PAX Australia 2016 – Day One Roundup

The first day of PAX Australia is usually the busiest for me in terms of the panels I tend to visit – it’s not unusual to simply stay seated in one of the theatres and wait for the next rounds of panelists to come in.

For the “Story Time” keynote this year, Larry Hryb aka Xbox Live’s Major Nelson talked about how he came to be where he is now by answering the question most asked of him: “how do I get your job?”. It was a great session (another Star Raiders fan!) and Larry is a friendly guy who totally deserves the position he is in at Xbox. Hopefully he visits us here in Australia more often.

First impressions of the Expo Hall were a bit mixed initially – despite Xbox and PlayStation facing off against each other neither didn’t really seem to be having as big a presence as last year. Sony had PlayStation VR there in force and an area dedicated to The Last Guardian and Horizon Zero Dawn whilst Microsoft had stations dedicated to Halo Wars 2, Gears of War 4 and an area to queue up for Dead Rising 4.

Nintendo’s stand wasn’t much different to last year either; I was hoping to at least see a NES Classic as I walked by but no luck. Maybe it will be different next year as the next stage of the console arms race heats up with new hardware actually in gamer’s homes.

One of my abolsute favourite areas is where the classic gaming systems are located. Getting to see other people’s collection including gear that I had only read about previously gives me a bit of a buzz.

Considering most of what I had learned then was from the same magazines that were now behind a locked display probably added a few additional tinges of grey to my beard.

It was great though to see some BBC Micros – those and Apple IIs were my first exposure to computers in school. I used Logo in anger on the BBC and it probably helped to lead me into my current career.

Following Major Nelson was the first of the Penny Arcade Q&As which I have to admit never get old. I suppose because I don’t follow the guys as closely as many fans, this yearly event is always a fresh experience for me.

I also went to the panel by local animation studio Plastic Wax who was responsible for the hilarious trailer for Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I’m pretty much in awe of the cool stuff these guys do and they have a damned impressive highlight reel too.

Closing out the evening for me was a comedy session where a pile of local talent tried their hands at routines oriented towards the PAX audience and it was great end for the night for me. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks the nature of some aspects of modern game design is worthy of poking fun at because everyone in the crowd was enjoying it. 🙂

It was probably one of the longest days I’ve had at a PAX in years but that last session really helped end it on a high note.

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