It’s now been a few weeks since PAX Aus 2014, and I’ve finally recovered from very real ‘post PAX depression‘. Enough at least to reflect on what was an absolutely fucking amazing show. I mean seriously, how good was it? I’m so exceptionally proud of how it all went, and I’ve spent a fair bit of time trawling all the online feedback, forums and reports and it’s been an absolute joy to find pretty much everyone felt the same way.
It didn’t take much searching either, with plenty of you tweeting, emailing and messaging me directly to express gratitude for an event well done. And hey, I’ll take that, cause I worked my ass off for over 15 months to make it the best show I could possibly imagine. However, PAX is bigger than any individual, and there are so many other people who put their time and passion into the show. So I want to highlight these individuals and groups who are just as deserving of your gratitude – it’s a giant collaborative effort, and you should tweet/email/message all of these people as well … cause I want them to all come back to do it again for PAX Aus 2015
First and foremost, the Enforcer volunteers. We had close to double the amount for this year, and it’s thrilling to see ‘veterans’ from the 2013 show mentoring the new recruits. It’s an absolute fact that without the Enforcers PAX simply wouldn’t happen, and perhaps most importantly with their bright yellow shirts, they are the first people you meet when you walk through the doors. They set the tone for the show, embody the best of what we want the gaming community to be, and did an absolutely amazing job at our new venue this year.
Special mentions must go to Simon ‘RiOT’ and Matt ‘Kwaizy’ who ran the Aus Enforcer program this year, stepping up into the intimidatingly massive shoes of Kristin Lindsay from Penny Arcade, who can be proud as punch of how well the boys did.
When we first started planning for the 2013 show, I reached out to various existing groups and associations who could potentially run our freeplay/tournament areas. These collaborations have lead to some of the smoothest run and most exciting parts of the show, and you should take the time to look into these groups more, as most of them run other events throughout the year.
The PC Freeplay/Tournament Area, with hundreds of Intel PC’s all hooked up to each other – you can thank Tristan Gulyas and his team at RespawnLAN for managing that space, with the help of keyboard smasher Ben Miller and the team from Multiplayer United. Seriously, along with all the PC Area Enforcers (special shoutout to US [E] Jordan), they totally owned that space so much. Leading up to the 2014 show, the tech discussions that were had went well over my head, and in the end they ran it so smoothly that even David Coffman and myself had time to get a few rounds of UT2004 in late Saturday night.
The Console Tournament Area is curated by Chris Doxey, from … ESGN? Punch on Australia? I’m honestly not sure anymore, all I know is his team run almost all the tournaments for the publisher booths at all the big Australian events these days. For PAX Aus 2014, you can also thank Dom Turner-Jones for the console/games selection, and making sure all the comps ran smoothly (even if there were some where I only managed to get them all the games 5 minutes before the tournament started!!). For those who competed in any of the fighting game comps in this area, that’s all thanks to Daniel Chlebowczyk from CouchWarriors, who really came through at the last minute with his team.
The Classic Gaming Area with all the retro games and consoles, that’s totally the domain of the teams from RetroSpekt, Retro Domination, AusRetroGamer, and Weird and Retro. All the stuff in that area comes from their personal collections, so you totally have them to thank for the 50 different consoles and handhelds available in that space, and the excellent tournaments too (Point Blank!).
An extra special shout out as well to Ali from ShadowLogic and one of our very own [E] Brad Wilson, who not only sourced most of the CRT TV’s for the area, but actually transported them to the exhibition centre as well. These boys deserve all the medals.
I also need to give a special mention to Darren ‘Daz’ Borg from the Console Domination Network as well, for helping me source working Atari 2600’s and copies of Combat for the final Omegathon round. Told you it would be worth it
Finally, it’s hard to quantify just how important Mel Rogerson is to making the Tabletop Area work at PAX Aus. She is the reason that area is so well run, and it’s her coming up with all the ideas like different coloured table cloths, engaging with all the different card, board, miniature and RPG groups, and even arranging playable games straight from Essen. If you have ideas for the tabletop at PAX Aus 2015, Mel is the person to talk to.
Most of the panels at PAX are made up of selected submitted content from developers, publishers, and the various communities. This year featured such a wealth of content including exclusive international announcements, unique entertainment, and many great panels on diversity. I want to give special recognition to Janet Carr (ABC – Good Game), Jessica Citizen (Player Attack), Nic Healey (Cnet), Dan Hindes (Gamespot) and Leigh Harris (Flat Earth Games) who stepped up and worked with me to create some great panels featuring various international developers who happened to be at PAX Aus this year.
And speaking of the diverse content, did you know that Women in Video Games, Queering Video Games, and Play the Rainbow were some of the most attended panels of the entire show? You can thank the likes of Rebecca Fernandez (IGDA Sydney), Ethan Lesh (Melbourne Gaymers), Joshua Meadows (Sydney Gaymers), and James Dominguez (The Age) for the enthusiasm and belief that PAX is a space where these topics should be discussed. They certainly helped give me direction and a greater understanding of how we can make better, more inclusive events.
Really though, most of the props should be given to Alice Clarke and Karma Oliveira Clarke. These two women brought more to the Diversity Lounge than I could ever have imagined, and created such a positive diverse experience that echoed throughout the entire show. They were tireless, and packed so much awesomeness into that retrospectively tiny room, that it became a legitimate meeting point for people over the 3 days.
It’s no secret that the Victorian Government works closely with us and is a major supporter of PAX, as evidenced by the fact that we’re going to be staying in Melbourne for the next 5 years. One man in particular has been an instigator and supporter of the event from the very beginning, and deserves recognition not just for helping to bring PAX to our shores, but for all his support of the local gaming industry as a whole. Alan Gibb, I raise my very best glass of wine to you.
Two other partner associations have been absolutely critical in the success of the show as well – the iGEA (which represents Australia’s game publishers) and the GDAA (which represents Australia’s game developers). To Ron, Raelene, and Josh from the iGEA, who have helped us immensely over the years, especially when it came to navigating the legal waters around restricted classification. To Tony and Giselle from the GDAA, who threw an absolutely phenomenal GCAP, and were instrumental in helping us to help the local game developers get the most out of such a huge show like PAX.
Speaking of the local game developers, how amazing was Chris Stead’s special PAX Aus edition of Grab It Magazine? If you missed out, be sure to go download it for your iPad here, as it’s the most comprehensive and in depth companion guide to developers at an event that I’ve ever seen.
One more thing to mention, while we’re talking about publishers and developers. Although there was a noticeable absence of some of the bigger publishers, every single one of them still supported us with consoles and games for our freeplay and tournament areas. They all believe in the event, they all ‘get it’, and I’m hopefully we’ll see even more of them involved in 2015.
And I would be remiss if I also didn’t drop a line of thanks in to our PR agency – RebootPR. Ben, Patch, and John did a stellar job leading up to the show facilitating great stories about the local development industry, and looked after over 400 media on site.
At the core of PAX is the event company that I work for, ReedPOP, who manage not only all the PAX shows, but other events such as New York Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, Oz Comic-Con, and so many more all over the world. Over the years I’ve helped out with other non-PAX shows, and that goes both ways, as we had all hands on deck leading up to this years PAX Aus.
Johnny Huynh, who keeps us all entertained even though he’s obviously nuts. Jess Yates, who tirelessly answered customer emails and looked after the badge pickup desk during the show. Khahil White, who is a constant source of help considering his years of working the PAX shows in the US. Laura Blagys, who did a stellar job marketing the show with very little budget or time, and had to deal with my grumpy attitude. Jason Gazal, who pulled together an amazing expo floor this year with his team, and who I butt heads with less and less the longer we work together (Sorry Jase, but Go the Maroons!). From our ReedPOP US office – Ryan, Kyle, and Jason who helped with content, sales, and streaming.
The whole team at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre were fantastic to work with and amazingly accommodating to all our outlandish requests, but the credit for the show looking and running as great as it did has to go to our Operations team. Comprising of Tom McAlister, who truly stepped up to the challenge and is absolutely a part of the team going forward. Lauren DeMaio, who usually handles all the PAX shows in the US, and was an absolute joy to have with us for PAX Aus. And most of all Jono Whyman, who absolutely killed it this year. This guy never loses his cool, can make even the most ridiculous requests happen, and is simply one of the best people to work with … even if he does refuse to add me as a friend on Facebook.
Tom Munro, the Event Co-ordinator for PAX Aus. Some of you may know Tom during his time running Sydney’s Anime and Manga show ‘Smash’, and I can tell you right now that his wealth of experience and passion for these shows is above reproach. He works so hard it almost kills him (seriously Tom, take a break), and anyone who had need of ‘Tom’s Shop’ during the show will know just how much smoother things were compared to last year.
Ben Williams, the Account Manager for PAX Aus. This man is the reason the Expo Floor looked as fantastic as it did this year, with more of the big publishers and international companies. This man’s enthusiasm is infectious, to the point where I find myself playing the straight man to his wild and crazy ideas.
Finally, Bernadette Neuman, the Director of ReedPOP Australia. This woman somehow manages to work longer and harder than anyone else in the team, constantly crunching the numbers to make sure there is no compromise in the quality of content at the show. She looks after and looks out for the local team, and is as deserving of all the praise for such a successful PAX Aus.
Of course, none of this PAX business would even be possible if it wasn’t for the show’s namesake – Penny Arcade.
Mike Fehlauer, who’s dulcet voice welcomes everyone to PAX every morning, and who saw the true potential of the Polly Woodside tall ship. Dabe and Kiko, for the fantastic photos you’re going to continually see over the next few months. Levin, Erika, and Josh, who add more credibility to the show just by BEING there, and ensuring that there are more pins to trade! Brian, for making sure all the merch stuff actually turns up and is available, and for brilliantly coming up with the idea to sell PAX towels (great idea buddy, glad you thought of that one all on your own …). Kenneth for making sure the Console Freeplay area operates as intended. I think I even saw him smile.
Dave Coffman, once of the nicest and friendliest guys I’ve ever met, who had to deal with so many Gchat messages from me over the last year I wouldn’t blame him for blocking me. He just simply knows PAX back to front, and I can’t imagine a PAX happening without him being involved.
Robert Khoo, the President of Penny Arcade. Even though he is seemingly busy 23 hours a day, he is always available and contactable. Robert is the smartest person I’ve ever met, and is the reason PAX is PAX, and will continue to be so. Anyone sending me thank you messages for PAX Aus, send them to Robert first, cause I take my lead from him.
Mike and Jerry, who bring the irreverent humour and community credibility to the show. Their commitment to Australia and our local gaming scene has shone a spotlight on us at an international level, and for that, we all thank you.
The final word on a massive thank you article has to go to the attendees of PAX Aus. You were all fantastic this year, and proved just how welcoming and inclusive our gaming culture can truly be. I can’t wait to do it all again with you all at PAX Aus 2015 – Oct 30 to Nov 1!