A couple of years ago I was thoroughly impressed with PAX breaking into the Australian scene. Last year was a bit of an eye opener; I didn’t really enjoy the experience. This past weekend I’ve made my way to the third PAX armed with those now wide open eyes and also the virtues of experience. I knew what to expect.
I will sum it up: best PAX experience ever.
Now for the details.
The core event is based around allowing people to sample the future. One can play all sorts of soon to be released video games. So I will come out in the open and state: thank you very much, but I don’t care. I do not see the point of queuing in a way too noisy environment for the dubious pleasure of a limited experience at something I will be able to have a proper go at in two months’ time.
I know, mine is the type of cynicism that comes with age. In the same vain, I am not interested in hearing what the latest celebrity gamer’s current favourite board game is. That said, I will admit PAX is clearly aimed at an age group younger than me.
Nothing in the above implies I am unable to have fun at PAX. It’s just that I need to find my own brand of fun. As it happens, most of this fun came from being able to acquire on overview of what’s available in the gaming arena (including video, card and board games) and then trying my hand with a proper, guided, go. While that type of experience is generally unavailable for video games (exceptions do exist), it is certainly available for card and board games. And yes, some gems have been identified!
It is also nice that this whole affair takes place at a very nice environment. Despite the gathering of a large number of people and the congestion that comes with that, nowhere were ugly scenes to be found. Despite queuing there was never any pushing or attempted overtaking. Everyone was just so nice! I will be blunt: this so different to the football stadium experience proves all those who claim video games rot kids’ minds and/or turn them into psychopaths wrong. It’s actually the exact opposite.
As to my top PAX experience? As before, it involved direct exposure to indie developers, and particularly the Toronto based crew of three from Vagabond Dog, makers of the wonderful Always Sometimes Monsters (available on Steam and iOS). I even used the opportunity to ask them for tips on how to get myself employed by the Toronto based company I’d very much like to have as my next employer. Plus they even gave my son a free shirt! [Yes, PAX is a very kid friendly affair.]
Next year I shall return to PAX in greater numbers.