I went to PAX West for the first time this past weekend and had a beyond great time. My boyfriend was invited to speak on a panel about his unique job in games (more on that below) and I got to tag along and see what PAX West had to offer.
I landed in Seattle late-Thursday afternoon to an incredibly packed airport. There were a few unofficial PAX events that day but I instead opted to get as much rest as possible to prepare for the four-day weekend ahead of me. I got an early start Friday to find my boyfriend, Mike’s panel and help set up. After going to the wrong building, I found where I needed to be. Mike’s job basically consists of using gaming and related tech to help kids in the hospital. Whether it’s simply staving off boredom or reducing the amount of anesthesia needed for procedures (check out this corny news clip for more on his job).
Lots of people showed up with some great questions for the panelists, mostly on how they could start similar programs in their cities and hospitals. By far, the proudest day at PAX for me.
After that, we were more or less free to experience PAX like everyone else. We had special guest badges, which we hoped would get us secret access to lots of stuff. However, that was not the case. They were pretty strict on who was able to go where, with only exhibitors or content creators really getting special access.
One of the things I was most surprised by at PAX was just how massive the whole thing was. Attendees needed to line up at 5am or even earlier just to get a spot in line for the biggest games. Some lines were capped right at the public was let in, making it near impossible to play some of the AAA titles. The indie megabooth, where a bunch of indie devs get to showcase their games, was much easier to get to and far more accessible. However, as the weekend went on, games like Boyfriend Dungeon gained considerable buzz and made waiting for indie games a little difficult. Still nowhere near as difficult as something like Kingdom Hearts 3, though.
Friday night I went to the Life is Strange 2 party hosted by the What’s Good Games podcast. I’m a super huge fan of them and definitely made a fool of myself telling them how much I admire their work, but that’s neither here nor there because I also met Cory Barlog at that party! I finished the latest God of War in just two days and my boyfriend has been a lifelong fan of the franchise, so meeting him was just an overall great experience. He’s the coolest guy ever and was more than happy to talk to us. Mike got to talk about the use of his game in the hospital and I thought that was really special. Anyway, if you go to PAX, I highly recommend meeting Cory 10/10 experience would meet again.
Saturday was more of a rest day, but Sunday I got to demo the new Spiderman game. This was one of the only big titles that was accessible. I waited probably 30 minutes in line for a 20 minute demo. It was a really well-run booth and I’m really glad I got to play the game. I’d write more about it but the embargo was lifted today so there are plenty of reviews of the full game, which are probably more useful than my 20 minutes of gameplay. However, my demo experience has definitely influenced my decision to go buy it this weekend.
I was able to hangout for a little bit on Monday morning, expecting the crowds to have thinned out considerably. Perhaps in the afternoon it might have been more relaxed, but with everyone trying to fit in their last hours of PAX before their flights home, it was just as crowded as any other day.
So would I recommend it to others?
If you’re looking for a fun trip Labor Day weekend and can somehow get tickets before they sell out, I would say definitely, yes. However, it might be wise to take a few days off before or after PAX as well to see and explore Seattle. PAX was amazing but the lines are long, the panels are short and it might not be everyone’s idea of a vacation well-spent. Throwing in some classic vacation activities would help justify the cost of the plane ticket and hotel.