I got my tickets for PAX almost a year ago. Jumped in with both feet. I booked a room at my “usual” hotel for work travel well in advance as well.
The Grand is just across the river from the Melbourne Conference Centre; an easy 10 minute walk from our room to where all the fun is. I managed to get a nice room locked in early by using my frequent work visits for leverage… some of the front-desk staff greets me by name unprompted when I am around.
There were a couple of days for Abbey and I to settle in before PAX would start.
Since Abbey wasn’t going to cope with being on her feet all weekend, we managed to get a wheelchair for the occasion. Without she’d be dead to the world after an hour. With, she managed to get about 4-6 hours into each of the three days.
One of the benefits of being in a wheelchair appears to be that we got whisked into the Expo before the long long queues got the enter. “Press entry?”, “No, we’re not press”, “Today you are… *waves through*”.
As a result we got some shots of the Expo floor eerily quiet.
No visitors, just press.
I got a lot of value out of the panels; some better than others, but none outright terrible. On topics of gaming, cosplay, equality, design and politics. Once again, being at a conference pulls at something inside me wanting to present. I’m going to have to do something with this drive.
I attended great panels on Winning Games and Losing Games. The panel on playing female characters had a brilliant mix of speakers, and I wish they had had more time to dig deeper. And I finished my last day with a panel by the producer of TableTop.
We played a few games along the way too. Formula E was an interesting spoof of Formula D.
We were also hunting for Pinny Arcade pins for Ab’s brother, and we were “forced” to play Magic the Gathering for one of them. We scored five starter decks in the process… yay freebies!
During five nights in Melbourne we had some opportunities to sample a few bits of the city as well. There was much more I wanted to show Abbey, but we ran out of time and energy before I got to it all.
The timing, every hour on the hour in the evening, didn’t seem favourable, but in the end we managed to get onto a bridge just in time for the spectacle. The big full blasts of fire were amazingly hot, even at 30 metres distance, even on an already hot evening.
You never quite know what you are going to find walking along the river in Melbourne. In this case, Cookie Monster was playing bagpipes for Halloween. Naturally. He had a few fragments of the Star Wars theme. It didn’t seem like he realised that’d be his best bet on this particular evening.
We had four delicious and decadent dinners… and one Nando’s failure that I’m going to pretend never happened. Dessert in the hotel is spectacular; the chocolate mousse comes with delicious slivers of pineapple drenches in delicious sweet nectar.
Friday night I also stumbled into a Tripod concert that was more fun than I was anticipating. I had heard their songs before, but I had forgotten how funny they are. It would also seem that the PAX audience got a lot more of their references… they had an incredibly funny song about character creation in Skyrim.
Another must-see element of PAX is the Cosplay. I wasn’t sure how much to expect; I had expected perhaps a few people half-trying, a few handfuls of serious attempts, and maybe a “pro” or two.
I think about a quarter of the attendees was wearing some form of costume, even if it was just a cap with a Sims diamond attached. But there were so many more incredible outfits. I only captured a few, but there were hundreds of awesome characters.
And then at the end of the weekend… emptiness…
And nothing but 41 pins to remember the event by.
Jerry (not me!) was very organised at the pin swap, and we got some help from the Penny Arcade staff picking good pins.
I think I want to do this again next year.
It never feels long enough.