GeekFest Through the Eyes of Pac-Man

It was a Saturday morning. It was the end of June. In this part of the world, that means winter, and winter means cold. Especially at 6 a.m., when the sun has yet to cast its golden beams through misty windows. When frost paints thin layers of white across green lawns. When no normal person wants to jump out of their bed’s cozy embrace.

But I am no normal person; I am a geek. And that was no normal winter morning; it was the morning that marked a great gathering of geeks. It was the morning of GeekFest!

Press start

The fun began weeks before the event when we decided we would cosplay. Last year, we cosplayed as characters from Gravity Falls (I was Grunkle Stan). This year, we decided to put in a bit more effort. We decided to go as Pac-Man and the ghosts. After some planning (and a couple weeks’ procrastination), we finally got to work. We cut boxes and boards. We glued, taped, and painted. We cut material, made the ghosts’ eyes, got the clothes we needed. We were ready.

And then it was Saturday—that cold, exciting morning. After an hour and a half of driving, we were there, in the parking lot of Sun Arena at Times Square, putting on our costumes. I got into Pac-Man and realized happily that the time had finally come. Awesomeness was about to begin!

I can only imagine what visitors who weren’t aware of the event thought when they saw a giant Pac-Man, surrounded by ghosts, clumsily making its way to the entrance. Not to mention the three other party members that accompanied us that day: DJ Marshmello, Sasuke Uchiha and . . . wait, Where’s Wally?

Pac-Man, the ghosts, Where's Waldo, DJ Marshmello, and Sasuke
The GeekFest Gang

Thusly we passed through magical portals (called security booths) into a little world of geekiness. My first thoughts of the venue were, “Man, I wish Pac-Man had a better field of vision,” followed by, “Wow, this place is pretty cool!” It was indoors. The large hall was dark. The ceiling was high. Pretty lights broke the gloom: cool blue light from above, dancing light from esports monitors, warm white light from various stalls. It was like a disco party in a cave! Okay, that sounded cooler in my head, but you get the idea.

We spent the first few minutes standing awkwardly by the entrance, feeling a little lost. Where should we begin? Which way should we walk first? Could I look around without smacking faces with a giant Pac-Man?

Next level

A nearby spectacle quickly gripped our attention and became our first stop. It was an enclosure where people were shooting foam-tipped arrows at one another. Fascinating. Fun.

Pac-Man chasing ghosts
GeekFest 2019: Big in Japan

We then moved on, passing through a maze of people and stalls. I felt like I was moving through a real Pac-Man level with all the turns and obstacles. But it was fun! We passed stalls that sold themed apparel, gadgets, toys, table-top games and all sorts of goodies. The Japanese embassy also had a stall there.

And there was more. There were activities and on-stage talks. There were video game tournaments. We even saw K.I.T.T. from Night Rider, as well as Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters’ car! Outside was the food court, a LARP battlefield (Live Action Role Playing, where “warriors” fought one another with foam weapons), and a section for Robowars, where homemade robots competed against one another.

Choose your character

Sasuke ready to battle

Ah, but let me not forget one of the event’s main attractions: the people. More specifically, the cosplayers. While many people simply don a small reference (such as a hat or shirt) to their favorite fandoms, many go all-out in transforming themselves into certain characters.

It is remarkable to see! They craft weapons and armor with foam. They change their faces, their hair. They knit and sew and make their own clothes. And when they’re done, they’re not themselves anymore; they’re characters come to life!

Marshmello and the princesses

I wish I could tell you who was my favorite cosplay, but there were so many great ones that I simply can’t decide. There were anime villains, comic book heroes, video game characters. Geralt from The Witcher was there, as well Maleficent with intricate wings, Solaire of Astora with an incredibly detailed helmet, Mr. Tumnus from Narnia and even an ax-wielding banana (Fortnite, this your doing…).

All the cosplayers, young and old, expert and beginner, have my respect for their efforts and dedication. Thank you for contributing to the fun, friendly atmosphere of GeekFest!

Nom, nom, nom

While our group did not enter the cosplay contest, we sure got our fair share of attention. Photos were taken, videos were filmed, compliments were given. Oh, and we somehow ended up in IOL news!

I’m surprised at how many people wanted Pac-Man to “eat” them. One father even tried to hold his toddler in Pac-Man’s mouth for a photo!

Pac-Man and Dark Souls knight
Sir, your armor was awesome!

This certainly made GeekFest 2019 an unforgettable experience. However, for me, it was strange on a certain account. Being inside Pac-Man, I couldn’t smile at the camera. I couldn’t walk into the stalls. This forced me, at times, to simply watch people. I watched them walking by. I watched them posing before Pac-Man’s mouth.

This reminded me of how vast life is. Life, so full of people that just pass us by. But when you stop and look at them, really look at them, you see that they’re so much more than mere passersby. They’re humans—beautiful, thinking, feeling humans. They all have their own stories, their own hopes and dreams. They’re all special.

When you realize this, you see how great kindness is. Just like you, the people passing you could do with a kind word, a friendly smile, a compliment. You can make someone’s day. You can cause ripples that pierce the darkness with love and light.

Game over

The ghosts caught Pac-Man
Turns out Pac-Man doesn’t taste like cheese.

Much fun was had. Many interesting interactions, too. Alas, moments as these come to an end. GeekFest came to an end. But that’s okay; we’re left with awesome photos, awesomer memories, and hopefully another GeekFest to look forward to next year!

Before I go, I would like to leave you with words from a few of the ghosts. I made peace with them, and they’ve agreed not to eat me . . . for now. Thank you for that, ghosts, and thank you for the wonderful time! Here’s what they say:

Jacques (Clyde, the orange ghost): “So, one week later, right, and I have this dream about Pac-Man. Only, he is not eating ghosts but has resorted to cannibalism and is eating other Pac- Men and Women. And then he comes to me, a ghost, and whispers, ‘They taste like cheese.’” (I . . . uh . . . I’m not really sure what to make of this. Let’s just assume he means that he had a great time, shall we?)

Michelle (Inky, the cyan ghost): “GeekFest 2019 was definitely one for the books! I got to know my group a little more on this day: I learned that Pac-Man likes marshmallows, that inverse ghosts like to disappear, that Wally is not that difficult to spot, that Pinky has great dance moves. I got to know why Sasuke loves anime so much. I learned that DJ Marshmello is much more confident behind the mask and very much loved! Well done to my people. It was a great, fun day with other cool cosplay there too. Oh, and did you know there is a man out there who still plays the original Pac-Man over the past 40 years?”

Renaldo (an inverse ghost): “GeekFest was a day well-spent, full of geeky things and very nice food. I also enjoyed dancing around as a ghost; I got the joints to move and work like they should.”

Xanthe (Pinky, the pink ghost): “GeekFest was nice. I loved the pizza cones!”

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