Survival Guide to PAXAus for beginners

LOGO_PAXAus

Inventory:

PAXAus door pass
Proof of age photo ID
Bottle of water
Snacks
Smartphone with PAXAus Guidebook app installed
Smartphone charger
Spending money

Optional:

Laptop
Tablet Device
Extra data pack for your smartphone
Oversized foam sword

PAX_INV

Planning:

Make sure you’ve downloaded the official PAXAus Guidebook app that has a schedule planner, maps and other helpful goodies (seriously, we used this way more than we expected to).

Either on the flight or in your hotel room, get familiar with the lay of the land. The Exhibition Centre is what you’ll walk into at the start of the day. It has a designated queue room for those willing to brave the crowds at opening time, and is where you’ll find the majority of stalls including all of the AAA guys, the Indie Pavilion, hardware and gadgets, tabletop games, console freeplay areas, merch stores, and all other game related paraphernalia.

The Convention Centre adjoins the Exhibition Centre and is where you’ll find the majority of talks and events. There is another room above the Exhibition Centre accessible by the stairs near the main entrance, called the Dropbear Theatre. It’s important to know where this is as some of the best talks we saw were given in this room and it’s a bit of a hike back through everything.

PAXAus_Map-01

Tips:

  • Organise passes early. 3 day passes for PAXAus 2014 sold out within a few days of release in November 2013, nearly a year before the event!
  • I would strongly recommend booking your accommodation at the same time. We stayed at the Langham Hotel which was a bit fancy but in a prime location along Southbank and only a 10 min stroll to the Exhibition Centre. Because we booked early, the rooms were less than half the price compared to if we booked them closer to the event. There are often discounted rates offered at certain hotels listed on the PAXAus website but we found that we could get much better rates at other hotels. Do your research to get the best deals.
  • Bring your proof of age photo ID and get your age indicator wristband the first day and keep it on. Lining up each day to get another one was a pain in the ass. They’re fairly water resistant so you can potentially shower with them (and for the sake of everyone at PAX please, please shower). Also, already having a wristband means if you walk along the outside of the centre, you can enter through one of the side doors when PAX officially opens each day, meaning far smaller queues to get in. Just make sure to show your pass and wristband or the Enforcers will harass you at the doors.
  • Queues suck and although some of the PAX Enforcers try to do their best by entertaining the crowd, bouncing beach balls won’t entertain for very long. Bring a tablet, portable handheld gaming device, laptop or smartphone to keep you occupied. This can drain your battery though, which segues nicely to my next tip.
  • Bring your chargers just in case. If you forget, the centre has a couple of charging bays available along the outside walkway of the Exhibition Centre which can be a life saver.
  • Fill up your empty water bottles at water coolers. We only found one near the entrance, but the taps in the bathrooms are a reasonable alternative. Hell, anything is a reasonable alternative compared to buying bottles of water at a premium in the centre.
  • If you didn’t bring any water and can’t be bothered trekking to the water coolers, there are 2 options I can recommend. If you’re staying in a hotel try to score some complimentary bottles there. Quite often they’ll provide them when they clean the room. The other (if you’re not at a hotel) is to buy bottles cheaper at the food court of the Crown Casino across the road or at the food court further east along Southbank near the Lindt Cafe.
  • Be patient and well organised. We expected to be met with long queues, pushy people and a mad rush to get to each talk. However, having planned out which talks interested us the most, we found that we were regularly in the front of the queues and got our pick of seating. Most of the time we were able to grab a coffee and chill for a bit beforehand.
  • Socialise with the indie devs. Apart from being a wealth of game development knowledge and having awesome games to try out, they might also know of any parties or events happening in conjunction with PAX. These can be worth going to if you’re a developer yourself as they are a great networking tool.
  • Keep an eye on Twitter over the 3 days of PAX. Follow the hashtag #PAXAus to be in the loop with things happening over the course of the event. Opportunities and giveaways might pop up at any moment.

If things run the same way as this year’s event, passes for PAXAus 2015 will be made available sometime in the next month. Keep an eye on the website to ensure you don’t miss out on your 3 day pass!
PAXAus will be at the Melbourne Convention Centre each year for the next 5 years at least, so there will be plenty more opportunities to celebrate games with fellow gamers and devs in colourful Melbourne.

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