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PAX Australia 2016: The 20 panels you need to fit into your schedule

It’s that time of year again! PAX Australia is finally about to hit Melbourne, kicking off this Friday, October 4 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. It’s the biggest event on the Australian gaming calendar (sorry, Sydneysiders: EB Expo just doesn’t compare …), attracting tens of thousands of people through the doors over its three days.

In its fourth year after having kicked off in 2013 at the Melbourne Showgrounds, PAX Australia has become synonymous with gaming and geek culture in Melbourne and Australia. It attracts a diverse crowd from across the country and the world, and offers a wide variety of events, games, showcases and panels for those in attendance.

If you’re making your way down to Southbank for the festivities, it’s wise to have a plan set in stone for the panels and events you want to see. That’s where this guide comes in: it chooses the best scheduled events to attend over the three days. Now of course, this is entirely subjective, broken down based on the general audience interests of Fenix Bazaar (and a little bit of this author).

If what you see here isn’t quite to your liking, check out the PAX Australia website for a full schedule. In the meantime, check out our list of 20 panels you need to fit into your schedule this weekend. (Note: Some events clash, which kind of sucks, so even if you do follow this guide there are cases where you’ll have to pick and choose).


Storytime With Major Nelson

  • When: 10:30am-11:30am
  • Where: Main Theatre

Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb has been the face of Xbox platforms and Xbox Live since 2003. We’ve all watched his videos, celebrated his Games With Gold announcements, and retweeted his Tweets. His long-running “Major Nelson Radio” podcast is one of the most popular in gaming, and so his time at PAX is highly anticipated. Not to be missed.


Game Trailers – So Hype or Too Hype?

  • When: 10:30am-11:30am
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

If you can’t get in to see Major Nelson, then this is your next best option. Whether you’re a marketing guru, work in PR, or are a gamer with an interest in game trailer production, this panel looks to offer some fascinating insight into the processes and intentions behind game trailers.


Overwatch 6v6

  • When: 10:30am-11:30am
  • Where: TBC

So it stands out in this list as being one of only two game tournaments, but it’s hard not to include one of the year’s biggest games, and what is soon to be an esports juggernaut. This is sure to be an entertaining bout, pitting two teams of 6 against one another on PC.


Playing on Hard Mode: The Psychology of Dark Souls

  • When: 12:00pm-1pm
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

Dark Souls is one of the biggest, most acclaimed and certainly most hated video game franchises out there. This panel looks to ask the questions: Why are difficult games so compelling? And why are Dark Souls fans so devoted? If you’re a Dark Souls fan, or a non-fan that is intrigued by the obsession, this could prove to be one of the more interesting panels of PAX.


Can’t Code, Can’t Draw: The Many Creative Jobs in Videogames

  • When: 3:00pm-4:00pm
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

A panel of industry creative experts get together to talk about what’s needed to make it in video game development. What do studios look for? Who do they hire? If you’ve ever wanted to get into game design, but don’t quite have the coding skills or art qualifications, this could prove to be an insightful panel for you.


Alienware 20th Anniversary

  • When: 3:00pm-4:00pm
  • Where: Main Theatre

If game development isn’t your thing, head over to the Main Theatre, where Frank Azor, Co-founder and VP General Manager of Alienware, and Joe Olmstead, PC Development and Planning Manager at Dell, will lead an industry panel discussing Alienware’s 20 year history and the future and impact of VR, e-sports and live streaming.


Moral Kombat: The Science of Violent Video Games

  • When: 3:30pm-4:30pm
  • Where: Galah Theatre

And if the Alienware panel doesn’t interest you, then this might be right up your alley. If you’ve ever read or seen a news report about the harm violent video games cause society, this panel may be your bread and butter. A panel of “video game scientists” (they exist: honest) will discuss the many different surveys, reports and scientific data regarding violent video games and their influence on minors.


RIOT Games Presents: Becoming a Professional eSports Player

  • When: 6:00pm-7:00pm
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

Some of the OPL’s biggest names — Tim “Carbon” Wendel, Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos, Nathan “Rippi” Mott, Jake “Spawn” Tiberi, Daniel “CptStupendous” Ringland, Michael “Hingers” Hing — will form a panel to talk about the ins and outs of becoming a professional eSports player. If you think you have what it takes and are looking to get your foot in the door, this panel could be for you.


DOOM: Behind The Music

  • When: 6:00pm-7:00pm
  • Where: Dropbear Theatre

If eSports doesn’t interest you, then perhaps this insight into one of the year’s best games could entertain you. Join composer Mick Gordon (Killer Instinct, Wolfenstein: The New Order) on a special behind-the-scenes journey into the music of DOOM.


Being a Gaming YouTuber/Streamer in Australia

  • When: 6:30pm-7:30pm
  • Where: Wombat Theatre

If you’ve started up or have contemplated starting up your own YouTube or Twitch channel, this panel is perfect for you. A host of some of Australia’s leading gaming influences will be onstage to talk about what it takes to make it on YouTube, both locally and abroad.


Bethesda Trivia

  • When: 7:30pm-8:30pm
  • Where: Dropbear Theatre

You need to love only one of Dishonored, DOOM, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, The Evil Within or Wolfenstein to be interested in this. Join Australia’s biggest Bethesda buffs and some special guests for some fun live trivia action.


Big Head Mode: Pub Crawl

  • When: 10:30pm-11:30pm
  • Where: Dropbear Theatre

This is included in this list simply because of how fascinatingly silly it sounds. The folks from Big Head Mode will “drink their way around the mead halls and taverns of Skyrim”, in game and in real life. If that doesn’t interest you, nothing will.



The world of Dishonored 2 with Arkane Studios’ Sebastien Mitton

  • When: 1:30pm-2:30pm
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

Ahead of Dishonored 2‘s release on November 11, the team from Gamespot AU sit down with Arkane Studios’ art director Sebastien Mitton to talk about the creative vision behind the game.


Donkey Kong (Level 1-1 High Score Comp)

  • When: 3:30pm-4:30pm
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

Because who doesn’t want to watch a classic arcade tournament on a big screen in a huge theatre?


Pitch Your Game Idea

  • When: 6:30pm-7:30pm
  • Where: Galah Theatre

This is one of the more intriguing panels in the history of PAX Australia. A panel of experts will listen to game pitches of 45 seconds. The top three pitches will win prizes and swag. Word of warning, though: Unless you’ve legally protected your idea, there’s nothing stopping someone from stealing it!



Geek Trash or Treasure? Finding Collectibles with Real Value

  • When: 10:30am-11:30am
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a video game collector, or think your current collection needs to be dusted off and valued, this panel could be of interest. It talks about the value of “collector’s editions”, and when they genuinely become “collectible”. It may very well bring the whole pre-order industry crashing down!


The Great Debate: Is VR Better Than Real Life?

  • When: 10:30am-11:30am
  • Where: Main Theatre

VR is upon us, but is it something we need in our home? Can it substitute for the real thing? This panel aims to ask the pivotal question in the era of VR: is VR better than real life?


PC PowerPlay Presents: The Future of PC Gaming

  • When: 12:30pm-1:30pm
  • Where: Main Theatre

A group of PC Master Race folk sit in to talk about the future of PC gaming, cutting through the hyperbole to dissect the future of the platform, and the incoming threat of VR gaming.


30 Years of Adventure: The History of The Legend of Zelda

  • When: 1:30pm-2:30pm
  • Where: Dropbear Theatre

The year 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, one of gaming’s most enduring, influential and best-loved franchises. Join the staff of Zelda Universe as they take a journey back through the history of the series: its creation, evolution, the highs, the lows, and the wonderfully weird and obscure.


X-wings and TIE-ins

  • When: 4:30pm-5:30pm
  • Where: Gamespot Theatre

A brief history of very bad (and some not so bad) Star Wars games. If the prequels taught us anything, it’s that the thing you love will bring you nothing but pain, disappointment and very outdated computer graphics.

What are you most looking forward to at PAX Australia? Tell us in the comments below!


Sunday 6th of November 2016

Don't be sorry at all that PAX is way better than EB expo, EB doesn't even compare to PAX. PAX was worth travelling to Melboune for.

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