The Best Things About PAX Aus!
PAX Australia 2014 was a brilliant expo that showcased both the amazing talent we have here in Australia of those making games, and the nationwide community that enjoys them. For three days fans descended upon the Melbourne Exhibition Centre to play the best in Indies and AAA titles, as well as chill out with board games, panels and good food.
Picks of PAX is my way of looking back on the great weekend I had, chronicling the best of the Expo and games from my time at the event.
First, the Expo itself.
‘Welcome Home’. Before you even walked in the doors of PAX, the Melbourne streets around the Expo had taken upon the feel of it. Signs hung around the venue with messages like “why your IT guy is out sick” and “we’re back, with less tents”. These little signs made me chuckle more than once and were widely shared across social media, it was great to see that the organisers put this extra effort and community touch into their promotion, making it fun and enjoyable before PAX even began.
If there’s something I wish I could have seen more of at PAX, it would be the panels. The couple I visited were really well put together and provided a lot of thought provoking discussion. I heard a lot of good reports from others, but between clashes and media appointments I missed a fair few. You could attend PAX and just hop panel to panel for the three days, barely touching the show floor, and still have an amazing time. Lucky for me, and for those of you who didn’t end up at PAX, a lot of the panels were streamed on Twitch and available to watch right now right here, on PAX’s Twitch channel.
The big hitters on show at PAX had equally huge booths, ranging from League of Legend’s stage to showcase local matches and Oceanic finals to Ubisoft’s maze of screens and AAA titles. This year booths were given to a huge range of companies, with even Harvey Norman and the Australian Classification Board (mostly unmanned for the weekend) getting their own stands.
One of my favourites was Wargaming’s booth, filled with a tank, a stage and plenty of computers to play on. Another of the cooler ones was Media Molecule’s booth in the Indie area, decked out in all sorts of papercraft creatures in true Tearaway style. All in all, the booths managed to be really different and despite the crowds I never had too much trouble navigating them!
For a convention without a cosplay competition, there sure was a lot of cosplay. It was really impressive to see so many people decked out as their favourite characters on the show floor. Thanks to the large presence Riot Games had at the expo, a vast majority of the outfits were characters from League of Legends. Similarly, Borderlands cosplay were not in short supply, thanks to the presence of Randy Pitchford and the recent release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The cosplay was one of those awesome things that served to really amplify the atmosphere of a convention. Wherever you went around PAX you saw characters you knew and loved, be that in the hallways, outside or even in the Crown food court nearby!
In my opinion, the best part of the entire convention was the community. From the exhibitors to the developers, the con-goers to the cosplayers, PAX has to be the most positive show I’d ever attended. Kotaku published an article on why PAX was the perfect antidote to the negativity and clashes going on in game culture, and I couldn’t agree more. Everyone was friendly, accepting and enjoying the wonderful world of games, tabletop and indies together.
The Diversity Lounge, a place that really helped foster this atmosphere, contained several booths including one for the charity group ‘Medic‘, working with Special Effect, a group who help disabled people to enjoy games, in the UK. It also showcased games that encouraged diversity, with one of my favourite indie games ‘Never Alone’ on show there. They even had panels and tournaments running in there during the expo, creating a really encouraging space that I feel symbolised a lot of what PAX was about.
All in all, PAX Australia was an incredible experience. From playing tonnes of fun and interesting games to meeting new people and bonding over shared loves, the show was really something special. I’d like to thank everyone involved in organising, exhibiting and even attending for making PAX Aus such a memorable expo. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Jayden Perry ©2014