PAX Australia is coming. It’s less than a week before we all congregate in the best capital of Australia! Expect to throwdown together across the best up-and-coming indie games. We’ll be guided through elaborate adventures by some of Australia’s best Dungeon Masters and listen to some of our sharpest minds discuss topical subjects across a massive variety of panels.
And, yeah, I am sure some of the AAA crowd will be there too. Maybe some sweet gear demos. You get the drift.
Conventions are WILD. Conventions are FUN. Conventions are jam packed and full of shiny flashing things, lots of noise, all the new things, and sweaty, sweaty strangers as far as the eye can see.
For those of you who find this a somewhat terrifying, but also fantastic idea, I have put together a quick guide for surviving PAX Australia 2019.
Water is your friend. I know it has not felt like it down here, but the Melbourne Spring is upon us, and this means it’s likely to be quite warm during the day. Add spring warmth to the crowd of aforementioned sweaty strangers, and a massive air conditioned hall, and you have the perfect formula for some pretty gnarly dehydration.
You want to enjoy PAX not crash out in the corner with a headache. Drink some water. Drink early and drink often. There are plenty of toilets.
While there are plenty of food vendors in and around the convention centre, those vendors come with lines. It may take you longer to procure food than you anticipate, especially at peak times. Some on-hand snacks can be the difference between you feeling miserable and crashing out and food being a quick pit stop before throwing yourself back into the festivities.
Conventions are amazing but they are also a place where people with untoward intentions can thrive. There are a few things you can try to ensure you have a safe and fun time at PAX:
Incidents of pickpocketing and card skimming occur in conventions and festivals right across Australia. Ensure that your cards and your cash are secure on your person, and encase your cards in skim proof slips or wallets.
Going in a group? Fantastic! Make sure you regularly check in with each other. PAX is very busy and it’s easy to get separated. Set times and locations to regroup and check in. Keep a map handy either on your phone or physically in your pocket. If you get lost, find a super friendly and helpful PAX Enforcer. They are there to help!
Many of you will be strangers to Melbourne. Make sure you know where PAX is in relation to your accommodation and in relation to any landmarks you do know. Keep track of markers and places you know you can remember. If you need help, or you are lost, find a PAX Enforcer to help you.
Conventions are a capitalist paradise. If you have bought all the things and don’t want to lug them around (honestly who wants to lug around anything in a crowded convention centre?), go and put your purchases in the PAX coat room. You may have to fork over some change, but they will keep your purchases safe, and you won’t inadvertently kneecap someone on the floor.
See someone acting in an unsafe way? Don’t just turn the other way, go and tell a helpful PAX Enforcer. We all have a part to play in making PAX a safe place, and making sure unsafe behaviour is reported to the correct representatives goes a long way in making sure that everyone has a good time. Unsure as to what is and is not appropriate PAX behaviour? Read the handy PAX convention behaviour rules. Then follow them.
Back to that image of crowds of sweaty, sweaty strangers. Imagine now, if you can, every one of those sweaty strangers wore a fresh t-shirt every day, used some form of deodorant and washed their hands.
Yes, there are still going to be millions of sweaty strangers but at least they are not wearing 3-day-old drenched and crusty convention shirts.
Pack a second t-shirt for the afternoon if you have to but, please for the sake of all of us, lets try and keep the BO under control.
Another unfortunate reality of so many people in one space for 3 days is that any cold, cough or sniffle spreads like wildfire. If you cough, cough into your elbow (like a good vampire). Wash your hands, OFTEN. Carry around hand sanitizer if you can. Dispose of your tissues with consideration.
Us geeks are a sensitive bunch, and many of us have compromised immune systems. We can’t all shrug off a mild cold. Be aware of yourself and act responsibly.
PAX is a proud supporter of the LGBTQI+ community and diversity in all of its flavours. If the Big PAX Energy is getting to you and there are quiet places to go chill out, take a breath, and crash on a beanbag in a low sensory stress environment for a while. The PAX Diversity Lounge has you covered.
There are gender neutral toilets near the lounge, and helpful tools for you to use at the convention, writ large. For instance, you’ll find stickers you can use to display your preferred pronouns, stickers to let people know you don’t want to be spoken to right now, and stickers for saying you would like someone to start a conversation with you.
Whatever your need the inclusive and welcoming crew of the Diversity Lounge will do what they can to assist. They may even hand out their brilliant “roll for diversity” lanyards this year. Go check it out!
There are so many things to see! There are so many things to do! If you want to get in on a game trial, then plan ahead. Mid-morning and lunch time are chaotic for line ups. Many trials require you to book a timeslot in advance. Find out the rules and regulations around the games and equipment that you want to trial, and do what you need to do to ensure you are not disappointed.
There is a program listing all the panels and events over the 3 days. Study it. Study it in advance and make sure you note when the things you want to see are on. The PAX app has a handy alarm system that can assist.
Be aware that you will need to get In line for the panels and you may need to line up early to secure a spot in the more popular sessions.
While you are planning out your day, don’t forget to plan tap-in times with your friends.
This means everyone. Other random people you pass in the hall, your friends, the hard-working PAX staff through whose efforts you’re even walking in the door, and every single customer service person you interact with.
Everyone is having a big weekend, it’s going to be busy, and not everything will go 100% the way you expect it to. Show restraint, embody patience, and treat everyone with respect.
Cosplayers have spent a lot of time, effort, sweat, tears, and money crafting their art. They did this to create something unique. They did NOT do it so one can gawk and be an asshat around them.
Love what you see? Treat them with respect. Ask before taking a photo, and DO NOT TOUCH THEM OR THEIR PROPS unless you have specifically asked for consent and received it.
Meeting new people and playing games with new people is a huge part of why we love conventions. Again, it’s going to be busy, it’s going to be crowded, and it’s going to be loud. Make sure that you communicate clearly, and approach every interaction with respect and with consent.
The PAX app will tell you what official games are going. There are free play tables for console and tabletop games to find other people to play with. If you feel brave, you can hit up the PAX twitter account or the PAX facebook group (PAX Instagram is out there too) with a LFG and see what comes back. (I even found someone to play Gwent with me last year!)
This is the most important thing. What’s the point of coming together as one, massive geeky family if we are not going to have fun?
So get out there, play some games, try something new, and come find me at the Tekken stand!