Honestly, I’m not even sure where to begin on this year’s PAX retrospective. I cannot fathom unboxing and internalizing the memories, the friendships and the stories that the last few days have pleasantly wrought upon my life. There was a period, less than a week ago where I was seriously questioning cancelling my trip, captain hindsight tells me that would have been one of the stupidest decisions in my recent life. Because I needed that weekend, more than I can ever put into words.

It’s no secret that I have had a rough couple of years. Struggling to smile in a town that I don’t like being in, struggling to find myself and figure out who I am outside of a failed 5 year relationship, struggling to be the best dad that I can be with the limited time I have to see my son and struggling to be passionate about Ultra Super Mega, the community that we have built and continue to create content for a medium that I love. I have considered multiple times over the last 18 months to let the domain name expire, let the discord die and stop checking emails. It’s come so close that I’ve barely switched on my home computer in the last year. Despite dropping nearly $2500 on a new tower last Tax season; Opting instead, to play video games and get high in bed. By myself.

Picking just one was a nightmare.

In years prior, I had felt like I deserved my media pass. I felt like the content that USM was creating was sufficient enough to warrant us a place in the prestigious (and much needed) media lounge. This year, I applied on a whim. And having not created anywhere near as much content, found myself feeling rather guilty when I received the approval email. I spent hours, thinking about what I wanted out of PAX this year. What I could do to earn my place around the table next to incredible brands like AteBit, Pixelsift and GotoGame. I think I was on my second six pack of VB when it dawned on me late one Tuesday night. I am going to do some serious soul searching at PAX this year. “If passion and drive is what I am missing, then what better place to find some?” I asked myself out loud.

I found, absolutely everything that I was looking for.

I would have bought this, if I had a spare $900

It’s interesting when I try to relive the moments, so fresh in my head. They come washing over me like a flood. Eating ass at a Korean BBQ, (which has stemmed one of the funniest hand signals of my life), Hearing about covert police take downs from a cosplayer dressed like a Division Agent. Defeating the defending champions in Party Mode with my incredible team of fellow podcasters (Game-ileo will have to defend that crown next year). Taking a random trip with people I have never met at 3 in the morning to drink goon and VB in a gorgeous hotel after the twitch party. Watching sausages get rammed down throats. As the flooding dies down, the memory waters recede and a smile I cannot hide creeps across my face, I begin to realise, that barely any of the memories actually involve playing games. Games on which the entirety of PAX is built. This year’s PAX, was all about the people.

My team took out the defending champs in Party Mode!

That’s not to say that the games lineup at PAX was weak. With juggernauts like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Pokemon Sword and Shield, Cyberpunk 2077 and Doom Eternal, it was an incredibly strong showing and well worth the price of admission. The PAX rising section was, as in the years prior, a major standout. Walking through this large section dedicated to Australian Indie games really gave a sense of pride, knowing that our home grown development scene might just be the best in the world (at the very least, one of the leaders). My only real issue with the event itself continues to be the incredibly loud and obnoxious ‘Hype Bros’ that frequent a couple of stands in the middle area of the floor. Yelling about how rad their shithouse free t-shirts are, calling out people’s haircuts in the crowd and attempting to draw attention to their already rather egregious booths in audibly offensive ways. They are the PAX equivalent of those people you walk past at shopping centres, that park themselves in the middle of busy sections and try to sell you shit. Once you look them in the eyes, you know you are fucked. Because no matter what you do, you are going to be stuck telling them you don’t want to talk to them for at least a few minutes.

The Cyberpunk booth was packed all PAX

The positives of the weekend though, completely and utterly dwarf the negatives. The only real regret I have from the weekend is not taking as many photos as I should have. Walking into Pax on Friday I had absolutely no idea that the next 3 days were going to change me in the ways that they did, and it sucks that most of the time I was laughing too hard to get my camera out in time. Oh well, there’s always next year.

To the organizers, the people behind the scenes and people I met, the friends I made, the multiple people I fell in love with and anyone who helped make PAX 2019 one of the best weekends of my life, thank you.

A game I am way too excited for, for no real reason.