’s a bar right up the street - It might seem like a good idea to head across the bridge to Murphy’s Law, but it probably isn’t unless you want to witness a townie bar fight. To witness a townie bar fight is usually to get involved with a townie bar fight while being taunted for being a nerd by townies. You’ve been warned.

Last call - Oh, and last call is 1:45 am. Don’t expect to get a bus or a train at that point. If you end up in the busy Faneuil Hall area, I recommend grabbing a sausage from one of the carts, finding a comfortable place to sit, and watching the magic as hordes of drunken jerks stumble out of the bars and try to hail cabs.

About those cabs – Don’t get pissed off if an empty Cambridge or Somerville cab ignores your hail. Only Boston cabs can pick up people on the streets of Boston. It’s kind of silly, but that’s the law. It’s different if you call the cab company in question first, though.

Public transportation – “The stupid fuckin’ T,” as we locals affectionately call Boston’s public transportation system, is dirty, smelly, and will always break just when you need it most, but it’s still better than wasting your time trying to navigate the city’s nonsensical streets or searching aimlessly for parking that won’t cost more than you paid for your Saturday pass. Load up $10 on a Charlie Ticket and you should be good to go for the weekend. Inbound is always toward Park Street, and the subway and buses stop running at 1 am. If you want to get back to your hotel without having to pay for a cab, your best bet is to be on the T by midnight. Don’t chance it.

Gentlemen’s clubs - If things don’t work out with Pikachu, well, you’ve got other options. The adult entertainment district formerly known as the Combat Zone sure ain’t what it’s used to be. I can’t decide if that’s a positive or a negative. Sure, there aren’t nearly as many stabbings these days, but there are also a lot fewer places to go see naked people. Regardless, skip the Glass Slipper and hit up Centerfolds. The massages are divine.

If you end up near Dudley Square – Good fucking luck.


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  • Brandon Thompson

    Loved the article. Makes me wish I was going to PAX East

  • Koz

    Well, if you get turned away from centerfolds for wearing sneakers and a 38 studios t-shirt, they accept all kinds at the glass slipper. Even you and yours.

    Also, if you’re near the convention center on Friday before 3PM, Pete’s dockside has pretty good and cheap greasy spoon fare.
    -Koz


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