Unofficial Pokémon fan event drags ill Make-A-Wish children in front of a crowd, suffers invasive camera crews, and is haunted by the Ravioli Man

Pikachu looking shocked.
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokeverse, an unofficial, fan-run Pokémon event in the Philippines, has been a disaster of such catastrophic proportions for some attendees that it's being mentioned in the same breath as the ill-fated DashCon—which produced a picture of a lonely ball pit so infamous as to be instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with con culture.

As revealed in an extensive thread by attendee BintuRita on Twitter, Pokéverse was allegedly plagued by a swathe of issues so vast that I'm going to have to be selective in what I include here. Let's start with the prices.

As Rita explains, Pokéverse tickets cost P6000, or around $100, for a single day. Three-day tickets, meanwhile, cost P19500 ($331). Even with the inclusion of various unofficial Pokémon tat, judging by the backlash from prospective event-goers, that's pretty expensive for an event of this size.

Event organisers, Rita says, justified the premium price as a cost-covering measure to manage expenses like "rental, international headliner fees, flights, hotels, transport, setup, and logistics''—as you might've surmised from the headline, said logistics appeared to fall by the wayside. The event's sponsors included Kaloscope (an NFT firm in Dubai) and lucky charms shop Frigga.

What follows in the thread is frankly a comedy of errors. For starters, 3-day pass owners were given unicolour wristbands, despite each day requiring a different colour band—which didn't matter much, because apparently by day 2 they'd run out anyway.

A cosplay contest was also announced less than a week beforehand, with discounts for cosplayers—though Rita claims at least one cosplayer was denied said discount "because staff didn't recognize his character".

Later on, it turned out that cosplayers had been brought into the event on the same day as child-centric attractions and events: "If you wore a costume, or a onesie, there is a guarantee that at least one child would start following you around or grabbing your clothes and props." Rita also says there was "no lounge. So cosplayers started changing HERE", before sharing an image of a very public-looking, tiny rest area, adding that the camera crew "would not leave the rest area alone".

In fact, Rita says that the camera crew were a constant scourge at the event, claiming: "The camera crew was filming EVERYTHING. It felt like 1984. Cameramen were shoving their cameras up cosplayer's faces, people who were sitting down to draw. And most egregiously, unattended minors whose parents were getting food."

Security also appears to have been lax at the event—as evidenced by the existence of the Ravioli Man. No, really. Rita shares images of a cryptid-tier stranger with his fingers coated in sauce: "This guy was eating sauce off a ravioli jar in his pocket. It seemed to be a Filthy Frank style prank, there were children under five running around the space and he smelled ROT. Security refused to do anything despite several congoer's reports."

(Image credit: @BintuRita on Twitter/X.)

Rita alleges that the Ravioli Man "was escorted out but only after he took a sponge and started rubbing it on one of the sponsor booths. Though later in the EXPO, security still let him back in."

One of the more dire aspects of the event, however, was its involvement with the Make-A-Wish foundation. I want to be fair, and note that the foundation's incorporation does seem to be well-intended. There was a booth set up to raise funds, and I'm sure that money was gathered and given to a good cause.

Unfortunately, that's undercut by the choice (it's unclear exactly whose bad idea it was) to bring a group of ill children—who have, by definition, compromised immune systems—onto a stage in front of a big crowd, an event Rita claims was not in the itinerary. I went ahead and watched the livestream of the event to confirm it and—surely enough—that absolutely happened.

Some of the children brought up were wearing masks, others weren't—one wore their mask below their nose, which no-one appeared to correct. Almost as soon as they're called up, an attendant has to bring a chair on stage to help a child who's having difficulty standing. The organisers also make the children introduce themselves one-by-one, a choice that seems borderline improvised.

Rita, who also placed in a singing competition, goes on to share an utterly baffling series of events in which she is brought on-and-off stage to belt out unpracticed versions of the Pokémon theme three separate times. She also says she was told to wait for a fourth encore performance that never came.

(Image credit: @BintuRita on Twitter/X.)

In addition, Rita claims that the event organisers took pictures of a friend with scopophobia (a fear of being looked at or seen), and she asked that they take those videos down. Naturally, they took down the wrong videos: "I think it [was] explicitly clear that I wanted the videos taken of my loved ones without their consent taken down, and not the video of me performing for you … I don't even think they read my post!"

There's a lot that I haven't covered here, like indie artists being messed around and bizarre inflatable games reminiscent of the DashCon ballpit. Marie Angelique, a crochet artist with a booth at the event, also posted a lengthy recounting of their experiences at the convention on Facebook, complaining about poor organisation, almost zero mentions of their booths from the organisers, and being relegated to a "barren" part of the hall, writing: "we did not deserve to be used as accessories to an event that we actually paid for."

Rita, to the event's credit, seems to have enjoyed the main stage and the appearances of both voice actor Veronica Taylor (who voiced Ash in the 4Kids english dub of the original anime) and Jason Paige, who sang the original theme song.

In a response to Rita—the one where they reassure her that they've taken down the (wrong) video—the organisers write: "It’s our first event with very little time to prepare but we do agree that better that a lot of things need to be improved for another season, but we appreciate your participation and will continue take your feedback to do better next time."

Rita would later speak with Eurogamer, adding: "I wish it was more Pokémon centred. I wish the production team had more emphasis on consent. And I wish they had been more careful with the children in the convention space." She does note, however, that her experiences may not be entirely universal: "Some people went to the con and despite the hiccups, had a wonderful time. That wasn't my experience."

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.