PAX returns as a live event, but won't make vaccinations mandatory

PAX West
(Image credit: Penny Arcade)
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Events company Reedpop has confirmed that PAX West will be held in Seattle (opens in new tab) this year, over September 3-6, having previously announced its desire to return to in-person shows as soon as possible (opens in new tab). While it is of course great to see live events gradually returning, the aspect of this year's PAX West that's bothering some folk is a fairly straightforward one: while the event has a laundry list of health and safety precautions, including a promise to empty the bins more frequently, it will not require attendees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Events requiring mandatory vaccinations have been held in Washington and other states, a notable recent example being a huge Foo Fighters gig in New York (opens in new tab) which used that state's Excelsior Pass (a digital proof-of-vaccination) to screen attendees. Other events have chosen not to mandate that attendees are vaccinated, however, and PAX West is among these.

The event's official page does include a list of precautions (opens in new tab) that will be taken, including a daily temperature check on attendees (no refunds!), mandatory facemasks, adherence to social distancing guidelines, and a requirement that people greet without touching each other. Most of this is just common sense, though how closely it will be adhered to and enforced remains to be seen—and PAX has form in this respect.

Most will be familiar with the term 'con crud', referring to the fact that attendees at such events often find themselves coming down with a cold or flue afterwards. This has been such a factor in PAX events past that the nickname of 'PAX pox' was coined over a decade ago, given some credence by an outbreak of swine flu at the 2009 event.

Conventions at the best of times, and I've been to many dozens over the years, are ground zero for picking up minor bugs: huge crowds, physical proximity, a compromised immune system from the travel and late nights, rubbish food (hey who doesn't love an overpriced hot dog), and peripherals that have been used by hundreds before you. It is of course ReedPop's right to hold PAX West with the rules it sees fit: just as it's peoples' choice whether to agree and/or attend.

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."