Seattle is one of America’s nerdiest cities — home to cartoonists, the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, and a whole slew of video game developers. It’s also a city that profits greatly from the business of nerd culture, particularly through a full, year-round slate of large conventions in the downtown retail core ranging from Emerald City Comicon in March to the anime-focused Sakura-con in April to the September gaming convention Pax West.
These aren’t just hobbies or weekend pursuits — they’re big business. Pax West, in particular, is the biggest annual convention in Washington state, driving $35 million through the local economy over one weekend in 2015.
Seattle was also America’s first coronavirus hotspot, and slowly we’ve seen these annual pillars of the local nerd culture collapse, one after the other. After a number of exhibitors, cartoonists, and attendees canceled their appearances, Emerald City Comicon pulled the plug on the convention right before it was supposed to begin. Then, as officials rolled out social distancing orders, the other conventions started to fall: Sakura-Con canceled, as did the popular sci-fi convention Norwescon.
Last week, though, Pax organizers refused to join the parade of shuttered conventions. They tweeted that, “as of right now we still plan on welcoming everyone home to PAX West on Labor Day weekend (September 4th – 7th) in 2020!”
The response from Pax’s typically rabid fanbase was decidedly chilly….