PAX Australia

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One of the Largest Gaming Events Finally Hits Our Shores!



Photography by Safiyyah Daoud

By Joshua Pettit

Since the geek lifestyle was formed, events for comics, anime and other geeky hobbies have existed, but there was never an event exclusive to video games, a show that the general public could attend to drown in gaming culture. Then, in 2004, Penny Arcade decided it was time to create that show; they called it the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and took it around America, creating one of the largest gaming events in North America. It played host to gaming inspired music, tabletop games, panels with special guests, and, of course, video games. Now PAX has landed on our shores! And last month Australian gamers were able to experience it for the first time ever, over three glorious days. We were granted access to this historic event, so let me fill you in.

I arrived at 8:30am on the first day of PAX to collect my media pass and was blown away by the amount of people in attendance; the general public line was overlapping itself as a blur of gamers and cosplayers alike flooded half the entrance hall on this cold Melbourne morning – even though PAX wasn’t due to begin until 10:00am, the event was already alive with people sharing their gaming stories, admiring peoples costumes, and playing their handheld consoles. The media was granted early access to the expo hall one hour before the public; this gave us time to take in all that was on offer before the halls were flooded with people.

First up was the Nintendo booth, the whitest booth in all of PAX Australia, on offer they had a selection of upcoming Wii U titles such as Pikmin 3 and Wind Waker to play; as journalists crowded around this booth first, I could only get a glimpse of these beautiful games, but they looked fantastic. So, I decided to give up on the Wii U war and jump on a 3DS table instead, watching a preview of the upcoming Pokemon games and playing a copy of the highly anticipated Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; being set in the same world as A Link to the Past, the game has a similar play style (with a top down view) and would feel very familiar to those that have played the SNES game. It holds that classic Zelda feel while adding a gorgeous looking world full of life and beauty, with a wonderful 3D option to match! Definitely one to grab. Next was a wander through the Indie Pavilion where Australian and New Zealand game developers showed off their upcoming indie titles, I was snatched up by Epiphany Games (from Sydney) who were very excited about their upcoming title Frozen Hearth; a strategy game that you can check out and vote for on Steam Greenlight. I passed by Wargaming’s booth that took up a large chunk of the hall with all their heavy metal (tanks, etc…); they were showing off World of Tanks with their ever-so-smiley booth girls and massive screens. Ubisoft were showing off Rayman Legends, Splinter Cell Blacklist, Just Dance 4, etc… and had a decent sized screen set up to preview such games as Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag and Watch Dogs, throughout the day – both looked fantastic! Overshadowing Ubisoft and Alienware’s booths though was the enormous booth for Riot Games, where they had League of Legends available to play and tournaments to compete in (they certainly know how to draw a crowd). It was obvious though that the show was stolen by the presence of our favourite virtual reality headset; the Oculus Rift, with multiple booths playing host to the Oculus Rift, waits for up to half an hour were expected to give it a shot, and it was obvious why: the Oculus Rift is a fantastic piece of hardware, charging head on into the world of virtual reality gaming, and when it eventually hits stores we’ll all be able to own the future of gaming.

Once I had finished wandering through the expo hall and had taken in as much as I could for the hour, I watched as a wave of people rushed through its doors, flooding the hall in a matter of seconds. Then I wandered around a bit more; looking at the large amount of merchandise on offer and visiting Halfbrick’s booth to see their newest game: Colossatron, as I waited for Microsoft to fill the empty box that was their Xbox One booth. Then it happened, for two hours a day they were putting their new console on display for the first time in Australia, sitting in a box, that’s it, and as nice as it looked in that box the display was a disappointment; offering no chance for gamers to even see the console in action, so I moved on. I wandered the PC gaming hall with all its PC free-play areas, the large Tabletop gaming hall that was full of life and cards, the console free-play/retro gaming areas, and finally ended up at the main theatres where special guests such as Ron Gilbert gave talks and delivered lectures to a crowd of attentive gamers on subjects that matter to all gamers and geeks alike.

PAX Australia was a success, drawing in enormous crowds and showing off some exciting new hardware and software to the Australian public, along with its panels full of special guests and a large array of areas catering to all types of gamers (it had me making return trips over the weekend for more). PAX will be back in Australia next year, so be sure to get in early and grab a ticket if you want to experience the biggest gaming event Australia has to offer! You won’t be disappointed.

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