Sometimes, in the middle of an ordinary day, life throws you an extraordinary surprise. That unexpected twist for me was THE chance to attend PAX West, courtesy of 99Games.
Seattle greeted me with its striking waterfront views and the iconic Pier 66. If you've ever wanted a mix of city life and a rustic marine vibe, Seattle is the place to be. It's a blend of convention centers, eateries, harbors, and the unforgettable Pike Place—all within walking distance. The setting is charming and rustic, with a fisherman's theme, for the lack of better words, that takes you back in time in the history of Seattle. It’s a city that’ll leave you feeling nostalgic for sure.
Now, about the main event, PAX. It sprawled across two buildings: the Summit and the Arch. Let me tell you; it took me a solid hour to get the lay of the land. And when you're a newbie in a massive convention, having the PAX Nav app is pretty much like having a lifeline. Also, major props to my past self for booking a hotel within walking distance. Speaking of the crowd, it was wild! The array of cosplays felt like stepping into a different universe—from classics like Zelda to more obscure ones that left me googling their references. One of my standout experiences was live-play design discussion of the tutorial levels of "The Legend of Zelda: Tear of the Kingdom." Listening to the minute details being discussed by the EC crew was a little eye-opening and made me realise great thing in a way comes from greater attention to details.
But PAX wasn't just about panels and discussions. The Friday Night Concerts were the perfect way to end my first day. OFK and Bit Brigade put up stellar performances, and it was the rejuvenating break I needed from the information-packed day. I also met some interesting people and finally started to feel like I belong after a whole day of exploring alone – more from my own insecurity than anything else.
Day two started on a foodie note. Discovering there's no free breakfast at the hotel was a minor hiccup, but it led to a breakfast adventure at iHop—a place I've only previously seen in movies. I treated myself with a hot chocolate and eggs benedict, man as I am typing this, I just want to go back to wandering new cities. However, as I roamed the city, some of its quirks were less appealing than the others—like the occasional whiff of weed and witnessing a car crash into the sidewalk I was standing on, which to be honest, left me rattled. On the other hand, I also found a few people really concerned looking at the colors leave my face and made me feel comfortable. I guess that’s the beauty of a new city or country – yes, there are weirdos but there are also some wonderful people you’ll meet and collecting these experiences is all what it’s about.
Back at the convention, the EXPO at the Arch was sensory overload in the best way possible. The creativity at the Fae Farm booth was downright mind-blowing. Who thinks of setting up a literal farm at a game expo? Growing vegetation, bonfire, cute little huts, fruit-station, a table to draw and sketch and whatnot. It was really some clever marketing. Next, I headed to the Pokémon booth, and went straight around it looking at the longest queue ever. I played a few fashion games, interacted with people in costumes, took a few selfies, irritated a few representing a musical game to play a melody for me, and purchased a few goodies.
Before I knew it, my day 2 at PAX was coming to an end. But not without one final memorable experience—a panel discussion on gaming for individuals with ADHD. The discussion was a unique and unexpected take, but my biggest takeaway was how games can have an impact on communities.
And while my attempt at riding a scooter might've put on a good show to onlookers, it reminded me that sometimes, you've got to laugh at yourself, pick up, and move on—much like in the games we play and life in general.
As day 3 rolled in, I felt that familiar pang of an adventure nearing its end. I kicked off my day attending 'Finding your place in the games industry'. The panelists, all gaming gurus, shared their 'from-zero-to-hero' tales. Talk about real-world leveling up! Their stories inspired and reminded me that everyone's journey starts with feeling a little lost, a little intimidated, and while gaming may not have been considered a serious profession back at home when I started, the thought is rapidly changing – and there are hundreds if not thousand aspirants who’d love to get the opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to have.
Post-session, my tummy rumbled and off I went to a beautiful seaside restaurant. On the plate? Crabs! They couldn't beat the flavors of home (sorry, Seattle, our OORU DA DENJI still continues to rule), but they sure gave it a good shot.
As I soaked in the final moments by the pier, it hit me: this trip was more than just games and geeking out. It was about the little moments, the human connections, the seafood misadventures, and more than anything – a sense of independence I was craving for ever since I moved halfway across the world.
So, here’s to 99Games for giving me this detour from the daily grind. Seattle, you were one epic level! Until our next gameplay, keep those lives extra and those memories unlimited! 🎮🦀🌆