PAX Australia is in its third year this year and only proves to be bigger and better than previous years. Like always, I’m here to help you navigate through three days of video games, panels, cosplay and any extracurricular activities you might have planned.
For the uninformed, the Penny Arcade Expo (from the creators of the web-comic Penny Arcade) is a three day video game expo based on the popular PAX Prime, PAX East and PAX South events held each year in America. It brings developers from around Australia and across the globe and gives fans the opportunity to play new and upcoming games, and rub shoulders with those who make them.
It’s pretty boss.
The closest international airport is the Melbourne International Airport. To get to your hotel, you’re able to hire a taxi or rental car. However, there is a wonderful service called Skybus which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including public holidays. Skybus departs every 10 minutes and travels to the city centre.
PAX Australia will be held in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, along the lovely Yarra River.
Melbourne has some great public transport and it got better for out-of-towners this year. Through Zone 1, there are free trams which won’t require a Myki card. The free travel zone is clearly marked and the tram conductors will announce when they approach the boundaries. Information about the free travel zone is available here, which has a downloadable map.
PAX Australia is held Halloween weekend (Oct 30th – Nov 1st), which also happens to be the weekend before the Race That Stops the Nation™, the Melbourne Cup. Hotels will be limited this close to both events, so if your accommodation hasn’t been sorted out, you should probably get on that. Look to combine your accommodation with your friends to save some money and keep the party going all weekend long.
If your hotel is booked and ready, confirm your details with them a week or two prior. Make sure you ask what time you can check in and what time they want you to check out. If it’s a late check in, you might be able to leave your luggage with your hotel and explore the city until your room is ready.
3-Day passes have sold out. International 3-Day passes are still available as well as Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets. So if you missed out on the 3-Day combo pass, but still want to go all three days, maybe pick up the tickets now. You can grab those here.
What to Wear
Melbourne is notorious for its insane weather. It’ll swing widely from blistering hot to brain-numbingly cold and every variation in between at the drop of a hat. Here are a few tips to plan your outfit accordingly.
Shirt: Your favourite nerdy t-shirt is going to be comfortable and easily customisable for the weather. You might even make a new friend if you display your fandom with pride.
Pants: Unless you’re a cosplayer, you have to wear pants. Luckily, you’ve got a couple of options for your leg traps:
- Jeans are your obvious selection; comfortable and easy to move in.
- Skirts if you’re keen. I’d suggest a maxi skirt so you’ve got a little more clothing to keep you warm in case the weather turns on you.
- A popular choice with retailers like Living Dead Clothing and Black Milk having styles and fandoms a-plenty. Like jeans, they’ll be easy to move around in when you’re busting a move at the Just Dance! booth.
Jacket/Jumper: This is where you need to be smart. You want something that will keep you warm, but won’t be too bulky to carry around or put into backpack. Keep that in mind when packing your comfy as heck, but huge N7 jumper.
Shoes: Whatever isn’t going to make you want to amputate your feet after 20 minutes of walking around. There is going to be opportunities to sit down (panels, lunch, randomly sitting down on the floor refusing to move), but you’re going to be walking around a LOT.
(Day 1 last year I did nearly 25,000 steps.)
**NOTE TO COSPLAYERS**
Same rules apply to weather and stuff. Rug up so you don’t turn into a cos-popsicle.
PAX has some rules about what cosplay weapons you can and can’t bring into the convention. Information is available on the official website, and the Penny Arcade forums, but I’ll stick the guidelines here too:
All prop weapons brought to the show MUST be approved at the Info Booth as soon as you arrive. We will be looking for the following criteria:
- It cannot fire any sort of projectile. (Nerf guns are only allowed if they have been deactivated and cannot fire.)
- It cannot be an airsoft weapon. (Yes, even if it’s deactivated.)
- It cannot be sharp or pointy enough to cut or pierce someone with moderate pressure. This includes all real swords, daggers and knives. It also includes ceramic blades, needles, syringes and anything that can pierce (for example, a Little Sister syringe made of wood would not be allowed)
Upon approval, your weapon and badge will be tagged and catalogued.
The organisers also say “Cosplaying attendees may be asked to alter or modify their costume if it is considered to be overtly sexual.” More information about this is available on the official PAX website, under the “Booth Babes” heading. These rules are to make sure that the event is enjoyable for everyone, since PAX is still a family event.
Cosplay is a huge part of these events, but please remember that cosplayers are people too. If you want a photo, ask the cosplayer first. Cosplayers are generally pretty happy to have photos with people and they appreciate it when people ask before taking a happy snap. If you admire the costume, let the cosplayer know if a polite and courteous way, but don’t touch anything without permission. You don’t know if the bit you’re about to touch is held on securely or not.
Cosplay isn’t consent. Please don’t harass or assault cosplayers at events. It makes the day unpleasant for everyone.
Organising Your Weekend
This is going to be what makes your breaks your weekend. The great thing is that the PAX Australia schedule is released about a month before the event, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan where you need to be.
The Guidebook app will also come in handy. It’s available on Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry so everyone is covered. The MCEC also has information available on their website about opening and closing times, plus maps of the centre. If you’re prone to getting lost like I am, having a copy of the map on your phone or a physical copy will save you. (Or just ask an Enforcer!)
The most important thing about enjoying the weekend is making sure your stats are up. Making sure that you’re getting enough food and water through the day will guarantee that you’ll be able to experience all three days the way they were meant to be enjoyed.
The MCEC has a variety of food stalls around the place with sandwiches and snacks available, but this might be a little pricey. You can always pack your own snacks and lunch to save a little money (or give you more money to spend on con loot.)
PAX Australia also happens to be held along the Yarra River where the South Wharf Promenade boasts a collection of bars and restaurants for you to chill out during the weekend.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Take This are a non-profit charity which run the AFK Room at the PAX events in the US and this year, they bring the concept to Australia. From their website,
More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a safe space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues.
Overall, observe the 4-2-1 rule:
- 4 hours sleep (it’s a LONG weekend.)
- 2 square meals a day (actual meals, not snacks or something)
- 1 decent shower WITH SOAP (for the sake of everyone)
Have fun. Take photos, meet people, go to panels, play games, eat, drink and be merry. That’s what these events are about.