Last year, PAX West was one of many gaming events to go online due to the pandemic. This year, while E3 and the Tokyo Game Show stayed virtual, PAX East was cancelled earlier this spring. But PAX West, on the other hand, decided to allow an in-person event at the Washington State Convention Centre in Seattle.
Like other gaming conventions, PAX is a chance for people to meet up, check out panel discussions, and play game demos. The in-person element of PAX has always been its biggest appeal. This might explain why organisers decided to take the popular expo offline to the real world this Labour Day weekend, even with the pandemic.
But as Kotaku reported earlier this month, Penny Arcade Expo tickets were not selling out, unlike in previous years in which tickets are gone in hours. But with uncertainties regarding covid-19 or its Delta variant, there’s been some public uneasiness about packing into a sweaty convention hall where someone may or may not be vaccinated.
This could be why PAX organisers have backtracked and announced new requirements for the show. In a tweet announcing the measures, PAX says the decision was made based on recommendations from state and local health officials. Meanwhile, the US seems poised to experience a possible a fourth wave of covid resurgence cases.
“Prior to entry we will now require proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination series or a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test, each to be verified with a valid, government issued ID,” said event director Kyle Marsden-Kish in an official release. Those who have already purchased badges and have questions about these new requirements need to get in touch with [email protected], the announcement adds.
On Twitter, some ticket holders say the new measures give them peace of mind, making them feel more comfortable attending and applauding PAX’s decision. Others were unhappy that these requirements were not announced from the start or even wondered if the negative covid-19 test option actually went far enough if instead of requiring all attendees to be fully vaccinated.
“When PAX West 2021 badges were announced, the PAX Team made the decision to communicate what we could commit to at that time, rather than what we were working toward,” said Marsden-Kish. “While we let the community know the health and safety guidelines could evolve, we wanted to get it right and we feel confident that verification of fully vaccination or negative test, along with continued face covering requirements for everyone, will create an environment that promotes the wellbeing of our PAX community.”
Organisers of any in-person event for the foreseeable future will have to navigate covid, weighing and managing risks for participants. PAX West’s decision to have reduced capacity, mandatory face coverings, and now, vaccination or negative test requirements are examples of that.
“We will continue to evaluate our policies, listen to feedback from the community, follow the guidance of public health officials, and do everything in our power to make PAX West as safe as possible.”
PAX West is thirty-eight days away. A limited number of four-day badges, it seems, are back on sale.