Last weekend I attended PAX Australia 2017, the annual gaming convention held in Melbourne. Unlike last year, where I attended as a gaming fan and patron of the event, this year I was attending purely for business. My plan was to speak to as many people as possible in order to generate brand awareness for Attack On Geek, learn from those who have ‘made it’ in the gaming industry, as well as, meet some of Australia and New Zealand’s top content creators. Thanks to the incredible support I’ve continually received from the Attack On Geek community and those who have helped me throughout my journey, I managed to achieve all that I set out to do, and then some.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the weekend was a little dampened by the fact that I had come down with a bad case of the cold and was losing my voice. It was definitely a struggle trying to deal with having to talk without a voice and I was severely exhausted. Nevertheless, I’m so glad that I attended the show as I learnt plenty and met some incredible people.
The first day was more about getting the lay of the land and trying to keep upright. As I was there as a member of the media, I was able to enter the show floor an hour before the public and was able to explore what was on offer, as well as take a bunch of photos. It was great to see that the convention was laid out much better than last year and it looked as if every publisher went all out with their stands. It was fantastic to see Nintendo have a huge presence, PlayStation with their Detroit: Become Human androids were incredibly unique, Omen by HP had a truck that opened out into a mini eSports arena (I know right?!) and of course, as a Mixer streamer, it was great to finally see Mixer having a presence in Oceania (though, it was funny to see their stand right next to the bustling Twitch stand).
Ubisoft had an incredible stand with dozens of Xbox One X’s available for attendees to experience Assassin’s Creed: Origins enhanced in 4K. I was also fascinated by the Cooler Master stand, which was filled with modded PCs, including a really cool PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds gaming rig.
Of course, it was absolutely fantastic to see some Kiwi representation at PAX Aus this year with not only one but THREE different stands featuring Kiwi talent. The most obvious was Aurora44, Wellington based game developers, who were there to showcase their indie title, Ashen. Secondly, there was indie developer Lost Goblin, who were at the PAX Rising area showing off more of their upcoming game, Goblins of Elderstone, which I actually saw at last year’s PAX Aus. Lastly, and my most favourite of all three stands was the AR/VR Garage, a local Auckland based company featuring local Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality developers working to bring unique experiences to the AR and VR market. I was definitely intrigued to see Staples VR show off a VR experience intended to help children prepare for and understand medical treatment and procedures.
Sadly and rather surprisingly, Wizards of the Coast and their hit tabletop card game, Magic The Gathering, didn’t have a presence at PAX Aus this year and neither did Electronic Arts.
After a good look around and waiting in line to get myself some PAX merchandise, I attended a panel about becoming a full time content creator, before meeting with the lovely folks at Intel and was given a tour of their stand. My entire experience with Intel can be found here.
Later in the evening, I attended one of the most interesting panels held by experts in the industry, a couple of whom I know personally. That panel was aptly titled ‘How To (Not To) Approach Sponsors‘. It felt great being able to attend and support my friends from GoTo.Game, AKRacing Australia, and Razer, while learning some great tips which I’ll definitely apply and utilise. By the time that was over, I was exhausted and retired to my hotel, sadly missing out on the ever famous Twitch party.
The following day, I met up with an old friend before attending a media session at the Acer Predator stand, which can be read about here. After checking out the gaming desktops and laptops Acer had to offer, it was nice to take a look at some peripherals at the Hyper X stand, which can be found in detail here. After another look around the entire convention and taking a lot more pictures, I went back to the hotel to rest. Day 2 was actually a whole lot worse as I felt dizzy all day and was struggling with a terrible cough.
That night, though, turned out to be one of the best nights of the entire convention. I had the incredible pleasure of attending GoTo.Game’s launch party, which had some of the most amazing people in the Australia/New Zealand gaming industry in attendance. It was there that I got to meet some of my peers, with whom I’ve been chatting with online, in person. It was great to be able to put faces to names and meet some others in the business. GoTo.Game went all out to treat attendees well with drinks, nibbles and even swag! A huge thanks to the team for an excellent night out.
The following day was a much more relaxed one with me revisiting every stand to ensure I didn’t miss anything. Thankfully, I managed to actually get a hands-on with the Star Wars Jedi Challenges Augmented Reality experience at the Lenovo stand. That was by far the coolest thing I’d experienced! The Lenovo Mirage AR headset was comfortable to wear and the lightsaber was fairly heavy, almost an exact replica of Lucasfilms’ own lightsabers. It was such a fun experience learning how to defend myself against the evil Kylo Ren using the lightsaber and striking him in return. By the end of it though, my arms felt like it had done a solid workout. If what I experienced was just the unfinished version of the game, I can’t wait to check out what the full version will be like.
Cruising along the show floor, I was then roped into challenging a pro The Elder Scrolls Legends gamer at the AMD stand. I was hesitant but was given an amazing deck to use and ended up absolutely crushing my opponent to which I was awarded an Asus ROG mouse and a cool mousepad! The hosts of AMD’s activities at PAX Aus were really nice to me and I couldn’t help but be instantly won over by their kindness.
I did think of getting aboard the Polly Woodside ship, just outside of the convention centre, to have a go at Rare Ltd and Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves, which was conveniently held on the ship itself but bumped into the You Tube legend, Jesse Cox, who I had met earlier in the year at E3. It was so cool to see him again and he actually remembered me (to some degree).
PAX Australia 2017 was a fantastic experience. I managed to meet some fantastic people, including fellow streamers and content creators, was able to spread the word about what I do for both Attack On Geek and TenForward, as well as catch up with old friends who I haven’t seen for years. All in all, despite being sick, I had a successful trip and would encourage all gamers in Australia and New Zealand to attend PAX Australia. It’s a fantastic weekend with great companies and awesome people.