Widely acknowledged as Australia’s largest gaming convention, PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) has much to offer gamers in every sense of the word. Walking in fresh with no expectations, it was somewhat of a sensory overload. In saying that this event is a veritable utopia for hardcore gamers to table toppers to collectors and so much more.
The first thing you notice is that the venue is huge – easily bigger than some of the larger conventions in other areas. With so many locations for photoshoots and to relax, so much sitting room including spaces to play, almost every kind of tabletop games from board games to card games, Warhammer and other miniature games. In many cases, they would even loan you tokens for your game of choice. Additionally, there were Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games running throughout the weekend.
Next up, is the plethora of video games available for play. From classics and arcade titles for those (like me) who love retro gaming, all the way up to current titles as well as e-sports games such as League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League. There were even panels offering tips and tricks and also speed runs of classics such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Digimon World. They also had every home console ever released set up with various titles on offer to play and watch.
The facilities on offer were seemingly endless. Not only do they offer all sorts of consoles and games, a huge area full of beanbags for hand held device players so everyone can relax and play. A LAN (Local Area Network) area is set up where attendees can bring their own PCs and plug and play at the event. On top of all this, they gave the attendees the opportunity to play all kinds of VR games, indie games and arcade machines.
The cosplayers were also out in force throughout the weekend bringing all sorts of video game and pop culture characters to life. Thanks to the convention’s relaxed atmosphere and well-advertised and enforced rules, the cosplayers can express themselves in a safe and accepting environment. The enforcers or staff are well informed and helpful, as well as friendly and inclusive which made for a more fun-friendly overall feel to the convention.
Now PAX as a whole, compared to other conventions I have visited, the sign posting and labelling were flawless including huge maps at various points around the venue, making it almost impossible to get lost. Additionally, the food options were extremely expansive due to the many different cuisines that were on offer and the quality was much better than expected.
The exhibitors were extremely relevant to the gaming themes and genres at PAX and were very knowledgeable about their products. From the scores of gaming apparel to miniatures, paints, card games and accessories, there wasn’t a single turn without something amazing to see or learn about. I learned the finer points of many games I never knew about before some even giving out promo packs for the game on offer or had insane sales on products.
In summary, coming to this con – star struck and fresh faced – I did not know what to expect. But I can now say that PAX is 100% my favourite gaming con I have ever attended. I have to use up all my extra lives and hit points to keep me from going back. It was an experience I would highly recommend to anyone, be they a game enthusiast of any kind, cosplayer or just a fan of gaming culture in general.