The sign at the entrance to PAX Australia has always said two simple words: “Welcome Home.”
While, for the most part, PAX can be a solitary affair, that doesn’t stop there being some sort of camaraderie in that isolation – a shared loneliness as it were. Sure, there are heaps of groups and likeminded gamers using the opportunity to get together for some face-to-face Dungeons and Dragons, or spending the time simply hanging out and playing some card games, but there’s also quite a few people ‘going stag’ and balancing their need to just chill out and enjoy gaming alongside their innate hatred of … well, people.
This year’s PAX was certainly no different. Across the three days, I spent quite a bit of time between the showroom floor, but I also committed myself to spending more time in the tabletop area. I wish I had a better sense as to how to use the tabletop zone – am I supposed to come with a pre-existing group? Can I just linger around until I make some new friends? How do I get into a D&D game versus a miniature game? There’s a whole heap of questions which I had planned on answering – but as it turns out, I simply spent more time wandering around the shops and spending money on games that I’ll end up playing with the kids, rather than ‘other people’ at PAX.
But, I don’t want to make this post all doom-and-gloom … make no mistake about it, PAX was fantastic. I had a great time, as usual, on the showroom floor – and I almost always leave PAX more enthusiastic about being a PC gamer. The staple events were there – Xbox, PlayStation, and down the back, Classic Gaming. Ubisoft had a good presence, as did Bethesda. It was a great trade experience, and probably the only truly gaming love you’ll get this side of the equator.
In terms of where I spent my money, well, most of that was on pins – as per usual. I have introduced my son to the love of Pin trading this year, which means that I can pretty much kiss all my doubles goodbye, even though they were few and far between, but for the few opportunities that I had to trade, I’ll admit to being a little miffed that I didn’t have one or two spare to leverage.
All-in-all, my most enjoyable time at PAX boiled down to two things: the first was a fantastic panel around ‘Moral Panics’, which had both an Academic and a Government perspective around censorship and the whole ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ mentality we have when it comes to video games. If you want a good summary of what was presented, then I highly recommend a look at Nichboy’s first episode of his series, Help, my Kid is a Gamer, which covers many of the same points.
The second, well – simply hanging out in the handheld lounge with my kids eating morning tea and relaxing. Sometimes it’s the breath you take away from PAX that offers the most satisfaction.
Bring on 2020.