By Lydian_Sel 11 Comments
Let me preface this blog with the statement that my excitement for the event diminished sharply after the absolutely devastating news of Ryan's passing and the cancellation of Giant Bomb's panel. To me the trip to Melbourne would have been well worth it purely to see Ryan and Jeff and experience some of the Giant Bomb magic in person.
On Friday the 19th my partner & I attended the inaugural PAX Australia at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Having never attended any of the shows before I have no basis for comparison but the event left me somewhat indifferent. I bought my tickets early this year without any announcements of the schedule, as somebody working to enter the games industry here in Australia I thought it was important to support the industry even if the show didn't turn out to be that great.
My entire time at Pax I just couldn't help but feel that the show had an air of cautiousness and distance to it. While it was great to see games like Johann Sebastian Joust and AntiChamber being represented, it was disappointing that such a huge part of the show floor was dominated by hardware companies when the Indie showcase was limited to a meager 6 games. It would have been nice to see more booths showing games and less showing off headphones especially when there are developers in the country who could really use the exposure.
I only got a chance to see a few panels which were enjoyable if not a little prosaic but it certainly seemed as though many of the panels available were lackluster compared to those on offer at PaxEast & PaxPrime. We were thankfully spared from egregious hyping of AAA titles by their developers if only because few AAA developers attended the show. The tabletop area was buzzing with energy and seemed like loads of fun, we were eager to jump in but unfortunately we couldn't seem to get any games going either due to lack of tables (many of which were taken up by people eating and couples nursing fussy babies) or lack of players. We spent so long idly standing around unsuccessfully cajoling people to play that eventually we abandoned it all together.
Whenever Pax has been mentioned in the game's media it seems as though the resounding opinion is that the show is less about games, less about press, less about business, and mostly about community. Pax is sold on the idea of it being a mecca for all gaming fans to come and share their love of playing with one another. In my experience with the expo the most pleasant interactions I had were with the few developers I had the opportunity to speak with, the enthusiastic and friendly enforcers working the event, and the scant few Giant Bombers I had the pleasure of meeting at the show and around the city; all of whom were outgoing and affable.
Whether or not PaxAus delivered on the community aspect I honestly can't say, I did enjoy a lot of my time in the show but given the announcement that Penny Arcade will return to Australia next year I sincerely hope the show gets better. While I realise that sponsorships from companies like Skull Candy, Audio-Technica, and Energizer help to pay for a lot of the show and that many developers can't cover the cost of exhibiting or find it detracts too much from development time, I hope that more devs and press outlets embrace the event next year. I hope that next year's pax feels like a celebration of games and gamers instead of just a thing on that weekend that happens to be game related.
For those of you who attended the show please comment!! I'm eager to know if anybody felt the same as I did or hopefully had a blast!
And for any Pax patrons from outside of Australia maybe you can give me some insight on whether what I experienced was really Pax or not.