The Ultimate PAX Australia Survival Guide: Tips, Tricks, and What to Expect
PAX Australia? It’s like a gamer’s Christmas! People from all over pack their bags, hop on planes, trains, or buses, and spend possibly three days mingling with fellow gamers and hanging out with their online buddies in person. PAX Aus is entering its 10th year – (Happy birthday PAX!) – and the staff and volunteers have running PAX down to a science – it’s a well oiled machine. So thankfully, that means we know roughly what to expect!
If you haven’t already purchased your tickets there are still some available – some come along and join the fun, whether you’re there for one day or multiple I know you’ll have a great time – this event is my favourite on the convention calendar every year!
Whether you’re a seasoned PAX veteran or a first-timer, this list will come in handy. We’ll cover some essential reminders, items you should consider bringing, and tasks to check off your list before tossing your Nintendo Switch in your backpack and heading to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 6th.
PAX is an extremely busy event, expecting tens of thousands of attendees year on year, so it’s vital to be well-prepared and to understand that you’re going to be walking among large crowds. You’re likely to feel tired, perhaps a tad cranky or anxious, definitely hungry, and possibly sore.
- Snacks and water: Convention food can be pricey, and you might find yourself hungry while waiting in those long lines. There will be places you can fill your own bottle, too!
- Comfortable shoes and socks: Your feet will thank you after hours of exploring.
- Nintendo Switch or another gaming device: It’s perfect for saving phone battery and keeping yourself entertained during downtime or while queuing up.
- Powerbank: If you’re constantly on your phone or documenting your adventure, a powerbank with a long cable is a lifesaver.
- Backpack or satchel: While your cute small handbag is charming (I have plenty too!), consider bringing a larger bag to safely carry your purchases and essential items. It’ll make your PAX experience much more comfortable.
- Personal needs: Have you got sensory or medical needs? You may need to bring your medication or ear protection, for example.
- Stay in touch: Make a group chat with your friends or join the PAX official discord to stay in touch and informed. If you have any vulnerable or anxious friends, check in with them.
- Download the app: Your convention bible – a must have
- Create a schedule: Plan out what timed events you want to see, and even list off some specific exhibitors you may want to spend time with. This is super handy for indie games!
- Pick up your badge: If you didn’t get your badge mailed to you, you should try and pick up your badge early on Wednesday the 4th and Thursday the 5th. If not, try and get it early on the day you’re attending!
- Download apps: Particularly if you’re not from Melbourne, you’ll want to download the PTV (public transport Victoria) app to help plan your travel and manage your myki, and maybe a rideshare app like Uber or Didi to help you get around.
- Check the FAQ: The PAX website and app has a handy dandy FAQ for everything!
- Rest: Know beforehand where you can rest – the handheld lounge, the park, a nearby restaurant or somewhere else.
- After party: Going to some late PAX events? Going to one of Melbourne’s fantastic venues after PAX? Remember to buy tickets if need be and plan how you’re going to get there! PAX does have cool later events on site, such as the Jackbox Party PAX at 5:30PM on Saturday in the main theatre!
- Shopping: If you’re attending for multiple days, I suggest holding off making purchases of items that have a lot of stock until the last day so you don’t need to haul it around. However, if there is a cool figurine you like from your favourite anime and there’s only one left – think about grabbing that early.
- Respect staff, volunteers and cosplayers: PAX Enforcers stand out with their bright uniforms and their word is law when it comes to lines and issues on the floor. They’re also a great source of info! And remember, cosplay is not consent – Don’t take photos of cosplayers without asking, and when taking photos with them make sure to respect their personal space and props.
- Respect each other: Amid the excitement, remember that everyone’s here to have a good time, just like you. Be polite, watch your space (nobody wants to get whacked by a prop sword poking out of a bag), and spread kindness. Gaming is for everybody! Enjoy PAX together!
- Loot: If you’re entering giveaways and would like to stick around for free merch from booths (as some absolute loot goblins may be among you) the more ‘on the spot’ giveaways typically take place late in the day in the exhibition hall and even more late on the last day of the show – Sunday – just follow any cheering crowds! But plenty of booths will have giveaways you can enter and they will announce the winners and contact you after the show ends.
As mentioned in the list but very deserving of its own mention, PAX has its very own app that puts everything you need in one convenient place. You can dig up info on exhibitors and the Aus Indie Showcase, see the venue Map, explore features, and even use the “Plan Your PAX” feature. This lets you build your own schedule for panels and events to attend and shows you exactly where to find them! It’s a total game-changer for making the most of your PAX adventure.
If you’re the type who loves diving into panels, it’s absolutely crucial to map out your panel schedule, their timings, and their locations. PAX sprawls across the MCEC, and trust me, it’s a colossal venue. I’ve heard of folks who spent most of their time in the exhibitor hall, but in reality, PAX spans multiple levels within the building. So, be ready to do some exploring as you move between panels. If you’ve got back-to-back sessions, knowing their locations will help you weave your way through the bustling crowds with ease!
For me? You can find me as a special guest at the “Beyond Pixels: Unveiling the VTubing World” panel at 5:00PM on Saturday in the kookaburra theatre or I’ll be lurking around the indie showcase regularly. Or maybe you’ll spot me petting some therapy dogs – (Yes! PAX will have therapy dogs) – at 3:00PM On Sunday in the together lounge!