PAX West Recap: Photos, Panels, and Pins

Oculus Blog
September 6, 2019

We’re back from an amazing time at PAX West, which ran August 30 – September 2 in Seattle. Today, we’re sharing a quick look at some highlights from the show!

Attendees—like Sonya Haskins (aka Hasko7) and our own Experience Marketing Specialist Talon Beesch—got to pose with Stormland’s signature droid while wielding some killer props.

Facebook Gaming hosted its LEVELS event, an epic party that invited all PAX West badge holders to explore experiences from META Threads, Fortnite, Borderlands 3, Oculus, and Instagram.

And our friends at Harmonix kept things going on the virtual dance floor with their weekly Dance with Devs party. We even saw some local businesses get in on the action.

We were able to attend Championing Diverse Voices, where Gay Gaming Professionals President Gordon Bellamy, Niantic Diversity & Inclusion Manager Trinidad Hermida, and Fun Bits CEO Chris Millar dug into the need to support diversity in the workplace as well as within gaming communities. “The world we live in isn’t always that friendly, but we have allies and sponsors—we need each other” Hermida explained. “It’s not just our fight.”

Bellamy also spoke to the power of VR and AR to level the playing field by removing barriers to entry for those who are differently abled. “In VR, I met someone who was super helpful and showed me features in a game,” he said. “I found out later they were legally blind. In VR, they weren’t blind and could be who they always have been.”

Millar addressed the power of pseudo-anonymity within a safe space where players are given control. “I just enjoy that you can feel smaller, shorter, tall, large—your entire perspective changes,” he said. “You also see people trying to be more than themselves. You get to rehearse in VR, and you can block people—you can’t do that in real life.”

We also had a chance to sit in on What VR Game Devs Learned from Their First VR Games, featuring Episodic Entertainment Founding Director Daryle Conners, Archiact Senior Producer Ken Thain, SignSine Co-Founder Andrew Shcherbak, Polyarc Engineer Brendan Walker, and MWM Immersive EVP of Content Ethan Stearns. From their first “wow” moments in VR to solving for locomotion and innovating new mechanics, the panel shared a wealth of knowledge from their careers in VR development and beyond, including film production, early research in AR, and more.

Some lessons learned from the panelists:

  • “Framerate optimization and performance are hugely important. Also, the rules of interaction in flat 2D gaming don’t translate to immersive games. They seem like they should be fully interactive, which is really hard or really expensive.” —Ken Thain
  • “It’s also very difficult to direct the player’s attention, though light and sound help.” —Andrew Shcherbak
  • “So often, we’re looking at things in the editor—seeing them in the headset is very different. Now, it’s a lot easier to develop in-headset, which helps.” —Ethan Stearns
  • “New mechanics require a lot of time for prototyping, and you need to devote a lot of time to playtesting. What works for you and what you’re used to won’t work for everyone.” —Brendan Walker

Last but not least, we showed up in full force for Pinny Arcade with a trio of AR pins representing three upcoming Oculus Studios games: Lone Echo II, Stormland, and Asgard’s Wrath. After collecting their pins in the Oculus Booth, attendees could scan them using the Instagram Camera to unlock unique—and upgradeable—AR effects.

If you weren’t able to make it to PAX West (or just didn’t get a chance to grab your own pins), you can still play with the AR effects at home. Just visit to get started!

That’s a wrap for today’s recap. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Next up, OC6...