PAX Australia: Our Thoughts and Impressions
Nearly the entire Vooks team went to the inaugural PAX Australia. Most of us even left our home state to be there as well. But at the end of three long, wet and cold days of PAX, what did we all think?
Below are the team’s thoughts on PAX Australia – everyone is different so we’ve let everyone have their say.
We’d also like to hear what you thought if you attended and will you be going next year?
PAX might as well stand for Perfectly Amazing eXperience. Spending three days surrounded by and interacting with gamers from around the world was even better than I hoped it would be. The atmosphere and general vibe was spine-tinglingly electric. It was as hype and as relaxed as you wanted it to be. The giant sign outside the gates of the showground said it all: “Welcome Home.”
As gamers, we spend a lot of time alone in front of screens of all sizes, escaping from our sometimes mundane reality via a quick trip through space, down a green pipe and across dazzling landscapes.
At PAX Aus, we were surrounded by people who get that. People the same as us. Regardless of whether or not we have the same favourite games, choose to play on PC or consoles or swear an allegiance to a particular company, we all understood each other. Everyone I met and spoke to was happy to be there, happy to meet fellow gamers and was just generally nice. That’s saying a lot. I even spoke to someone who was there to serve coffee all weekend, and they told me they’d never experienced a nicer group of people at any event they’d worked at.
My approach for the weekend was to get involved with the people around me. I photographed Nintendo cosplayers and spoke to them about how they put together their costumes. I met developers who passionately spoke of their current video game projects. I watched gamers compete in various games in the friendliest and most humble way I’d ever seen. And that’s what I wanted to immerse myself in.
I did sit in the front row for Ron Gilbert’s opening Introduction/Storytime, which was followed by the first Penny Arcade Q&A. The friendly interaction between people on stage and people in the crowd set the stage for the entire weekend. Everyone seemed to be at PAX Aus to mingle with like-minded people.
I played Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. I tried the Occulus Rift. I was even undefeated at Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 across the weekend. Still, it’s the people I’ll remember. The ones I met in person. The ones I met via StreetPass on my 3DS. The ones in cosplay and the ones that served me food and drinks. The Enforcers. The organisers and the developers. The gamers.
And the people is why I’ll be back next year, and every other year that the Penny Arcade guys decide to bless us with PAX Aus. Thanks to everyone for a weekend I’ll never forget.
Not long ago, I’d thought the most interesting gaming events we would get were short lived local things like Go3, and huge marketing events like the EB Expo. These kinds of shows aren’t terrible by any means, but I’d always wished for something centred entirely around the people going, the enthusiasts. Having heard many good things about PAX events in the US, when PAX Australia was announced, I wasted no time buying a 3 day pass. I’m glad I did, as the whole thing sold out months in advance.
From my experience at PAX Australia, it really felt like a place for people just like myself to gather and just do what we love. We could sit around in the handheld lounge chatting while playing 3DS, learn how to play tabletop board or card games, try out new exciting technologies like the Oculus Rift, and most excitingly for me, get into panels with prominent figures in local and international gaming circles to have interesting back and forth discussions.
Listening to the guys from Reckoner (who you might recognise from the old Mactalk podcast) discuss gaming on the Mac was literally like walking into a podcast. Seeing these people who I had listened to for years through my headphones, live in person, was just a great experience. As was the Q&A panel with the Good Game presenters and executive producer, and Jeff Cannata’s panel talking about general nerd things and his upcoming show Newest Latest Best. Just being able to see in person these people whose voices I had listened to for such a long time was a great experience.
There were queues, admittedly, and I’d probably count them as the lowlight of the whole event, however even these were often not too terrible, as they presented another chance to talk to like minded people about things we all loved to talk about, or even better, finally meeting up with much of the Vooks staff team and community.
PAX Australia 2013 was a fantastic event, and I simply cannot wait to do it all again next year!
If you asked me where I spent most of my time at PAX, I’d quietly admit I spent most of my time in the handheld lounge, clearing my StreetPasses. Of which, over the 3 days, I got close to 300 of, becoming a master gardener in the process.
Apart from people scavenging beanbags, the handheld lounge was one of the areas where I felt most at home. Everyone was either chatting, competing, or just relaxing. But my girlfriend and I spent most of our time just sitting down, clearing the puzzles and games in StreetPass Plaza. Just another reason why StreetPass is an amazing feature!
The actual Nintendo booth was well put together, but the 3DS hands-on demos were a little hidden amongst the tables. And whereas the Wii U games had Nintendo staff on hand to help you through the new games and features, the 3DS tables were a lot quieter, letting you just sit and play the game at your own pace.
The Animal Crossing presentation was great, with some cute dialogue introductions from Isabelle. However, the captions were too low on the actual interview with the development team, so nobody could really see what they were saying (check out our video, we managed to get a lot of it!). We also got a Tortimer figure and house, which is cool!
Other than those three things, the floor was a little sparse of Nintendo presence, other that some tiny bits of merch (I got a set of Kanto badges from the Sanshee booth). I saw a lot of people walking around with Pikmin posters, but I must have missed out.
All up, Nintendo Australia did a great job maintaining their presence at PAX.
The odd thing about PAX was that the best bit about it wasn’t so much the games on display, rather basking in the expo’s sense of community. That’s not a slight against the games on show at all, there was a lot of impressive things on display, however there wasn’t much in the way of ‘big’ titles from big name publishers on the show floor. But you soon realised that seeing unreleased games was only a small part of the show, and that a big part of it was celebrating gaming, and its community, as a whole.
Indie developers talked to you passionately about the games they put so much love and work into, Q&A’s with gaming personalities revealed a lot of insights into the gaming world, and you could play games with friends or strangers, and feel like you were part of a huge community. I spent heaps of time on the last day just playing already released console games in the Big Top area with people I’d never met, and having a good time with them. I also learnt how to play Magic: The Gathering from more experienced players and joined in on some tabletop games with strangers just for the fun of it. You don’t feel weird about it, everyone’s there for the same reason- because they love games.
You walk around and everyone’s smiling and laughing- taking photos with cosplayers, cheering on people competing in tournaments or queuing up to play a new game. It’s the kind of show that makes you happy that you’re involved in such a great industry and community, and I’m definitely going to return in 2014.
Going into PAX Australia was an entirely new experience for me. Sure, I’ve been to other gaming and fandom events, but nothing is like PAX.
I’ve never been to PAX, I’ve never seen what goes on at one and until last weekend I didn’t really care. PAX isn’t about the games, its not about the personalities, its not about the publishers. It’s about the people.
PAX is somewhere where every side of the gaming and ‘nerd’ fandom can come together and be themselves. It doesn’t matter if you just like gaming, comics, cosplay, tabletop games. No one at PAX is left out, it’s all inclusive. Someone asked me over the weekend if PAX Australia was better than E3. It’s nothing like E3 at all and for the better. E3 is sterile and clinical, it’s media people, public relations and staff. PAX is by gamers for gamers. Hearing Mike and Jerry speak about how they created PAX just cements this fact.
Seeing Ron Gilbert on stage was an amazing experience, learning about the Penny Arcade boys from the Q&A was eye opening. They’ve been through a lot in their lives. The Animal Crossing panel was good, Nintendo’s booth and Pokemon tournaments even better. No one cringed when the Pokemon theme played, everyone was rocking along with it. Outside of PAX you’d get onlookers, people talking you down just because you like Pokemon.
It wasn’t perfect though, there was queues for everything. Even the smallest panel meant lining up an hour in advance, but in the end you take that with what comes with conventions. The hands down best thing about PAX Australia, though, was being part of it, meeting people (some for the first time) and just saying hello. Having random people come up to you saying they love your work and read the site. The people is what makes PAX.