PAX Aus 2022: Level up in Melbourne

I’m not afraid to call it: My year’s highlight will be PAX Aus 2022. As geeky event reviewers and writers, we’re not supposed to have favorites, but PAX Aus is definitely top of the line. the list. It’s not just because of the geekiness or the sheer saturation of the game’s goodness. There’s also something in addition over Melbourne at this time of year. If you’ve ever considered visiting Melbourne (Australia), Melbourne International Gaming Week (MIGW) is the perfect time to do so. The infamous backstreet culture is even more vibrant, with a sense of history and adventure that weaves its way through the streets. PAX Aus is always the highlight, but give yourself a few extra days in Melbourne and make it a very geeky getaway for the whole family.

PAX Aus 2022

Let’s start with the obvious. PAX Aus is the biggest pull card for all gaming fans in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and really anyone with the loyalty points to make the trip that far. Yours truly will be making the trip from Sydney, and this year I’m bringing the Evil Genius family to show how family friendly it can be. The last time PAX Aus was live and in person was in 2019. And I’m incredibly excited for PAX Aus 2022

Picture from PAX Aus 2019

PAX Aus 2022 is a 3-day event on Friday October 7, Saturday October 8 and Sunday October 9. If you’re just hoping to have a blast, 3-day passes and Saturday passes are sold out. Last time I checked, Friday and Sunday were both at 70% capacity, so you might get lucky. The event takes place at the Melbourne Convention Center on the Yarra River at South Wharf. It’s a beautiful location, on the edge of the CBD and fairly close to everything.

Here are some of my favorite things

PAX Aus is the only PAX event outside of the US, and while there are definitely Australian vibes, they also stay true to their PAX brand. The Exhibit Hall is a major feature of the event, showcasing both video games and tabletop games, new and old. It’s a chance for new developers to showcase their stuff, indie developers to get noticed, and those tried and tested games to show off why they’re so persistent. Personally, I love PAX Rising and PAX Aus Indie Showcase. Some of my favorite games started here, including Unpacking and Necrobarist. This year, I can’t wait to discover the cooperative dungeon crawler Under the Tavern and a city building game titled Before leaving.

In the tabletop arena, it’s a little harder to pick a few early favorites. I prefer to walk around the tables and have an atmosphere for the games. There are a few new ones to look out for, including Yum Cha. One place I definitely stop at is Level Up Dice. It looks like we have at least one dice goblin in the family, and Level Up Dice has one of the best dice storages I’ve seen. I like the natural wood and the smooth snap closure mechanism.

image of the dice box from Level Up Dice
One of the awesome dice boxes available from Level Up Dice – EG Sinister has customized their own with a bit of gold detailing. #dicegoblinlikesshiny

See Evil Genius Mum live at PAX Aus 2022

Even with all these games and goodies, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m really here for the panels. I learned so much from the PAX Aus panels – from the importance of diversity to the use of soundtracks and how difficult it is to come up with a truly engaging narrative. When I was asked to participate in my first panel, I was so excited to actively participate in this incredible event. If you’re attending PAX Aus 2022 next week, check out my new panel for this year, Gameschooling: it’s more than learning about confinement at home. It’s at the Galah Theater at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 8. I’m sharing the spotlight with a great cast of geeky parents sharing their own unique insights into the benefits of playschool, how they used play while learning about lockdown, and what they’re doing now.

One final tip for those attending PAX Aus 2022. When the exhibit hall gets a little overwhelming, as it can happen to many of us over the weekend, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break. . Throughout the center are various AFK rooms, console lounges, Paint-n-Take tables, and small hidden nooks near the stairwells to sit and hide. There is also plenty of green space just outside the center for you to touch the grass and get grounded again. I have taken advantage of it several times.

Melbourne’s Backstreet Culture

Outside of PAX Aus, Melbourne offers plenty to keep you entertained. This is one of those wonderful cities where you can travel as a geek and travel geek. The heart of the CBD is this vibrant mix of history and culture, with beautiful heritage buildings like the original Royal Arcade and Royal Exhibition Building. (It’s a little outside of the CBD in Carlton.) Hidden away in the city streets is the Melbourne Laneway Culture, a maze of narrow lanes and alleyways filled with cafes, street art and various other surprises. .

Melbourne Alleys, Ashton Courtesy of Ashton 29 (Wiki commons)

I’m heading to Caledonian Lane this year to see street art, including inspirations from the gaming community itself. The Alley is located opposite Fortress Melbourne, a gamer’s paradise, featuring video games, pinball arcades, a table, and a full dining and bar experience. Fortress Melbourne will also be at PAX Aus showcasing their upcoming Sydney experience. EG Family will be visiting the Tavern for dinner ahead of time, so stay tuned for our family review.

Melbourne as a playable city

Thanks to its geeky charm, Melbourne has recently been added to the Playable City movement. Launched in Bristol in 2012, the Playable City movement is a creative response to structured urban environments, nurturing the relationship between function and enjoyment for the people who live and work there. Many “smart cities” have developed ways to guide people through a city with minimal friction and disruption, giving a sense of greater efficiency. However, mental health advocates and human behavior specialists have argued for the need to encourage downtime to slow down and enjoy our surroundings at leisure. One of the most effective and entertaining ways to do this is to encourage PLAY in our environment.

During MIGW (the week before PAX Aus), Playable City Melbourne is hosting a symposium to promote and celebrate the many ways Melbourne shares its gaming culture with the public. There are physical play areas, such as a parkour park in Malvern, Footscray and Brunswick. On Clarendon St (about a 20 minute walk from PAX Aus) you will find the Clarendon Street Arcade. It includes five (5) arcade cabinets designed by artists, game developers, scholars, students and First Nations people to form a playable “trail” along Clarendon Street.

Image by YAWA from Play About Place
Image from Play About Place / “Yawa” is one of the arcade machines featured on Clarendon Street, Melbourne

There are also games to help you explore Melbourne at your own pace, and you don’t even have to be IN Melbourne to play them. (Although it’s more fun that way.) Eastern Market Murder was released at PAX Aus 2021 while Melbourne was still under COVID lockdowns and PAX Aus was an online event. This is an augmented reality game to play on your mobile device in Melbourne or anywhere else in the world. The game itself is a narrative murder mystery, taking you to various locations around Melbourne to find clues to a real-life 1899 mystery. This is your game if you like true crime podcasts. You can read my full review from last year here. AR is a perfect mechanism to use real buildings in Melbourne and connect them to critical moments in the case. Quite a unique way to take a 90 minute walking tour through Melbourne.

Is Melbourne really a family destination?

Without a doubt, this is absolutely a family vacation! Like any city, Melbourne has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Visiting during MIGW and PAX Aus adds an extra sparkle for those of us geek-centric. Here are some other highlights on the EG travel list for Melbourne:

  • ACMI (Australian Center for the Moving Image): Located in Fed Square, this is Australia’s national museum of film culture. If you are a fan of movies, TV, video games and art in general, this place should be at the top of your list.
  • Melbourne Museum: With a newly refurbished children’s gallery, families will love the tactile nature of the museum. My favorite is the dinosaur walk, including the ability to dig in the discovery play area in the garden.
  • Queen Victoria Markets: I remember visiting these markets at least once a month when I was a kid. They have grown even bigger over the years and are still one of the most exploratory places to experience all types of food! Melbourne is a culturally diverse city and food is always a guaranteed way to bring people together. I look forward to chatting with some stall operators and finding new recipes to share with the kids.
  • Scienceworks: This is an interactive science-focused museum! Scienceworks is the darling of Melbourne’s innovation and technology industry, with displays designed to encourage experimentation and the ultimate science question “BUT WHY?” They WANT you to touch the exhibits. They WANT you to play here. And if you can get a ticket to the Planetarium on Friday night, you could win Parent of the Year.

If you’re heading to Melbourne for PAX Aus 2022, keep an eye out for my lab coat and say hello! You can also find me at the gameschooling panel on Saturday or doing tabletop demos with let’s play games. You know, the usual PAX stuff. Plus, stay tuned for upcoming reviews and highlights over the next few weeks.

image of PAX pins on a lab coat
Part of my pin collection for PAX.

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