PICKS OF PAX – Australian Expo Edition


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.

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The Signs

‘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.

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The Panels

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 Booths

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!

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The Cosplay

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!

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The Handheld Lounge; Clear your Streetpasses or even take a nap!

The Community

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

SMASH! 2014 Round Up


A Truly Ani-mazing Event

In a spectacular showing of cosplay and geek fashion, the crowds gathered at Rosehill Gardens raceway in early August in order to attend SMASH!, Sydney’s Anime and Manga Show. Over the course of the weekend the Madman Cosplay Competition drew cosplayers from all around into colourful competition,  Australia’s World Cosplay Summit preliminary round held and a lot of anime was watched. Between the exhibitors showing off new content and selling merchandise, the stunning artist alley filled with stunning prints and art and the guest panels, there was always something to look at and enjoy.

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Games were played…

Walking into the exhibition hall was an experience within itself. From Madman’s huge booth jam-packed with volumes of manga and anime to the various merchandise stalls, if you were after something from anime you were likely to find it here. The hall was nice and open which allowed good flow of people, and cosplayers could easily stop for photos. While there was plenty of clothing, wigs and figures for sale, one of the coolest offerings was the stores selling replica swords and weapons. One Piece swords, 3D Manoeuvre Gear and even some unwieldy Final Fantasy blades could all be seen and purchased upon the show floor, much to the delight of many. People seemed to be having a lot of fun and browsing a huge range of pop culture merchandise.

Koei Tecmo was even on the show floor, demoing the Gamescom builds of Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate and Samurai Warriors 4 to eager fans!

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There was also a very large Gundam installation in the centre of the exhibition hall, featuring entries to the Gundam making competition and a beginners workshop. Hundreds of Gundam figures were sold and constructed over the weekend thanks to Hobbyco’s workshop, it was really cool to see people getting in and giving it a try. The picture below features some of the entries, but a photo doesn’t do them justice. The detail and paintwork on some of the models was just mind-blowing, it will be a very hard task to choose a winner.

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Gundam were built…

From here we move on to arguably my favourite thing at the expo, the art hall. This long hall featured dozens upon dozens of talented artists and creators selling their art, zines, manga and craft. Given the space at home, I would have gladly picked up a whole stack of prints to display, but I settled for buying some Studio Ghibli and Attack on Titan prints and some postcard sized art cards. The best part was just chatting to the artists about their work, as well as flipping through their sketchbooks. It really is an inspiring place.

Speaking of inspiring, it’s time I move onto panels and guests. Over the course of the weekend I attended quite a few panels on everything from cosplay tutorials, prop making to cosplay photography and representation in media. These were all pretty well put together, and despite the informal nature, they conveyed a lot of useful information to the eager audience. I’m sure lots of people went home with new ideas for making their next costumes, or came away with new connections and friends they met at these panels.

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From a Q&A panel with the seriously entertaining cosplayer Reika! (as well as her translator and Brad from Hanabee!)

The three major guests who attended SMASH! 2015 we’re all fantastic. Kotono Mishuishi, better known as the voice actor of Usagi in Sailor Moon, was very interesting to hear from, and had fans very excited when she proudly exclaimed ‘in the name of the moon, I will punish you”! The second guest, Toshihiro Kawamoto, co-founder and director of Studio Bones, was great to hear from too, speaking a lot about the work on and behind Cowboy Bebop and more than a few of his other well-known projects.

But my pick of the guests was Japanese cosplayer Reika, a woman famous for elaborate cosplays, mostly of male characters. Her panel was very interesting because it compared a lot of what cosplay culture in Japan is like versus what we see in Australia, as well as discussing what she really loved about the act of cosplaying. With a lot of humour, she really engaged with the huge audience and created an entertaining panel for all.

As usual with any convention, the cosplayers were top-notch once again. It felt like walking through another world seeing so many characters brought to life with both authenticity and personality. The competitions featured some of the most elaborate and well crafted costumes I’ve seen in a long time, as well as some downright hilarious ones such as Zeek’s infamous ‘manly’ Nurse Joy and Misty costumes.

Here’s just a taste of the cosplay on offer that I managed to snap pictures of on my way from panel to panel!

All in all, it was a great show with plenty of awesome cosplay and brilliant panels. It was just a really encouraging atmosphere being surrounded by all these talented and excited fans. It will be great to see how SMASH! progresses in the future, and who will make the 2015 guest line up.

For more on SMASH checkout their website here, and watch this space for updates on next years offerings! You can also check out the dozens of amazing cosplay wrap up videos on YouTube, such as Deerstalker Picture’s below.

Jayden Perry ©2014

EB Expo 2011: Which Game is Lord of The Dance? Kid Gamer Review


EB Expo 2011: Which Game is Lord of The Dance?

Kid Gamer Review

by: Conor (EB Expo Kid Reviewer)

©2011 David Hilton

ED: There was a lot of dancing to be had at the EB Expo, but I wasn’t brave enough to try any of it.  

Waving my arms with an imaginary lightsabre for Star Wars Kinect and doing aerobics for Sesame Street Kinect was about my limit in public.

However, it was clear that publishers were investing a lot of Expo space and staff into these games.

That’s why I accosted a kid gamer named Conor to try them for me.  He is twelve years old and was there dancing away with his older cousin, a girl who looked like she could groove with the best of them.  

As kids made up a surprising percentage of the Expo attendees, and as they dictate plenty of the gaming market for these types of games I thought it would be great for him to review for us.

Battle of the Dance Games