A beginners guide to surviving PAX AUS 2018

Feature article

PAX AUS 2018 is under a week away and is Australia’s biggest gaming convention. But before you skip merrily on down to gamer paradise, the team at Checkpoint have a few tips and tricks to help get you prepared to survive the showroom floor. So without further ado, I give you our annual survival tool: A beginners guide to PAX!

For many, PAX AUS will be a return to familiar sights, sounds and faces. For others it will be their first time attending such a large scale event. However this year there will be some firsts even for veterans because for the first time ever EB EXPO and PAX AUS are merging, creating one super gaming convention! PAX AUS has always been one of my favourite events on the gaming conference calendar and with good reason. Above all, PAX is about the community and the gamers. It’s that emphasis on community that puts PAX above all other game trade shows which we all hope doesn’t get lost amongst the merger with EB.

Whilst attending PAX AUS you’ll notice that everything on the showroom floor is accessible and playable. This is a unique feature to PAX in comparison to some other game trade shows and whether it’s the latest upcoming Triple A title from companies like Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, or unique and outstanding indie titles located in PAX Rising, you’ll definitely be entertained. It’s this open access policy that helps to foster PAX’s healthy and exciting community-driven approach.

PAX truly has a focus on community and it’s an eccentric community for sure. This is a convention that simply put is a picnic for your pockets and an overload for your senses. There is an assortment of sounds and sites for you to take in at PAX as well as free goodies to be collected, so it’s important to pace yourself. When you’ve had enough of the bright lights and noise of the main showroom floor you can then waltz on through to the tabletop gaming area, this is where you can slow the pace down and try some more hands-on gaming.

So now that you know a little bit about what to expect from PAX itself, here’s a few helpful tips and tricks from the pros here at Team Checkpoint on how to survive and get the most out of your PAX AUS 2018 experience.

LUKE:

Sure, it’s important to stay hydrated and look after yourself, making time for those enticing panels and hanging with friends… but I’m here to break down for you the best way to make sure you see what you want to see.

Don’t waste time on the tabletop area straight away. And while you may want to take a lap or two just to find your bearings, don’t do this if you can help it. If there are two or three AAA games that you definitely absolutely want to see, make a note of where those games are and head there without hesitation, one by one. Cross them off your list, even if the queue is kind of big. Once you do those key games, you have the rest of the day to play indie games (most only have a 10-15 minute wait to play them) and wander the tabletop area and shops at your leisure.

“Ultimately, PAX is what you make of it. It can be amazing to check out panels and guest speakers, play some unreleased games and connect with a local indie game that will stick in your memory…”

If you can go Friday, do it, it’s the quietest day. However, Sunday is also good, especially in the afternoon. As that’s the third day and all the journalists and game developers likely have had a massive weekend of socialising and showing their games to thousands of people, they’ll be a bit less energetic – but it also means that it’s a more relaxed vibe and a chance to play whatever you like without the long wait times.

Ultimately, PAX is what you make of it. It can be amazing to check out panels and guest speakers, play some unreleased games and connect with a local indie game that will stick in your memory (for me, every year, at least one indie took me by surprise and blew me away more than any AAA did).

Oh, and if there’s one indie worth lining up for, it’s Spin Rhythm. Part of the Indie Showcase this year, that game captured my heart last year and I have been craving another crack at it ever since.

RACHEL:

If I had one favourite time of the year it would be Halloween, but PAX Australia comes a very close second! The biggest event on the gaming calendar that not only gives me everything my pixel loving heart could ever want but also allows me to catch up with many of my interstate friends who travel to Melbourne every year just for the convention.

In your time spent adventuring at PAX AUS 2018 it’s important to remember to take your time through the levels and that above all this is not a speed run. So with that in mind I highly recommend setting out a game plan. Every good game plan requires tools, and the the PAX App and the PAX Schedule which can both be found on the official PAX AUS website are the way to go. Once you have those in hand, you’ll be able to navigate the showroom and Convention Centre like the most skilled adventurer.

Once you have navigation sorted it’s  important to remember other key quest items such as adequate footwear, hydration, deodorant and a preferred form of painkiller. A trusty backpack is also a must so that you can carry all your items and newly obtained loot. And since I mentioned it, let’s talk about the PAX loot! There is no shortage of free goodies to be had, and competitions to be entered, but you’ll need to be around to claim them otherwise you will run the risk of missing out completely.

“You’re phone isn’t going to last all day, you’re probably going to be taking a lot of pictures, maybe some videos, calling and texting friends who’ve gotten lost… Take a phone charger or a power pod with you, it’s that simple.”

Speaking of missing out, it’s very easy to miss those panels due to the distractions of the bright lights on the main showroom floor, so if you’re planning to take in panels (which I highly recommend) I suggest you use your phone to set multiple vibration alarms to remind you before they start. Cuing up for the bigger panels is a must, and with the noise and excitement about PAX it’s easy to get distracted and miss your chosen panel all together.

Lastly with your phone being in such demand during your time at PAX you’ll need to remember to Power Up! You’re phone isn’t going to last all day, you’re probably going to be taking a lot of pictures, maybe some videos, calling and texting friends who’ve gotten lost. Take a phone charger or a power pod with you, it’s that simple.

There will be plenty of power points at the mobile gaming station, and you won’t be the only person making use of the various power points scattered around the exhibition centre.

The final and most important tip for the PAX showroom floor is to have fun! Get lost in the maze of exciting games and content. Explore around and try things that look interesting or different. PAX is an awesome opportunity to play things you would never have gotten the opportunity to otherwise. Check out the Virtual Reality games, check out the little indie gems you’ve never heard of before, check out the upcoming games from the big publishers that everyone is super excited for! And when you get tired, walk up to the Diversity Lounge for a bit of a rest or sit on a beanbag and play Jackbox with 50 strangers. PAX will have a bit of everything no matter what kind of gamer you are, so immerse yourself in the fun and try not to lose your friends in the chaos.

PAX AUS will run from the 26-28th of October. Will you be attending?