What is PAX, anyway?: PAX Aus report
Posted on November 3, 2014
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you will have seen me raving this weekend about this thing called PAX Australia. I realised that it’s quite possible that some of my readers don’t have the faintest clue what PAX is, or why it is interesting, so before I tilt at windmills with breathless reports I thought I’d outline what the event is, before you have to resort to the Herald Sun for an explanation. The first thing to know is that it’s big – guesses are that towards 40,000 people attended this weekend at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (perfect venue, by the way).
PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo, and the Australian incarnation is essentially a games convention based on a very successful (decade-long) tradition in the US which now runs across several locations. Penny Arcade is originally a comic strip around game culture that has now developed into a major franchise of its own, and one of its offshoots is the Expo.
As a games show, PAX is a celebration and exhibition of games in all their forms: it is a place for players of games to talk, play, dress up, and have fun in a deeply community-oriented way. The exhibition hall has major publishers showing off their latest and shiniest video games as well as smaller ‘indies’ showing off their innovation, while the convention centre hosts dozens of panels on topics from how to get into the industry, to parenting in a gamer household, to favourite horror games. Some of the more public events involve quite large e-Sports competitions which generate the same kind of energy as you would see in a football or soccer match, as well as music concerts featuring the likes of Tripod teaming up with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
This is the top-down presentation of PAX, if you will. What is so exciting is what the community brings to the event: lots of passion for playing tournaments of all kinds of games; a ‘Classic Console’ section where you can play all the retro systems you could possibly think of; tabletop gaming (yes, like Dungeons and Dragons and board games), and card games. The constant backdrop in the crowd is an amazing array of cosplay – fans dressing up as favourite gaming characters or other pop-culture icons. Media and industry friends gather at parties and attendees enjoy fantastic arcade-bar venues like Forgotten Worlds and Beta Bar.
In short, PAX is heaven for gamer nerds. Stay tuned as I report on some of the major points of interest and take you on a bit of a tour of gaming culture as it stands right now. It’s a fascinating and crazy ride, I can assure you.