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PAX Australia 2016: What to expect from one of gaming’s biggest events

PAX your bags, geek world! The biggest video gaming event in the Southern Hemisphere is here! April Dugeon has the highlights of PAX Australia 2016. 

The three-day spectacular celebrating gaming and pop culture is back in Melbourne for the fourth time.

PAX Australia 2016, the video game convention that bundles games, design, industry expertise and costumes into one big geeky package will return to the Melbourne’s Exhibition and Convention Centre from November 4 – 6 and is expected to be flooded by gamers from all over Australia and the world.

There will be a wide range of games for you to get your hands on, from consoles to tabletop as well as trading cards and the retro. Many major studios will have a presence on the showroom floor as will the creative indie developers with their amazing and sometimes weird games.

Panels for just about everyone will be happening as industry pros take the stage to talk everything games and gaming culture. And make sure to keep an eye out for all those cosplayers, stick around for some comedic tunes, and show off your own gaming skills!

If this is your first time attending, we break down the program for you below.

Games on the showroom floor

Gaming show floor at PAX Australia 2015. Image supplied.

Gaming showroom floor at PAX Australia 2015. | Image supplied.

The big three, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, will all have a presence at PAX and will be showing off their latest toys. Want to try out the new Pokémon games? You might just be able to if Nintendo are bringing it with them! Where else but PAX will you be able to get a sneak peak and an actual preview of unreleased games? Just be prepared to queue for a while because just like Pokémon, everyone else is going to wanna catch ’em all too.

If queues aren’t your thing, be sure to wander to the PAX Rising section where you’ll be given plenty of chances to try games from upcoming and established independent game developers. There are so many booths squished in together here that you’ll be able to just pick up a controller and have a go – no waiting in line! Plus most of the indie games on show are weird and quirky, and the masterminds behind them will be happy chat!

Other things to look out for include triple-A developers like Ubisoft who’ll be previewing Watch Dogs 2 and South Park: The Fractured But Whole. And if you’re a fan of real-time strategy games, don’t miss out on previewing Dawn of War 3 either!

The showroom floor is also home to a bunch of hardware vendors and shops. Drop by PC hardware brands like Razor, Alienware, MSI and SteelSeries not only to have a gander at their products but perhaps even score some free swag along the way!

And for the first time ever, the brand new VR Freeplay gives you a chance to demo virtual reality gameplay with HTC Vive playable areas that include green screen VR setups and Omni treadmills, as well as Oculus Rifts and Playstation VRs.

Panels and presentations

Industry panel at PAX Australia 2015. Image supplied

Industry panel at PAX Australia. | Image supplied.

The PAX panels are a chance for you to get some insider perspectives on the gaming industry. The discussion topics vary widely, from mental health to eSports athletes committees. There are too many of them to mention here, but these guaranteed to entertain – some are funny, and some are serious. Every pro up on stage will offer you unique and engaging content, no matter what your interests are.

One of the do-not-miss talks of the convention is on Friday morning at 10.30am. Podcaster, Xbox expert and general man about gaming-town, Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb, will deliver the opening ‘Storytime’ keynote and give his insight on major gaming events and launches, as well as a look at operations at Microsoft’s Xbox division.

Competitions and Tournaments

Gamers at PAX Australia 2015. Image supplied.

Have a ball of a time competing with others or just playing alongside friends at PAX Australia. | Image supplied.

The PAX Arena will house the best pro gamers competing for eSports glory. See professional-level gameplay from Rocket League, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, The Elder Scrolls: Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive all weekend long at the Arena.

For a competition with a bit more personality, check out Omegathon, the weekend-long elimination tournament with random games against random other convention-goers. Twenty Omeganauts are chosen from those who pre-order PAX passes, and compete in games from every category (tabletop, console, PC – you name it!) across the three days. It all culminates in a live championship match on the big stage during the PAX closing ceremonies, and the final game is always out of left field – think Pong, giant Jenga, or Halo – and the grand prize is equally ridiculous.

But if you’re not a pro, and you’re not randomly selected for the Omegathon, there is sure to be a competition for you too! Located in the five Tourney areas will be a chance for you to take on other amateurs in whatever game you like, from Mario Kart, FIFA and pinball, to Cards Against Humanity and Luminous Ages.

Quirks and Perks

The Legend of Zelda cosplayers at PAX Australia 2015. Image supplied.

The Legend of Zelda cosplayers at PAX Australia. | Image supplied.

There’s plenty of fun and excitement away from the games at PAX as well. If you’re trying to collect some shiny new pins to add to your lanyards, the Pinny Arcade will be back with one trade event. So if you’re looking for some collector pins, particularly the rare ones, be at the trading session at 1.30pm on Friday in the Queue Room.

To soothe your Saturday night fever, make sure you check out the concerts in the Main Theatre for some funny, geeky tunes performed by 7bit Hero, DUET (Tim Shiel & Luke Howard), and Axis of Awesome (the hilarious group that opened your eyes to the pop songs that all use the same four chords).

And if you’re looking for somewhere to chill out, head to the Handheld lounge and Console Freeplay area. Also, for those people feeling a little overwhelmed by the crowds, colours and noise, take a break and head to one of the AFK rooms designed for some quiet, relax time. They’re also staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support away from the show floor.

PAX Australia 2016 will be on at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, November 4 – 6 from 10.00am each day. Visit the PAX AUS website for ticket registration and the full schedule.

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