PAX for the Casual Gamer

7 years ago
Sharona Lin

There isn’t really a big, dedicated gaming convention in Australia, which is strange because there are so many excellent game developers here. Our friends at The Action Points! Podcast have interviewed plenty of up and coming (or already up) game devs, with some excellent content coming up in the coming weeks from PAX. So if you’re not a dedicated gamer, why bother to go to PAX when you could instead hit up Supanova or Oz Comic-Con or Armageddon?

I happened on a PAX Australia three day pass by chance. An acquaintance didn’t want to go and gave me the pass Friday afternoon, halfway through the first day of PAX.

I’m not a particularly good gamer. I’m not a huge fan of first person shooters, so the games that are seen as the measure of a true gamer – Halo, Call of Duty (hah), Half-Life – are not really my speed. I don’t have the cash to fork out for new games, so I’m never up to date (I wait about a year, when games drop in price because I’m a cheap bastard). I’m really lazy so I don’t keep up to date with the latest happenings in games.

But I do like gaming, and that’s why I was excited to go to PAX Australia. Sure, I had some reservations – the Penny Arcade guys rape/dickwolves controversy is something that still dogs the reputation of PAX, and I was a little unsure as to how inclusive the convention would be, especially given the whole Gamergate fiasco.

That all being said, PAX Australia was fantastic. The Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre is a fantastic venue – spacious and cool, and big enough that even when there were 1000 people lined up for the Bioware panel, it didn’t impede traffic at all.

While FPS’s aren’t really my thing, I do love me some indie games. There were some amazing games there, including the refreshingly original parkour platform game Ninja Pizza Girl, a high-energy shoot-em-up Assault Android Cactus, a gorgeous adventure game from Cardboard Keep, Warden, the FPS with a simple but awesome twist, Screencheat, and a ton of other, quite frankly, brilliant games.

There’s also plenty of options for all types of gamers. The floor included a tabletop gaming area in which one could check out a game to play with friends or strangers, or learn to play a tabletop game with volunteers, a RPG gaming area and numerous freeplay areas. That goes for consoles (perfect for someone who wanted to try out a game before buying it for themselves, or just wants to chill out), retro consoles (nostalgia a-plenty, as well as an opportunity to try out old games on old tube televisions), and a PC gaming area. All of them had options to simply play for fun, or to enter into a tournament.

The diversity programming for PAX was pretty impressive too. There wasn’t much in terms of race, but there were several panels about gender and LGBTQ representation in video games, featuring some pretty big names too, such as the president of Gearbox (the company behind the Borderlands series), Randy Pitchford.

The best part? The word “Gamergate” barely made an appearance.

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