PAX West – A Post-Pandemic New Attendee Experience

Pax West – a new interactive experience after a pandemic

by Candice Branum

Labor Day Weekend 2022 I was given the opportunity of a lifetime! I was offered the opportunity to attend PAX West as a photographer for Skewed and Reviewed. This was not my first time working with him, it was my first time to attend such an event. I can say that, without a doubt, it was one of the funniest and most memorable experiences I have ever had! Lucky for me, my co-worker for the day was Slack and Reviewed contributor, Joseph Saullier.

Joseph and I started the day by finding a nice parking spot across from the Washington State Convention Center, where the event is held each year, and making our way to our badged hotel. It sounded more chaotic than it actually was, though large crowds of hundreds and deafening voices lined up to get their vaccine status checked, certainly cause for panic for an introvert. Will happen. The lines moved quickly and the people were generally respectful. Still, the overwhelming excitement to see what Pax had to offer was almost too much to bear! With badges secured around our necks, we quickly made our way through the streets of downtown Seattle and finally back to the convention center!

Let me tell you, it was the first day for me. For anyone who hasn’t been inside, the Washington State Convention Center is a beautiful building filled with 6 stories of businesses and rooms that serves thousands of visitors a day. I’ve lived in the Seattle area for about 2 years and never had the opportunity to visit it. 10/10 Would recommend visiting at least once. With the grand journey up the escalator we stopped to get our gear ready, and made our way up another floor for the main event!

All I have to say, I was completely unprepared for how gorgeous and exciting it all was! The cosplay was on point, the vendors were well dressed and equipped with products and staff, and the various events throughout the day made up for their different shows. I could barely take it all in. A part of me just wanted to stand in one place and admire everything and the rest of me, like the 12 year old (in), wanted to touch everything and run through the islands playing!

Of course, like the adult I needed to be, I chose to walk at an appropriate pace and be praised and touched. I was shocked to see so many familiar brands. Many of the vendors were well-known big names in the gaming industry. Nintendo had been promoting Splatoon 3 big time along the lines for the time it took to play the game, which was often capped; Pokémon had a play lab full of players; Pac-Man World Re-Pack was installed and ready to play. Everything you could think of, from VR and group PC game demos to tabletop games and arcade classics, PAX West had it all!

That being said, I wasn’t just there for the pleasure, I had a job to do. I would say, when the constant excitation and “SQUIRREL!” Moments kept pulling me towards myself. We were so distracted that we didn’t keep track of the time. Joseph reminded me that we had a very important meeting coming up and needed to leave to play a demo of a new game and interview someone notable. The only trouble was that the interview was in 15 minutes and we were within a 10-minute walk.

We drove down the sixth floor of the convention center, realizing it was running out of time to exit the building, we gathered pace. We arrived from the convention center

(mostly upstairs) to the W Hotel. We arrived on time. Another member of the media waiting in the lobby was also waiting for his interview. As we began to think about where to go next, a man dressed comfortably came to welcome us. He guided us to a lift and explained how the game play and interview process would work. Next thing we know, we’re standing in a good-sized hotel room, surrounded by a group of men wearing different-designed Squanch Games T-shirts. As discussed along the way, Joseph and I will crack down on playing their latest game, High on Life, while the other gentlemen will interview, in addition to (and more specifically) Amy, the game’s creator. None other than the award-winning show Rick and Morty: Justin Roiland!

We were comfortably located at a desk, holding the computer we used to play on. High on Life is already preloaded and ready to play. I’m more of a console gamer and was more than happy to give my much more PC gaming veteran partner the full 30 minutes allotted for gameplay. As suspected, Joseph was a natural.

Life on High turns out to be surprisingly terrifying in the best possible way! The colors were vibrant, the dialogue was shocking and hilarious, and the gameplay appeared effortless. The beautiful and vivid art was quite a contrast to the dark and depressing storyline. Familiar voice actors telling hilarious and morbid jokes really amp up the experience even more, though perhaps still lacking the incredible attention to detail in every frame. You can tell this game was made with a lot of love and care. The dialogue also tells me that the dialogue and story were written by seasoned millennials who have seen a thing or two, and we are here for it!

Joseph built it, and ruined, the first owner demo was over. Which was good because it was time for our interview with Justin Roiland and his Mickey Spano (CCO, Squanch Games). Suffering a mimosa in hand and a rarely felt hangover, Justin sat graciously with us for half an hour. We talked about Life on High, behind the scenes of their first Game Trover, and what inspired their creativity. The conversation between Justin, Mickey, Joseph and I felt a lot less like an interview and more like a conversation between friends. It went by faster than I would have liked but it was an incredible experience (if I didn’t have a picture I couldn’t believe it happened) that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Joseph and I returned, albeit in less haste, to the convention center. We had the chance to take part in a demo for a new online multiplayer game called Dessive Inc., which is coming soon from developer Sweet Bandits Studios and publisher Tripwire Presents. Joseph Elos from Tripwire Presents got to play a VR game called Aspire 2. We stared at the floor for a few more hours, more game dice than I’ve seen in my life, beautifully handcrafted gameplay merchandise, and the coolest cosplay I’ve ever seen in person!

Given more time, I could have searched for hours more, but alas the floor was coming off and it was clear that we didn’t have to go home, but we couldn’t stay there. The low light on the floor was getting darker and huge crowds gathered on the escalators downstairs, waiting to escape the same crowd they were creating. This made the main floor inauspicious. weirdly, despite feeling overwhelmed at times, trying to get by if you’re in a

Hurry up, one of the real attractions of such events is the infectious joy that the large crowds bring. Without hordes of people sharing the excitement, we could all stay at home and order merchants online.

I never really understood why people went to things like Comic Con, E3 or PAX events. With today’s technology it all seemed a bit overwhelming and pointless. From virtual meetings to online shopping, it all seemed like a huge waste of time and effort. However, having attended this year, I can attest to the allure of such events. People gathering from place to place. Different cultures, interests, belief systems… all coming together to enjoy their passions collectively. It fulfills the need for us as a species to come together and share our similarities while being so different. Respect each other, share your happiness and meet new people. From console to tabletop, PC to roleplay, PAX West had something for everyone. There’s also a newfound respect for and understanding of the need for conventions for a new person like me. Can’t wait for the next one!

tag: pax west


About the Author

Gareth Syndicated film and sports critic, author, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications around the world and he is the creator of the growing entertainment site and publication “Squared and Reviewed”. He has three film books, sports reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in-demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountain”, “Postal”. “Very different”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conferences and has moderated the popular panel for more than two decades.



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