The fourth annual PAX Australia convention got underway in Melbourne and we were there when the doors opened, ready to take it all in.
The first thing that was readily apparent from simply wandering the show floor was the use of space. PAX Aus now spans the entire length of the Melbourne Exhibition Center, rather than simply leaving the now almost traditional large void at the rear of the tabletop section. Rather than cramming all that extra room to bursting with more booths, the organisers have spread everything out a fraction more, a philosophy that has rippled through all the way to the front of the Expo Hall. This is great because it means all the thoroughfares feel just that little bit wider, allowing the intense foot traffic to pass through with ease. We really like what we’re seeing so far, but the Saturday crowd will be the ones to really put the new layout to the test.
The indie pavillion, PAX Rising, feels much larger than it did last year meaning our traditional scouring of the indies during the media hour left us truly spoiled for choice. There’s so much great local content on offer as well: the amazing Objects in Space is back, locally made point-and-click Paradigm was super entertaining and felt very Lucasarts-y, adventure/puzzle The Eyes of Ara is a very impressive creation indeed and we loved Wildfire‘s look and feel. There so many more from overseas and we plan to check thsoe out over the next two days.
Major Nelson’s Storytime keynote address was at once super inspirational and also the perfect example of Microsoft’s ability to hire incredibly personable human beings to run their business. After reminiscing about the launch of the Xbox 360 in Bondi (“I said ‘You’re telling me you want me to get on a plane from Seattle and fly halfway around the world to Sydney for a thirty-minute engagement in which I will lob the world’s largest water balloon on a beach?’ They said ‘Yeah.’ I said ‘I’m in.'”) It’s rare to have anyone who is a part of the corporate gaming machine who is willing to be quite so candid, and the near-capacity crowd were appreciative.
The Changing Nature of the Gaming Media took a pleasantly optimistic view of the way games coverage is evolving, particularly in light of Bethesda’s recent assurance that they would no longer be providing review copies further than a day ahead of release. There were quite a few media attendees in the audience for that panel and we saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement.
Also, Harvey Norman had a booth on the show floor this year and it made us scared and confused. What are you doing crashing our party, Gerry Harvey? Whatever, they had an arcade machine and a LAN going on the second story of their booth.
A huge first day, and we’re just getting started. See you legends tomorrow for more.
Accommodation in Melbourne provided by Fraser Place Melbourne. For rates and information, click here.