From Sept. 1-4, I had the immense privilege of attending The Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Washington, also known as PAX West.
For those unaware of what PAX West is, PAX West is a gaming convention held in Seattle (originally held in Bellevue, Washington) where game developers, famous gaming presences on YouTube and various merchandisers host booths and panels for guests to enjoy. It is a four-day event that begins on Friday and ends the following Monday. Activities for guests to participate in include: playing early access video games, competing in various gaming tournaments, meeting your favorite gaming presence, attending panels and so much more.
To put it simply,I have never been in an environment with a greater sense of unity and shared identity. As I trekked throughout the halls of the convention floors, I could not help but feel welcomed. Everyone in the convention center was there because of the same reason I was — to celebrate gaming culture. We all were proud in our identity as “gamers.” We are the “geeks” in high school that stayed up late playing video games. We are the people who camp outside GameStops and Best Buys around the country for the newest releases of this season’s most anticipated games. It is truly a great feeling to be a part of a community that is so vast and unique.
My time at PAX West was nothing short of an amazing experience. The arduous hours spent waiting in line after line were well worth their wait times — I was fortunate enough to play a plethora of early access games. I helped liberate a small town in the anarchic world of “Far Cry 5.” Alongside an army of Orcs, I seized an enemy fort in “Middle Earth: Shadow of War.” I even was able to play in the vibrant sandbox world of Nintendo’s biggest upcoming release, “Super Mario Odyssey.” All of these experiences were incredibly memorable and added to the overall experience.
Another highlight of PAX West was being able to meet some of my favorite online presences. At the event I attended a panel hosted by the massive gaming YouTube channel, Rooster Teeth. At this panel, the audience was treated to a couple of early screenings of some of their upcoming videos. The panelists told stories, took questions from audiences and overall made everyone in the room laugh. It was genuinely a good time.
I also met my personal favorite gaming YouTube channel, Mega64. When I first had the chance to speak with Shawn Chatfield, creator of Mega64, our first conversation was one that we all always dream of having when interacting with one of our idols — we delved into the wonderful topic of fidget spinners. After our brief but eventful conversation, Chatfield and Rocco Botte, another creator of Mega64, were nice enough to sign a poster that I had purchased from them. Later that night, they hosted a panel where they also showed early content and took questions from the audience.
Overall, my experience at PAX West was one that I will never forget. With all the great memories, people and events, I am sure that this is a tradition that I will be hard-pressed not to miss in the years to come.
Tyler Manning is a mass communication junior.