PAX Aus 2017: Reports Incoming

Posted on November 6, 2017

In case you didn’t catch it, I spent last weekend  in gamer’s paradise: Penny Arcade Expo Australia, in Melbourne. If you’re not aware, PAX is a convention and trade show that draws tens of thousands of people for a celebration of all things play-related. It’s taking some time to process and gather my thoughts, so I’ll be posting on specific aspects of the show in the next few weeks.

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For gamers, this sign captures everything we love about PAX.

 

The most exciting thing about PAX is the diversity and broad definition of ‘games’. It’s not just video games, although that is definitely covered, and even within video games it’s not just blockbuster titles; there is great representation from independent developers as well. I’ll be writing on that in more detail soon, as it is one of my most favourite aspects of PAX.

So in addition to video games, there are an enormous number of board games (yes, more than Monopoly), card games (think Magic: The Gathering but also many more) tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons and many more, retro/classic games including pinball machines, and even game-related activities such as miniature painting and eSports competitions. Spoiler warning: I won a medal in an Overwatch tournament, and learned a lot about painting miniatures. Overall, PAX is an incredibly diverse, dynamic and interesting place to celebrate all aspects of gaming and play.

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Some happy guy alongside a life-size giant of game history

 

Another whole section of PAX is the vast array of panels and presentations, from stage-show acts like DnD played live on stage to industry discussions about game development and some of the cultural and political aspects of games. Just like two years ago, my absolute highlight was being involved in the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge. As well as judging a number of games, I was involved in the awards presentation and chaired the panel discussing the Challenge and related issues about education, game development, and learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Overall it’s an incredible experience: there is so much to do, and so little time, that this year I got the worst case of post-PAX blues ever. It’s true: reality really is broken. But every year PAX shows that, despite some dark corners, the community and culture around games is overwhelmingly positive, supportive, inclusive and diverse. Like many others, I can’t wait for PAX next year.


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