What is Buttoneering?

Buttoneering is a meta-game that takes place every year at PAX Prime (and to a lesser extent PAX East and other events). You play by printing up a large number of buttons with a picture that represents you, and then find other people at your event to trade with you. It is remarkably easy to do, and it's a great way to meet people. Additionally, you come away with a huge number of buttons that are a unique souvenir of your time.

What are the rules?

Well, there are only a couple. First, if you get a button you should give a button, and vice versa. This applies to the "avatar" button, which is the one that represents you personally. If you have made other buttons representing a group, game, or are just something special, you can set your own rules for what people need to do to get them. As usual, follow Wheaton's Law for maximum fun.

How did Buttoneering start?

It started out as a problem at PAX 2008 for members of the Pax Forum Community. They wanted a way to be able to pick each other out of the crowd of more than 55,000 gamers. The initial idea was for t-shirts with everyone's avatars printed on them. Once someone pointed out the added benefit of being able to smell fellow forum members coming, other ideas were proposed.

Finally, everyone settled on making buttons with their avatars on them. After some initial research, it was discovered that one could get bulk amounts of these created for relatively cheaply, and the idea of PAX Button Exchange was born!

Where can I get buttons?

We recommended PureButtons because of their excellent customer service, good prices, and being all-around cool folks. No, we don't get paid to say that. If you're not in the U.S., check in the Pax Forum for the current Buttoneering thread to find info on providers closer to home.

Why should I use Buttoneering! ?

Well, this site offers a number of things to help you out with your Buttoneering. First, you can mark what buttons you have collected, and then use the powerful filtering and sorting interface to see which ones you missed. Your collection is persistent, so you'll be able to watch your collection grow as you attend more events. You also are alerting people to your button designs, so they are more likely to try to find you and exchange buttons.

I also plan to implement some new features to help the "game" aspect along in the future, so stay tuned!

Can I use this with my phone?

There is a basic Android app, but sorry, no iOS app. You're welcome to try to use the website, but it appears to be very taxing on mobile browsers. Future plans include making a mobile friendly version of the site and good native apps. There is a public RESTful API, so if you would like to contribute a native app, contact me for information.

Who made this site, and how do I tell them it's terrible?

This was lovingly contructed by Jon Swope to help support the PAX Buttoneering effort. You can reach me via Google Plus, Twitter (@jaswope) or email (jon@swo.pe). It was written using Ruby on Rails, and is hosted on Heroku.