Enforcers are the army of colored-shirted event staff that make PAX happen.
What do they do?
The Enforcers' primary role is to make PAX awesome, and make sure the Attendees have a good time. Some of them do this from a 'customer service' standpoint -- interacting directly with Attendees -- while others work behind the scenes, doing the 1001 unseen jobs required to make an event like PAX function.
To clear up a misconsception sometimes held by new Attendees: contrary to their title, Enforcers do not generally act as security guards or bouncers. Very rarely, if there's a critical Wheaton's Law failure, some Enforcers do have to put a 'security' hat on, and there are a few Enforcer managers whose role is purely security-related.
In general, though, the Enforcers' role is to manage details, answer questions, and run all the behind the curtain knobs and switches that make the PAX machine tick over so nicely. Very few Enforcer roles require specialized training; most can be done with a bit of on the job training and the maturity and common sense that every Enforcer should have.
Enforcers are typically assigned to a department, and generally also to a morning, afternoon or evening shift. (They do get to voice their preferences, but are not guaranteed to be assigned their choice of work area). Each department is overseen by a Manager and one or more Deputies, who are generally on-shift for most or all of PAX.
Some departments operate the physical locations that Attendees can visit, such as Console Freeplay and Main Theater. Other departments, such as Line Entertainment and Logistics, are responsible for various other tasks required to make PAX run smoothly.
If you ever have comments, good or bad, about an Enforcer, the first step is to let their area Manager or Deputy know. If you can't find them, or if it concerns a Manager or Deputy in the first place, you can come to the Info Desk and ask to speak to the Info Desk Manager or Deputy, who will pass on your comments to the appropriate parties.
There are currently 2000-3000 Enforcers; at the first PAX, in 2004, there were barely 30. The subsequent two PAXes, in 2005 and 2006, operated with relatively few Enforcers; many of these Enforcers are still with the Black to date. (Originally, the enforcer shirt was black, hence the still-used term "The Black".) When PAX moved to the WSCC in 2007, the call was put out for more Enforcers, and the numbers swelled significantly -- and for the first PAX East, in 2010, the number of active Enforcers increased further. With the 3rd PAX in Australia, the community surged over 2000.
For East '10, a decision was made that became famous in Enforcer culture: changing the shirts to be brightly colored, so as to aid visibility at the event. And so, PAX East Enforcers wear red shirts, while their counterparts at PAX Prime (as the Seattle PAX was then dubbed) wear blue shirts. PAX Aus enforcer sport Gold shirts in the same style.
Every PAX since 2009, there has been recruitment for new Enforcers, and the number of Enforcers has continued to grow as PAX East, PAX Prime and PAX Aus increase in size. Like the large, bold "ENFORCER" on the back of the shirts, the service-based culture of the Enforcer corps has remained remarkably constant since 2004. One of the reasons for this is that the Enforcers represent a community in themselves, with continual Enforcer social events and other such activity going on all year round.
Where do they come from? Can I be an Enforcer?
A recruitment call is put out, as needed, from Penny Arcade to the PAX community. It consists of an application form / questionnaire that is filled out by the aspiring Enforcer and sent to the Penny-Arcade staff member reponsible for the Enforcers, Kristin Lindsay (aka "Enforcer Mom"). She reviews the applications and picks those that best fit the standards that have been established in order to join the ranks.
It's often said that once you don the Black -- once you go from Attending PAX for yourself to giving of your time and energy to help those that do -- it's hard to return to being an Attendee. One piece of advice that is often given, though, is the encouragement of aspiring Enforcers to Attend PAX for a couple of years, so as to squeeze the most out of the Attendee experience before crossing the line and becoming one of the people who bust their backsides to make the Attendee experience as awesome as possible.
Um, why is 'Attendee' capitalized this entire article?
Because it's been written and edited by Enforcers, and we capitalize the A in "Attendee" as a signifier that the Attendees -- not Enforcers, not the media, not Gabe or Tycho or anyone else -- are THE most important people at PAX.