Saturday, 5 November 2016

Notes from PAX the Fourth

Melbourne fourth PAX event is still ongoing, but I thought I'd drop my 2c about the thing that is clearly the best of everything to do with PAX Australia: How nice everyone at PAX is.
It is quite amazing, actually. The place is crowded but you never hear shouts or notice anyone trying to bypass a queue in some creative way. Everyone is busy but you can still catch a presenter for a detailed chat about this question you just have to ask (I'm speaking from experience here). And with my son, it is probably the first and only place in the world where everyone - everyone - treats him like an equal as opposed to "a little boy".
I love it.

Yesterday I attended a panel discussing violence at video games. The six panelists were all proper authorities, researchers and professionals (three of them were professors).
While discussing the channeling of aggression, one of the professors noted that the crowd of video gamers present is probably on the least aggressive side of the aggression spectrum, suggesting that - in the case of a conflict - absolutely no one is going to be punched here. The worst thing that could happen to anyone at PAX is getting hacked.
Further on the same theme, another presenter was an AFL psychologist who described her job as channeling players' inherent aggression towards the right channels (I assume this means the rival team). She admitted her ignorance in the gaming arena she was present at, so in order to see how much she has in common with us PAX lot she asked for a show of hands of anyone playing Aussie Rules.
In a crowd of several hundreds (I estimate circa 300), 3 people raised their hands. That's 1%. In Melbourne, the capital of AFL. That is, literally, unheard of.
The PAX crowd is, indeed, unique.

I feel I have matured through my four years at PAX, too. Nowhere is this clearer than my video game preferences.
I seriously fail to see the attraction in the fifth sequel of game franchise X, the second sequel of game franchise Y, or the remake of the not so old Skyrim for that matter. I watched the presentation of the new 4K PlayStation and I was amazed by the quality of the picture; but the two games they've demoed? They're nothing we haven't seen before. Who gives a shit if I could see the intricate details of the heroine's hair flying in the wind?
Screw the blockbusters with the tens of millions in marketing budget and the armoured personnel carrier parked outside for promotion. You suck. To say I will take Mini Metro over all of you combined would be the understatement of the year.

And since I have just invoked the name of a favourite indie title, this old and wise in the ways of the IT industry person is now going to give a personal tip to the indie development industry.
Attending several panels dealing with indie development and talking to indie developers in person, I could not avoid noting just how amateurish their professional practices seem to be. Ask any IT person about their project management practices and they will always complain on just how things never seem to be done right. Well, compared to us corporate folk, used as we are to working in a disciplined corporate environment where project plans and estimates are mandatory before anyone dares opening the wallet, these indie developers seem totally reckless.
Sure, it is this recklessness that gives their products that spark that corporations can rarely achieve. But if they seek to survive to make their next fancy project, they could and they should learn a lesson from those who have been there longer.
And yes, if you read this and you want to borrow on this old person's experience, I'm here to help!

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